On Tuesday, a resilient Australia, led by rookie Scott Boland, skittled England for a humiliating 68 to win the third Test by an innings and 14 runs and reclaim the Ashes with two matches remaining.
Just when a demoralized England believed their trip couldn’t get any worse, they collapsed in the morning of day three in Melbourne and will now be anxious to escape a series whitewash.
England started at the MCG on 31 for four, 51 runs adrift, after a terrible last hour on Monday against some excellent fast bowling that shattered their Ashes hopes.
Their survival was dependent on captain Joe Root, but when he was dismissed for 28, it was only a matter of time until the others followed suit — all before noon in an ugly chapter for English cricket.
Boland, who was brought in as injury cover, was unstoppable on his home field, taking 6-7 from four overs and eclipsing the record for the quickest five-wicket haul in 19 deliveries.
Mitchell Starc finished with 3-29, thus ending England’s agony.
“It is pretty insane. Just an awesome few weeks, everything clicked and everything worked out,” said Australian skipper Pat Cummins. “Thrilled for Scott Boland. We have been relentless.
“The bowlers have just turned up and owned their areas outside off-stump. There have been big partnerships, everyone’s performed, everyone’s contributed — it’s a great feeling.”
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After resuming on two, Ben Stokes was clean bowled for 11 by Starc, his poor tour continuing. With Bairstow on five, Root out, and the tailenders soon after, it was all over.
“It is what it is,” said a dejected Root, who is facing growing calls over his captaincy.
“Credit to Australia, they blew us away last night and they have outplayed us in this Test match — in fact the series so far.
“We have a lot of hard work to do now and come back strong in the last two games.”