By Peter Hall
LEEDS, England (Reuters) – Australia closed in on a victory that will see them retain the Ashes after ending an incredible second day of the third test with a lead of 283 runs, having bowled out England for an embarrassing 67 in their first innings on Friday.
Australia were on 171-6 in their second innings at the close at Headingley, with a sizeable advantage after England suffered a humiliating day at the crease.
Starting the day chasing Australia’s first-innings total of 179 and trailing 1-0 in the five-match series, England lost cheap wickets and were dismissed for their 12th lowest test innings total ever in glorious sunshine in Leeds.
Joe Denly top scored with a measly 12 runs — the lowest ever highest score for an England batsman in a test innings — with captain Joe Root, on his home ground, falling for his second duck in a row as the hosts’ innings lasted less than 28 overs.
Australia, spearheaded by Steve Smith’s replacement Marnus Labuschagne (53 not out), added to their lead in the evening session, before two late wickets gave England some hope of salvaging the test.
As holders, Australia would retain the Ashes with victory as England could only draw the series.
(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Toby Davis)