The Sacred Ashes Urn returns to Australia – England crushed
Early on the second morning, England were cruising along at 4-368 with Malan and Bairstow looking comfortable. Somehow, England still managed to lose the Third Ashes Test by an innings and 41 runs and meekly surrendered cricket’s most sacred trophy back to the Aussies, 3-0. Somehow, England’s abysmal performance has made a very average Australian side look like world-beaters. Kudos to the supreme skill and single bloody-mindedness of Australian captain, Steve Smith. He is the one player from the two sides who is world-class and was in another dimension to everyone else on the field.
Smith’s successful pace plan
Smith was always confident that Australia’s battery of pace bowlers in Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins would do the job. He had initially wanted a fourth quick in the injured James Pattinson to effectively equip the Baggy Greens with a 4-man pace attack reminiscent of the fearsome West Indian pace-attack of the 1980’s. What Smith didn’t count on was the development of Nathan Lyon into a serious wold class spinner. Lyon, along with Cummins, Starc and Hazlewood now forms part of the best-test-attack currently in world cricket. A 4-test series in South Africa in early 2018 will test how good or great this bowling unit can become.
Can England avoid a 5-0 whitewash?
Broad has struggled. Alistair Cook looks a shadow of the player who decimated the Aussie bowlers back in 2010-11 and skipper Joe Root (who only a short time ago was being spoken about as the best young batsmen in the game with Smith, Kohli and Williamson) has had his mental weaknesses exposed. At the WACA on Sunday, he flashed at the worst ball Lyon has bowled this series and edged to slip like a club cricketer when England simply needed a captain’s knock. England appear to be mentally frazzled.
Can England come back?
Watch the Fourth Ashes Test beginning at the MCG on Tuesday, December 26 to find out.