What was expected to be a competitive contest on day five at the Adelaide Oval quickly turned sour for England as they lost their inspirational leader & captain early in the first session, signalling the end of yet another opportunity to upset the hosts.
If the England cricket team had a must-win game in the series, this was the one. Succeeding on this particular ground in the past, the visitors were unable to capitalize in this second test at the Adelaide Oval which may have just cost them the urn. Joe Root’s bizarre decision to send the Australians in to bat first at the coin toss probably set the scene from then onwards. Overcast conditions might have swayed the English skippers decision in the end, but it was all to obvious for Australian skipper Steve Smith who admitted he would have elected to bat anyway. Adelaide is a batsmen’s paradise, even under grey-overhead conditions which any avid Australian cricket follower could have told you.
Instead of setting the wheels in motion on a brilliant batting surface on day one in Adelaide, England ended up toiling away for wickets out in the field for 149 overs as the home side posted 442/8 in their first innings with a deceleration coming late on day two. Batting at No. 6, Australia’s Shaun Marsh top scored with an unbeaten 126, notching up his fifth test century in the green & gold as well as passing father Geoff in that category. Alongside Marsh’s true-grit, wicketkeeper Tim Paine and speedster Pat Cummins contributed valuable runs & formed crucial partnerships with the set batsman at the crease. Australia made the perfect start to the match, while England’s attack couldn’t get on top of the batsmen at any stage really. England seamer James Anderson was particularly unlucky with the ball, having dismissed both Shaun Marsh & Tim Paine on separate occasions, only to be overturned by the DRS. England debutante Craig Overton managed to claim his first test wicket in that innings (later ending with 3/105), and it was an absolute beauty to Australian skipper Steve Smith as it slid past the pad and crashed into the woodwork.
England’s response to Australia’s 442 was lackluster, Mark Stoneman started really positively but couldn’t make it through the evening session thanks to a Mitchell Starc dart that whistled into his pads. Former England skipper Alastair Cook looked set to play a lengthy knock before he was undone by some brilliant spin bowling form Nathan Lyon who produced the edge to slip, sending the out of form opener back to the sheds for 37. Cook never looked comfortable against Lyon, although not many of his teammates did either to tell you the truth. From that point on, it was an absolute barrage of quality bowling from Australia who ran through England’s middle order with relative-ease. What needed to be an influential captains knock turned into yet another failure for Joe Root, and some brilliant caught & bowled dismissals from Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc dismissed the dangerous Moeen Ali and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow. Credit has to go too Chris Woakes and Craig Overton who really fought to keep England from completely submerging, Overton top scored for the visitors with an unbeaten 41. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon was the star of the show taking 4/60, Mitchell Starc was also impressive picking up 3/49.
Australia had the opportunity to enforce the follow-on, but Steve Smith decided against it as they attempted to bat England into submission with a final target that should’ve been a lot greater in the end. This time around, it was a phenomenal start to the innings for England who started to show their true potential with the ball. James Anderson dismissed Cameron Bancroft early with the new ball as David Warner and Usman Khawaja battled against the seam-friendly conditions that were starting to develop as the sun started to go down. Having hit three boundaries in his 20, Khawaja was starting to look solid before Anderson trapped him in front with a ripper. England all-rounder Chris Woakes managed to square-up David Warner with a beauty as it nipped sharply off the seam followed by a thick edge to Joe Root in the slips. At that point in time, you could feel the momentum changing as England were up and about. Australia made it through to stumps four wickets down, but England started where they left off the next day as Anderson dismissed nightwatchman Nathan Lyon and a out-of-sorts Peter Handscomb in a matter of overs. Despite some resistance from Shaun Marsh & the tail, Australia were knocked over for 138 setting England a target of 354 to win. Veteran seamer James Anderson picked up his first five-wicket haul in Australia, while Chris Woakes was just as effective ending with figures of 4/36.
We entered the unknown for the fourth & final innings of the match, Australia were still favorites to win given that only one team had previously chased down a score over 300 at this ground, and that was back in the early 1900’s. Against the odds, England made a solid start to the innings as the opening pair put on 53 for the first wicket. Having escaped an extremely-close lbw shout that was almost-certain to be given out if Australia had reviewed the decision, Alastair Cook couldn’t escape a second time and fell victim to Nathan Lyon. Cook reviewed & was unsuccessful, continuing his average form in Australia. Mark Stoneman looked really impressive against the new ball, he was taking on Australia’s best seam bowlers and cracking them through the field time and time again, he’d accumulated 36 with six boundaries in no time. When Cook was dismissed, the mood changed out in the middle and Stoneman became stagnant which led to his downfall. Mitchell Starc dismissed both Stoneman and Vince in no time, and Australia were back on top. Vince looked all over the place, and his shot that got him out was totally unnecessary, flaying at a wide ball which went straight to Peter Handscomb at first slip. England were in desperate need of a partnership, and they got it through Joe Root and Dawid Malan who almost made it until the close of play, but a Pat Cummins thunderbolt that nipped back and clean bowled Malan left England in a spin.
Joe Root stepped up big time for England in that innings, battling his way to 67 with nine boundaries against a relentless Australian bowling attack. The fifth & final day at Adelaide was set to be a cracker, England couldn’t afford to lose any early wickets, especially their skipper. It only took a couple balls for Josh Hazlewood to send Chris Woakes back to the pavilion, bringing Moeen Ali to the crease. There was a sense that England’s chances of winning were on the line in that very moment, they had two of their most prominent batsmen at the crease with not a lot left in the sheds. Fast forward two overs, Josh Hazlewood to Joe Root….GAME OVER! Hazlewood produced another ripping delivery as the ball got Root playing & nicking off the cue end of his bat through to Paine, the umpires finger went up and the sun slowly started to set on England’s chances of saving the match. It took no longer than 20 overs to rap up the match as Mitchell Starc ran through England’s tail like a freight train, and Australia had consolidated a 2-0 advantage heading to Perth. Starc picked up his eighth five-wicket haul in test cricket, but it was Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood who dismissed the dangerous trio of Cook, Root and Ali.
Australia won by 120 runs.