If Day 1 belonged exclusively to England, Day 2—and perhaps now the first Test—went firmly in the direction of Australia as England's worst collapse in two decades saw them skittled out in Brisbane.
Having limited Australia to 295 in their first innings, England were supposed to build a commanding lead. Instead, they lost six wickets for nine runs, barely lasting 50 overs as they skulked back to the pavilion for a paltry 136.
This is only the 5th time in Tests that England have lost 6 wickets for less than 10 runs. Worst collapse since Melbourne 1990 #ashes— BBC TMS (@bbctms) November 22, 2013
By the end of the day, the only consolation for Alastair Cook and his men was that they had avoided the follow-on.
However, Australia will resume on Day 3 with a 224-run lead and 10 wickets in hand, knowing they can put the match out of England's reach if they bat throughout the next three sessions.
|AN Cook||c †Haddin b Harris||13||43||30|
|MA Carberry||c Watson b Johnson||40||165||113|
|IJL Trott||c †Haddin b Johnson||10||37||19|
|KP Pietersen||c Bailey b Harris||18||61||42|
|IR Bell||c Smith b Lyon||5||29||16|
|JE Root||c Smith b Johnson||2||14||7|
|MJ Prior||c Smith b Lyon||0||2||1|
|SCJ Broad||c Rogers b Siddle||32||81||45|
|GP Swann||c Bailey b Johnson||0||7||5|
|CT Tremlett||c Lyon b Harris||8||30||27|
|JM Anderson||not out||2||23||10|
|Extras||(b 4, lb 2)||6|
|Total||(all out; 52.4 overs)||136|
It was difficult to fathom how things had gone so wrong for England.
Was it overconfidence, displayed by Stuart Broad's decision to enter the first day's post-play press conference with a copy of the Brisbane Courier Mail under his arm?
Was it the impact of Mitchell Johnson—taker of four England wickets? Or was it a deteriorating pitch that may yet prompt an England comeback in this Test match?
The answer is probably a bit of all three, although less so the latter after Australia advanced flawlessly to 65 for 0 in their second innings, Ryan Harris and David Warner unbeaten on 15 and 45 respectively.
It had looked like Australia had it all to do to protect their 25-year unbeaten record at the Gabba—per Cricinfo—after Broad had added a sixth wicket to his haul in addition to the run-out of Brad Haddin to keep Australia under 300.
However, that was as good as England's day got. From the moment they lost Cook (13) with the score on 28, the visitors sparked a run of 10 wickets—all to catches—that symbolised their poor decision-making.
13 - England's first innings was the 13th instance in the last 10 years of all 10 wickets in an innings falling caught. Uncontrolled. #Ashes— OptaJim (@OptaJim) November 22, 2013
Jonathan Trott (10) was next to depart, handing the excellent Johnson his first victim, but it was Kevin Pietersen's wicket that truly led to England's collapse.
This is as hostile a spell of fast bowling I’ve seen for a very long time #ashes— Jonathan Agnew (@Aggerscricket) November 22, 2013
Pietersen was looking to make a big score in his 100th Test, and appeared settled after advancing to 18 runs in an hour of cricket. However, he needlessly found Harris at short midwicket when looking for the boundary rope behind him, and England's hopes soon disappeared with him.
Michael Carberry, top scorer with 40, followed five runs later, and England only added four more as Ian Bell (5), Matt Prior (2), Joe Root (0) and Graeme Swann (0) all came and went in dramatic fashion.
Root arguably looked the most edgy of those, finding Steven Smith off Johnson, who then claimed Swann with a trademark short one that looped up onto the leg side.
Last 5 away series England have been bowled out for under 200 in the 1st innings of the series..!!!!!!!??? #Ashes.— Michael Vaughan (@MichaelVaughan) November 22, 2013
Broad attempted to resist, slapping 32 runs as Chris Tremlett and James Anderson tried to support. But he was last man out on what was almost a perfect day for Australia.
|CJL Rogers||not out||15||77|
|DA Warner||not out||45||55|
|Total||(0 wickets; 22 overs)||65|
Warner's rapid 45 off 55 balls almost served to highlight the epic failure of England's batsmen, and if Cook's men cannot make immediate inroads on Saturday, they will face one long fight to rescue the Test.