One argument for not removing Joe Root as England Test captain was the seeming lack of credible replacements to take over the responsibility.

Well, that became a none issue on Good Friday when it was announced Root had stood down from the position after winning 27 Test matches as skipper – a record for an England captain.

His tenure came under question after England failed to win in five straight series and now the hunt is on for the Yorkshireman's successor.

Stats Perform have evaluated the most likely candidates to do so.

BEN STOKES

Already England's vice-captain and surely the top replacement to fill the void. It is hard to look beyond Stokes, not least because – aside from Root – he is about the only shoo-in for the Test side. So often England's saviour, the star all-rounder has 5,061 runs and 174 wickets from 79 Tests (averaging 35.89 with the bat, and 32.12 with the ball). A recent four-month hiatus, in which Stokes cited mental health reasons, may raise questions as to whether he will want to take on the job, but he certainly appears to be the frontrunner.

JOS BUTTLER

Buttler's main issue, like so many in the red-ball team, is that his place in the side is far from assured. Having said that, Buttler has been a big part of the leadership team in white-ball cricket and the attack-minded wicketkeeper-batsman may thrive if given the opportunity to lead his country in the five-day game. With 2,907 runs and a couple of Test centuries to his name, Buttler could be the one England turn to next.

STUART BROAD

The decision to drop Broad and James Anderson – the former second only to the latter in England's list of all-time leading Test wicket takers – from the recent series in the West Indies was met with complete bemusement. Admittedly, at the age of 35 Broad is in the twilight of his Test career but he could certainly provide a good short-term option until a more viable solution emerges. He has previously captained England in the T20 format too.

RORY BURNS

Recently dropped from the Test team, Burns is maybe more of an outside shot but perhaps with the added responsibility of captaincy he could cement a place in the team. Burns has proved his cricketing nous by leading Surrey to the County Championship in 2018. Burns would need to start scoring consistent runs at the top of the order, though.

JONNY BAIRSTOW

Bairstow has no shortage of grit and desire. Moreover, he was the only England player to score a century in the Ashes debacle and also made a valiant hundred in the first Test against the Windies, which helped secure a draw in that match. However, Bairstow often finds himself in a battle to even make the team. Ollie Pope's emergence means he is not a shoo-in as a middle-order batman, while he is up against Buttler and Ben Foakes to play wicketkeeper.

Ben Stokes has thanked Joe Root for his "sacrifices" after the England Test captain stepped down from the role.

Root was appointed as the successor to Alastair Cook in 2017 and holds the record for most wins as an England captain in the longest format of the game (27).

However, disappointing returns in recent outings, with England winless in five Test series, brought Root's tenure into question, and the Yorkshireman announced he had stepped down with immediate effect on Friday.

Stokes is among the favourites to replace Root and took to Instagram shortly after the announcement to show his appreciation.

"Been a great ride with you my friend," Stokes wrote. "Watching one of my great mates lead us all out on to the field was a privilege.

"You have given everything to English cricket and we all want to say thank you for your sacrifices and hard work."

Former England captain Michael Vaughan also had words of praise for Root, despite being counted among his critics in recent times.

Following the series defeat to West Indies last month, the 47-year-old told BBC Radio Five Live: "If [Root] rings me in the next week and asks for some advice, I'll be dead honest: I'd tell him to step down."

Vaughan posted on Twitter on Friday: "He gave it everything with very little support for the red ball team under his watch... then he had to deal with COVID times.

"He still is and will [be] the game's best role model for many, many years. Now enjoy being the senior player for many more seasons."

England interim head coach Paul Collingwood heaped praise on Ben Stokes for helping to heal the "scar tissue" from another Ashes disappointment.

Joe Root's tourists were thoroughly outplayed against their old foes Australia, succumbing to a 4-0 series defeat Down Under that saw Chris Silverwood dismissed in the wake of the hammering.

Collingwood was placed in temporary charge to lead a new-look England side, without James Anderson or Stuart Broad, to the Caribbean for a three-Test series against West Indies.

