England wrapped up victory in the second Test of The Ashes played at Lord’s by 347 runs after bowling Australia out for 235 in their second innings on Day Four. England thus took a 2-0 lead in the five-match series, while Australia slipped to their seventh straight Test defeat.
The result of the match was a foregone conclusion, some would say, right on Day Two when Australia were bowled out for 128 after England posted 361 in the first innings. Then, after the hosts declared their second innings on 349 for seven, setting Australia a next to impossible target of 583, even a miracle would have seemed insufficient to save them.
However, the manner in which Australia collapsed for the second straight time in the match reads a sorry tale of what was once a world-beating team. In the first Test at Trent Bridge, Australia, counted as underdogs, gave England a right run for their money before slipping to a narrow 14-run loss. Expectations were high for an exciting Ashes series, but after the damp squib at Lord’s neutrals of the game would only feel sorry after witnessing Australia’s double capitulation.
The tourists were never in the chase, save for a determined 98-run partnership between Usman Khawaja (54) and Michael Clarke (51) for the fourth wicket that almost took them through the afternoon session unscathed, and a defiant 43-run vigil for the last wicket between James Pattinson (35) and Ryan Harris (16 not out) that threatened to take the match into the fifth day.
Earlier, England declared their second innings on 349 for seven in the morning, after losing the wickets of overnight batsmen Jonny Bairstow (20) and Joe Root (180) within the first 20 minutes of the day.
Bairstow was the first to go after getting cramped up for room and edging Ryan Harris to the wicketkeeper. Root, unbeaten on 178 overnight, added two more runs to his total before going for an audacious overhead scoop off Harris, but could only find third-man. The 22-year-old thus missed out on becoming the first English right-handed opener since Graham Gooch to score a double hundred. England skipper Alastair Cook immediately declared the team’s innings after Root’s wicket, thus giving Australia an improbable target to win.
With a snowflake’s chance in hell of saving the game, Australia had their pride to protect if not anything. However, the spitting cobra nature of the Day Four Lord’s pitch heaped on the misery on the tourists as Graeme Swann picked up a brace before lunch. Australia lost the wickets of Shane Watson, Chris Rogers and Phil Hughes before the interval, and faced an uphill task of making it to the tea break.
However, Khawaja and Clarke went on to build a gritty little partnership, playing out the England bowlers, Graeme Swann in particular, really well. England’s leading spinner was getting vicious turn from the spitting cobra of a Day Four pitch at Lord’s. But Clarke played his typical leggy innings and used his feet efficiently against Swann. Khawaja also showed the required maturity and stuck around with his captain, executing the pull shot with elegance.
The duo looked set to carry Australia into the tea break without further damage, before Root got Clarke to nick him to leg-slip 20 minutes before tea, after a 98-run stand. Root’s day got better as he got Khawaja in his very next over, to pour water on all of Australia’s efforts.
The final session was a mere formality, as England toyed with the Australian lower order, before the last-wicket pairing of Pattinson and Harris frustrated them for a good hour. The duo forced England to request for the extra half an hour of play towards the end of the day and were four deliveries from surviving till stumps, before Swann trapped Pattinson leg-before for 35 to provide relief and ecstasy.
The last time Australia overturned a 2-0 deficit to win The Ashes was back in 1936-37. Given Australia’s performance over the last four days, chances aren’t very high of a witnessing repetition.
England 361 (Jonathan Trott 58, Ian Bell 109, Jonny Bairstow 67; Ryan Harris 5 for 72, Steven Smith 3 for 18) and 349 for 7 (Joe Root 180, Ian Bell 74; Peter Siddle 3 for 65) lead Australia 128 (Shane Watson 30; Tim Bresnan 2 for 28, Graeme Swann 5 for 44) and 235 (Usman Khawaja 54, Michael Clarke 51; Graeme Swann 4 for 78, Joe Root 2 for 9) by 347 runs.