The disintegration of England’s second innings from 58 for no wicket to 78 for five late on the second day at Headingley means that it is only a matter of time before Australia square this Ashes series at 1-1.
More than that, though, England are now in complete disarray and will simply have to make changes before the deciding Test at The Oval.
Ravi Bopara will have to go, and Ian Bell too in my opinion, because England have real problems in those no. 3 and no. 4 batting positions.
All that is exactly what Australia would want, however, because forcing the opposition to make changes to their preferred line-up during a series is all part of the process of trying to win it.
Andrew Strauss made a bit of a silly comment recently about this Australia team not having an aura about them. That was a touch premature, wasn’t it, and it is a comment which has quickly come back to bite him.
England’s batting in this Test match has been simply inept. The Australian bowlers have outshone their English counterparts, clearly, but they have been helped by the poor performance of England’s batting line-up.
As I said before in this column, the Australian faster bowlers have taken far too long in this series to concentrate on line and length above everything else, but at Headingley it has all come together.
The Australian selectors should take a huge amount of credit for sticking with Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson for this match but also adding Stuart Clark into the mix.
I was anxious about Australia not picking a specialist spinner, but there is no doubt that Clark has helped Siddle and Johnson by his presence and by the fact that he brings a natural line and length style to the bowling unit.
Ben Hilfenhaus has led the attack well right from the start of the series, and he has swung the ball consistently at a good pace and has always asked questions of the English batsmen but, following his and Clark’s lead, Siddle in the first innings and now Johnson in the second innings have really upped their games.
With his three-wicket burst at the end of day two Johnson has begun at last to show English audiences how good he is and what he is capable of doing.
As for England, their batting has been awful and their bowlers have not been consistent enough here at Headingley. Jimmy Anderson has again fallen into the trap of trying to do too much and Steve Harmison has blown hot and cold.
The pick of the England bowlers, which is not saying much, was Stuart Broad. I have been critical of his selection throughout this series because I do not think he is one of the best four fast bowlers in England, but at Headingley he has pitched the ball up and has bowled a more consistent line and deserved his six for 91.