Australia's skid continues

Updated: 2013-07-23 07:21

By Reuters in London (China Daily)

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 Australia's skid continues

England's Joe Root points skyward after the dismissal of Australia's Usman Khawaja during the second Ashes Test at Lord's in London on Sunday. Philip Brown / Reuters

Lopsided loss at Lord's extends year-long streak of Test futility

England exposed a gulf in class during a 347-run Ashes victory within four days at Lord's on Sunday, threatening to overwhelm Australia in what is fast becoming a disastrous year.

Australia's defeat in the second Test was the sixth in a row this year after losing 4-0 in India, its worst run since it was thrashed by a mighty West Indies side in the 1980s.

Along the way it failed to advance past the first round of the Champions Trophy, lost coach Mickey Arthur when he was sacked 16 days before the Ashes series began, and suspended batsman David Warner for throwing a punch at England's Joe Root in a Birmingham bar.

Warner is currently playing for Australia A in Zimbabwe in a so far unsuccessful attempt to regain sufficient form to force his way back into the Ashes eleven.

Root, by contrast, was named man of the match for his monumental 180 in England's second innings. He also dismissed Australia's top scorers Usman Khawaja (54) and captain Michael Clarke (51) in consecutive overs with his part-time off-spin before showing he was human by dropping a regulation catch at third slip.

"I've loved every minute of it and it's great to get a win," the fresh-faced Yorkshireman said at the post-match victory ceremony.

"To get a hundred against Australia is always something you dream of growing up and to do it at Lord's is very special.

"It's nice to contribute, when you get the opportunity you want to take it and help the team."

England's match-winner was Graeme Swann, who won an lbw decision against the stubborn James Pattinson (35) four balls before the close of play after England had taken the extra half hour available when a finish is possible in order to avoid returning to the ground on Monday.

Swann finished with nine wickets, including five for 44 in the first innings when he became only the second England spinner after Hedley Verity in 1934 to take five wickets in an innings against Australia at Lord's.

"It's the first time in my 17 years of first-class cricket that extra half hour has got a wicket, we're so happy it's over now," he said

"We were 30 for three on the first day but the fightback posted 350, which everyone thought was below par but subsequently proved to be a good score."

England's win came without any sort of contribution with the bat from either captain Alastair Cook or Kevin Pietersen, who did not take the field on Sunday because of a strained left calf muscle.

Instead Root and Ian Bell, who followed his 109 in the first innings with 74 in the second innings, laid the basis for England's massive victory.

"You can't control the weather but when it is dry, we have a world-class spinner and the seamers know how to reverse the ball but we back ourselves in all English conditions, really," said Cook.

The Australian pace attack worked hard and did not let their side down but left-arm spinner Ashton Agar did not look like taking a wicket and, despite his spectacular 98 batting at No 11 on his debut in the first test at Trent Bridge, his position must be under threat.

The top-order batting is the real problem and it again looked desperately weak at Lord's after failing twice in Nottingham. It is also difficult to see where any substantial improvement will come from, although Khawaja's second innings was a step in the right direction.

"Our first innings with the bat really let us down, it was not acceptable and against good opposition it's hard to win from that position," said Clarke.

"We're putting extra pressure and expectation on our bowlers, our top seven has experience but once we lose one wicket we're losing two or three in quick succession.

"We know we have to win the next three tests to win this series. It's going to be hard but I'd be silly to go into Manchester expecting to lose,.

"We'll do everything in our power to improve our game but England outperformed us once again in this match."

(China Daily 07/23/2013 page23)