Dispiriting start to fifth Ashes Test for England as two walk in final two overs

January 4, 2018

Australia had secured custody of the Ashes long before Christmas Day, but England didn’t do much to salvage any pride as they lost two wickets in the final two overs of the first day of the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney. 

After Joe Root was clipped to square leg and dispatched for 83, fellow England batsman Dawid Malan - who ended the day on 55 not out - said he was surprised when teammate Jonny Bairstow did not employ a nightwatchman and promptly returned to the changing room after five runs and seven balls. 

This left England on 233-5 at the close of day one. 

Mark Stoneman, Alastair Cook and James Vince all squandered promising starts, with the latter pair being toppled in the space of seven runs after a stand of 60.

The Aussies guaranteed retention of the Ashes after winning the first three of five Tests, and while England provided some consolation by winning the fourth, Australia don’t seem in the mood for giving anything away and look the more likely to win the final Test. 

Brits will have the chance to see how England fare against Pakistan in June, with hospitality packages for the tense encounter selling fast. 

Speaking on Radio 5 Live’s Test Match Special, England assistant coach Paul Farbrace said the England dressing room was “very quiet” after the day’s dispiriting end. 

“People know how hard Dawid and Rooty worked to get themselves into that position. To see Rooty get out the way he did, he's incredibly disappointed and frustrated,” Farbrace revealed. 

“[Joe] knows he wants to convert more 50s into 100s,” he added. “It's not something any coach needs to sit him down and say 'do you realise you need to convert more 50s?'”

Farbrace went on to hail Malan’s consistent quality, but admitted it was “a massive disappointment” to lose those two wickets in the last five minutes. 

Former England batsman Ed Smith said England had made a good fist of it for much of the day, but, ultimately, it was Australia's day.

“The shadow moving across the pitch came into a difficult zone for the batsmen and it was exactly that moment when Joe Root was out,” he added. 

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