England set for Ashes Second Test thumping by Australia as Joe Root falls on final ball of day ending any hope of draw

JOE ROOT suffered the pain of being hit twice in the unmentionables – and then the absolute agony of being dismissed.

Captain Root was out to the final delivery of day four of the Second Test just minutes after his second agonising blow to the nether region.

He made four and England finished with 82-4, still an impossible 386 runs short of victory.

Strike one for Root came before play when he was having throwdowns in the nets from spin bowling coach Jeetan Patel and one ball nipped back and hit him where it most hurts. 

He wasn’t wearing a box and the pain was so severe that Root went to hospital for a check-up and missed the first 80 minutes of play.

The official England statement said it was an 'abdominal' blow but we all know what that meant.

Strike two came ten minutes before the close when a 88mph ball from Mitchell Starc crashed into Root’s nether regions.

He collapsed in pain and needed lengthy treatment before being able to continue. Then, would you believe, he edged a catch behind off Starc for 24 and the players walked off.

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Haseeb Hameed, Dawid Malan and Rory Burns were also dismissed and it is surely now a case of when – not if – England go 0-2 down in the series.

Left-handed opener Burns more than doubled his series aggregate with an innings of 34 but, of course, it was nowhere near enough.

Hameed received a snorter from Jhye Richardson that lifted and touched his glove on the way through to wicketkeeper Alex Carey.

Hameed was out for a duck and he is under as much pressure now as any other of England’s malfunctioning batters.

It was the 13th duck by an England opener in Tests this year, extending the record way beyond the previous record of nine held by New Zealand in 1994 and Pakistan in 2002.

Malan was lbw to debutant Michael Neser and a review only confirmed what looked certain in real time – Malan was plumb.

Burns, who at least this time managed to survive until the 31st over, edged Richardson to Steve Smith at second slip. And Root was also out by the close.

In Root’s absence at the start, Stokes took charge and England actually had a good first hour, during which Australia scored just 14 runs and lost three wickets.

Jos Buttler held two fine catches to remove Marcus Harris and Steve Smith but dropped another, easier one to reprieve Smith. That has been Buttler’s drill in this match – hold the tough catches but spill the simpler ones.

In fact, Smith could have been out twice before he had scored. Apart from the Buttler drop, the stand-in Aussie skipper looked to be out lbw to Stuart Broad. But umpire Rod Tucker said ‘no’ and DRS showed the impact of the ball on pads to be ‘umpire’s call.’

Travis Head injected some energy into Australia’s batting and suddenly they started scoring more quickly and he contributed a fifty at virtually a run-a-ball.

Marnus Labuschagne, who had one from 35 balls at one stage, made another half-century, finishing with 51 from 96 deliveries.

If the first 14 overs of the day brought 14 runs, the next 13 yielded 75 runs. Stokes’ two overs went for 24 runs.

Australia’s second innings finished with Root and Malan bowling spin and the pair were gifted a couple of wickets each during the late slog.

Seven different bowlers took wickets for England in this match, the first time that’s happened in the same Test since they played South Africa in 1965. And it’s only the second time either side has had seven wicket-takers in an Ashes Test.

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