Josh Hazlewood was encouraged when England captain Joe Root was dismissed early on Friday, but even he could not have predicted the dominant position Australia would find themselves in by the end of the third Ashes Test’s second day.
The urn appears set to be remaining Down Under after Australia, dismissed for 179 on Thursday, ripped through England and had them all out for 67 at Headingley before reaching stumps on 171-6, 283 runs ahead.
An Australia victory, which seems all-but certain at this stage, would ensure they cannot lose the best-of-five match series and therefore would retain the Ashes, and it was a 28-over spell on Friday – in which seamer Hazlewood returned 5-30 – that may determine the series.
England were embarrassed again, dismissed for 85 or less for the fourth time since March 2018 and falling to their lowest ever total at Headingley, and their lowest in an Ashes since 1948.
— Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) August 23, 2019
It was the prized wicket of England’s number three Root – out for back-to-back ducks for the first time in his career – that gave Australia confidence another all-too-familiar capitulation could be on the cards.
“I certainly like him in there as early as possible,” Hazlewood said of Root, whose promotion from four to three before the series has failed to pay off.
“They follow him a little bit, he’s the leader, he’s the captain, he’s got the best average, he’s their best batsman going by numbers.
“So if we can get him I think they can be vulnerable at times, same as any other team; if their best batter’s out, you feel a bit more relaxed about your business.”
— OptaJim (@OptaJim) August 23, 2019
Having conquered white-ball cricket by winning the World Cup on home soil last month, England’s batsmen appeared trapped in one-day mode in the longest format.
Opener Jason Roy edged when attempting to drive, Ben Stokes perished foolishly chasing a wider delivery and Jos Buttler brought about his own demise by tamely chipping to short cover.
“They’re all great one-day cricketers, some are great Test cricketers, so I think they love to feel bat on ball, especially through that middle order,” Hazlewood added.
“So if we can dry up the runs and force a mistake, which we saw a couple today, then that’s fantastic.”
Given Australia made only 179 first time around, and arrived at a venue bathed in glorious sunshine on Friday, it was a day few expected.
“I can’t remember a day like this, to be honest. It’s been fantastic,” Hazlewood admitted.
“Sixty is hard work to come back from during a Test. I don’t think many teams are winning if one of their innings is 60 or 70 runs, it makes it difficult.
“I think if we start well again [in England’s] next innings, they might think, ‘Here we go again’, so it’s about creating that doubt in the mind.”