Australia turn the screw on final day of first Test at Edgbaston
England lurched towards defeat on the final morning of their Ashes opener against Australia, losing each of their top four in the first session at Edgbaston.
Rory Burns was first to go to Pat Cummins before spinner Nathan Lyon took over, taking advantage of a wearing pitch to see off Jason Roy, Joe Denly and captain Joe Root.
Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes survived until lunch with England 85 for four, 312 behind but realistically only attempting to cling on for a draw.
Runs were hardly an issue as play resumed but it was gratifying for the England fans who had taken up the offer of £25 tickets to see Burns stroke the first ball of the ball for four through extra cover.
That was as good as it got the for left-hander, whose arrival in the middle made him the just the fourth Englishman to bat on each day of a five-day Test.
He had batted for more than seven hours and faced 312 balls for his maiden century in the first innings but departed in the third over here, fending a brutish ball from Cummins to gully.
Captain Root replaced him at the crease and endured a whirlwind start. He was given out lbw by umpire Joel Wilson twice while still in single figures, barely hesitating to review both.
The first, from James Pattinson, was shown to be disappearing way down the leg side and the second, from Lyon, saw a big inside edge. It has been a poor match for the West Indian official, whose decisions have been overturned eight times, and his scheduled appearance in the third Test at Headingley is sure to draw attention.
It had taken Australia skipper Tim Paine 10 overs to unleash Lyon, but on a turning surface that was baldy under-utilised by Moeen Ali he was always set for a major role.
Roy’s approach was encouraging at first, notably when sweeping powerfully for four and driving carefully down the ground. But after 76 minutes of play and 28 runs his patience snapped, charging down the ground to one that turned wickedly through the gate.
Having already seen one edge evade Paine there was no escape this time, with the ball clattering off stump to spare the wicketkeeper the bother of flicking the bails himself.
Denly was next and made easy pickings for Lyon. He nudged a simple bat-pad chance to Cameron Bancroft then bafflingly consulted Root about referring. All the replays served to do was confirm the veteran had brushed the ball on its way through and he was soon on his way for 11.
Australia, and Lyon, were swarming and they landed the big one just before lunch. Root had been reasonably secure in challenging conditions but this was not destined to be a captain’s epic, Lyon and Bancroft combining once again, with the latter showing razor-sharp reactions under the helmet.