England humiliated by dominant Aussies
England have slumped to a 405 run defeat in the second Investec Ashes Test at Lord’s, at the hands of a ruthless Australian team who dominated the match from the opening session on the first morning.
From the moment Michael Clark won the toss and elected to bat on a favourable batting track, the writing appeared to be on the wall for England. Although the English bowlers did not bowl badly, most notably Stuart Broad on the first day, their attack was unable to penetrate the solid Australian top order, with Chris Rogers and especially Steve Smith showing imperious form, notching 173 and 215 respectively in Australia’s impressive first innings of 566.
England’s reply was nothing short of embarrassing: Alastair Cook’s latest opening partner, Adam Lyth, has yet to find his form in test cricket, and fell to the second ball of the innings without troubling the scorers. Cook and Ben Stokes offered some resistance, the England captain falling just four runs short of his century, but the overall response was poor, and the hosts were all out for just 312.
Clark declined to enforce the follow on, and the Australians resumed where they had left off, declaring their second innings on 254 for 2, leaving England an improbable run chase of 509 for victory.
The English response started relatively well, Cook and Lyth successfully negotiating the opening overs to survive until lunch of the fourth day, but following the break, the full house at Lord’s were left in disbelief, as England’s batting order fell apart under the pressure and accuracy of the Australian attack. The hosts were bowled out for a dismal total of 103, and suffered their heaviest Ashes runs defeat on home soil since 1948.
The jubilation at England’s fine victory in last week’s opening test at Cardiff seemed a distant memory, contrasted with this humiliation in the London sunshine, a punishing defeat which has raised some serious questions for the England selectors.
Can Ian Bell still justify his place in the England line-up? The Warwickshire batsman has struggled in recent years to find any consistent form in the five-day format, and his fielding has cost several key wicket-taking opportunities in recent games.
How long can Adam Lyth be entrusted with opening the batting with Alastair Cook? The Yorkshireman has struggled to find any form in the first two Ashes tests, and his confidence against Australia’s ruthless attack must now be up for question.
But perhaps the biggest question has to be that of England’s appetite for the game. Last week’s victory at Cardiff seemed impressive, but Australia played well below their expected form. In the Lord’s test, the Baggy Greens had made changes, and refocused their efforts, taking the attack to England from the off: the worry for the hosts was that, when questions were asked, the English players had no answers, and collapsed in both innings under the Australian pressure.
The Aussies have talked about England’s scars. Although this series cannot be another 5-0 whitewash, England appeared at Lords to have no fight in them, and based on this form, it is hard to see the English winning another match against this impressive Australian team.
The third test, at Edgbaston, starts on 29th July, giving the English just over a week to prepare. Judging by this latest performance, they will need to cram a lot into this preparation time, if they are to stand any chance of wresting the momentum back from Australia