Australia took a 2-0 Ashes series lead with a 120 run victory over England in the second Test in Adelaide.
Mitchell Starc starred with the ball, taking 5-33 as the tourists, who had threatened an unlikely comeback on day four, were bowled out for 233 as they chased an English record 354 for victory.
England must now avoid defeat in all of the remaining three Tests in order to retain the urn.
“It is phenomenal to be up 2-0 in the series now”, said Australia captain Steve Smith.
“I thought England fought back really hard [on day four] and with the ball in [Australia’s] second innings but we always thought today that if we could get a couple of wickets before the new ball that 180 runs was a lot of runs to score.”
“on another day I might go another way but in the end we’ve won the test match” – steve smith
Australia dominated the rain effected first two days of the first ever Ashes day/night Test.
After being put in to bat they declared their first innings on 442-8, with Shaun Marsh 126 not out and Tim Paine and Usman Khawja both posting half-centuries, before skittling England for just 227, with Chris Woakes and debutant Craig Overton – who made 41 not out – offering some late resistance.
Smith chose not to enforce the follow on and England looked to have punished that decision as Aussie wickets tumbled in difficult evening batting conditions.
James Anderson was imperious as he claimed 5-43, with Woakes adding 4-36 as Australia slumped to 138 all out.
“Would I do the same again? I’m not sure. It’s played on my mind a bit the last few days and I thought, ‘have I made a mistake here?'”, said Smith of the decision to not enfore the follow on.
“My rationale was not wanting to bowl my bowlers in to the ground.
“On another day I might decide to go another way but in the end we’ve won the Test match so it’s irrelevant”, added the Australia captain.
Having given themselves a glimmer of hope with the ball, England reached 176-4 by the close of play on day four with Joe Root well placed on 67, although the late loss of Dawid Malan, who had a built a successful partnership with his skipper, looked like it may be decisive.
“We showed what we can do in the second innings. We need to keep that going over a longer period” – Joe Root
And so it proved. Woakes, sent in as night watchman on day four, was caught behind off the bowling of Josh Hazlewood with the final day’s second ball, setting the tone for what was to come.
When Root also fell victim to Hazlewood in the third over, having failed to add to his overnight total, the signs were ominous.
And Starc ripped through the middle and lower order, accounting for Overton, Stuart Broad and Jonny Bairstow, adding to the earlier second innings wickets of Mark Stoneman and James Vince, to wrap things up.
Disappointed England captain Root saw positives, despite the defeat, and refused to rule his team out of the series.
“We came to the ground this morning well in the fight but, unfortunately, those two early wickets cost us”, he said.
“Credit where credit is due, [Australia] bowled really well and we have to be better.
“We showed what we can do in the second innings. We just need to keep those performances going over a longer period of time.”
Australia will look to regain the Ashes with victory in Perth, an Australian Ashes series stronghold, when the third test begins on 14th December.
–Alistair Sargent, Editor