|Fifth Ashes Test, Hobart (day two of five)|
|Australia 303 (Head 101, Green 74) & 37-3|
|England 188 (Cummins 4-45)|
|Australia lead by 152 runs|
England’s batting again crumpled before Australia lost late wickets on the second day of the fifth Ashes Test in Hobart.
Australia closed on 37-3 in their second innings, a lead of 152, at the end of a frenetic day when 17 wickets fell.
England had earlier been bundled out in their first innings for 188 in response to Australia’s 303.
In an awful start typical of England’s miserable tour, Rory Burns was run out for a duck in the second over.
Chris Woakes top-scored with 36 and Joe Root made 34 as a number of England batsmen failed to capitalise after getting in. Captain Pat Cummins led an excellent Australia bowling display by taking 4-45.
Needing to strike early to keep their slim hopes alive, England removed David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne to leave Australia 5-2, with Usman Khawaja then falling to Mark Wood.
Steve Smith was taken to the close by brave nightwatchman Scott Boland and despite the torrid time they were given under the floodlights, Australia are in a strong position for the victory that would see them end the series as 4-0 winners.
England are not completely out of the contest, but it would take a remarkable performance on the third day for them to end a 14-match, 11-year winless streak in Ashes Tests down under.
Weary England risk ending with a whimper
For all of the optimism England might have taken from escaping the fourth Test with a draw, this has been a timid, end-of-term performance from a team who at times have looked as if they cannot wait for the series to be over.
Australia were allowed to escape from 12-3 on Friday then, in more favourable batting conditions on Saturday, England collapsed once more in a blur of self-inflicted dismissals.
Until they took late wickets under the lights, the most fight shown by the tourists came when Stuart Broad yelled across the ground early in the day to admonish a robotic camera.
This latest collapse was the fifth time in nine innings in the series that England failed to manage 200, while they have never reached 300.
Given the seam movement offered by the grassy pitch, it is debatable as to what extent Australia’s first-innings total is above-par and how far short England have fallen.
And, even though Australia’s lead seems modest, they might not need many more runs on Saturday to give England too many to chase.
One more collapse
This was a greatest hits of an England batting failure – a demoralising run-out, tentative prods, loose strokes and leg-side strangles.
Infuriatingly, seven players made starts by reaching 10, but none to make a telling contribution. Still, it could have also been worse. Woakes was dropped twice and technology showed both Burns and Dawid Malan could have been given caught behind before they were actually dismissed.
Burns’ awful tour continued with the run out. Bowled by the first ball of the series, then dropped for Tests three and four, his return innings was ended by hesitancy over a single called for by Zak Crawley and a dive would have beaten Labuschagne’s direct hit.
Only a stand of 49 between Root and Dawid Malan interrupted the stream of wickets, after which England lost both men and Ben Stokes for the addition of only seven runs. Malan tickled Cummins down the leg side, Root was pinned on the crease by the same man and Stokes patted Mitchell Starc to cover.
Debutant Sam Billings looked promising for 29, but after Ollie Pope needlessly poked at Boland, Billings showed he was at home in this England team by top-edging Cameron Green to long leg.
Woakes was dropped on nought and five, both in the slips off Boland, going on to swipe five fours and a six. After he was caught down the leg side on review, England lost their last thee wickets for six runs.
Australia home in on 4-0
From 241-6 overnight, Australia lost Starc and Cummins to Wood’s bouncers. When Wood overdid the short stuff, Nathan Lyon hooked three sixes in his 31 and the hosts added 52 for their final two wickets.
Though the pitch has lost some of its greenness from the first day, and England were batting under clear sky, there was still enough encouragement for the Australia pace pack and they ruthlessly exposed the fragility of the tourists’ batting.
Captain Cummins was relentless, back-up by pink-ball specialist Starc, while Boland nipped the ball off the seam. Though there were times when England scored quickly, the threat posed by Australia remained constant throughout.
The only mistakes from the hosts were the drops by Warner and Khawaja but, such has been their dominance, they were laughed off.
When Australia batted again under the lights, Warner was again dismissed by Broad – well held by a flying Pope at point – for only his second pair in Test cricket, while Labuschagne was held down the leg-side off Woakes for Billings’ first catch.
After Khawaja gloved Wood’s brutal bumper, Boland was given more than 20 minutes to survive, which he came through despite being targeted by a number of venomous deliveries from Wood.