Friday 22 November 2013 

Ashes Comment: After The Delusion, The Collapse

Mitchell Johnson
Mitchell Johnson jumps for joy after one of his six wickets on day two in Brisbane
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

To think we laughed at Mitchell Johnson when he said he felt Australia were in a 'great' position after day one. Four wickets from him as England lost six wickets for nine runs in 57 balls makes it abundantly clear who has had the last laugh.

As dramatic as England's collapse was - from 82 for two to 91 for eight - there is no great surprise about them failing in their first innings.

Not once in their last five overseas series have they hit 200 in the first innings of the first Test. New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have all been able to get the upper hand with the ball, and now Australia have followed suit.

Day two at the Gabba - a brilliant day of hard, entertaining Test cricket - provided a perfect example of why it is often foolish to judge the position of a game until both sides have batted.

While 273 for eight didn't represent a great day for Australia, England failed to take advantage and 295 ended up being a good score.

Like in tennis when you must follow up a break of serve by holding your own serve to gain an advantage, you must follow up bowling a side out cheaply by putting the runs on the board to make them pay for their profligacy.

England couldn't do it and now face an uphill task to get anything out of this game. Even the rain that is forecast for later in the match, depending on how well and how long Australia bat, may come too late.

But they've been here before. Enough of these England players were playing in Cardiff, Cape Town, Centurion and Auckland where they gave everything to secure fighting draws, and managed it. The grit and determination is within them to pull it off.

However, on the 10th anniversary of Jonny Wilkinson's drop goal capping one of English sport's finest hours in Australia, their cricketers have unfortunately combined to produce a day to forget.

What they must do now is produce a backs-to-the-wall performance of which Martin Johnson and Sir Clive Woodward would be proud.

Three more days of drama and tension await.

© Cricket World 2013

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Fixtures & Results

21st-25th November: 1st Test, Gabba, Brisbane
AUS 295 & 401-7d. beat ENG 136 & 179 by 381 runs
5th-9th December: 2nd Test, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
AUS 570-9d & 132-3d beat ENG 172 & 312 by 218 runs
13th-17th December: 3rd Test, WACA, Perth
AUS 385 & 369-8 d. beat ENG 251 & 353 by 150 runs
26th-30th December: 4th Test, MCG, Melbourne
AUS 204 & 231-2 beat ENG 255 & 179 by 8 wickets
3rd-7th January: 5th Test, SCG, Sydney
AUS 326 & 274 beat ENG 155 & 166 by 281 runs