Fighting England succumbs as Australia wins second Ashes Test

CRICKET: Australia beat a struggling England to win the second test in Adelaide today (December 20) and go up 2-0 in the Ashes series, leaving visitors’ dreams of reclaiming the tattered holy urn.

Australian players launch a pre-wicket appeal against England batsman Ben Stokes (center) on the final day of the second Test of the Ashes round between Australia and England at Adelaide Oval. Photo: AFP

England resumed day five of the pink ball test in serious trouble 82 for four chasing a whopping 468 to win, realistically needing a miracle just to save a draw.

They stubbornly hung on in the last session, fighting desperate rearguard action until they finally collapsed to be all out for 192, crashing to a 275-point loss.

Jhye Richardson was the attacking pick with 5-42.

England collapsed by nine wickets in the first test in Brisbane and this week’s loss means their hopes of reclaiming a trophy they last won on Australian turf in 2010-11 are all but over .

Joe Root’s men will travel to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test from Sunday, knowing that the only example of a team coming 2-0 to win the Ashes was Donald Bradman’s Australia in 1936-37.

It’s frustrating’

“The reason it’s disappointing is because we made the same mistakes. I think we could have played a lot more complete, and with the bat we have to be better, score bigger and apply better, ”said Root.

“The second round is the attitude and the desire that we need. It’s frustrating because we know we are better. Lessons learned, we have to be better in the next game.

With Root, the world’s number one test drummer, knocked out by Mitchell Starc in the final last night, England’s hopes seemed to rest on versatile Ben Stokes.

The 30-year-old has saved his squad so often, with memories of his winning exploits against Australia at Headingley in 2019 to keep this streak alive.

But trying to heal England’s stick through 90 overs against Australia’s relentless bowling was too much of a task even for him.

He bowed his head and lasted 77 balls for 12 races before Nathan Lyon struck. The referee first gave the not lbw shout, but Australia reviewed it and it turned out he was straight ahead.

Ollie Pope lasted just seven balls, edging out Steve Smith on Starc’s slide, for four more with his disappointing first five innings.

But Jos Buttler (26) and Chris Woakes (44) sank in, frustrating Australia to a 61-point stand before Jhye Richardson snapped Woakes’ stumps.

Ollie Robinson did a stubborn eight before Smith won his sixth take of the game to ward him off from Lyon, then Buttler fell unbelievably after surviving almost 35 overs while stepping on his own stumps.

“I wasn’t nervous. I think Jos played really well and played over 200 balls so it was good resistance with Woakes and Robbo, ”said interim Australian skipper Smith.

“We wanted to stay calm because we knew it would take a few good balls and a few wickets to get the win.

“I had fun this week, I enjoyed it,” he added. “The guys played well, controlled the game from day one.”

Bad choice

England’s chances of victory were nearly impossible – no team had ever recorded such a big fourth inning score to win in test cricket history, with West Indies 418 for seven beating Steve Waugh’s Australia in St John’s in 2003 the highest.

Their problems stemmed from the loss of seven wickets for 86 points as they collapsed to 236 all in the opening innings in response to Australia’s 473 for nine declared, with only Root (62) and Dawid Malan (80) showing a spine.

They also blundered by omitting Jack Leach, ignoring warnings from Adelaide Oval’s head gardener before the game that it would be a mistake not to play a specialist spinner.

Bowling coach Jon Lewis admitted they made a mistake in choosing a full-rate attack, conceding that they misjudged the conditions, expecting more swing and less spin.

“Looking back, you could say we should have chosen another side,” he said, with returning veterans Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad claiming just five wickets between them.

As England struggled, Australia excelled under Smith after Pat Cummins was kicked out hours before the start due to fear of COVID.

Workhorse Marnus Labuschagne once again bolstered his status as one of the best batsmen in the world, slamming 103 in the opening innings and 51 in the second.

Unlike England’s stick, Australia showed more depth with five of their top six scorers in their 50s. Opener Marcus Harris was the only failure.

And even with the absence of the spearheads Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser have skillfully completed Starc and Lyon, as well as the all-rounder Cameron Green who is improving quickly.

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