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Ashes: England slump to a new low as whitewash beckons

Alastair Cook was dismissed in tame fashion ... again.

Alastair Cook was dismissed in tame fashion ... again. Photo: Anthony Johnson

Scorecard / as it happened

Australia’s magnificent pace trio is rousing itself for one last effort to achieve the third series whitewash in Ashes history as England batting coach Graham Gooch declared all the tourists’ jobs were on the line.

Chris Rogers moving the Australian side further ahead with an impressive 73 at the end of days play. Click for more photos

Fifth Test, Sydney - Day Two

All the colour and action from The Ashes fifth test at Sydney's SCG. Follow us at twitter.com/photosSMH Like these photos? Go to www.fairfaxphotos.com Photo: Anthony Johnson

Australia hold a commanding lead of 311 runs with six wickets in hand two days into the final Test at the SCG, after England were demoralised for the umpteenth time by the pace juggernaut of Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle. A five-nil sweep is so close the Australians can taste it, with Chris Rogers unbeaten on a fluent 73 at stumps and George Bailey 20 not out.

‘‘Day two, 300-plus lead – it’s a pretty good position to be in,’’  Harris said. ‘‘It’s obviously not a done thing yet; we figure they’re going to fire at some stage  ... I don’t think the wicket is getting any easier [to bat on] and if we bowl like we did today, we’ll go all right.’’

The prospect of England’s batsmen firing appears remote in light of the latest dismissals of senior batsmen Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell, who average 26, 32 and 27 for the series, respectively. 

Cook inexplicably padded up to Harris’s second ball of the day, Pietersen fished outside his off stump and Bell would have been out for a golden duck if Shane Watson had hung on to a slips chance, before Siddle had him caught behind by Brad Haddin for two.

Gooch said they had been unable to break the Australians’ stranglehold. ‘‘There are three immediate reasons why they’ve struggled and that is Siddle, Harris and Johnson, and [Nathan] Lyon has backed them up pretty well,’’ Gooch said.

‘‘They are not bowling anything loose. Johnson is bowling very straight. You still expect players of that calibre, with that record behind them, to score a proportion of runs and they have not been able to do it. We only have one hundred in four-and-a-bit Tests and that’s not going to win you anything, so everyone has to look at themselves. The coaches, the players are all going to be under scrutiny, quite rightly. The brutal truth is it’s not been good enough.

‘‘The powers that be will definitely be reviewing everyone after this series, as they do, so we’ll all be under scrutiny.’’ 

The excellence of Australia’s pace contingent has often collided with England’s careless batting in this series but the tourists slumped to a new low on Saturday when none of the top five (including bruised nightwatchman Jimmy Anderson) posted more than seven. They succumbed to the pacemen’s combination of ruthless efficiency and  brute force for 155.

When the words ‘‘ENGLAND HAVE AVOIDED THE FOLLOW-ON’’ flashed up on the scoreboard, thanks to debutant No.11 Boyd Rankin’s first runs in Test cricket, the Barmy Army greeted the achievement with a raucous cheer. England still conceded a first innings decifit of 171.

Gooch admitted Cook was feeling the pressure as captain but backed him to lead England out of the debris. ‘‘When things have gone the way they have unfolded for us there is more pressure and you feel more responsible as a captain. He made an error in judgment today, most players have been out that way, but it’s particularly poignant when it happens like that at the beginning of the day when you’re trying to set the tone,’’ Gooch said.

‘‘Ultimately the individual has to make the decision but for me he is still the guy who should be there as the rebuilding takes place.

‘‘I think everyone on this tour would not like to leave under the circumstances of this tour, four-nil down and behind the eight ball in the fifth game. I think everyone will be trying to put things right.’’

Michael Clarke’s team is on course to emulate the Australian side of 1920-21, led by Warwick Armstrong, and Ricky Ponting’s team of champions in 2006-07 with an Ashes whitewash. Johnson, with 34 wickets at an astonishing success rate of 14.02, only needs to run through England one more time to become the fourth Australian to collect 40 wickets in an Ashes campaign.

 

7 comments so far

  • Worse than slaughter of lambs
    Beyond hopeless with bat and ball
    No need to break any f**king arms
    Go Australia

    PS. I hope they fly economy, without an 82 page menu, and ECB, please send the A team next time

    Commenter
    Just the facts
    Date and time
    January 04, 2014, 8:32PM
    • The 2011 Ashes defeat of Australia at home was worse considering 3 of those were innings defeats. People and their selective memories

      Commenter
      Ray
      Location
      Auckland
      Date and time
      January 05, 2014, 8:54AM
  • I was at the game, I can assure you that the "bronx" cheer on England avoiding the follow-on was from the entire crowd. And let's not yet kid ourselves that South Africa will play like England. As good as it is to beat the Poms 5-0 we are not yet favourites to beat South Africa.

    Commenter
    a don
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    January 04, 2014, 11:48PM
    • To misquote Winston Churchill, the Poms are either at your throat or at your feet. We need to keep our foot firmly on their collective throats,as we apply the maximum pressure until we hear the whistling sound of their last gasp. What a completely hopeless bunch of losers - I almost wrote amateurs but that belittles lovers of the game who play it for the sheer love of the game. This bunch of show ponies are little short of a disgrace. Still, having bemoaned how hopeless are the Poms - good on us, for thrashing them in every department - except perhaps batting. But, we've shown how exceptional coaching coupled with dogged captaincy and well learned skills beats hyperbole and arrogance. The best of Aussiness against the worst of Pomminess.

      Commenter
      Davo
      Location
      Oz
      Date and time
      January 05, 2014, 12:35AM
      • Just great to thrash the Poms and regain the Ashes , but ...with the Aussie top order going for not much - again - there will need to be a big improvement if we're going to do well against the Saffers in the approaching tour .

        Commenter
        Daniel
        Location
        rural NSW
        Date and time
        January 05, 2014, 5:57AM
        • Australia will lose both the series against the saffas and the one against Pakistan in UAE, by identical margins of 3-0. Their batting is very weak and revolves around Clarke. Haddin will not be able to perform his heroics against the likes of Ajmal, Steyn and Co.

          Commenter
          Ray
          Location
          Auckland
          Date and time
          January 05, 2014, 9:12AM
          • Ray, you wouldn't happen to be a Forensic Auditor for the Inland Revenue Department would you? Do you notice that you often spend the evening at a party in the company of potted plants and dark corners?

            Commenter
            Fanta Pants
            Date and time
            January 05, 2014, 10:13AM

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