Set a victory target of 299, Australia tumbled from 2-147, after the fall of Usman Khawaja, to 224 all out, losing to England by 74 runs. A grim picture after giving themselves every chance to win their first test of the series.
Clearly dejected Australian captain Michael Clarke was full of praise for the English bowlers post match, however admitted it was tough chasing.
“Davey Warner and Chris Rogers played really well but unfortunately we couldn’t do the same though the middle. I think it was still a pretty good batting wicket, it took some good bowling to find a way to break through.”
Having set the test match up heavily in their favour, thanks to a superb 4-42 from off-spinner Nathan Lyon in the first innings, opener Chris Rogers and Shane Watson, batting at six, were the only shining lights in a first innings total of 270, grabbing a slender lead of just 32.
It was almost ripped away by England, before old head Ryan Harris rattled through the order with seven wickets. However, the end result meant that the game looked out of Australia’s reach.
The Australian middle order of late has seen several changes of the guard. Usman Khawaja, Phil Hughes, Watson, Steve Smith and Ed Cowan have all been tried and tested from positions 3-6. Inconsistency has riddled the batting order, leaving far too much pressure on the more experienced players.
England, stubborn as ever, found a way through the fragile batting. Paceman Stuart Broad found top gear at the right time, taking 6/50 and rattling the Australians. Broad hammered home that the game could have swung either way in the fourth innings.
“At 3 for 40 in our second innings we were staring down the barrel a bit…the guys put their heads together calmly and decided the best way forward.”
There is still plenty of optimism in the Australian camp, after giving England a real scare at Manchester in the third test. Coach Darren Lehmann on Tuesday said that the middle order blokes have “got to learn”.
“To play for Australia you’ve actually got to perform at a level that is acceptable for everyone in our team…we didn’t learn from Trent Bridge when we got bowled out in similar circumstances.”
Stronger displays of batting have instilled some renewed belief, but it is now up to the players to show the Australian public they are still a force to be reckoned with.