England started the day on 31/4, needing to get to 83 runs to wipe off Australia’s first innings lead at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. They ended the Test match, still needing 15 runs, handing Australia an innings and victory by 14 runs. The hopes of clutching the Urn slipped late night as they were reduced to miserly score on the end of day two but the start of day three tore England apart.
Ben Stokes and Joe Root started the day in perfect fashion for the Three Lions, with some mesmerizing batting display, against Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, driving the ball with some swagger. However, the Australian left-arm pacer Starc had the perfect response to the assault, swinging the ball late back into the left-hander, taking the stumps in tatters.
It was reminiscent of the all-rounder’s dismissal in the 2019 World Cup, as Stokes was left clueless and England, struggling at 46/5. With the two Yorkshire batters, Jonny Bairstow and Root joining hands, the last thing expected was an innings defeat on a pitch that had no demons. In fact, it swung and seamed more than in a long time at the ‘G but far away from what the scoreboard suggests.
The introduction of Scott Boland in front of his beloved crowd at the ‘G perhaps had the loudest cheer of the day. Boland immediately made an impact, drawing an edge from Bairstow, which was put down by Cameron Green in gully. However, Boland had the last laugh, picking up from where he left last night.
“But have a big pool to pick from. We knew whoever steps in will do a great job. We were really confident that Scotty would do a great job; maybe not 6 for 7 (laughs),” said Cummins at the post-match presentation.
Boland drew Bairstow forward before the ball seamed past the right-hander’s defense to catch him in front. While the England No.7 might have been unlucky, with two umpire’s call on the review, the ultimate decision was the right-hander walked back early for an 18-ball 5.
In his very next over, the Victorian man followed it up with yet another brilliant delivery that seamed away from Joe Root, as Australia were on a roll. At 61/7, with England’s top run-scorer Root back to the pavilion, it was the start of the ending for the Three Lions as Australia had a footing over the Urn.
Root became the third player in the longest format after Mohammad Yusuf and Sir Viv Richards to go past the 1700 run mark in a calendar year.
A session of madness ft. Scott Boland
With one wicket away from his maiden fifer, the Victorian bowler pulled off an amazing catch of his own bowling, to get the crowd roaring. His spell read 5-5, as Boland blew the English parade away, in a session where they looked absolutely clueless. He also equaled the record for the fastest five-wicket haul in 19 balls, joining Ernie Toshack and Stuart Broad in the rare league.
And he wasn’t done, at least yet as he went on to pick yet another wicket as the crowd went berserk. During the course of the innings, Boland also went past 100 wickets at the MCG, with seven wickets in the Test match, on his debut for Australia.
Once he dismissed Ollie Robinson, his spell read six wickets, as England were one wicket away from a drubbing at the ‘G. 4-1-7-6, in the second innings as Boland blew the visitors to smithereens.
At the post-match presentation, the elated debutant, who also was the Player of the Match was in disbelief over how the third day’s play progressed.
“Can't really believe. We thought we had a chance of winning today when we came in, but just not so quickly,” Boland uttered. “I came to know on Christmas Eve, and had a lot of support from teammates and family. It was a big step up from anything that I have played, and I knew it would be tough,” he added.
With England No.11 James Anderson at the crease, it was only a matter of time before Australia got together in jubilation after winning yet another Ashes at home. It was Cameron Green’s delivery that kick-started the celebrations at the ‘G as Australia wrapped the Test and the series, with an innings and 14 runs victory.