Scott Barbour/Getty Images
The result of this match was nowhere near as certain as many were suggesting on the evening of Day 3.
Australia were going to have to score the second highest score of the match on a fourth-day pitch to win and, although clouded by the melancholy of England’s dire performance on Day 3, there was still an opportunity for England on the morning of Day 4.
It is with this in mind that the shambles that followed was all the more disappointing. The errors and mistakes of the day are almost too many in number to recollect entirely.
Alastair Cook’s field settings immediately appeared hesitant, neither attacking nor run containing—a thick edge skewed through the vacant gully region early on.
In just the fourth over of the day, an edge from the bat of Chris Rogers flew between the diving Alastair Cook and the rooted-to-the-spot Jonny Bairstow for whom the catch certainly belonged.
Less than two overs later, another edge, this time from the bat of David Warner, was shelled by Cook at slip; this chance, unlike the first, was unbearably simple. A more difficult half-chance bit the dust minutes later. It was painful to watch.
When Joe Root was brought on ahead of Monty Panesar within half an hour of play beginning, that England were desperate was all too obvious. Ben Stokes did pick up the wicket of David Warner, squeezing the door to victory back open, but it was hastily slammed shut as Rogers and Shane Watson bedded in.
England’s tactics continued to bemuse; as Root wiled away at one end, Stuart Broad, having bowled just two overs, lurked in the outfield. So too did Monty Panesar, who was only brought into the attack after 90 minutes of play.
Mid-off was immediately dropped back to the boundary, as was deep square-leg. England were beaten in all but the scorebook.
This was, considering the strength of England’s position midway through the third day and the nature of their capitulation, the worst defeat of the series.