An Ashes five-fer: Sydney, Day 4

1) JIMMY TAKES THE HEAT:  The Marsh brothers made a rapid start off some ordinary spin bowling and Joe Root called upon his senior pro with the third new ball in scorching heat.  Readings showed the pitch temperature was over 50 degrees. Anderson bamboozled centurion Shaun Marsh with three beauties, one of which found the edge but dissected Root and Alastair Cook at slip. It was a brave and skillful four over spell, given the suffocating situation England found themselves in.

2) TIME TO STEADY RATHER THAN EXTEND THE CRANE: It has been oddly amusing to read the hyperbole surrounding Mason Crane. The Hampshire leg-spinner bowled well on Saturday without much luck. He’s 20.  He looks like a new kid on the block that cameras and crowds may love. However, he was rank average this morning and took 1 for 193 in the match. This hardly justifies the reams of column inches on the “making” of Mason Crane or some such nonsense. Everybody needs to slow down.

3) A HARD WATCH IN A MISMATCH: The hosts are finding match domination very easy when the big moments continue to go their way. Every Australian batsman that walks to the crease, barring Cameron Bancroft, looks like he could hang around for some time. The Gods have simply decided that for all of England’s stoical efforts, they must be crushed. Some close results may have helped us be more sympathetic of the visitors’ plight. Jonny Bairstow spoke of tight team spirit but how useful is that when all but one of the matches have been lost by huge margins?

Glenn McGrath Ex-Australia pace bowler on BBC Test Match Special: There has been more fight from England in this tour than 2013-14. But they’ve lost the big moments and then not been able to get back once they’ve got behind.

4) ENGLAND SECOND INNINGS; A SERIES SUMMARY: Everything that took place in the third innings underlined the  key difference between the sides.  Australia’s pace bowlers found fire in the furnace where England couldn’t light a match. Mark Stoneman fell to Starc and has barely scored a run since being hit at Perth. Cook was back to struggle mode after his 244 and was dismissed by Lyon’s prodigious turn. Then, James Vince looked good for half an hour and nicked one.  It left the tourists in a familiar position, as in Perth, trying to fight on the last day with six wickets left.  It won’t happen.

5)  CAPTAIN’S LAST STAND: This has been a testing series for Joe Root. In pure batting terms, he’s looked in good nick and will end up with an average of at least 40. However, that doesn’t take into account the moments missed. In Brisbane, the skipper had a chance to go on after making 50 and set Australia a chase of at least 250. He was out next ball. In Adelaide, he was ready for a final day charge to a winning total when well set. He was dismissed almost immediately.  On the first day here, Root was looking good for a first Test century in Australia but was out minutes before the end.  The mind and body must be sore but, even after a nasty rap from Starc, he refused to go down to the canvas.

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By Tim Ellis