England remain in search of their first win under Collingwood – and in eight Tests overall – but have produced encouraging performances in consecutive draws in Antigua and Barbados.

Stokes, who bemoaned his fitness levels after averaging 23.6 with the bat and 71.5 with the ball in Australia, has been integral to the visitors' spirited showings against Kraigg Brathwaite's side.

Indeed, no seamer has sent down more overs in the series than Stokes (77) for his five wickets and economy of just 1.81. He also registered his first century since July 2020 with a brisk 120 in the second Test.

Collingwood was keen to credit superstar all-rounder Stokes for aiding Root and the rest of the England side in recovering from a familiar Ashes fate as they eye a winner-takes-all decider in Grenada, which starts on Thursday.

 

"He's phenomenal, he's box office," Collingwood said of Stokes.

"He was going into the Ashes with not much cricket under his belt. Now he's fit, he's determined, and you can tell he wants to make a difference in the dressing room as a leader.

"When he's preparing himself like he is at the moment, he certainly leads. He wants to go out in the middle and put in big performances. He wants the ball in hand, to score the runs, and he's doing just that at the moment.

"Even in the meetings when we first arrived, getting the scar tissue from Australia out the way and [discussing] how we were going to move forward, you could see and hear he had the bit between his teeth and wants to lead this team. I think he and Joe Root have done a magnificent job turning this round.

"He's just desperate to do well for the badge, for England. It's amazing when he's got this kind of attitude, as we all know he's one of the best. Long may it continue."

With a fully fit Stokes partnering the in-form Root, Jonny Bairstow and England's refreshed top order, Collingwood finds it hard to fault the efforts of his team so far.

"They want to put on a show, get a win under their belts, and we have a great attitude at the moment," he added. 

"All the way through the [second] Test match, we were pushing for the win. It always felt as though we were a session or session and a half behind the game with the pace Brathwaite batted in the first innings, but he showed great resilience right the way through the Test match to get a draw for them.

"It's been hard work, but you cannot fault the effort. If you could measure attitude and effort, it couldn't get any better than that."

The only criticism of England against West Indies so far has been their failure to take 20 wickets in a Test, albeit on two placid pitches, leading to calls for the inclusion of leg-spinner Matt Parkinson, who Collingwood feels will be ready whenever called upon.

"He is ready as can be," Collingwood said.

"The simple fact is, in COVID-19 times, you don't get matches in between. They are back-to-back-to-back, and it is putting a lot of stress on the players. The downside is we don't have matches in between to have preparation time for guys who are not playing."

Ben Stokes plundered an electric century as England put a big total on the board in their first innings on day two of the second Test against West Indies in Bridgetown.

Stokes reached his 11th Test hundred off just 114 balls as he and Joe Root (153) carried on where the tourists had left off on day one.

West Indies were able to navigate 27 overs of their own before the close of play for the loss of just one wicket, but remain 436 runs behind at 71-1 going into the third day.

It was a flawless first session for England, with Stokes coming in after Dan Lawrence (91) lost his wicket off the final ball of the opening day.

Stokes and Root stepped up the run rate, with the former in particular firing boundaries as often as he could, and the duo put on a further 125 before lunch, with Root reaching his 150.

The England captain was out shortly after the second session began after Kemar Roach trapped him lbw, which took the bowler ahead of Sir Garry Sobers into seventh on his country's list of all-time wicket-takers.

Jonny Bairstow added 20 before going for a big shot off Alzarri Joseph that was caught by Nkrumah Bonner in the deep, and then Stokes soon followed as he put his foot down even further, hitting Kraigg Brathwaite for back-to-back sixes, only to hit the next one straight to Shamarh Brooks to end with 120 to his name.

Ben Foakes (33) and Chris Woakes (41) put on a partnership of 75, but as wickets at the tail-end started to fall, Root decided to declare on 507-9.

Debutant Matt Fisher sensationally took the wicket of John Campbell (four) with just his second ball, forcing an edge through to Foakes.

