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The Ashes: Another batting slump leaves England in trouble despite late wickets in Hobart

Written by corres2

Rory Burns was run out without scoring as England were bowled out cheaply again in Hobart

England face a battle to avoid another Ashes defeat after their latest batting slump despite late wickets giving them a glimmer of hope in the fifth Test.

Having bowled Australia out for 303 just under an hour in on day two in Hobart, England found themselves back out in the field for the last hour and 25 minutes of the third session after succumbing to 188 all out in 47.4 overs to give up a first-innings deficit of 115.

Pat Cummins claimed 4-45 and Mitchell Starc 3-53 as the hosts made regular breakthroughs with only Chris Woakes (36) and Joe Root (34) getting as far as 30 despite a number of players making starts.

  • Australia close on 37-3, a lead of 152, in Hobart
  • Steve Smith (17no), Scott Boland (3no)
  • Stuart Broad becomes England’s leading Ashes wicket-taker
  • England bowled out for 188 in 47.4 overs
  • Pat Cummins (4-45), Mitchell Starc (3-53)
  • Australia 303 all out in their first innings

Stuart Broad dismissed David Warner in the first over of Australia’s second innings, the Aussie opener bagging a pair, to become England leading wicket-taker in Ashes cricket, overtaking Sir Ian Botham, and when Woakes removed Marnus Labuschagne it was 5-2.

That became 33-3 when Mark Wood had Usman Khawaja caught behind with a fearsome delivery but Steve Smith (17no) and Scott Boland (3no) stood firm to get through to stumps as Australia reached 37-3, a lead of 152.

Stuart Broad has overtaken Sir Ian Botham to become England's leading Ashes wicket-taker

Stuart Broad has overtaken Sir Ian Botham to become England’s leading Ashes wicket-taker

The day began with England needing four wickets to wrap up Australia’s first innings and made a positive start as Wood (3-115) used the short ball to good effect with Starc (3) and Cummins (2) both caught on the pull.

At that stage, Australia were 252-8 and 300 seemed a long way off until Nathan Lyon, unfazed by the two previous dismissals, took on the bouncers from Wood and thumped three big sixes in a stand of 28 with Alex Carey (24), who was then bowled via an inside by Woakes (2-64).

Lyon and Boland mustered another 23 between them to add to England’s frustrations before Broad (3-59) eventually bowled the latter for 31.

Then came the now customary England struggle with the bat. The recalled Rory Burns (0) was the first to go, run out after an errant call for a quick single by Zak Crawley and a direct hit from Labuschagne – albeit a dive might have been enough to save the opener.

Crawley (18) showed more of the elegant strokeplay that brought him a half-century in Sydney but there would be no repeat as an inside edge bounced up sharply off his pad to short leg, where Travis Head reacted quickly to stick his hands up and take the catch.

Australia captain Pat Cummins was in brilliant form as he took 4-45

Australia captain Pat Cummins was in brilliant form as he took 4-45

Dawid Malan and Root made it through to the dinner break and after the former survived a thin inside edge behind off Cameron Green thanks to the umpire’s not out decision and Australia opting against a review, the pair began to build a useful partnership in the second session.

Root looked in fine touch as he threaded a couple of gorgeous drives through the covers but just as England seemed to have worked themselves into a reasonable position, a middle-order collapse ensued.

England slump again with the bat

It started with a close call for Root, hit on the front pad by Starc and Australia called for a review, only to see the ball was just missing off stump.

The England captain survived but it brought a renewed sense of jeopardy that was realised when Malan (25) glanced a rare wayward delivery from Cummins down the legside and straight into the gloves of Carey after a 49-run stand.

Cummins struck again in his next over and this time it was the always-crucial scalp of Root with a delivery that jagged back sharply and pinned the right-hander in front.

Cummins took the crucial wicket of Joe Root in the middle session

Cummins took the crucial wicket of Joe Root in the middle session

Ben Stokes (4) followed from the last ball of the next, hitting a short, wide one from Starc powerfully towards backward point, only for Lyon to hold on to a fantastic grab going to his left and with that 78-2 had become 85-5 in the space of 3.2 overs.

