On Day 1 of the third Ashes Test at the MCG, England’s batting woes in the series continued as they were bowled out for a meagre 185. Pat Cummins, who missed the second Test, was named captain after winning the toss and choosing to bowl first. As skipper Cummins took his wicket, Haseeb Hameed, who had a new partner in the form of Zak Crawley, suffered his third duck in 2021.
As far as post-Christmas hangovers go, Joe Root’s men produced yet another batting disaster show, putting their series aspirations on life support at 2-0 down heading to Melbourne.
● England’s Horrific Form Continues
Haseeb Hameed hit two of the first ten balls he faced, one of which was a Pat Cummins bouncer. This was England’s 50th duck of the season and their second in a row following the opener. Since being recalled against India this summer, four of Hameed’s innings have resulted in ducks, giving him a 50% strike rate. In this series, England’s average first-wicket partnership is 7.6, the lowest since 1877.
The only thing bothering Australia’s bowlers so far in this series has been Dawid Malan and Joe Root’s third-wicket partnerships. Things were looking positive for England when the pair combined to put on 48 in 19 overs before lunch. Unfortunately for the pair – and much of England’s resolve – Cummins struck on the stroke of noon.
Root hit his seventh Ashes half-century in just 12 Tests in Australia – and his third in this series – with the benchmark arriving in just 76 deliveries early in the afternoon session. He was gone in five balls, playing at Mitchell Starc when he didn’t have to and securing the record for the most unconverted fifties by an Englishman in Australia, which he previously shared with Nasser Hussain and Tom Hayward.
Indiscipline with the bat was once again the enemy, with bаlls that would not have struck the stumps removing all but two batsmen. Ben Stokes’ dismissal, which came after he fenced Cameron Green to point as the tourists collapsed to 115 for five in the afternoon session, was particularly aggravating. Buttler was then hit with an even worse shot on the stroke of tea.
Mаrk Wood, who had been promoted to No 8, was then out lbw to Scott Bolаnd early in the evening session, unlucky to be given out lbw on the field and not saved by DRS since it was unclear whether the bаll had struck the bat or the pad first. After Jonny Bairstow was caught trying to uppercut Mitchell Stаrc for 35, Bolаnd had already taken his maiden Test wicket, and England was eight down and neаrly all out.
For Australia, David Warner and Marcus Harris (20 not out) put on a 57-run opening stand. Warner was caught at gully for 38 on Jimmy Anderson’s bowling.
After being injured on the hand by a bouncer from Stokes in the next over, Harris required medical care, but he made it to the end of play with nightwatchman Nathan Lyon, giving the hosts the upper hand once more in this series.
Boland, who is only the second Indigenous player to play for Australia in Test cricket, said Australia’s bowlers put in a lot of effort to make England’s batters perform.