Cricket

England under the whip to retain the Ashes Down Under

10 December 2017 - 00:00 By The Daily Telegraph

The last time England won in Perth, they beat a team of Australian pub-quiz questions. Rick Darling, John Maclean and Alan Hurst were among the victims in a Kerry Packer-denuded side.
Thirty-nine years later, the Ashes hosts are more "no mercy" than "no name".
With alarming accuracy, and sobering intent, Australia's bowling attack made a mockery of England's hopes of chasing down 354 runs to win the second test.
Australia's captain Steve Smith took a sleeping pill the night before to ease his nerves, but Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon were wide awake to the challenge on this short fifth day in Adelaide.
Under a glistening sky, they blew away six English batsmen for 56 runs with bowling of exquisitely measured length. No wonder Smith was so pleased with "Josh, Gazza and Paddy".
England now need to win two of the last three tests and draw the other to retain the urn. They must do so against a side superior in both major respects. And captain Joe Root was adamant his side were still "massively in this series".
England fly to Perth - for the third test, starting on Thursday - where they have not beaten Australia for nearly 40 years, with Root two steps towards joining Alastair Cook and Andrew Flintoff as England captains who have lost an Ashes series in Down Under 5-0.
Moeen Ali's bowling has been ineffective and he has been dismissed four times by Nathan Lyon, Alastair Cook is averaging 15, Jonny Bairstow has a top score of 42 from four innings, while Root has twice passed 50 without going on to make a century, a habit that is causing him major concern.IN A BETTER PLACE
Despite the initial hope generated by the start of England's pursuit of a record Ashes run-chase in Adelaide, Australia's relentless line and length at pace was too good. England lost their last six wickets for 57 runs in only 22.2 overs.
"We have shown that for periods we can outperform Australia, but just not for five days, and that is going to be our challenge," said Root. "The way we went about the second innings proved we are still massively in this series.
"If we can get that right and perform to our ability for longer periods of time, we will win games. I don't think we are in a situation that we were last time we were here. We are in a much better place than that."
Root was a junior member of the team when England lost 5-0 four years ago and were torn apart by infighting. There is more unity in the squad now, but less experience.
"I think we are playing better cricket this time around," said Root.
"I don't think we [the teams] are as unevenly matched as we were last time. We have been in control for periods of the game, where I don't think necessarily that was the case last time around. We just have to try to harness those periods."
While Australia have called up Mitchell Marsh for the third test - Peter Handscomb's place in the middle order is under scrutiny - there are few options for England, and head coach Trevor Bayliss has already indicated they will play the same team at the Waca.
"I can't see a reason to change the team," he said.

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