Ollie Pope, back in the side to replace the injured Jonny Bairstow, and debutant Sam Billings each showed their ability with a flurry of well-timed shots to the fence.

However, a promising stand came to a maddening end with Pope (14) trying to defend a ball comfortably outside off stump from Boland (1-33) and feathering behind.

It should have been two in two for Boland as Woakes nicked the next one straight to Warner at first slip, only for the usually so reliable slipper to shell the chance, and the Aussie seamer was left disappointed again in the last over before tea, another edge from Woakes and this time Khawaja dropped the catch at third slip.

Having been afforded that good fortune, Woakes continued to bat positively after the break, while Billings (29) was shaping up nicely in his first Test knock before hooking a short ball from Green (1-45) straight to Boland at fine leg to end a 42-run seventh-wicket partnership.

Cameron Green dismissed Sam Billings after the England debutant had made a promising start

Cameron Green dismissed Sam Billings after the England debutant had made a promising start

Woakes had pulled Green for six earlier in the same over and kept up his positive approach, only to become the second England batter strangled down the legside – the faintest of edges shown up on HotSpot when Australia reviewed, giving Starc his second wicket.

The left-arm fast bowler nearly bowled Broad next up and eventually got his man with the last ball of the over, a drag-on to leave England nine down, with Wood (16) castled by Cummins three balls later to wrap up the innings.

England bowlers keep tourists’ slim hopes alive

England made the ideal start as they went in search of much-needed wickets in the hour and 25 minutes afforded to them before stumps as Warner bagged his second pair in Ashes cricket as he poked at a wide delivery from Broad (1-9) and was well caught by Pope at backward point.

David Warner is the first opener to be dismissed for a pair twice in Ashes Tests.

Australia were soon 5-2 as Woakes (1-9) dismissed Labuschagne (5) cheaply; the world No 1 Test batter the latest player to be caught behind down the legside as Billings claimed his first catch in Test cricket.

Smith and Khawaja battled hard for the next 11 overs, needing more than a hint of luck as the new pink ball swung and seamed around under lights, before Wood (1-9) produced a vicious bouncer that Khawaja could only glove behind as he tried to sway clear.

Mark Wood removed Usman Khawaja to leave Australia three down at stumps

Mark Wood removed Usman Khawaja to leave Australia three down at stumps

While Smith and Boland were able to hold out for the rest of the day, there was more good news for England in the form of Ollie Robinson getting through four overs after being unable to bowl earlier in the day due to back spasms.

The seamer will be vital if England are to take the seven wickets they need in double-quick time on day three to give themselves any chance of a consolation win to end the series.

Stuart Broad took his 129th Ashes wicket, overtaking Ian Botham as England’s leading wicket-taker in Ashes cricket. Botham did take a further 20 wickets in non-Ashes Tests against Australia though, giving him a total of 148 against the old enemy.

Billings: All results are still possible

Sam Billings, speaking to BT Sport: “I really enjoyed walking out to bat. I absolutely loved it. It is a challenge that a week ago I didn’t expect to be having. I expected to be in the cold back at home! You have grown up [wanting to face] the best seam attack in the world, probably, and I saw it is a great opportunity. I just tried to be positive in everything I did.

“I think all results are still possible, absolutely. We have to cut out those bad sessions and take it to a manageable total for us as a batting unit. There is a huge opportunity to get a result out of this game. The first session is going to be huge and set the tone for the rest of the match. You have to look at those big moments and really grasp them.”

Glenn McGrath, speaking to BT Sport: “Australia’s 152-run lead is huge. England let Australia get far too many runs in that first innings, which is their real problem. This pitch is not going to get much easier to bat on.”

What’s next?

England Women begin their bid to regain the Ashes on January 20 with the first of three T20 internationals. The white-ball matches are followed by a standalone Test match and then three one-day internationals.

England last won the Ashes in 2014, with holders Australia’s triumphs in England in 2015 and 2019 sandwiching a drawn series in Australia in 2017.




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