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Is England’s glimmer of hope well founded? Ashes analysis

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Pint-sized Ashes: Best TMS moments as late wickets give England hope

Perceived cricketing wisdom suggests England cannot escape defeat in the second Ashes Test in Adelaide.

However, a glimmer of hope emerged from under the Adelaide floodlights on Monday.

A stirring fightback with the ball left Australia 53-4 in their second innings, and with David Warner and captain Steve Smith both back in the sheds.

Unfortunately for England, the hosts are still 268 runs ahead.

But while there’s hope, the nation will tune into TMS under the duvet, check their phone in the middle of the night trips and anxiously hit refresh on the morning commute.

So, how can England turn it round from here?

The wicket of Australia captain Steve Smith sparks joyous celebrations from the England fielders<!–

The wicket of Australia captain Steve Smith sparked joyous celebrations from the England fielders

Speaking before England collapsed to 227 all out on the third day, BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew said the Ashes were on the line.

England are 1-0 down in the five-match series, and the next Test is at the Waca in Perth – where they have not won a Test since 1978. Victory – or a draw at the very least – in Adelaide is considered essential.

“England have given themselves a sniff,” said former spinner Phil Tufnell on Test Match Special. “They have hauled themselves back into this Test match.

“They will have gone into the dressing room last night more pumped up and happier with life.

“The two big guns (Warner and Smith) have gone and if you get two or three early on tomorrow you could be into them.

“England have to bowl Australia out for 120 and get themselves back into the series.”

Former England captain Michael Vaughan agreed: “As soon as this ball moves around, England look like they’ll be very competitive against Australia.

“The ball swung for the first time in the series tonight.”

It's not just the commentators who have been invigorated by England's fightback...<!–

It’s not just the commentators who have been invigorated by England’s fightback…

Is it all too little too late? – Agnew’s view

In truth, England need almost everything to go their way if they are to turn the Test – and series – around.

And while Agnew was impressed with the character shown by the bowlers on day three, he believes Joe Root’s men have left themselves with too much to do.

“Not only were England disappointing with the bat, but surprising with the way they came hurtling in with the ball,” he said. “Why couldn’t they do that on Saturday?

“England just showed so much more energy. The problem was that they were already minus 215.

“It will take something really special for England to get out of this. The late wickets were a good start, but the more realistic prospect is that they will have to figure out how they can win in Perth.”

Could Smith’s decision haunt Australia?

Speaking at the close of play, Chris Woakes, who took two of the four wickets to fall, said the pressure is back on Australia now.

And the hosts’ bowling spearhead Mitchell Starc may have revealed more than he intended by saying nothing when quizzed on his captain’s decision not to enforce the follow-on under lights.

“There was no debate,” said Starc. “It was up to the skipper. There was no conversation with the bowlers.”

Asked if he felt the bowlers would have been able to bowl again, Starc said: “Probably but it is up to Smithy. He is captain and leads that way. The rest might let us come back and bowl quicker and put England under the pump big time.”

Former Australia spinner Shane Warne was critical of the decision on Twitter, suggesting it was “possibly a sports science decision not a cricket decision”.

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The spirit of ’81

Ian Botham bats in 1981<!–

Ian Botham was named in BBC Sport’s all-time Ashes XI before the current series began

If England were to win, it would evoke memories of the Headingley Test of 1981.

In that game, England were 1-0 down in the series and had been asked to follow on.

What followed went down in folklore as Ian Botham (149 not out) and Bob Willis (8-43) took England to an unlikely 18-run win.

England fans might want to grab on to the next stat. England followed on 227 runs in arrears. The score they posted in the first innings in Adelaide? 227.

Still not convinced? How about this one from occasional Test Match Special scorer Andy Zaltzman?

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Test Match Special will be on air from 02:45 GMT on Tuesday. It may happen for England – you just never know.

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