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Ashes in a nutshell: England suffer familiar fate at The Gabba as Australia take 1-0 series lead

Joe Root’s wait for a century in Australia goes on as he and Dawid Malan are dismissed early on the fourth morning; England collapse to defeat in all too familiar style; Nathan Lyon becomes the third Australia bowler to reach 400 Test wickets

Last Updated: 11/12/21 8:53am

Joe Root and his side will have to come from behind if they are to regain The Ashes

Joe Root and Dawid Malan miss out on centuries, England collapse to defeat and Nathan Lyon joins the 400 club. This is day four from The Gabba in a nutshell…

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Australia completed a comprehensive nine-wicket win in the opening Ashes Test after another England batting collapse on day four at The Gabba, writes Sam Drury.

Having started the day on 220-2, cautiously optimistic with Joe Root and Dawid Malan at the crease within sight of hundreds, England proceeded to lose their last eight wickets for 74 runs in the morning session to leave Australia needing just 20 to win.

After finding himself stuck on 399 Test wickets for the majority of the year, Nathan Lyon finally got No 400 to remove Malan (82) and break the 162-run stand for the tourists’ third wicket.

Nathan Lyon celebrates after taking his 400th Test wicket

Nathan Lyon celebrates after taking his 400th Test wicket

Cameron Green had Root (89) caught behind soon after as the England skipper’s wait for a century in Australia goes on and with the middle and lower order unable to stop the slide, the visitors were bowled out for 297 before lunch.

Talking point

Australia were the superior side for the vast majority of the first Test and yet England still come away with a sense of ‘what might have been?’

What if Root had opted to bowl first? What if they had played Stuart Broad and/or Jimmy Anderson? The England captain has defended those decisions in his post-match interviews but you cannot help but wonder if things might have played out differently if they had made a different choice.

Stuart Broad (L) and James Anderson could return for England in next week's pink-ball Test

Stuart Broad (L) and James Anderson could return for England in next week’s pink-ball Test

And what if Malan and Root had got through the first half hour this morning? Both played superbly on day three and were approaching three figures. Had they got themselves set again and even just stayed together for another hour, they might feasibly have wiped out the first-innings deficit at which point the pressure on Australia would really have started to build.

Of course, that did not transpire and they find themselves in the familiar position of being 1-0 in an away Ashes series. Debates over the selection revolved around Broad and Anderson missing out but it was the batting that really cost them.

Making 297 second time round was an improvement on 147 all out on day one but one significant partnership across two innings is not going to cut it if they want to regain the urn.

England's fragile batting line was exposed again in Brisbane

England’s fragile batting line was exposed again in Brisbane

Perhaps the biggest ‘what if’ facing the visitors as they head to Adelaide is: what if they simply are not good enough to challenge Australia in their home conditions? That would make for a long winter but, fortunately, there is still plenty of time to prove otherwise, starting with next week’s day-night Test.

Moment of the day

Play began with England fans hoping to rejoice in two hundreds on the fourth morning, but instead it was the Aussies celebrating a milestone early on as Lyon dismissed Malan to become just the seventh spinner in the history of the game to take 400 Test match wickets.

His 399th came back in January against India, at the end of a series in which he struggled, Australia have not played a Test since and after going wicketless in England’s first innings, perhaps the ‘GOAT’ was beginning to wonder if his moment would ever come.

Lyon joins Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath as Australia bowlers with 400 or more Test wickets

Lyon joins Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath as Australia bowlers with 400 or more Test wickets

The long wait was ended midway through the fourth over of the day as Malan skipped down the pitch and was caught at bat-pad with Lyon letting out 11 months of frustration in his celebration.

More than just a personal achievement though, the wicket set the tone for the day. Had Root and Malan made it through to the second new ball and brought up centuries, it might have been different, but the early breakthrough put England on the backfoot.

Lyon’s confidence was up and he took another three wickets as Australia reasserted their dominance to complete a thumping win.

What they said

Joe Root does not regret his decision to bat first in the opening Ashes Test despite England being rolled for 147 on day one and going on to lose the game by nine wickets

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Joe Root does not regret his decision to bat first in the opening Ashes Test despite England being rolled for 147 on day one and going on to lose the game by nine wickets

Joe Root does not regret his decision to bat first in the opening Ashes Test despite England being rolled for 147 on day one and going on to lose the game by nine wickets

England captain Joe Root, speaking to BT Sport: “We’re a team that’s always responded well to situations like this in the recent past. We’re not scared of a challenge. We’re not scared of fronting up to a difficult result and we’ll just have to make sure that we do exactly that again on this occasion.

“We know where we need to get better but I do think the way that we responded in that second innings, showing character and fight, which we will need throughout this series.”

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Australia captain Pat Cummins: “I really enjoyed it, a lot of things did go right, probably from the toss – overcast conditions, wicket had a bit in it, turn up day two and it’s blue skies. So someone was smiling on me. Really proud of everyone, complete performance, the bowlers did their thing, then Marnus and Davey’s partnership and the way Travis played. Sign of a positive, brave side.”

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