England close in on humiliating Ashes drubbing after ANOTHER batting collapse all-but gifts Third Test to Australia

ENGLAND’S batting was in ruins once more and they are surely crashing towards another humiliating defeat.

As for the Ashes? Well, their chances of regaining the little urn disappeared a long time ago.

England lost four wickets in just 12 overs – including Zak Crawley and Dawid Malan to successive balls – after surrendering a deficit of 78 runs on first innings.

By the close of day two of the Third Test, England were in a state of shock with the scoreboard reading 31-4 – still 51 runs short of avoiding an innings defeat.

So another – and pretty much predictable – batting collapse added to the anxiety of the Covid outbreak sweeping through England’s camp.

England had actually performed with some credit in the field with Jimmy Anderson taking four wickets in another superb display of swing and seam bowling.

But it counted for little as the Aussie fast bowlers put England’s top-order through the mincer again.

Left-arm speedster Mitchell Starc had Crawley caught behind and then Malan was lbw. His review showed the ball clipping leg stump.

Joe Root wafted at the hat-trick ball but did not get an edge.

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Then the hapless Haseeb Hameed, who was really roughed up by the pace and bounce of the bowling, edged a catch behind off debutant Scott Boland.

Nightwatchman Jack Leach did not see it through to the close, either, and was bowled offering no shot to Boland.

Root and Ben Stokes ensured no further mishaps but England’s task appears hopeless.

Earlier, Anderson took 4-33 from 23 immaculate and confirmed that, even at the age of 39, he remains by some distance England’s premier bowler. He combines skill, swing and seam with metronomic accuracy.

In overseas Tests this year, Anderson has 21 wickets at an average of 12.95 and a miserly economy rate of 1.71 runs-per-over.

Play started 30 minutes late after two members of England’s coaching staff and two family members tested positive for Covid.

Aussie nightwatchman Nathan Lyon hit a couple of boundaries before nicking off to Ollie Robinson and then Australia’s annoying but highly effective duo of Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith both departed cheaply.

Labuschagne edged Mark Wood’s high pace to Root at slip and then Smith was bowled via the inside edge by Anderson.

Anderson’s spell that contained Smith’s wicket produced figures of 6-5-1-1.

He’d already coaxed an inside edge from Smith on five, but Jos Buttler could not cling onto the very difficult chance as he dived to his left.


Buttler also missed a tough stumping off left–arm spinner Leach when Marcus Harris was 63.

England took wickets at regular intervals but at times allowed Australia more freedom than they should have done, particularly after lunch when Leach bowled a long spell but captain Root would surely have been better served employing seam bowlers.

Travis Head edged Robinson to slip and Leach took his first wicket when Cameron Green was lbw. Green reviewed but tracking showed the ball clipping leg stump.

Then wicketkeeper Alex Carey aimed an expansive drive at Stokes, edged and Buttler clasped the catch.

Captain Pat Cummins and Starc put on 34 useful runs for the ninth wicket until Cummins mis-cued an attempted pull shot and lobbed a catch to point.

Starc was dropped by Robinson when he hammered the ball back to the bowler. Robinson hurt his left hamstring as he fell to the floor and left the field. But he reappeared soon afterwards so no apparent damage done.

Australia’s innings ended when Boland edged Wood to Crawley at second slip.

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