Australia retain Ashes after crushing humiliated England – sports
MELBOURNE: A relentless Australia led by debutant Scott Boland beat England to an embarrassing 68 on Tuesday to win the third test by one set and 14 points and keep the Ashes with two games to go.
Just when a demoralized England thought their tour couldn’t get any worse, they folded on the morning of day three in Melbourne and will now be desperate to avoid a spate of whitewash.
England recovered at the MCG on 31 for four, still 51 points behind, after a disastrous final hour on Monday against an outstanding fast bowling that left their Ashes dreams in shambles.
Their survival depended on skipper Joe Root, but when he fell for 28 it was only a matter of time before the rest followed – before lunch in an embarrassing chapter for English cricket.
Boland, named as injury cover, was invincible on his home court, winning 6-7 over four overs, tying the record for the fastest five-wicket transport in 19 balls.
Mitchell Starc finished with 3-29 as England’s misery was complete.
“It’s pretty crazy. Just a few awesome weeks, everything clicked and everything worked,” said Australian skipper Pat Cummins. “Delighted for Scott Boland. We have been relentless.
“The bowlers are just coming in and owning their areas outside of the line-up. There were some big partnerships, everyone played, everyone contributed – it’s a great feeling.”
Ben Stokes picked up on two, but his bad tour continued when he was knocked out by Starc for 11. Jonny Bairstow made five and when Root was out it was all over with the tails following quickly.
“It is what it is,” said a dispirited Root, who is facing increasing calls for his captain job.
“Credit to Australia, they blew us away last night and outperformed us in this test match – in fact the series so far.
“We have a lot of hard work to do now and we have come back strong in the last two games.”
Threat of covid
It was doubtful that there would be gambling at the MCG after four members of the English party – two support staff and two family members – tested positive for the coronavirus on Monday.
But all players on both teams underwent PCR testing after strains and returned negative results on Tuesday morning, with the first ball thrown on time.
England had headed to Melbourne knowing they had to win to keep the Five-Test series alive after heavy defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide, with Australia only needing a draw to keep the ballot box as holder.
And they fleetingly competed on the back of a vintage bowling effort from veteran fashion designer James Anderson, which limited Australia to 267 in their first innings in response to tourists’ 185.
It was only an 82-point lead, but any dreams England had of staying in the test – and the streak – fell apart in the face of an intense fast-bowling blitz on Monday from Starc, Cummins and Boland.
In an hour of chaos, they took out hapless forerunners Zak Crawley (five) and Haseeb Hameed (seven), Dawid Malan for a golden duck and night watchman Jack Leach (0), leaving England to watch in the the 31 for four abyss after another astonishing collapse.
“I am speechless,” said Boland, the debutant and England’s chief executioner.
“Coming here today, I thought we had a good chance of winning, but I had no idea it would be over before noon.”
England’s hopes once again rested on Root, who took over the 12, and all-round star Stokes.
Stokes didn’t shoot, but he whipped Starc for four to show his intention, only for the New South Welshman to devastatingly respond two balls later with a fuller, tighter delivery that slammed into the stumps.
Root took a nasty hit in the groin area off Cummins on the 23rd and eventually carried on the 28th, caught by David Warner at the Boland slip.
Despite the dismissal, he capped an incredible 12 months for Root with the bat, ending the calendar year with the third-highest number of tests (1,708) in history, topped only by Pakistani Mohammad Yousuf (1,788 in 2006 ) and Viv Richards (1,710 in 1976).
England’s miserable stick, which followed oddly familiar meltdowns in Brisbane and Adelaide, has been castigated by British media.
“Gutless England drummers offer a full spectrum of incompetence,” shouted the Daily Telegraph, while The Sun slammed “Clueless England”.