Ashes: Ignominious end for abject England

England have it all to do if they are retain the Ashes after a second straight test defeat Down Under. The tourists were once again blown away in the first innings by the pace and bounce of Mitchell Johnson before showing more fight in their second innings but it was all too little too late.

Losing the toss on the first morning was the worst possible start for England and things didn’t look up from there on in. The Australian batsmen looked settled against the English bowlers as they went about setting a big first innings total although the visitors fought hard on the first day taking five wickets. However, they would be left to rue missed chances towards the end of day as Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke reached the end of the day unscathed.

Both batsmen made England pay on the second morning when they racked up hundreds apiece carrying on their good form at the Adelaide Oval. This all meant a first innings score of 570-9 for the home side leaving England with their first mountain to climb.

Mitchell Johnson, dreadful moustache aside, has been the star performer of the Ashes so far

There reply didn’t go to plan as a Brisbane-esque collapse left them facing a 398-run first innings deficit. Johnson was once again the main perpetrator taking 7-40 as England struggled to deal with the pace even on a slow drop-in pitch. The only bright sparks were that of the fight of Michael Carberry (60) and Ian Bell (72*) but Australia were in control going into the second innings.

Captain Clarke decided not to enforce the follow-on and a quick fire 132-3 added to their already huge lead, the in-form Dave Warner hitting 83 to help set up a 530-run lead. Warner wasn’t able to reach his century after, under the threat of rain, Clarke declared just before play on the fourth morning meaning England needed an unlikely 531 to win in two days. Australia needed a more realistic ten wickets to take a 2-0 lead.

England’s batsmen once again faltered early on, with the prospect of batting out for two days for the draw looking less likely. They made it to the fifth day courtesy mainly of Joe Root and Kevin Pietersen both making half centuries but both had perished throughout the day. However, the fight dwindled on the last morning as it took just the first session for the Aussies to wrap up an impressive second consecutive victory.

Joe Root was England’s best player in the second test, seen here celebrating his half century

The series now heads to Perth, the fastest track on tour, where England will have to show more improvement if they are to fight their way back into the series. There were limited positives from the test with five of the top seven producing good scores, none more pleasing than the previously out-of-form Matt Prior who scored 69 in the first innings.

The batsmen will have to come together collectively again though come Friday at the WACA, their second innings score of 312 marking their highest of the series. Pace and bounce will be expected with England likely to make more changes to their team, the tourists the ones who are unsure about the best eleven rather than the Australians as they look to fight back from 2-0 down.

Dan Robbins

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