Graham Thorpe offered no excuses for England’s abysmal batting after they were skittled out for 67 but stressed “these are the best players we have” with Australia looking certain to retain the Ashes.
England started a glorious day two of the third Test at Headingley in a promising position after bowling the tourists out for 179 on Thursday.
Yet their batting frailties were exposed by the tourists once again, Josh Hazlewood taking 5-30 as Joe Root’s side folded meekly in only 27.5 overs.
England’s pitiful total was their worst in Leeds and lowest against Australia since 1948, Joe Denly the only batsman to reach double figures with a paltry 12.
The in-form Marcus Labuschagne was unbeaten on 53 at stumps after being given three lives, with Australia leading by 283 on 171-6 and looking set to take a 2-0 lead to keep the urn.
Batting coach Thorpe accepted England were simply not good enough after watching them crumble with a whimper.
— Cricket Australia (@CricketAus) August 23, 2019
He told Test Match Special: “We’re very disappointed with our score. It was a golden opportunity for us today. We aren’t going to say we can’t win it but we have made it a damn sight harder.
“We will try and knock them over tomorrow and chase whatever they set us. There were some poor shots. Australia bowled some very good balls but we know that. If you get through that period you can put scores on the board. We need to be more disciplined.
“We can look at formats of the game and the impact the shorter forms have on Tests. We can look at our domestic game and what we have out there and there aren’t heaps coming through at the moment.
“We have to be able to work and be honest with our players and we are. The cold, hard truth is we weren’t good enough today. Test cricket is mentally challenging. You can’t hide.
“We knew we had an opportunity here after Lord’s but we’ve let it slip and we’ve let it slip badly through a bad batting performance.
“Credit to Australia. We know how they are going to attack us up front. At times we’ve got through it but we didn’t today and we collapsed in a heap.”
Former England batsman Thorpe seemingly ruled out wielding the axe for the fourth Test at Old Trafford.
He added: “Our guys don’t want to make excuses and I won’t make excuses for them. Test cricket is hard and if you don’t mentally get it right, you don’t make good shot selections and you’re back in the hutch quickly.
“We’ve got to keep working with these players because these are the best players we have. We can throw around who should come in and there could be some little movements possibly in our order but nothing major.”