Sunday 22 October 2017

Warner puts Australia on brink of redemption

David Warner leaps with delight after scoring a century in Australia's second innings against England
David Warner leaps with delight after scoring a century in Australia's second innings against England
David Warner leaps with delight after scoring a century in Australia's second innings against England

Derek Pringle

The last rites of this Ashes series will be administered by Australia's bowlers but it was one of their batsmen, David Warner, who inflicted the damage on Day 3 with an innings indicative of how England have slumped to the cusp of a 3-0 hiding.

Warner, backed not for the first time by a handsome first-innings lead, flayed a wilting attack that was a key man down. Stuart Broad headed for hospital and a scan on his right foot; he will not bowl again in this game and is a doubt for next week's Melbourne Test.

Warner's 157-run partnership with Chris Rogers was the first opening stand to pass 100 for Australia in a home Ashes series for 11 years. If any further proof that England were down and out was required, after conceding a first-innings lead of 134, then this was it.

With England again unable to exert pressure, the runs flowed as Warner enjoyed licence to do what he does best, hit the bowling hard and often.

It was his second hundred of the series following the 124 he made at Brisbane, but he has looked a threat in every innings, his crisp striking ensuring that no bad ball, -- and there have been too many of them from England all series -- escaped punishment.

He is the pitbull of his team, their snarling, snapping agitator and provocateur. Although popular among team-mates and the Australian public, it was telling that not a single England player clapped his hundred.

Warner certainly knew how to humiliate a downtrodden team with his sweep slogs and powerful cuts in Australia's second innings here, though Matt Prior did allow him the opportunity to large it longer than he should, when he twice missed stumping him off Swann on 13 and 89.

Poor Prior. No England player has worked harder to be as physically ready for this challenge. But cricket is still more a game of skill and mental strength than physical endurance and the 20,000 miles clocked up on various bikes have not prepared him for the loss of batting form he has suffered since April. Prior would probably have played his last match here had England's management a modicum of faith in Jonny Bairstow.

What excuses his team-mates have for their poor showing is not yet known, just that it has been one of the more abrupt sporting reversals of recent times.

It will not play well with the public that they have been agitating for a pay rise, which they received before arriving here, after their complaints that Australia's players were better paid. On the evidence of this series, their beef looks ill-founded.

The batsmen have been most culpable and there was another lame showing here. They crumbled from 190-4 to 251 all out in the space of 17.3 overs.

The malaise is not new -- England have not made 400 since the Wellington Test in March. Yet they have won Tests since then, two of them against Australia, with first-innings scores of just 232, 215 and 238. It could be that complacency set in among the batsmen, with the belief that the bowlers and Ian Bell could extricate them from almost any parlous situation. The result has been the 136, 172 and 251 that have been their first-innings offerings here.

This team under Andy Flower have been obsessed with finding that extra edge over opponents, a laudable thing until it leads to the creation of an 82-page document of dietary requirements to be supplied at each venue. It might have been good for the waistline and players' energy levels, but they are not much good when you cannot withstand Mitchell Johnson. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

ENGLAND V AUSTRALIA,

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