ENGLAND descended to an embarrassing 405-run defeat inside four days at Lord’s as Mitchell Johnson hastened their collapse and Australia levelled the Ashes at 1-1.
The hosts, set a notional 509 to win after Australia declared on 254 for two shortly before lunch in this second Investec Test, were all out for a hapless 103 in 37 overs by late afternoon.
England’s costly habit of losing their top order cheaply was revisited and then Johnson’s double-wicket maiden immediately after tea cast aside any remaining doubts.
Australia had piled up 146 runs in 23 overs of a sunny morning as David Warner (83) and Steve Smith (58) revelled in a position of utter dominance.
Home openers Alastair Cook and Adam Lyth therefore had the added inconvenience of having to face three overs before lunch.
They survived that initial test, but both were gone within half an hour of the afternoon – Lyth for the second time in the match caught behind on the back foot off Mitchell Starc and then Cook tamely edging an attempted cut also to the wicketkeeper, from only the fourth delivery from first-change Johnson.
It was Cook’s 96 that had helped to give England’s first innings relative substance and they lost another feasible saviour when Gary Ballance was third out – caught behind again when Mitch Marsh found extra bounce with his first delivery after mid-session drinks.
Ian Bell survived one tough chance at slip, Adam Voges unable to hang on diving to his left at slip off Johnson, only to then go bat-pad instead to Nathan Lyon.
When Ben Stokes was run out just before tea, taking minor evasive action as Johnson’s direct-hit throw came in from mid-on and neglecting to run his bat in with his feet off the ground albeit past the crease, it was hard to escape the foregone conclusion.
Johnson, it transpired, was in a hurry to finish the job too – assisted to a degree by Jos Buttler, who pushed out at a wide one and gave debutant wicketkeeper Peter Nevill his seventh victim of the match, before four balls later Moeen Ali was entirely unable to deal with a well-directed short ball and propped a simple catch to short leg.
Five wickets had fallen for 22 runs, and there remained only details – which included Johnson, who took three for 27 and was of course the 2013/14 destroyer of England, being stuck on 299 career Test wickets for a little longer.
Smith’s share of Australia’s spoils with the bat, to add to his first-innings 215, was a 43-ball half-century – while Warner bagged 12 fours in all from 116 deliveries, having begun his innings the previous evening.
There was an unexpected episode after only the second over of the day as Warner’s opening partner Chris Rogers became disorientated and had to retire ill. Nothing untoward had happened in the middle. But with the 37-year-old having missed two Tests earlier this year because of concussion and suffered a nasty blow on the helmet on day two, there was immediate concern. Rogers looked dazed as he dropped to his knees then sat down before leaving the field with physiotherapist Alex Kountouris and team doctor Peter Brukner.
He was later reported to have suffered a “sudden dizzy spell” but rested at the ground rather than going to hospital.
New batsman Smith and Warner, meanwhile, set about demoralising the England attack.
Warner took the lead past 400 with a back-foot punch for four off Mark Wood, and Smith was entirely at ease – so much so that he felt able to step outside off stump and successfully paddle-sweep Stuart Broad. The 50 partnership came in just 47 balls but ended when Warner picked out Cook at extra-cover to gift Moeen a wicket.
Smith remained almost comically in control.
No matter how hard Broad tried to hang the ball outside off stump, Australia’s No 3 had all the answers – twice with what appeared to be only semi-intentional deflections to fine leg for four.
He was eventually bowled trying to hit Moeen into the pavilion, leaving Marsh to advance the declaration with successive sixes off England’s off-spinner as Australia signed up for the fast track to victory.