England’s top order collapse in face of hypnotic attack on day three in Sydney

Haseeb Hameed was first to go when he was cleaned up through a yawning gate.

Rory Dollard
Friday 07 January 2022 03:36
Comments
England’s top order, including Zak Crawley, was blown away again on day three of the fourth Ashes Test, staggering to 36 for four amid a hypnotic sequence of dot balls and wickets from the Australia attack (Jason O’Brien/PA)
England’s top order, including Zak Crawley, was blown away again on day three of the fourth Ashes Test, staggering to 36 for four amid a hypnotic sequence of dot balls and wickets from the Australia attack (Jason O’Brien/PA)

England’s top order was blown away again on day three of the fourth Ashes Test, staggering to 36 for four amid a hypnotic sequence of dot balls and wickets from the Australia attack.

The opening session was delayed and shortened by rain, but England are becoming masters of the fast forward collapse and were once again ruthlessly exposed.

Haseeb Hameed was first to go when he was cleaned up through a yawning gate and by the time lunch came the punchdrunk tourists had lost three more batters in a mesmerising spell of 53 runless deliveries.

Joe Root was unable to spark England on day three at the SCG (Jason O’Brien/PA)

Zak Crawley echoed Hameed by having his stumps splattered, captain Joe Root buckled under the pressure by nicking off for a duck and Dawid Malan was caught at leg-slip in the last over.

Scott Boland, who took six for seven in his dream debut in Melbourne in the Boxing Day Test, made yet another remarkable intervention as he went to the interval with figures of two for nought from four overs.

It was yet another dismal episode for a side who are staring at a 4-0 deficit in the series and a probable whitewash, barring a dramatic shift in fortunes at Hobart next week.

The ball was doing plenty, with unpredictable bounce and lots of painful blows, but Test teams can be expected to negotiate tricky patches, on tricky pitches, without giving in to outright surrender.

The struggles Down Under continued for Hameed in Sydney (Jason O’Brien/PA)

Hameed endured the latest chastening knock of a tour that may well set his career trajectory into reverse, nicking his third ball of the day from Mitchell Starc only for wicketkeeper Alex Carey to dive in front first slip and spill the chance.

Two balls later he punched a boundary through point but it was a momentary respite as Starc went back to business at his next visit, smashing Hameed’s stumps for six as he aimed a ragged drive down the ground.

Crawley, who had been caught off a no-ball on the first evening, was also worked over. He offered a tough chance at short-leg on seven, was thumped on the thigh pad and dropped the bat in pain when Starc crushed his fingers against the handle.

He got in a couple of replies to reach 18 but echoed Hameed’s dismissal when he was cleaned up between bat and pad by the relentless Starc.

Scott Boland went to lunch with astonishing figures (Jason O’Brien/PA)

The change of bowling offered England no joy whatsoever, with Boland and Cameron Green only cranking up the pressure even further as they failed to concede a single run in 7.5 overs of absolute precision.

Boland got the prize scalp of Root, who threw his hands at one that was too tight to attack and sent a fizzing catch to the alert Steve Smith at second slip.

After holding up the England batting throughout 2021, the skipper’s patience had snapped. Malan had been skittish in eking out three runs in more than an hour at the crease, hitting fresh air with a couple of cut shots and seeing a top edge drop just in front of mid-wicket.

He was struck on the glove immediately before departing to the final ball of the session, fiddling Green down to the waiting catcher at leg slip.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in