England in tatters after Marsh brothers tons


7 January, 2018 17:08 PM

England in tatters after Marsh brothers tons

Nathan Lyon claimed the wicket of Dawid Malan - Cricinfo

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Australia are on the brink of a 4-0 series win after another day of dominance on day four at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday.

England finished on 93 for 4 at the close, still, 210 runs behind, and faced with the unlikely prospect of batting out the whole final day to save the Test.

After Australia had racked up a huge 649 for 7 declared during the second session, England lost two wickets before the tea break which ended any real hopes the visitors had of saving the match.

Mark Stoneman was pinned LBW by Mitchell Starc for a duck - it has been a tough series for the opener - and then Alastair Cook was bowled by a beauty from Nathan Lyon which pitched on middle and spun away sharply to clip the offstump.

At that stage England were 15 for 2 and shortly after the break, James Vince was caught at first slip - no surprise there - off Pat Cummins for 18 which left England looking down the barrel of a four-day defeat.

It also left Vince's place in the side under serious threat for the upcoming tour to New Zealand. Aesthetically pleasing though he may be, a Test average of 22.70 after 12 Tests and a disproportionate number of dismissals caught behind the wicket is simply not good enough.

A brief partnership between Joe Root and Dawid Malan, England's two best batsmen on this tour, looked as if it may develop into something substantial before Lyon trapped Malan LBW on the back foot for 5. The batsman reviewed to no avail. Shortly before that, Root had taken a nasty blow to his bottom hand from Starc which required treatment from the England physiotherapist. He was able to continue and ended the day on 42 from 123 balls while Jonny Bairstow was still there too on 17.

Root played excellently and showed plenty of skill and determination. England's captain proved that he has certainly not given up the hope of saving this match although both him and Bairstow will have to make big hundreds, batting most of the fifth day, if England are to do so given the weakness of the tourists' tail. There's a chance, of course, but it's a minuscule one.

With the wicket of Malan, this Australian team became just the third side in history to have four bowlers take 20 or more wickets in a series. The bowling of Cummins, Starc, Lyon and Josh Hazlewood has been quite superb throughout not just this Test but the series; incisive, aggressive and skilful. There have been many differences between the two sides over the past seven weeks but the bowling of the home side has been perhaps the most important.

Earlier in the day, Shaun and Mitchell Marsh both brought up their second centuries of the series during the opening session, special moments that they were able to celebrate together out in the middle.

Shaun, 98 not out overnight, reached three figures in the first over of the day by driving Moeen Ali through the covers for four and Mitchell made his second Test hundred, adding to the one he made in the third Test in Perth, later in the session.


He was out next ball for 101 from 141 balls when Tom Curran nipped a full ball back to bowl him. It ended a brisk 169-run partnership between the brothers - it came at nearly four runs an over - but Australia were not done there. Tim Paine made 38 not out and shared a 52 run stand with Shaun Marsh before selling Australia's number five down the river with an attempted single to cover that wasn't there. Stoneman hit the stumps and Marsh was run out for 156.

Starc added a quickfire 11, including a six off Moeen before the same bowler had him caught at mid-off, and Cummins smashed four fours in 16 balls to finish on 24 not out before Smith declared.

England were in the field for 193 overs and passed 1000 overs in the dirt for the series. Mason Crane's figures of 1-193 from 48 overswere the most expensive ever for an English debutant while James Anderson, remarkably, conceded less than two runs an over during his 34 over stint.

The contrast between the bowling performances of England and Australia today was unmistakable, however. England toiled hard but lacked any sort of incision or pace on a flat surface although Anderson presented real problems with the third new ball.

When Australia bowled, their bowlers looked as if they might take a wicket at any moment. It has been the way of the series more generally. England have worked hard but have been outclassed by a far better and far more talented side.