However, Brathwaite (28 not out) and Brooks (31 not out) managed to see out the remainder of the day, though the former did survive after reviewing an initial 'out' decision for lbw off Jack Leach when on 14. 

Stokes back to his best

What a player Ben Stokes is on this form. He set the tone for the remainder of the England innings after Root et al had laid the groundwork on day one.

He hit a remarkable six sixes in his 120, which arrived in just 128 deliveries. That included scoring 89 from 92 balls in the morning session as he also passed the 5,000 Test runs mark.

Fisher hooks his first wicket

What a way to start your Test career. Fisher bowled an absolute beauty to dismiss Campbell, and though he was not able to add to it before the close of play, ending the day with figures of 1-18, he did threaten more than most.

The Yorkshireman has 63 wickets in first class cricket at an average of 27.52, and has made a good start to putting his name forward as a potential long-term part of England's attack.

Saqib Mahmood will make his Test debut in England's only change for their second match against West Indies, starting on Wednesday at Kensington Oval.

The Lancashire seamer is a like-for-like replacement for the injured Mark Wood, who has been ruled out due to an elbow problem sustained in the first Test.

Joe Root's side played out a draw in that opening contest against Kraigg Brathwaite's hosts in Antigua and have moved on to Barbados for the second of three tussles for the Richards-Botham Trophy.

Centuries for captain Root, Jonny Bairstow and Zak Crawley were stymied by a superb display from Nkrumah Bonner and Wood's injury, on the back of Ollie Robinson being ruled out for the opener.

Root admitted that while Durham bowler Wood would be a loss, he had little doubts about 25-year-old Mahmood's potential.

"He's very mature for a guy who hasn't played a huge amount of international cricket, and he has an understanding of how he wants to operate," Root said.

"He's been very impressive. He's got a slightly different trajectory and will give us a point of difference. He has done that when he's played in other formats.

"Clearly he has good control, especially if the ball moves with reverse swing."

West Indies batsman Bonner, whose recent emergence as a Test player has followed a false start in international cricket in the T20I format 10 years ago, is relishing another battle after his man-of-the-match performance.

"During that 10-year period when I was out, there was a lot of work I put in mentally, physically and technically, and I'm really happy to be reaping the rewards now," Bonner said, quoted by BBC Sport.

"I'm more experienced now, I understand my game a lot better. I always had that belief I could play international cricket.

"Obviously sometimes the belief goes down a little bit, but I kept working and I'm really happy to have come back."

Stokes closes in on select England landmark

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been relatively quiet with bat and ball since returning to the international fold, but he could reach a notable landmark this week.

He needs 84 more to reach 5,000 runs in Test cricket for England; in doing so, he would become just the 23rd player to achieve this feat for the team.

West Indies are one of the three teams against whom he has scored over 1,000 runs.

Roach poised to move up WI rankings

Kemar Roach needs only one more wicket to become the outright seventh-highest wicket taker for West Indies in men's Test cricket.

Roach is level with Garry Sobers on 235 wickets, and the paceman has more wickets against England (54) than against any other team in this format.

Once he moves ahead, he will have sixth-placed Michael Holding in his sights, with 249.

Ben Stokes believes he let both himself and England down during the 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia.

The all-rounder, who averaged only 23.60 with the bat and took four wickets, said Joe Root’s side have taken some "hard lessons" from the chastening defeat Down Under.

Stokes helped to salvage a draw with a half-century in both innings in the fourth Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, but England suffered a brutal series hammering.

The vice-captain, who returned in Australia following a break to protect his mental health while also recovering from a finger injury, is determined to make amends in the upcoming series against West Indies.

"Looking back on Australia, we've had some honest reflections not only as a team but individuals as well," the 30-year-old said.

"I personally felt I let the team down with more than just performances, I would have liked to have been in better physical shape.

"When I look back on it, I felt I let myself down, but the thing that really grinds me the most and hurts me the most is that I let a lot of other people down and I never want to feel that way again. 

