England embarrassed for 67 as Ashes hopes hang by a thread

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England were dismissed for a calamitous 67 as their hopes of reclaiming the Ashes were left hanging by a thread on a day that could prove a line in the sand for their misfiring Test batsmen.

Joe Root’s side arrived at Headingley on the second morning of the third Test with a huge chance to play their way into a series-levelling position after toppling Australia for 179 but turned in a sorry, insipid display.

They were sunk inside 28 overs for England’s third-lowest Ashes score on home turf and the eighth worst overall. Australia responded by reaching 171 for six at stumps, a lead of 283 that positions the holders to go 2-0 ahead with two to play.

England captain Joe Root was left stunned by the events of Friday
England captain Joe Root was left stunned by the events of Friday (Tim Goode/PA)

This was the fourth time since the start of 2018 that England have been blasted out in double figures – with three of those in the past seven Tests – and it increasingly looks like a structural problem that requires serious and immediate attention.

England will never forget the joy of winning its first World Cup earlier this summer but that cherished moment, and the prolonged period of white-ball emphasis that preceded it, might have come at a price.

  • 45, Sydney, 1887
  • 52, Oval, 1948
  • 53, Lord’s 1888
  • 61, Melbourne 1904
  • 61, Melbourne 1902
  • 62, Lord’s 1888
  • 65, Sydney, 1985
  • 67, Headingley, 2019
  • 72, Sydney, 1895
  • 75, Melbourne, 1894.

Meanwhile, Jofra Archer briefly left the field with suspected cramp late in the day, a worrying hint that the rising star of English cricket might already be shouldering too much of the burden, leaving Ben Stokes to hold down a mammoth workload with ball in hand.

When play began under blue skies Jason Roy gave a tantalisingly brief glimpse of what might have been, helping himself to a couple of firmly hit boundaries to set the day in motion.

The serenity lasted just under four overs, Roy following a Hazlewood delivery he might otherwise have left and feeding David Warner the first of his four catches at first slip.

David Warner took four catches at slip for Australia
David Warner took four catches at slip for Australia (Mike Egerton/PA)

The next blow was even more grievous, Root lasting just two balls before Hazlewood fizzed one into the channel outside off and Warner tumbled to his left to take the edge. Root has now scored back-to-back ducks for the first time in his career, the worst possible advert for his recent move to number three.

It was 20 for three when Rory Burns gloved a Pat Cummins bouncer through to the wicketkeeper but the worst shot of the bunch was still to come.

Rory Burns, centre right, walks off dejected after being dismissed
Rory Burns, centre right, walks off dejected after being dismissed (Tim Goode/PA)

Somehow Joe Denly was still there. He was beaten seven times before getting off the mark, edging one, overturning an lbw decision and playing and missing on five occasions.

Things barely improved, almost chopping on twice and surviving another lbw shout, before he finally edged one from Pattinson to end a tortured stay. Remarkably he would end up as top-scorer with 12, the lowest number ever to earn that distinction in an England innings.

  • England’s 67 all out was their lowest all-out score at Headingley, and the third lowest of any side.
  • 67 was also England’s third lowest Ashes score on home turf, their eighth lowest overall and worst since 1948.
  • Australia’s 179 became the lowest first-innings score to yield a lead of 100 or more.
  • Joe Denly’s 12 became England’s lowest top score in an innings that finished all out.
  • England were dismissed in double figures for the fourth time since the start of 2018. The rest of the world’s Test sides have done so five times between them in the same period.
  • At 27.5 overs it was the ninth shortest England innings in Tests.
  • Stuart Broad’s dismissal of David Warner saw him become the second Englishman to take 700 international wickets across formats after James Anderson.
  • The same wicket saw Broad go past Yorkshire great Fred Trueman as the leading test wicket-taker at Headingley with 45.

Hazlewood and Warner combined once more before lunch, Jonny Bairstow the latest victim, leaving England 54 for six.

Australia wasted no time in ramming home their advantage in the afternoon, pocketing the last four wickets for 13 runs. Cummins’ short ball did for Woakes and Archer with Hazlewood claiming the last recognised batsman, Jos Buttler picking out the perfectly-positioned short cover, and cleaning up last man Jack Leach.

England’s long-suffering bowlers did their best to keep up the pretence of a fight as Australia lost three for 82 before tea.

Stuart Broad again took the wicket of David Warner
Stuart Broad again took the wicket of David Warner (Mike Egerton/PA)

England needed things to happen in a hurry in the evening but Australia added another 89 for three in a punishing final session for Stokes.

He held down one end for 15.2 overs, interrupted only by four Archer deliveries ending in the cramp, and pounded away tirelessly for the scalps of Travis Head and Matthew Wade.

It could easily have been more, Marnus Labuschagne dropped by Root on 15, Bairstow on 42 and reprieved by Stokes’ no-ball in between. Broad removed Tim Paine for nought before the end but the visiting captain will already be visualising becoming an Ashes-winning captain.

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