Ashes: England face defeat as Australia inch closer to winning back urn

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Pint-sized Ashes: England in battle to save the Ashes

England’s battle to save the Ashes will go into the final day of the third Test after rain brought an early end to day four in Perth.

The tourists had reached 132-4, still 127 short of making Australia bat again, when the weather intervened at the Waca.

Australia earlier declared on 662-9 in their first innings, a lead of 259.

England were required to bat for the best part of five sessions to escape with a draw, yet lost Mark Stoneman, Alastair Cook and Joe Root cheaply.

They were steadied by James Vince, who made his second Test half-century before being bowled by a wonderful delivery from Mitchell Starc.

At 2-0 down in the series, England must not lose at a ground where they have not won since 1978 to avoid surrendering the urn at the earliest opportunity.

Rain threatened for much of a grey, blustery day in Perth, but a brief shower before tea was all that came before heavier rain arrived 45 minutes before the scheduled close.

England’s task of batting throughout Monday will not be helped by the cracks running down the length of the pitch, but more bad weather is forecast.

England's chances are rated at 0.2% and have been rounded down. Calculations are based on a full day's play on day five but these may change as Cricviz evaluate conditions<!–

England’s chances are rated at 0.2% and have been rounded down. Calculations are based on a full day’s play on day five but these may change as Cricviz evaluate conditions

England stay afloat

At 60-3, still 199 behind, England were in danger of being beaten inside four days.

Josh Hazlewood, bowling an immaculate line, had Stoneman caught behind before Cook and Root fell.

But Vince batted beautifully, defending with a straight bat and playing his usual handsome shots through the off side – 48 of his 55 runs came in boundaries.

He was undone by a magical delivery from Starc, bowling his left-armers from round the wicket.

Angled in, it straightened off a crack in the surface to take the top of off stump. Vince was perhaps guilty of playing too square, but there was no legislating for how much the ball moved.

Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow, who both made centuries in the first innings, had started to score more freely when the rain arrived, and it is they who will be together when play begins at the earlier time of 02:00 GMT on Monday.

An illustration of Mitchell Starc's delivery to remove James Vince<!–

An illustration of Mitchell Starc’s delivery to remove James Vince

Experienced pair found wanting

Prior to this series, the feeling was that the inexperienced nature of England’s top five would mean they needed major contributions from their two senior batsmen, Cook and Root.

However, with both registering 14 in the second innings, their combined total for the series is 259. Not only has Australia captain Steve Smith made more on his own – 167 more in fact – but so too has Malan.

Cook, England’s all-time record runscorer playing in his 150th Test, has managed just 83 in six innings.

Once again he did not look in especially poor touch, but presented a leading edge to Hazlewood, who took a fine diving catch. Cook is now without a half-century in 10 Test innings.

Root has made two half-centuries in the series without converting them into something meaningful. He has also had to marshal a team who is being beaten on the field and distracted by a string of issues off it.

His shot here was poor. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon’s first delivery was incredibly wide, with Root’s uncontrolled drive resulting in an edge that was held at slip.

Joe Root's highest score in the series so far is 67 in the second Test in Adelaide<!–

Joe Root’s highest score in the series so far is 67 in the second Test in Adelaide

Speaking on Test Match Special, former England off-spinner Graeme Swann said of Root: “Joe’s dismissal disappointed me. He just meekly wafted his bat at it.

“When you’re England’s best player and you’re trying to save the game, it’s a bizarre shot. It’s unusual from Joe.

“There’s no difference between Joe and Steve Smith in terms of ability. Yet Steve Smith is so much more prolific than Root.

“It’s because the captaincy suits Smith. He’s really flourished. To me, that’s not Joe’s way. I think he was made captain because there was a lack of choice.”

England cannot prevent unwanted records

James Anderson now has 51 Test wickets in the calendar year<!–

James Anderson now has 51 Test wickets in the calendar year

England toiled on Saturday, taking only one wicket as Smith helped himself to a double century and Mitchell Marsh a big ton of his own. The tourists earned rewards on Sunday, with James Anderson nipping the ball around.

Marsh was lbw to the second delivery of the day for 181, Smith dismissed in the same manner for 239, both to Anderson.

When Starc was run out in strange circumstances – Tim Paine, the subject of an lbw appeal, set off, leaving his partner stranded as Vince ran in from gully – England had taken three wickets for 12 runs.

Paine, though, overturned being given out leg before to Anderson and went on to make an unbeaten 49, sharing 93 with Pat Cummins, who added 41.

Cummins was yet another lbw victim of Anderson’s and, after Lyon holed out to the Lancashire man, Australia declared.

By then, Australia had made their biggest Ashes total on home soil and Stuart Broad had figures of 0-142, the worst of his 112-Test career.

A rainbow above the Waca<!–

This is the last Ashes Test to be played at the Waca before a move to a new stadium in Perth

A sorry tale – stats of the day

  • Australia’s 662-9 declared was their highest total against England on home soil and their ninth highest against any country
  • England spent longer in the field – 179.3 overs – than any other side in a Test at Perth
  • Broad’s figures of 0-142 were the joint second most expensive without taking a wicket by an England bowler against Australia
  • Five England bowlers conceded more than 100 runs, for only the third time in history
  • This could be the sixth time a team have lost after making 400 in the first innings of a Test

‘We’re still fighting’ – what they said

England bowler James Anderson: “It’s been a long few days. We’re still fighting, we’re still in the game, so to speak. We’ve got a lot of hard work to do. We’re going to keep believing and come tomorrow with a strong attitude.

“It’s not gone our way with the ball – two of their guys played outstandingly well and we didn’t bowl quite as well as we could. The cracks did a bit more today so there was some more encouragement.

“Yesterday was a tough day for us but we kept going all day. Sometimes you have to take your hat off to the opposition.”

Dawid Malan hit Pat Cummins for four boundaries in an over late on day four<!–

Dawid Malan hit Pat Cummins for four boundaries in an over late on day four

England batsman James Vince: “We will try to put the rain to the back of our minds.

“We have two guys at the crease who spent a lot of time there in the first innings. It’s slightly different conditions, but we have to have belief that we can stay in the series.

“It will be tough, there will be good balls flying around, but these two showed in the first innings they can occupy the crease for a long time.

“Hopefully we’ll get off to a good start in the morning.”

Australia pace bowler Josh Hazlewood, speaking to BT Sport, on regaining the Ashes: “We feel pretty close but we’re never too sure unless it happens.

“We’re pretty confident. Hopefully we can finish them off.”

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