"Everyone's taken some good hard lessons from Australia."

England travelled to the Caribbean without legendary bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, while head coach Chris Silverwood lost his job after the drubbing in Australia.

Stokes is fully behind captain Joe Root and says there is no point discussing the absence of Anderson and Broad.

"It's not all on the captain. Joe is 100 per cent the man to lead this team forward, and I'll be right behind him every step of the way,” he added.

"There's obviously been a big change with Stuart and Jimmy [being dropped,] but, with all due respect to them, they're not here and what we can concentrate on are the guys who are, and the opportunity they now have.

"We have made a real effort to make sure that from the top, the most experienced guy, Joe, to the guys who haven’t even played yet, we are valued just as much as each other. 

"When it comes to guys who are about to make their debut or haven't played much, there is that extra responsibility on the senior guys to help them through that.

"I don't see it as a negative whatsoever. The only thing for us now is [to be] positive, because there were a lot of negatives in Australia and it was a s*** place to be."

The first Test in the three-match series against West Indies start in Antigua on Tuesday.

Australia hold a perfect Ashes day-night record and England will have to put up another huge fight to prevent them from ending the series with a win in the historic Test in Hobart.

The tourists avoided a whitewash when they batted out a draw on a tense final day at the Sydney Cricket Ground last week, James Anderson and Stuart Broad preventing Australia from taking the one wicket they needed to go 4-0 up.

They will start a first-ever Ashes Test in Hobart on Friday with Pat Cummins' side strong favourites to make it three Test wins out of three over England under the lights.

The series finale was due to be staged in Perth, but was moved due to Western Australia's border restrictions.

England have not won a Test in Australia since they came out on top at the SCG 11 years ago and they have never looked like ending that drought during this one-sided series.

Blundstone Arena has been a happy hunting ground for Australia, the hosts nine out of 13 Tests in Hobart – that 69 per cent win rate being their best at any home ground where they face played more than twice in the longest format.

A draw stopped the rot for the tourists, but they are winless in seven away Tests. It is their longest run without a victory on their travels since a 13-match barren spell from October 2016 to March 2018.

Both sides face selection dilemmas for what Australia hope will be their 150th Test victory over their fierce rivals. Their next best winning record is against West Indies (58 victories).

England, meanwhile, will simply be hoping for a win to at least take some positives from what has been a miserable tour. However, in both day-night meetings between these sides to dates, Australia have triumphed by 120 runs (in December 2017 and December 2021).

Head return leaves Harris vulnerable

Usman Khawaja could not have wished to make a bigger impact after getting the nod at the SCG, scoring a century in both innings of his first Test since August 2019.

Khawaja became the first player to plunder a ton in each innings of an SCG Test since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting 

The experienced left-hander replaced Travis Head, who missed out after testing positive for coronavirus.

Head is fit for the fifth Test and averages 62 in the series, so he is set to come back into the side. Khawaja believed he was unlikely to retain his place despite his brilliance in Sydney, though there is a possibility the 35-year-old could find himself opening, with Marcus Harris potentially making way. 

Josh Hazlewood is still unavailable due to a side injury, while Mitchell Starc says he does not need a rest and that is no surprise given his outstanding record in day-night Tests.

Billings set for Test bow

Sam Billings is poised to make his Test debut for England after Jos Buttler flew home with a broken finger.

Billings drove over 500 miles to answer an England SOS call, having been in Queensland playing for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League.

Ben Stokes (side) and Jonny Bairstow (thumb) batted through the pain barrier in Sydney and will be checked on, with the vice-captain possibly playing only as a batter.

Rory Burns could be recalled in place of a struggling Haseeb Hameed, while Ollie Robinson will be hoping to come back into the team and head coach Chris Silverwood is back with the touring party after missing the fourth Test due to coronavirus.

Captain Joe Root (23) is one away from recording the outright second most hundreds for England in men's Tests, while he has scored 847 runs in the red-ball format in Australia – the second-most by any non-Australian player without having scored a century in the country.

