LONDON • Mitchell Starc did his best to rally Australia on the second day of the fourth Ashes cricket Test at Trent Bridge on Friday. However, they still had a mountain to climb just to get back on level terms with England.
Left-arm fast bowler Starc took six for 111, including a spell of three for five in 12 balls, yesterday that saw him dismiss Joe Root for 130.
However, England still made 391 for nine declared. It was a huge first-innings lead of 331, after they had skittled Australia out for just 60 on Thursday.
Stuart Broad, who had wrecked Australia's first innings with a Test-best eight for 15, was 24 not out when skipper Alastair Cook called a halt to England's reply.
At tea, Australia were 138 for four in their second innings - still 193 runs behind - as England eyed a win. That would put them 3-1 up in the five-match series and see them regain the Ashes.
In their second innings, Australia showed better form, with openers Chris Rogers (52) and David Warner (64) putting on 113 for the first wicket.
But in a three-over spell just before tea, medium-pacer Ben Stokes took three wickets for four runs in 13 balls to leave Australia struggling. He had figures of three for 20 in eight overs.
Beleaguered captain Michael Clarke was still at the crease.
But it appeared it would take a monumental batting performance from him and the rest of of the Australian batsmen to save themselves from defeat.
Earlier yesterday, Australia's humiliating first innings' batting collapse was acknowledged as a "horror show" by their media and prompted a call for Clarke to retire.
"Australian cricket has spiralled into crisis after arguably the darkest day in Ashes history," declared Brisbane's Courier Mail.
Australia's specialist batsmen were destroyed by England's bowling, with Broad taking eight wickets for just 15 runs. The home side's Joe Root then followed with a stunning 124 not out.
"Before lunch, Australia had already been Broadsided.
"By stumps, their Ashes campaign was all but Rooted," said the Courier Mail online.
The Sydney Morning Herald bitterly described the wipe-out - in which extras accounted for the most runs on the Australian scoreboard with 14 - as "a first day that will live in infamy".
Clarke, who last week insisted that he would keep playing after this Ashes series, made only 10 runs in the lamentable innings.
This poor showing prompted Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons to call on him to quit.
Australia cannot keep selecting a player who does not score runs, he wrote, and it was clear that "Pup", as Clarke is known, was now an "Old Dog who has no new tricks".