England is officially a rabble

Date: December 30, 2013 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

England has plummeted to a depth that would make the world’s greatest speleologist proud.

Incredibly, after successive losses to the tune of 381, 218 and 150 runs in this series, England found a way to perform still worse.

For the only time in this campaign the tourists were in front at the halfway point – a lead of 51 runs – yet they still managed to lose by eight wickets.

Everything unravelled for England on the third day when it collapsed from 0-65 to be all out for 179, leaving Australia to chase 231 on what was still a good batting pitch.

Twice in its second innings England lost three for one, and towards the end actually lost six wickets for just five runs.

The capitulation came as Mitchell Johnson – for the third time in the series man-of-the-match – continued to produce more evil than an Al Qaeda suggestion box.

His intimidation factor helped Nathan Lyon at the other end as he captured his 100th Test wicket en route to 5-50, his first five-wicket haul on home soil.

Over the past 20 years Australia has often struggled chasing a ‘gettable’ target in the last innings.

It’s undoing in the past was predicated by a tentative approach.

There was no timidity this time around.

In a little over half an hour into stumps on day three Chris Rogers and David Warner moved effortlessly to 0-30.

Warner (25) fell to Stokes with the score on 64 at the end of the 18th over on the fourth morning.

From there, Chris Rogers and Shane Watson set about seizing on any opportunity to score.

Rogers, on his adopted home ground, played the finest innings of his brief Test career.

Renowned as a nudger and accumulator he would have none of that today.

He eventually went for 116, caught behind cutting at Panesar.

He scored those runs off just 155 balls for a strike rate of 75.

It was a display that has booked him a place for the opening Test of the South Africa series at Centurion in February as he continues to provide a quintessential example of what perseverance and self-belief can achieve.

His century means each of the Australian top-five have now posted a three-figure score this series – with Warner and Michael Clarke having done so twice.

Watson again showed that he is a different player when he decides to bat with positivity.

He stroked his way to an unbeaten 83 off a mere 90 balls as the Australian top-order made merry against a beleaguered attack.

Fittingly, Clarke was at the crease when the victory was completed.

He may have contributed just six runs but it was enough to see him become the sixth Australian to go past 8000 Test runs.

The Aussie juggernaut shows no signs of abating while England appears to be rapidly descending into Dante’s ninth level of Hell.

Skipper Alastair Cook’ captaincy was at times bewildering in this match.

While he finally displayed some aggression with the willow it certainly did not flow into being more creative in the field.

He lost control of things early on day three when he allowed Brad Haddin and Lyon to score freely, adding 40 runs for the last wicket.

On the final day he did not introduce Monty Panesar into the attack until he had twice called on the services of part-time offie Joe Root.

By the time Panesar removed Rogers – in just his fourth over of the day – the horse had bolted down the High Street.

And then, with Clarke at the crease with 30 runs needed he had four men on the boundary.

Surely, with a Test still remaining you would be better served trying to get the Australian captain out rather than protect the boundary.

Once again England compounded its woes with inept fielding as three chances were grassed early on.

At the time Watson struck the winning runs, in the 52nd over, the run rate was a rapid-fire 4.45.

Over four days 271,000 fans streamed through the turnstiles.

What they were dished up by England was yet another sub-standard showing.

Unless weather has its say it is nigh impossible to believe that this will not end in a 5-nil sweep to Australia following the SCG encounter.

Clarke’s men deserve that final score line given they have totally out bowled, out batted, out fielded and out thought England throughout this campaign.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 29 December 2013