Broad, meanwhile, is only four wickets shy of becoming England's second all-time leading wicket taker against Australia in men's Tests. The paceman is on 125 as it stands, three behind the late Bob Willis (128), with Ian Botham the record holder with 148.

Joe Root plans to give Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow as much time as possible to be fit for a fifth and final Ashes Test in which he challenged England to show "fight" and "desire" from "ball one".

Star all-rounder Stokes has already confirmed in his column for The Mirror that he will not be able to bowl in the day-night Test in Hobart having suffered a "low grade tear" in his side during the gritty draw in Sydney that ensured Australia cannot secure a 5-0 series whitewash.

Jonny Bairstow scored a gutsy first-innings century in that match but was forced to play through the pain barrier after receiving a hefty blow on the thumb from Pat Cummins, an injury that meant he could not regain the gloves from Jos Buttler, who has travelled home with a broken thumb, in the second innings.

Captain Root said both men will be assessed over the next couple of days before a decision is made.

"We've got to just see where they're at over the next couple of days, see what their bodies can handle and then assess from there," Root told a news conference on Wednesday.

"Certainly you can pick Ben as a bat, Jonny too. We have to see where they are at, what their bodies can handle.

"You have to trust the medical advice. Those guys work tirelessly to make sure we are in the best possible position to go and win games and sometimes that is making some difficult calls.

"I think they need to make sure they feel like they're physically in a place where they can get through five days of hard cricket, whatever Australia throw at them, and they're in a position where they can go out and play and firstly, get through the game, but also, most importantly put in a performance as they managed to last week as well. 

"It's alright being fit to play but you've got to be fit to perform and I think that's what we've got to work out."

Stokes made two half centuries in Sydney, while Bairstow made a hard-earned 41 in the second to add to his century with both men proving crucial as England bravely fought for a draw after being heavily beaten in each of the first three Tests.

England were still largely outplayed by the hosts and had to dig deep to avoid defeat. Root wants to see the same kind of guts throughout the duration of the contest in Hobart.

"On the back of three very difficult games where we underperformed, to come back and get something from the last game showed a great amount of character," he added.

"There was an element of relief managing to get through those last few overs but the desire, the fight and the pride that everyone showed on that last day is something we have to harness.

"We have to play like that more frequently through the five days, not just on the last day when everything is on the line, but from ball one. We've proved to ourselves that we can do it, now can we take it a step further?

"Can we make sure we do it in a winning cause rather than just trying to save a Test match? We have something to build on – that’s what we have to take from the last game and into this one."

Australia's Usman Khawaja is expecting to miss out on a place in the side for the final Ashes Test, despite his stunning display at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

England will need to bat out the final day at the SCG on Sunday, and perhaps hope for help from the weather, as they look to seal a draw from the fourth Test and stave off the threat of a 5-0 series whitewash.

The tourists will resume on 30-0, their highest opening partnership of the series so far, after Australia declared on 265-6 in their second innings.

England had kept themselves in the fight thanks to Jonny Bairstow's century on day three, and added 36 runs to their overnight total in the morning session on Saturday.

Their bowlers started well, reducing Australia to 68-3 by the time Khawaja came to the crease, and Steve Smith's dismissal then left the hosts at 86-4.

Yet Khawaja, who marked his recall in place of coronavirus-hit Travis Head with 137 in the first innings, went on to thwart England's bowling attack once more, with his unbeaten 101 leading Australia into a 387-run lead.

Khawaja, who played for New South Wales and currently is a star man for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, became the first player to score a hundred in each innings of an SCG Test since former Australia captain Ricky Ponting in January 2006, also against England.

However, the 35-year-old, who had not appeared in an Australia Test team since facing England at Headingley in 2019, does not expect his performance to be enough to secure his spot in the XI for the final match in Hobart.

"At the moment I'm quite resigned to the fact that I'll probably miss out," Khawaja told reporters. "That's just from talking to [head selector] George Bailey about continuity. That's important, I'm not totally against that process.

