England slumped to an emphatic innings and 51 runs defeat in the second Ashes Test at the Adelaide Oval today after they suffered yet another lower-order collapse.
Resuming on 36 for three and needing a further 174 just to make Australia bat again, the tourists had hoped the forecast for storms could salvage an unlikely draw by frustrating Australia on the final two days.
The expected heavy rain never materialised, however, as England slumped to 159 all out despite a determined 74-run partnership between Michael Vaughan and Alec Stewart, while tail-ender Richard Dawson also contributed 19 which threatened to at least prevent an innings defeat.
The tourists suffered an early setback on the fourth day when Robert Key fell to the 10th ball of the day, pulling seamer Andy Bichel to Darren Lehmann at short mid-wicket which brought Stewart and Vaughan together as Australia kept their sight on victory before lunch.
Instead, Stewart dominated a 74-run partnership which was only ended when Vaughan fell to a brilliant diving catch in the deep from Glenn McGrath after he had slog-swept Shane Warne.
Stewart had the responsibility of guiding England as close as he could to Australia's total, but Vaughan's demise began another slide towards defeat with the tourists losing five wickets for 29 runs.
Once Stewart fell, trapped leg before to Warne for 57, only Dawson's cameo innings could lift English spirits before he became last man out when he edged McGrath behind to wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist to seal the tourists' fate.
England skipper Nasser Hussain was once again left to reflect on what might have been.
The tourists looked to have batted themselves into a strong position after the first day, but failed to build on a promising start.
He told Sky Sports: "We had our chances on the first day. We put ourselves in a good position and then tossed it away to be honest.
"To lose seven for 30-odd on a pretty flat Adelaide wicket second day was pretty poor really."
England have seen their party decimated by injury, but Hussain refused to use that as an excuse for the disappointing defeat which now leaves Australia in a strong position to retain the Ashes.
He said: "We are really down to the bare minimum with players now.
"We have got to address the fitness situation of players and make sure that everyone who plays is fit and then just work at our own game.
"We are playing against a fantastic side. You can't take that away from them.
"We have got to try and win the small battle and not concentrate on the big battle."
Hussain added: "In all three disciplines, they have shown if you play positive batting you get runs and if you put the ball in the right areas you get wickets, so I think we can all learn from this Australian side."
The third Ashes Test begins in Perth on Friday and Hussain reflected: "Sprit is not bad in the camp. We know we are letting ourselves down, but we have some star players in our side, like Vaughan and Dawson.
"Those things lift us and hopefully there will be a few more of those moments in Perth."
Victorious Australia captain Steve Waugh reflected: "All round I thought we batted well, we scored quickly and put pressure on England.
"With our quality bowlers it does put pressure on their batsman in the second innings."
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