Australia take Ashes lead with crushing victory over England
To compete with Australia, England's best side needed to play to their full potential but with injuries blighting selections, the best of the rest were unable to lift their games and Australia were clinical in completing an innings and 118 run victory.
England's last seven wickets fell for 22 runs with Jason Gillespie and Shane Warne causing the most problems but the worse scenario of any, from England's perspective, occurred at around midday when captain Nasser Hussain was hit on the finger by Gillespie.
He faced one more ball but was unable to grip the bat properly and left the field forlornly headed for the hospital where X-rays revealed he had a fracture at the base of his little finger, the fourth break in three years.
"I will see the specialist tomorrow and will see what he says but a fractured finger means at least a couple of weeks out," said Hussain who now looks doubtful for the Lord's Test starting on Thursday July 19th.
"It's getting me down, especially on top of the injury to the groin and thigh in Sri Lanka but I am England captain and have to be strong enough to pick myself up. Today was a very low point and mentally it affects you.
"I am disappointed to lose heavily but you have to give credit to the Australians. They have won 16 out of their last 18 Tests and play cricket exactly as it is supposed to be played. They are a very fine side and we have to learn from them."
England resumed this morning on 48 for one with left-handers Marcus Trescothick and Mark Butcher playing with resolve and attractive flair. Against Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, their confidence increased with every boundary with Butcher driving two consecutive deliveries from McGrath for four and Trescothick hooking the same bowler for six over mid-wicket.
But Brett Lee, coming in for Warne at the City End, produced a 'snorter' that Butcher had little chance of fending off. Adam Gilchrist made no mistake in taking the catch and Butcher's enjoyable innings ended on 41 from 74 balls.
The drama over Hussain was the next setback to afflict the home side and from that point on England never recovered, a series of soft dismissals resulting in a premature end at 2.01pm, with nearly five scheduled sessions of play still remaining.
From 99 for one, England crumbled to 164 all out with only Trescothick and Butcher making double figures and seven batsmen making five or less. The Somerset batsman, who ran into some poor form during the recent NatWest Series, made certain of his immediate future with his classy innings of 76 from 113 balls.
He struck 11 boundaries and two huge sixes and despite the assistance from the pitch and cloud cover which swung the ball for Gillespie and turned it for Warne, Trescothick looked mainly comfortable though it was the leg spinner who eventually lulled him into a false shot, the edge flying to Mark Waugh at first slip.
"It was a pretty clinical performance, professional," Steve Waugh said afterwards. "We put the ball in the right place and took our catches. We played aggressive cricket and backed ourselves, we had a good time out there.
"England missed some opportunities in this match. If they have taken the chances it would have been a close Test match. We are certainly not going to get carried away by the margin of victory. We can play better, but overall I'm pretty pleased."
He also had words of sympathy for Nasser Hussain. "It's a big blow for Nasser, it's unfortunate," he commented. "We certainly want to play England at their best."