England let slip a golden opportunity on the second day at the WACA, as they lost their last six wickets for 35 runs to squander the gains made in a 237-run stand between Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow. It was not, however, an unheard-of turn of events. ESPNcricinfo recalls five other memorable Ashes collapses
8 for 47 – Melbourne 1990-91: 103 for 2 to 150 all out
In the early days of England’s 1990s ignominy, it was possible still to dream – even after a rancid defeat in the first Test at Brisbane had left Graham Gooch’s men playing catch-up as the focus shifted to the MCG. And for three-and-a-half days they brawled above expectations. A David Gower century and six wickets for Angus Fraser secured a precious lead of 46, which Gooch and Wayne Larkins then extended to 149 with nine second-innings wickets intact – the perfect platform for an epoch-altering win. Enter Bruce Reid, Australia’s Metal Mickey left-arm seamer, who dropped it on a length from the full extension of his 6’8″ frame to claim innings-wrecking figures of 7 for 51. Give or take a couple of ducks, England’s final scorecard bore an uncanny resemblance to a toll-free helpline – 0800 810010 – as that winter’s Ashes campaign was declared a national emergency.
7 for 40 – Adelaide 1998-99: 187 for 3 to 227 all out
Another series in the balance, another innings of flickering hope. England had been baked alive on the opening day at Adelaide – put out to field in 40-degree heat and made to suffer by a Justin Langer epic. But Darren Gough and Dean Headley performed heroics to keep Australia below 400, and while Nasser Hussain and Mark Ramprakash were adding 103 for England’s fourth wicket, Australia were just beginning to rue the absence of the injured Shane Warne. But the meltdown was only ever a matter of time. It came soon after the resumption on the third morning when Ramprakash edged to second slip. The rest “strode on and off again as fast as models on a catwalk,” wrote Wisden, as Hussain was left high and dry on 89 not out.
7 for 47 – Adelaide 2002-03: 295 for 3 to 342 all out
If careers could be judged by their zeniths alone, then the Michael Vaughan who tore into Sri Lanka, India and Australia in 2002-03 would have a serious case to be considered the greatest England batsman of all time. He attained a fever pitch of elegance, aggression and durability to rack up seven mighty hundreds in the space of as many months, including arguably the finest of the lot – 177 on the first day of Adelaide. His onslaught, in the shadow of a bruising Brisbane defeat, featured drives, pulls and a tint of controversy after a disputed catch on 19. But most of all, it featured head-scratching impotence from one of the finest Test attacks ever assembled, and as he carried England to 295 for 3 in the final over of the day, England had a toe-hold in the campaign. But then, in tore Andy Bichel for one last tilt. Vaughan nibbled fatally to slip, and England knew there and then that they were toast.
9 for 81 – Brisbane 2013-14: 55 for 1 to 136 all out
It’s hard to recall now quite how optimistic England had been at the end of the first innings of the 2013-14 Ashes. Stuart Broad had risen above the bear-baiting from the Aussie crowds and media to claim 6 for 81, and though a certain Mitchell Johnson claimed, prettily brazenly, that Australia’s 295 would prove to be more than enough, England quietly scoffed at his assertion – this was the same Johnson, after all, who had been ridiculed in his previous two Ashes campaigns, and had played no part at all in the 3-0 defeat in England earlier that year. Whoops. Even during a disarmingly erratic start, it was clear that Johnson’s pace was of a register few have ever matched. Sure enough, he returned before lunch to brand England’s batting with some of the most searing heat imaginable.
9 for 93 – The Oval 1985: 371 for 1 to 464 all out
But, it’s not always doom and gloom when England’s batting goes haywire – as was amply proven in a run-laden sixth Test at The Oval in 1985. Needing only a draw to reclaim the Ashes, after an innings win at Edgbaston, David Gower and Graham Gooch ground Australia’s resistance to dust with a mighty stand of 351. Gower’s 157 capped the most glorious year of his career – victory as captain in India, and now 732 runs in a triumphant home summer – while Gooch’s career-best 196 confirmed his second coming after a three-year ban for touring South Africa. But thereafter the innings turned a little odd. Geoff Lawson and Craig McDermott tore through a middle order in which England’s next-highest score was 16. But it mattered not. Australia folded twice in the space of a day and a half to wrap up a 3-1 series win.