"I felt like throughout my career, a lot of changes were made and I was on the wrong side of them, so I'm the first to say that I think there needs to be structure and stability. I know how hard it is for a cricketer chopping and changing.

"I actually like the processes that the selectors have been taking throughout the series, so at the moment I'm not really expecting to play the next match, but I'll always be ready.

"Someone else may get COVID or something else happens. Heady batted beautifully in that first Test. I'd be very surprised if too much changed. Scotty Boland was amazing last game, something I'm not sure I'll see again, and he was going to be dropped. It's just the reality. It sucks, but that's just cricket."

While Khawaja is not expecting to play in Tasmania, he may also be joined in watching on by England trio Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler and Bairstow.

Stokes scored a resilient 66 as he battled through a side strain in England's first innings, while both Buttler and Bairstow did not field on Saturday after sustaining hand injuries.

Ollie Pope filled in at wicketkeeper, taking four catches, while Sam Billings has been called up by England for the Hobart Test, and assistant coach Graham Thorpe does not know if the trio will be fit to return.

"We've obviously got some blows. It's possible [they will miss the final Test] but we will be assessing all of that at the end of the game," he told reporters.

Jonny Bairstow made a brilliant century as England fought back on day three of the fourth Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Bairstow (103) scored his seventh Test century, and his first since 2018, to stave Australia off after the hosts had reduced England to 36-4 in the morning session.

Ben Stokes, who battled on with a side strain, and Bairstow - who was hit on the thumb by a blistering Pat Cummins delivery - combined for a superb partnership of 128 to steady the ship for the tourists, who reached stumps on 258-7, trailing by 158 runs.

The start was delayed by rain on Friday, but having finished day two on 13-0, Joe Root's side were soon wishing for the weather to close in again.

Haseeb Hameed was dropped by Alex Carey in the third over, but England's opener was gone soon after, Mitchell Starc bowling him for only six.

England then lost Zak Crawley (18), Root (0) and Dawid Malan (3) without scoring a single run.

Cummins missed a caught-and-bowled chance to dismiss Stokes on nine, and the all-rounder subsequently survived a bizarre incident when Cameron Green hit the stumps but the bails did not fall off. Stokes was given out leg before wicket, but an instant review saved him.

Stokes went on to make 66 before he misjudged a delivery from Nathan Lyon and was trapped lbw, with Bairstow then getting clattered on the hand by Cummins off the next ball.

Jos Buttler went for a duck and another batting collapse seemed on the cards, but Bairstow and Mark Wood (39) took the game back to Australia, the paceman hitting three sixes in an entertaining knock, which came to an end when he gloved Cummins onto his helmet and into the hands of Lyon.

Bairstow continued to defy Australia and cut Cummins for four to reach three figures in the final over of the day.

 

Bairstow back with a bang

Having not been selected in the opening two Tests, Bairstow produced a stunning century in the circumstances - the first scored by an England player in a miserable series for the tourists.

Given Buttler's lack of form, Bairstow could find himself donning the gloves again in the fifith Test. England will be hoping the Yorkshireman can frustrate Australia further on Saturday and the weather could also thwart Cummins' side in their pursuit of a whitewash.

Bairstow and Stokes' partnership was only the second time a visiting duo have added 100 plus runs for the fifth wicket in Australia after their team were four down for fewer than 50.

Boland, Stokes suffer

Scott Boland (2-25) was the pick of Australia's bowlers, but the 32-year-old - who made a dream debut in Melbourne - was forced off with a side injury.

The quick went for a scan and was cleared to bowl in the nets and subsequently return for the evening session, so Australia will be hoping he is fit to fire on day four.

Stokes, meanwhile, may not be so lucky, as he was grimacing throughout his battling innings.

All-rounder Ben Stokes has no desire to take over as England captain as pressure mounts on Joe Root in light of the side's 3-0 Ashes deficit.

