Ashes 2013/14: England's first innings collapse inexplicable, says Beefy
Sir Ian Botham said England must look hard at themselves after an inexplicable collapse.
Last Updated: 22/11/13 11:23am
The tourists' hopes of establishing a first-innings lead after bowling Australia out for 295 sank without trace as Mitchell Johnson (4-61), Ryan Harris (3-28) and Nathan Lyon (2-17) ran amok.
Six wickets fell for nine runs as England, at one stage 82-2, folded before Stuart Broad's 32 helped the total into three figures.
Botham told Sky Sports News that he was at a loss to explain the collapse.
"I'm not quite sure why England's batsmen struggled so much - there was no reason for it, there were no demons in the pitch," reflected the former all-rounder.
"The pitch played very, very well. Mitchell Johnson came steaming in but he's one quick bowler. Nathan Lyon was allowed to bowl.
"I think England will be sitting in that dressing room wondering what went on because they went from 82-2 and then 82-3 - they lost six wickets for nine runs.
"Australia kept going at England - they were aggressive, they had intent; they showed the same when they were in the field and they did the same when they came out to bat this evening. England looked a bit flat."
England's poor total was the latest in a dire run of first innings scores in first Tests abroad, which includes 192 against Pakistan in Dubai (2012), 193 against Sri Lanka in Galle (2012), 191 against India in Ahmedabad (2012) and 167 against New Zealand in Dunedin (2013).
With Australia reaching 65-0 in their second innings before stumps, England already trail by 224 and Botham conceded that they now have a fight on their hands to save the first Test.
"They do it continuously - it's almost déjà vu - and they've done it again here. They've got a hell of a lot of work to do now to get something out of this game. They can forget about winning it but what they can do is fight and try and save it.
"So there's plenty to do; it will be a real test of character. They've got to go out there, bat and bat long.
"This is the first game; we've done this so many times and we've bounced back. Of course it would be better to be in a stronger position but England have now got to fight and show the character that has got them to where they are in the world. They came here as favourites; now they've got to start playing as favourites."
England did salvage a draw despite conceding a first-innings deficit of 221 in the first Test of the 2010/11 series - again at the Gabba - but Botham said that the tourists' inability to dig themselves out of trouble as Australia did on the opening day of this Test was worrying.
"Yesterday Australia's top six failed and then Haddin and Johnson put a great partnership together, putting on over 100," reflected Botham.
"England couldn't do that; our top six failed, scoring very similar scores, and then we collapsed and continued to collapse. It was like a domino effect.
"So all credit to Michael Clarke. He's the captain and he steers the ship and the ship did extremely well today. He kept his bowlers going, he rotated them well, he was in conversation with them all of the time. At the end of the day England need to look at themselves."
Watch highlights of today's play on Sky Sports 2 from 10am - and On Demand from 6.30pm - before The Ashes Verdict (9pm) and Ashes Extra (11pm) hit your screens ahead of coverage of day three, from 11.30pm - also on Sky Sports 2.