Two-nil down, out-bowled and out-batted twice, and with a daunting third Test in Perth on the horizon, England are facing a very difficult task to save the Ashes.
They have probably won just one day out of 10, on Tuesday when Jimmy Anderson was swinging it around under the lights and showing why he’s still one of the best bowlers in the world.
England bowled fantastically well in that second innings, dismissing Australia for 138, but it was too late. The tourists didn’t execute well enough in the first innings and found themselves behind the eight ball straight away.
England don’t seem to have enough pace in their attack when the wickets are flat and slow, as they surprisingly have been in Adelaide this week and Brisbane last week.
Batting-wise, the teams have been similar. Although while Australia have had Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh score hundreds, England have only tended to get 30 or 40. On flat pitches you need big scores.
But Australia’s extra pace has been the difference. And not just their pace; they have bowled better all-round.
England haven’t put the Aussies under enough pressure. Anderson and Stuart Broad have generally started well with the new ball but Chris Woakes has let the pressure off a few times. It hasn’t been good enough.
If England go 3-0 down it is going to be a miserable end to the tour. Their only chance of clawing their way back into the series, unlikely though it is, is to dominate the first couple of days in Perth.
They need to get ahead of the game and shift the momentum, whether that’s scoring 400-500 in the first innings or – like we did in 2010, even though we would lose the match – bowling Australia out for around 200.
We have seen that the hosts will crack if England put them under pressure. In the second innings in Adelaide, Australia did not look the confident side of two days earlier.
David Warner hasn’t got the big hundreds that he wants, fellow opener Cameron Bancroft is playing his first Ashes, Peter Handscomb looks horribly out of nick and England have done very well against Shaun Marsh in the past.
If they bowl well they can get Australia out cheaply. They just haven’t done it consistently enough.
There are weaknesses there and England will cling to that, but at 2-0 there is a massive confidence shift. While Australia will be under less pressure, Joe Root’s men will feel it all the more.
Hopefully the guys now have a bit of time off, move away from cricket, play some golf, try to get their heads right, rest their bodies and come back 100 per cent in Perth, because they’ll need something special.
If we were going to Melbourne or Sydney I’d say England had a slight chance of pulling it back. But history shows that Perth is probably the hardest place to go for any touring team.
The WACA pitch offers more bounce, so Broad and, if he plays, Craig Overton, will enjoy bowling on that wicket. But so will the Aussie pacemen and I’m a little worried about how England’s tail, who have struggled on slower surfaces, will cope.