Root replaced Alastair Cook as England's full-time Test captain in early 2017 but has come under scrutiny with the side losing the Ashes in lopsided fashion.

The 31-year-old batsman was also in charge when England lost 4-0 to Ashes in 2017-18 and failed to win back the urn on home soil in 2019 with a 2-2 series draw.

Stokes looms as Root's obvious replacement as the side's vice-captain and arguably the only lock in England's best XI but he dismissed the role was on his radar.

"I've never really had an ambition to be a captain," Stokes said. "Captaincy is more than about setting fields, picking the team, making decisions out there in the middle.

"A captain is someone you want to go out and play for. Joe Root is someone I always want to play for.

"It's totally Joe's decision. He shouldn't be forced into doing it. I'm sure Cooky felt the same way. He did it for so long and when he knew his time was up, his time was up. Those discussions haven't entered anywhere near Joe yet.

"I don't sense that at all with Joe. He's brought this team a long way. He's done some great things. Obviously this series hasn't gone too well, not from a captaincy point of view, but from a team and results point of view."

Stokes, who has only managed 101 runs at 16.83 and four wickets at 62.25 this series, threw his support behind under-fire coach Chris Silverwood.

"Unfortunately, the captain and coach bear the scrutiny for [results], but there are 10 other guys out there in the field," he said.

"That's [the media's] job, to say, 'Should people step down?' At the end of the day, the most important people's opinions are those guys in the dressing room and they've got our thorough support.

"Chris Silverwood, exactly the same. He's a real players' coach. He stands up for you as individuals and players as well.

"All the hype in the media recently about their futures, it's your job to write that, but they know full well they have the support of everyone in there and that's all that matters."

The fourth Ashes Test starts in Sydney on Wednesday.

Jhye Richardson took 5-42 as Australia claimed a 275-run victory over England in the second Ashes Test to take a 2-0 series lead.

Australia headed into day five requiring just six wickets to take a 2-0 series lead, Joe Root's side batting only for a draw, given they needed an improbable 386 runs for victory.

Any chance of England escaping without defeat hinged on the shoulders of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler, after the tourists' captain Joe Root fell to Mitchell Starc (2-43) on the final ball of day four.

Australia flew out of the blocks, Starc removing Ollie Pope – caught at slip by stand-in captain Steve Smith – and Nathan Lyon picking up the crucial wicket of Stokes, who was dismissed for a 77-ball 12.

Buttler and Chris Woakes then lived charmed lives, with the wicketkeeper edging Starc between a motionless Alex Carey and David Warner, while the right-arm all-rounder survived a caught-behind review from Lyon having not scored.

That England partnership lasted 31 overs before Woakes was bowled by Richardson, with Ollie Robinson following soon after as he was caught at slip by Smith off Lyon.

Stuart Broad successfully reviewed a leg before wicket decision to make it into the final session, but Buttler (26) fell in bizarre fashion, stepping on his own stumps after a 207-ball stint at the crease.

Richardson fittingly removed James Anderson, caught in the gully by Cameron Green, as England made it 12 Tests without a win in Australia (D1, L11); their joint-longest run without a victory Down Under (also 12 matches between January 1937 to February 1951).

England head to Melbourne for the Boxing Day Test needing a win to stand a chance of regaining the Ashes, while a draw would ensure Australia retain the urn yet again.

Buttler battles to no avail

Buttler, who before the Ashes insisted he would play with a carefree with "nothing to lose", battled against Australia almost single-handedly on Monday, but even his best efforts were not enough against a relentless Australia.

It was a mixed bag of a Test for the 31-year-old, who took some stunning catches, but also dropped some golden chances behind the stumps.

Contrasting fortunes under the lights

England's rear-guard almost masked multiple selection issues across the Gabba and the Adelaide Oval, but what cannot be denied is Australia's magnificent pink-ball form.

The hosts have won all nine of their day-night Test matches, the most by any side and the only team with a 100 per cent record, while England have lost each of their last four games in the format – last winning against West Indies in August 2017. Richardson was the pick of the bunch for the hosts, sealing his five-for when he dismissed Anderson.

