England lose Ashes series after collapsing to 68 all out in Melbourne
In 12 days either side of Christmas, England lost the Ashes and their cricketing dignity with more than half the series still left to play.
At 11.50am on day three of the third Test at the MCG, Cam Green captured the final English wicket to rout them for 68 in their second innings as they lost by an innings and 14 runs.
This was not just an Ashes defeat, it was an utter capitulation. A surrender that simply must bring about real and meaningful change when it comes to the way England addresses Test cricket.
As wonderful as the World Cup win in 2019 was, this was the polar opposite. An horrific episode in the history of English cricket that was barely believable even though it unfolded in front of our very eyes.
In just four overs, Australia's journeyman debutant, Scott Boland picked up the incredible figures of 6-7 to complete the misery on the worst display of Ashes cricket your correspondent has ever seen.
It was an abject effort from the entire lineup who are simply done with cricket out here.
A ninth defeat in a year is a new record. They have never lost as many games in a year and 68 all out is their lowest Ashes score since 1904.
One by one they arrived in the middle and one by one they left, totally bereft of any idea how to play the bowling in front of them and barely troubling the scoreboard.
The record of 54 ducks in a calendar year for an England team was set in 1998 just before England officially became the worst team in the world. It has now been equalled.
When Joe Root and Ben Stokes walked out to bat in bright sunshine, they gave the appearance of two men with the bit between their teeth and with a point to prove.
A couple of strong drives down the ground from them both, added to the feeling that maybe, finally the best two batsmen in the team might put the hammer down and produce a performance at the death.
Instead, Stokes was cleaned up neck and crop by Mitchell Starc who nipped one back through the gate to clip the top of middle stump and the collapse began.
Jonny Bairstow might feel aggrieved at the umpire’s decision that saw him give lbw to Boland when he all but got outside the line of the off stump, but then again had he hit it the umpire would not have raised the finger.
Root followed to the same man minutes later, driving and edging to slip in the manner of a man who has nothing more to give. And why would he?
It ended his incredible run scoring year with a tally of 1,708 just two behind the great Viv Richards and third on the all time list for epic years.
Amazing really to think that the captain has scored all those runs and yet England’s batting as a team has been in the gutter throughout.
Mark Wood, Ollie Robinson and James Anderson followed in quick succession, but there are no expectations on their shoulders.
They tried hard to get their team back in the contest with the ball and nearly managed it, but then if they’d known what was to follow with the batting they might not have busted quite as many guts.
This was a dismal morning at Australian cricket’s citadel, and while there will be plenty of anger at the result and the performance, it should quickly give way to sadness.
That English Test cricket has come to this after a golden generation of cricketers and success really is something. What a way to ruin a legacy.
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