‘Some pretty frustrated players’ in England’s Ashes dressing room
England reduced the hosts to 53 for four under lights to begin second innings
Joe Root and James Anderson with their England teammates during day three of the second Test match of the 2017/18 Ashes series. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Jimmy Anderson admitted to there being “some pretty frustrated players” in the England dressing room after a collapse with the bat on the third day in Adelaide, followed by a late surge of wickets with the ball, left a lingering sense of what could have been for the tourists.
Bowled out for a meek 227 in response to Australia’s first innings 442 for eight declared, Joe Root’s side were not asked to follow on by Steve Smith. They responded by reducing the hosts to 53 for four under lights, with two wickets apiece for Anderson and Chris Woakes.
But with Australia leading by 268 runs going into day four, England were still staring at the prospect of going 2-0 down in their Ashes defence before the third Test in Perth, where they have not won since 1978. For their record-wicket-taker, the last man out as Craig Overton top-scored from No9 with an unbeaten 41, it was galling.
“We should have got more runs,” said Anderson, who went on to pick up two for 16 with the ball. “We’ve got some very frustrated players in the dressing room. All we can do as bowlers is try our best, and that’s what we did. We gave it absolutely everything.”
Smith’s decision not to enforce the follow-on, and offer England’s attack a chance to redeem their performance from the first innings after dark, was controversial despite their holding the whip hand. Mitchell Starc, who earlier claimed three for 49, distanced himself from the call.
“We didn’t tonight, he’s the captain and he makes the decisions” replied Starc, when asked if Smith had consulted his seemingly still fresh attack. “We had a tough session with the bat but there’s a lot of cricket to go. But in terms of the follow-on, it’s all up to Smithy.”
Starc revealed Australia’s bowlers had learned how best to use the pitch when watching England’s attack bowl too short in their first innings. Though remedied in their late burst, which saw Woakes claim the key wicket of Smith lbw for six, Root’s side must be kicking themselves.
On Overton, with whom he shared a stand of 66 that likely altered Smith’s plans to bowl again, Woakes said: “I thought he batted beautifully on debut. He was getting plenty of verbals, as you would expect, and plenty of short stuff. I was pretty annoyed with the way I got out [caught and bowled by Starc on 33], I feel I probably left a few runs out there.
“We’re behind in the game, but we’ve fought back and shown some good character and put some pressure back on Australia. I think that’s really important.”