ENGLAND made their lowest Test total at Headingley – and their lowest against Australia since Don Bradman’s final Test appearance at the Oval in 1948 –to leave their hopes of winning the Ashes in apparent disarray.
Joe Root’s men were routed for 67 on day two of the third Test, eclipsing England’s previous low in Leeds of 76 against South Africa in 1907.
Australia finished the day on 171-6 in their second innings, a lead of 283.
Victory would see them retain the Ashes as current holders ahead of the final two Tests at Old Trafford and the Oval following their win at Edgbaston and a draw at Lord’s.
We have to believe we can do it. There’s no point in us getting out of bed if we don’t believe that we can do something special. Fourth innings run-chases happen.England batting coach Graham Thorpe
England’s score only narrowly crept past the lowest total recorded in the 120 years of Test cricket in Leeds – West Indies’ 61 in 2000.
Theirs was still the joint-second lowest score in the 77 Tests played at the venue, New Zealand also dismissed for 67 in 1958.
Only Joe Denly reached double figures, his innings of 12 the lowest top-score for England in a completed Test innings.
On a day when there were almost as many unwanted records as runs compiled, England’s score was also their fourth lowest in a home Test, Josh Hazlewood leading the way for Australia with 5-30 and fellow pace bowlers Pat Cummins returning 3-23 and James Pattinson 2-9.
“We’re disappointed with the way we batted,” said England’s assistant coach Graham Thorpe. “It’s tough to take in the dressing room right now.
“At the end of the day, they’re 283 ahead, so it’s not over.
“If we can knock them over in the morning, we know that Test cricket can produce some strange endings.
“There’s been scores chased down of over 300 before, and we have to believe we can do it.
“There’s no point in us getting out of bed if we don’t believe that we can do something special. Fourth innings run-chases happen.
“That’s our belief, but we know we missed an opportunity in our first innings.”
Thorpe said there were “no excuses” for England’s performance and paid tribute to Australia’s bowlers.
However, he admitted that England fell short of acceptable levels.
“It was good bowling, and I’d give credit to Australia’s bowlers,” he said.
“They bowled in very good areas and we know the challenge they present to us.
“There was some poor shot selection in there and some poor dismissals in the top-six.
“We know in Test cricket it’s an area where we’re trying to get better, and if you don’t get your shot selection correct, you’re going to get punched.”
England’s woes increased in the final session when star bowler Jofra Archer limped off with cramp.
He later returned and Thorpe insisted it was nothing serious.
“He came off with cramp but he seems alright,” he said.
“We’d like to have given him a bit more of a break; 30 overs (rest) is not enough.”
Hazlewood described England’s collapse as “pretty surprising”, the hosts conceding a first innings advantage of 112.
“It didn’t really feel like there was a big collapse,” he said. “The runs stayed pretty stagnant for a long period of time.
“It was pretty surprising the way it went, but we certainly bowled well and we took pretty much every chance that came our way.
“I can’t remember a day like it to be honest; it was fantastic.”
Hazlewood went on: “When you only get 180 in your first innings, as we did, you need to take every chance to stay in the game.
“We didn’t want to give too much away at the start and we just kept building on that.”
Yorkshire batsman Jack Leaning is expected to join Kent on a three-year contract at the end of the season.
Leaning, 25, has struggled to hold down a regular place in the first XI this season and found himself usurped by the likes of Harry Brook.
Yorkshire have confirmed that they have no interest in signing Haseeb Hameed, the 22-year-old former England opening batsman released by Lancashire.
Although Yorkshire have struggled for runs from their opening partnership in recent seasons, they now believe they have found a settled pair in Adam Lyth and recent signing Will Fraine.