ashes-in-a-nutshell:-boxing-day-blues-for-beleaguered-england

Ashes in a nutshell: Boxing Day blues for beleaguered England

A 50th duck of the year, another batting collapse and regaining the Ashes looking nothing but fantasy – things got even worse for England at the MCG; Australia seamer Scott Boland strikes on Test debut as home side dominate again

Last Updated: 26/12/21 9:40am

    Joe Root was furious with himself after snicking Mitchell Starc behind for 50

    Joe Root was furious with himself after snicking Mitchell Starc behind for 50

    When you think it cannot get any worse for England, it does. All out for 185 in Melbourne as the Ashes continue to slip away. Here are the notables from another dismal day for the tourists…

    SCORECARD | REPORT

    THE KEY NOTES

    – England rolled for 185 on day one of must-win third Ashes Test at MCG

    – Joe Root top-scores with 50 but no other batter passes 35

    – Haseeb Hameed bags second duck in a row

    – Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon share six wickets

    – Scott Boland takes wicket on Australia Test debut

    – Australia close on 61-1, trailing England by just 124

    – Hosts 2-0 up in series and will retain Ashes if they avoid defeat

    Pat Cummins returned to Australia's side after Covid isolation and picked up three wickets in the first session

    Pat Cummins returned to Australia’s side after Covid isolation and picked up three wickets in the first session

    TALKING POINT

    The batting (again) which was below par (again) as England failed to post a substantial score (again). Root called for a response after the shellacking in Adelaide but did not get one.

    That’s now 12 times in 2021 that Root’s side have been rolled for less than 200, with their highest first-innings score in this Ashes series the paltry 236 they put on the board in the pink-ball Test.

    Root has been the beacon for England this year and following his half-century in Melbourne, he is now up to 1,680 Test runs for 2021 but he was one of the guilty parties on Boxing Day, throwing his wicket away by fishing outside off stump against Mitchell Starc after doing the hard work.

    The same applied to two more senior men, in Ben Stokes (25) and Jos Buttler (3), who fell cheaply to Cameron Green and Nathan Lyon respectively. Buttler’s dismissal, caught in the deep after charging at Lyon in the over before tea, was particularly galling considering the value he put on his wicket in Adelaide a few days ago when his epic rearguard had fans dreaming of a draw that was, alas, not to be.

    This series has been a real struggle for Haseeb Hameed and the now-dropped Rory Burns and Ollie Pope and so England need their established players to be ruthless.

    Root, for all his runs in 2021, has not been ruthless in this series with Sunday’s dismissal meaning he has failed to convert three fifties into something more significant, harking back to a problem he encountered a few years ago.

    That will frustrate him, with the skipper confident he could “bang out” a hundred when he spoke to media before the MCG Test, and so will the fact England are not learning from their mistakes. Soft dismissal after soft dismissal is costing the tourists and tightening Australia’s grip on the urn.

    Haseeb Hameed bagged England's 50th Test duck of 2021 and his second in as many innings

    Haseeb Hameed bagged England’s 50th Test duck of 2021 and his second in as many innings

    STAT OF THE DAY

    Hameed’s duck was the 50th England have suffered in Test cricket in 2021. They now just four shy of matching the record 54 they bagged in 1998.

    MOMENT OF THE DAY

    It has to be Scott Boland’s first Test wicket.

    At 32, the seamer was probably wondering whether he would ever add a red-ball appearance for his country to the 17 white-ball games he managed way back in 2016.

    But the continued absence of Josh Hazlewood (side) and soreness for fellow seamers Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser gave Boland an Ashes opportunity on his home ground and 12 overs into his debut he hit the jackpot – or Mark Wood’s pad, to be precise.

    Scott Boland, the fourth Indigenous Australian to play Test cricket, dismissed Mark Wood on debut

    Scott Boland, the fourth Indigenous Australian to play Test cricket, dismissed Mark Wood on debut

    Boland had to wait, firstly as umpire Paul Reiffel took his time raising his finger and then as Wood reviewed the lbw decision, but ultimately the seamer had his man with third umpire Rod Tucker deciding the ball, which was set to career into middle stump, had hit pad before bat.

    Joy for Boland on the day he became just the fourth Indigenous Australian Test cricketer, after Jason Gillespie, Faith Thomas and Ashleigh Gardner. The burly paceman’s wicket delighting his team-mates – and not just the ones on the field.

    TWEETS OF THE DAY

    England all out for 185. Imagine how bad they’d be if Root failed.

    — Lawrence Booth (@the_topspin) December 26, 2021

    Calling it now, England will *NOT* be performing ‘the sprinkler’ on the MCG outfield this week.

    — Rory Dollard (@thervd) December 26, 2021

    We have a pitch invader. The fine for doing that at the MCG is the fascinatingly specific $9,913.20, which makes it quite an expensive day out.

    — Will Macpherson (@willis_macp) December 26, 2021

    The Barmy Army trumpeter has just played ‘The Great Escape’ theme. It’s day one.

    — George Dobell (@GeorgeDobell1) December 26, 2021

    WHAT THEY SAID

    Steve Harmison, talking to BT Sport: “Australia put the ball in the right areas and asked England if they could handle it but the answer was no. Senior players like Joe Root and Jos Buttler have just had brain fades.”

    England batter Jonny Bairstow: “We’ve got to get a bit stronger and tougher with our dismissals. That’s just being honest with ourselves.”

    Australia seamer Mitchell Starc, speaking to BT Sport: “There probably wasn’t the air speed but I thought will still bowled really well, a fraction fuller than England. Collectively, 185 all out is really good day for us.”