England’s Ashes hopes went up in smoke in a stunning period of play on Tuesday morning at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) as they slipped to an innings and 14-run defeat in just 2 days and a session in the Boxing Day Test. Australia retained the Ashes Urn after playing just for just 11 days in the 5-match Test series Down Under.
It was a nightmarish morning for England but for debutant pacer, Scott Boland, it was stuff of dreams as the Australia picked up a 6-wicket haul on debut at his home ground. Boland picked up the 3rd-fastest five-wicket haul in the history of Test cricket as he had the numbers of 5 England batters in just 19 balls before he wrapped up the proceedings with a 6th wicket.
Scott Boland also created a new record for the fewest number of runs conceded while picking up a 5-wicket haul on Test debut – 7 runs, going past Australia’s Charles Turner who picked up a 5-wicket haul for 15 runs against England in 1887. Only the 2nd indigenous men’s Test cricketer for Australia, Boland had a dream debut as he finished with match figures of 7/55 and went on to win The Mullagh Medal on his debut in Melbourne.
England began the day at 31/4 with faint hopes of surviving and putting some pressure on Australia as captain Joe Root and Ben Stokes resumed the action at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. However, Mitchell Starc hammered those hopes by casting Ben Stokes for 11 in the 18th over before Boland began running riot.
Boland had Jonny Bairstow lbw for five, Root out for 28 and tailenders Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson each out for ducks. All-rounder Cameron Green capped England’s humiliation by having James Anderson bowled for two. Meanwhile, England captain Joe Root, who finished 2021 as the leading run-scorer in Tests (1708), conceded that Australia gave them no chance to stage a comeback in Melbourne after they were hammered in Brisbane and Adelaide in the first 2 Tests.
It was disappointing to see England collapse in the 2nd innings, especially after their pace bowlers did all the hard work to keep Australia down to 267 after the tourists were all-out for 185 in their first innings. James Anderson bowled his heart out, picking up 4 wickets in a superb spell on Day 2 but England were left reeling at 31/4 at Stump on Monday.
“It is what it is. We have come to deal with this sort of environment for a while now. Credit to Australia, they blew us away last night, and they have outplayed us in this Test match, in fact, the series so far. We have a lot of hard work to do now and come back strong in the last two games,” he said. Notably, England had returned to play on Day 3 after negative RTPCR test results for Covid-19 after it emerged that 2 members of their support staff tested positive for the virus on Monday.
The 4th Test between Australia and England will be played in Sydney from January 3.