Joe Root and David Malan gave England hope – but the rest of the batsmen only gave hope and despair.
On the third day of the second Test, captain Root and No. 3 Malan batted in the opening session and a surge of optimism ensued.
Perhaps England was going to finally put in a good effort with the bat.
We should have known better. Whatever happened after that was as weak and lamentable as England’s collection of faltering batsmen has shown in 2021.
Root and Malan put up terrific shots and there are few words that can describe the shocking dismissals of Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler.
What’s the matter with these people? Where is the nous, the flexibility and willingness to try to stay? Think what, guys, you can’t score runs unless you are actually out in the middle.
At 150-2, England lost four wickets for 19 runs and were eventually all out for 236 – a first innings deficit of 237 runs.
By the end, Australia were 45–1 ahead, with England’s only success coming from the run-out of David Warner. The Australian team will enter the fourth day with a lead of 282.
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As they did in the second innings of the first Test, Root and Malan batted with caliber that no other England batsman had approached.
He was calm and calm, scoring better than three overs. For one season at least, the Aussies were sorely missing out on absentee Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
But, as we know, it is hope that kills.
Once they parted ways, England were shattered with poor shots. In fact, the bad shots started even before they parted ways as both Root and Malan were guilty.
Root was dismissed for the second time out of three by all-rounder Cameron Green so far, sidestepping a ball he could have gone to second slip.
It was his second half-century of the series and the seventh of his last seven Test matches in Australia.
Root still does not have a century in an Ashes match. And let’s hope his old mistake of failing to convert half-centuries into centuries doesn’t come back.
He took his Test tally from 2021 to 1606 and is now fourth on the all-time list of runs in a calendar year behind only Pakistan’s Mohammad Yousuf, Windies legend Viv Richards and former South African opener Graeme Smith.
Like Root, Malan punched his bat in desperation after being dismissed. They both knew that like Brisbane, even a half-century was not enough. Big centuries were the order of the day.
Malan hit Mitchell Starc for a four and tried to do the same off the next ball, only to go to first slip.
After this, the helpless Pope once again set out for a walk. It’s hard to miss a top-class batsman who looks so frantic and agitated against the slower guys.
Pope was caught at short leg off Nathan Lyon, but reviews showed that the ball had come out of his hands. Guess what the Pope did next?
Two balls later, he steered the pitch towards Lyon and caught Marnus Labuschagne at short leg. almost unbelievable.
If you thought it was bad, what about Joss Butler?
He aimed an ambitious drive off Starc and, naturally, took a catch that was snatched safely at first slip. Australia catches its catches, England often don’t.
Buttler was caught in a clear net and his Test career was crumbling towards its end.
Chris Woakes played some great cover drives before being bowled by Lyon and Ollie Robinson, who has more potential with the bat currently showing, was lbw.
Ben Stokes, attempting to manipulate the strike and swing hard, was dragged and given a mini-bombard of short balls before Stuart Broad spooned a catch to cover.