Ben Stokes refused to accept that England are already beaten after another dominant day from Australia in the second Ashes Test.

The hosts, captained by Steve Smith in the absence of Pat Cummins, had ended the opening day on 221-2 and ensured England toiled further on day two as the tourists were stuck in the field for 150 overs overall in Adelaide.

Australia eventually declared on 473-9 on Friday, after Marnus Labuschagne (103) had completed his first Ashes century and Smith had crafted an excellent 93 of his own.

The mammoth total was aided by Alex Carey's 51, while Mitchell Starc (39 not out) and debutant Michael Neser (35) enjoyed lower-order cameos as they bludgeoned Joe Root's bowlers around the park.

England lost openers Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed in the first seven overs in response, before play was abandoned due to a lightning storm looming over the Adelaide Oval with Root's side 17-2.

But star all-rounder Stokes, who ran himself into the ground for his 3-113 from 25 overs, insisted his side are not already beaten heading into Saturday's third day.

"We know that tomorrow is going to be a good day for batting," Stokes told BBC's Test Match Special.

"Losing two wickets is not ideal, but tomorrow is a new day. We'll park everything, just like we parked the result in Brisbane.

"We don't believe we're beaten already."

Indeed, Stokes made an early comeback to feature in the Ashes touring party, after initially taking a break from cricket to allow his finger injury to heal and to prioritise his mental wellbeing.

While things have not gone to plan so far for the 30-year-old or England, Stokes believes his decision to play has already been justified and is by far worthwhile.

Asked by reporters whether he had enjoyed his return so far, Stokes said: "Yes. I've loved every minute of it.

"If you don't feel sore getting up in the morning, you've probably not done what's required of you. You've just got to love the dirt when you get that deep in the game and understand what you're playing for.

"We've seen a lot of the support we've been getting on social media from everyone back in England, and the guys who have been supporting us here in Australia have been absolutely phenomenal.

"It's incredible wherever we go. You hear them even though they're outnumbered, and there are people who are staying up through the middle of the night to watch us from afar in the bars and stuff.

"That's incredible to see. Obviously, the first Test didn't go well and Australia are ahead at the moment, but we know back home we'll be getting as much support as we always do and for us it's about letting them know we really appreciate it."

England fast bowling coach Jon Lewis defended the tourists' selection for the first Ashes Test and says Ben Stokes' fitness will be assessed ahead of day three at the Gabba.

Australia are in command of the series-opener in Brisbane after closing on 343-7 in reply to England's 147 all out, leading by 196 runs.

Travis Head (112 not out) smashed the third-fastest Ashes century off only 85 balls after David Warner made 94 and Marnus Labuschagne crafted 74 on day two.

Ollie Robinson was the pick of the England bowlers, taking 3-48, but had to leave the field with a hamstring injury, although the paceman later revealed he had not done serious damage.

Stokes also sustained a knee injury on a tough day for Joe Root's side in the heat, with spinner Jack Leach's 11 overs going for 95.

But Lewis says the selectors did not feel they ought to have played an extra seamer.

"We looked at the pitch on the day before the game and the morning of the game and decided to go with the make-up of the team that we have," he told reporters.

"That's what we felt was the right decision at the time, and I think if we'd have all bowled to the best of our ability, we would have put Australia under a bit more pressure than we did today.

"We still took several Australian wickets. We are a bit behind in the game; however, like I said to the lads before, I know the guys will come back fighting in the next few days."

Lewis was unable to shed any light on the extent of the damage Stokes has done.

Asked about the all-rounder's injury, he replied: "I don't know, I don't assess players, I'm not part of the medical team. We'll see how he pulls up in the morning."

Stokes bowled Warner for 17, but the opener was reprieved as England's vice-captain had over-stepped.

Warner was also dropped by Rory Burns on 48 and should have been run out when he had 60 to his name on a bad day for the tourists in the field.

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