Dominant Australia go 2-0 despite Jos Buttler’s heroics

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20 Dec 2021 | 10:04 AM
authorAakash Sivasubramaniam

Dominant Australia go 2-0 despite Jos Buttler’s heroics

England show fight but run-chase mountain too tall for them to climb on the fifth day of the Adelaide Test

With Ollie Pope and Ben Stokes at the crease, Australia sensed a quick-start on day five with the ball, in an attempt to wrap the Adelaide Test early. Mitchell Starc’s pace and precise line and length troubled the right-handed Pope. While around the wicket, Pope was content to leave the delivery, from over the wicket, he was forced into the drive that caused his downfall. 

When Jos Buttler joined Ben Stokes in the middle, Australia were well aware that only five wickets separated them from yet another win against England at home. However, the pair frustrated the Australian bowlers, with a long spell from Nathan Lyon, that had plenty of oohs and aahs. 

From the other end, Starc induced an edge from Buttler’s blade only for a miscommunication between Alex Carey and the first slip fielder David Warner to allow the ball safely through the region. Numerous times during his spell, Lyon constantly went past Stokes’ bat but the elusive wicket seemed to evade him.

Lyon breaks Stokes and England

However, in the seventh over of his morning spell, the off-spinner found the perfect line and length against the all-rounder, to go past his wall-like defense. While the on-field umpire shut the shout down, Lyon and Australia via the review broke through the crucial partnership. Until that particular delivery, Stokes played the off-spinner well on the back-foot before his breakthrough. 

The DRS confirmed that the ball spun enough to take the leg-pole, as England were reduced to their last four batters to salvage a draw in Adelaide. With Lyon looking so menacing, the odds were stacked against the visitors as Chris Woakes walked out to the middle. 

Woakes-Buttler and resurgence

Off just his second delivery, the all-rounder faced the early nerve, with the entire Australian group around him going up in unison. Marnus Labuschagne, the close-in-fielder egged the skipper Steven Smith to go upstairs as they burned the review. But what followed that early piece of display showed England’s grit and determination. 

The pair of Woakes and Buttler battled, batted and put the hosts under extreme pressure with the pitch relatively staying true to its nature from the first day of the play. Against the popular ‘it is just a matter of time,’ the pair battled and started turning it into camp-Headingley with their efforts. While Buttler played the long innings, defending deliveries, his partner at the other end, Woakes was far more aggressive. 

“I think we could have bowled a lot fuller, and with the bat we need to be better, make bigger scores and apply better. The second innings is the attitude and desire we need. It's frustrating because we know we are better. Easy to look at selection and tactics, but we'll address those ahead of the next game,” Root said in the post-match presentation, pointing at the efforts from the duo. 

The all-rounder drove through the cover region picking up his first boundary before doubling his tally through the gully region. Woakes showed immense confidence and countered Australian bowlers with the perfect technique. 23 overs of struggle with the ball for Australia followed as they finally had a say on the proceedings with the new cherry.

New cherry, new start but Buttler stands out

Australia had a fresh start, all over again when they were handed the new ball news in the 80th over of the innings. Smith immediately obliged, taking the new ball and tossing it up to Mitchell Starc to come up with a reply. While the left-arm pacer was not the best with his length, his partner at the other end, Jhye Richardson proved to be real handful in these conditions with his pace. 

The Western Australian pacer, who steamed in from the other end bowled a corker, in the 88th over, taking Chris Woakes by complete surprise. Jhye got enough nip off the pitch to move the ball into the gap left by Woakes’ bat and his pads to disturb the stumps, giving Australia a real breather after a long struggle in the middle. 

However, post that, Ollie Robinson emulated Woakes with his defensive guard. The lanky right-hander was given a reprieve when Michael Neser, in his own follow-through let one go through the fingers when the lanky pacer was still at naught. In the 103rd over, the off-spinner Lyon finally saw the back of Robinson, sending the pacer back for a 39-ball 8. 

It was Smith at the slips, diving low down to the ground after Lyon went around the wicket, similar to how Starc had wrapped Pope earlier in the day. And when Stuart Broad padded one against Lyon, it seemed the beginning of the end for England. However, height saved the English left-hander, who saw the session through alongside the batter at the other end, Jos Buttler. 

Just when the pair of Broad and Buttler annoyed the Australian bowlers, the latter’s dismissal came off the worst moment possible, in the worst way possible as well. With the hosts bowling at a short length to the right-hander, the English batter took advantage of the deep crease to defend the barrage of short deliveries. 

However, during his pursuit of yet another defence against Richardson, the wicketkeeper-batsman stepped onto his stumps, removing the bail to walk off shaking his head. The Australian slip cordon went up in unison as they edged closer to yet another Ashes win in home conditions. In the process, Buttler became the third English wicketkeeper to be dismissed hit-wicket in Tests. 

It was only time before Richardson wrapped the innings off with a fifer, with a snorter to dismiss No.11 James Anderson, who fended the delivery straight to the gully fielder, Cameron Green.

Brief Scores: Australia 473/9d and 230/9d beat England 236 and 192 all out (Chris Woakes 44 [97], Jos Buttler 26 [207]; Jhye Richardson 5/42) by 275 runs

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Australia vs EnglandEngland tour of Australia, 2021/22AustraliaEnglandJhye RichardsonNathan LyonChris WoakesJos ButtlerBen Stokes

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