ADELAIDE: Jos Buttler’s dogged resistance ended in a bizarre fashion as Australia thrashed England by 275 runs in the day-night second Test to go 2-0 up in the five-match Ashes series on Monday.
England resumed the final day on a precarious 82-4, needing 386 more runs for an improbable win or to at least bat out the last three sessions to force a draw.
They lost talismanic Ben Stokes in the first session and Chris Woakes fell after a fighting 44, which was the highest individual score in England’s abject second innings batting display.
Buttler, who had a wretched time behind the wicket, dropping several catches, then produced a spectacular rearguard, spread over 207 deliveries, for an uncharacteristically dogged 26 that kept alive England’s faint hopes of saving the match.
It was soon snuffed out when the batsman, retreating deep into the crease to work a Jhye Richardson delivery on the off-side, trod on his own stumps.
For Australia, Richardson claimed 5-42 in a magnificent display of pace bowling.
“They showed some great resilience today,” Australia’s stand-in captain Steve Smith said of their opponents. “Jos played a really good innings, he faced over 200 balls. We were trying to stay as calm as we could out in the middle and just thought, a couple of good balls and a couple of wickets and we’ll keep going.”
Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne was adjudged man-of-the-match for his 103, the only century hit by a player from either side in the match.
Australia were without regular captain Pat Cummins, who missed out for being a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case, and injured paceman Josh Hazlewood.
“We made mistakes throughout the game that we made last week, whether it be no-balls, missed chances,” England captain Joe Root said.
“The reason it’s disappointing is because we made the same mistakes. I think we could have bowled a lot fuller, and with the bat we need to be better, make bigger scores and apply better. We just have to be better. We have to learn those lessons very quickly over the next week.”
Australia began with their senior bowlers, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, who have thrived in this Test in the absence of Cummins and Hazlewood.
Ollie Pope lasted seven balls, a boundary through midwicket his sole contribution, before he nicked Starc to Smith in the slips.
Smacking his bat against his foot as he walked off, Pope has had a poor tour to date and will be worried about his place for the third test.
Stokes was England’s last major hope of salvaging a draw and his batting was restrained, a sweep to the boundary off Lyon in the 55th over a highlight.
A few minutes later though, Lyon delivered a ball that replays showed to be hitting leg stump and Stokes was gone lbw for 12 runs in 110 minutes.
Buttler smacked Richardson through point for four runs off the quick’s second delivery but England highlights were otherwise sparse.
While Buttler’s obdurate batting took England’s fight to the final session, the miracle they needed to save the match did not materialise.
“That’s the attitude we have to harness through the whole game,” Root said. “The fight and attitude was great today and we just have to do more of it.”
Only one team has come from 2-0 down to win an Ashes series: Don Bradmans Australians in 1936-37. As holders of the Ashes, Australia needs only to draw the next match.
The third Test begins in Melbourne on Sunday and Australia have named an unchanged 15-man squad for the remaining three Ashes Tests.
Hazlewood will need to prove his fitness in the Melbourne Cricket Ground nets to play the Boxing Day Test. The fourth and fifth Tests in Sydney and Hobart, respectively, are in January.
AUSTRALIA (1st Innings) 473-9 declared (M. Labuschagne 103, D. Warner 95, S. Smith 93; B. Stokes 3-113)
ENGLAND (1st Innings) 236 (D. Malan 80, J. Root 62; M. Starc 4-37, N. Lyon 3-58)
AUSTRALIA (2nd Innings) 230-9 declared (M. Labuschagne 51, T. Head 51)
ENGLAND (2nd innings; overnight 82-4):
R. Burns c Smith b Richardson 34
H. Hameed c Carey b Richardson 0
D. Malan lbw Neser 20
J. Root c Carey b Starc 24
B. Stokes lbw b Lyon 12
O. Pope c Smith b Starc 4
J. Buttler hit wicket b Richardson 26
C. Woakes b Richardson 44
O. Robinson c Smith b Lyon 8
S. Broad not out 9
J. Anderson c Green b Richardson 2
EXTRAS (B-2, LB-3, NB-4) 9
TOTAL (all out; 113.1 overs) 192
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-4 (Hameed), 2-48 (Malan), 3-70 (Burns), 4-82 (Root), 5-86 (Pope), 6-105 (Stokes), 7-166 (Woakes), 8-178 (Robinson), 9-182 (Buttler).
BOWLING: M. Starc 27-10-43-2 (1nb), J. Richardson 19.1-9-42-5 (2nb), N. Lyon 39-16-55-2, M. Neser 13-5-28-1, C. Green 9-5-9-0, M. Labuschagne 4-2-10-0, S. Smith 1-1-0-0, T. Head 1-1-0-0
RESULT: Australia won by 275 runs.
SERIES: Australia lead 2-0.
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Marnus Labuschagne (Australia).
UMPIRES: Paul Wilson and Rod Tucker (both Australia).
TV UMPIRE: Paul Reiffel (Australia).
MATCH REFEREE: David Boon (Australia).