Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 5th day December 5, 2006

Falling in a heap

Cricinfo takes a look back at five instances from the modern era where England's batting has collapsed in dramatic style

England's collapse on the final day at Adelaide brought back memories of the days when Ashes series were littered with the wreckage of England batsmen. Cricinfo takes a look back at five instances from the modern era when the Australian bowlers have not had many problems removing the resistance.

Geoff Lawson caused plenty of problems for England at Old Trafford in 1989 © Getty Images
1989 - Old Trafford
This was a summer of utter despair for England as an Australian team that had been given little hope of regaining the Ashes romped to a 4-0 triumph and dominated at every turn. English collapses were never far away, but their double-header at Old Trafford which handed the urn back to Allan Border's side stood out. Geoff Lawson helped himself to six wickets in the first innings as England slumped to 57 for 3 and 158 for 7 before clawing their way to 260 thanks to Robin Smith's outstanding 143. Second time around, trailing by 187, England outdid themselves and fell to 59 for 6 as Lawson and Terry Alderman performed a familiar demolition job. Jack Russell's maiden first-class century saved face, but it couldn't save the Ashes.

1990-91 - Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth
England should have patented the 'shocking batting collapse' during this tour as it became the hallmark of their 3-0 defeat. As with their demise at Adelaide, the first two came when the visitors had slender first-innings leads and had the chance to put pressure on the Australians. Brisbane was bad enough, a first-innings fall from 117 for 2 to 194 all out before a complete capitulation for 114 on the third day, but their effort at Melbourne really took the biscuit. David Gower's 100 and a heroic 6 for 82 by Angus Fraser handed England a lead of 46. All was going swimmingly when Graham Gooch and Wayne Larkins guided England to 103 for 1 midway through day four before a blink-and-you-miss-it nosedive of 9 for 47. Bruce Reid scythed through the order with his sharp swing, claiming 7 for 51, and the last eight batsmen mustered 18 between them. Although Australia slipped to 10 for 2 chasing 197 they had the momentum and eased home. Just to show they wanted to finish the tour how they started, England rounded off the trip with a Craig McDermott-inspired folding at Perth where 191 for 2 became 244.

Shane Warne and Ian Healy celebrate another England collapse in 1997 © Getty Images
1997 - Old Trafford
The country didn't know whether they were in a state of euphoria or shock as England stormed to victory in the first Test at Edgbaston. But everyone was brought back to earth with a bump at Lord's as Glenn McGrath made his first serious mark on Ashes cricket with his 8 for 38 skittling England for 77. Rain enabled them to escape with a draw and their composure had seemingly been restored at Old Trafford when, despite Steve Waugh's defiant 108, Australia were bowled out for 235 and England moved to 74 for 1 in reply. However, as in 1993, that was as good as it got once Shane Warne began his work. His form had been questioned earlier in the series (sound familiar?) but six wickets later England were in a heap at 162. Australia didn't look back, in the match or series, and their domination of the 1990s continued.

1998-99 - Perth
A decade of one-way traffic was completed with Australia's 3-1 triumph and the direction of the series was clear after the first day in Perth. A tropical storm saved them at the Gabba but there was no escape at the WACA. Damien Fleming, bowling with the aid of the Fremantle Doctor, swung the ball around corners and flummoxed England after Glenn McGrath had started the softening-up process. The ruins left behind amounted to 112 and by the close Australia were already in the lead. Alex Tudor did his best to turn the tide, but Fleming repeated the dose in the second innings then Jason Gillespie completed the job.

Michael Vaughan departs as his good work is undone in 2002 © Getty Images
2002-03 - Adelaide
Trying to bounce back after a mauling at Brisbane, England actually made a decent start and were well placed at the closing stages of the first day on 295 for 3 courtesy of Michael Vaughan's crunching 177. However, with the final ball of the day Vaughan was caught at slip off Andy Bichel and next morning the floodgates opened. The last seven wickets fell for 47 as Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne worked through a shot-less lower order. On a typically batsman-friendly surface 342 was nowhere near par and Australia proved it by reaching 552. And guess what, England collapsed again in their second innings for 159.

Just to show that collapses are not confined to England, here's one from the other side from the recent past.

2005 - The Oval
The climax of Test cricket's ultimate series was bubbling up amid autumnal showers in south London. England reached 373, but Australia were racing up on that mark and by the close of day three were 277 for 2 with the gameplan of pushing on past England and building up a healthy lead. That changed during a dramatic Sunday morning as Andrew Flintoff and Matthew Hoggard took advantage of murky conditions, taking the last eight wickets for 86. Flintoff claimed his second five-wicket haul in Tests, handing a slender six-run advantage to England but more importantly the psychological momentum. The rest, as they say, is history.

Andrew McGlashan is editorial assistant of Cricinfo