Australia go 2-0 up in Ashes with eight wicket victory at Lord's
England will need to dig deep into their character reserves to stage an Ashes fightback against Australia after crashing to an eight-wicket defeat at Lord's today.
The dropped catches on Saturday were followed by a dramatic batting collapse on Sunday with England's remaining six wickets falling in 39 minutes and 48 balls, leaving Australia with just 14 runs to gather to claim their second Ashes win in two npower Test matches.
When Mark Waugh came on first thing to bowl - a decision prompted by another look at some videos of Alec Stewart which exposed his vulnerability to right arm spin bowling - the omens were good with Stewart and Mark Butcher picking off quick and easy runs in the first five overs.
Their efforts raised hopes among the capacity Lord's crowd that a big second innings total was in the offing and finally, this match would become a more equal contest. But after Stewart and Butcher had put on 42 runs for the fifth wicket, Stewart received a ball from Glenn McGrath that came back and rapped him on the pads.
His wicket marked the start of England's downfall and from 188 for four, they crashed to 227 all out, with only Craig White showing any defiance in the final throes, with an unbeaten 27. Butcher was eventually caught behind for 83, after playing indiscriminately at Gillespie.
The mighty Glenn McGrath and impressive Jason Gillespie, who bowled superbly throughout the match, shared the spoils with the South Australian finishing with 5-53 and McGrath picking up three wickets in the hour. Mark Waugh set a new world record for catches in Test cricket when England's last batsman Darren Gough became his 158th victim.
Having completely dominated since the Test series started, the task of making 14 should have gone smoothly without incident but both Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick picked up wickets - one each - when the Australian batsmen proved themselves to be nervous and possibly emotional.
Michael Slater and Ricky Ponting were both back in the pavilion before the third over had been completed but Matthew Hayden took his side across the finishing line to complete another emphatic victory.
It was a disappointing result, said England skipper Mike Atherton after the game.
"We would like to have got a different result here but we didn't deserve to. Australia played some fine cricket and fully deserve their success.
"We had a couple of opportunities yesterday morning and we dropped a few chances so the opportunity went away. If we had taken those chances we could have reduced Australia's lead to a manageable proportion and set them a total which would have made the game competitive but it was not to be.
"We have to revive the memories of the way the team played last summer and during the winter. We have a settled squad and we are all good mates so we shall stick together through this thin time. There is no point getting too despondent and it does not matter what is going on, you still have to give it your all. You cannot fault our effort," he commented.
Graham Thorpe was taken to hospital for an X-ray today after being hit on the finger by Brett Lee on Saturday. The scans were inconclusive and Thorpe will see a specialist tomorrow.