Ashes 2013-14: England's tired top order has no fight - Agnew

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The Analyst: Harris gives Cook dilemma

Whether it happens tomorrow or on the fourth day, I can't see a situation where England won't lose the fifth Ashes Test in Sydney and, consequently, lose the series 5-0.

Australia, who closed their second innings on 140-4 with a lead of 311, already have enough runs on the board and they will probably add another 150 before enjoying all the time in the world to bowl out England.

The tourists scored just 155 in their first innings and, once again, it was the same old story of a failed and tired top order that simply doesn't look like it is up for a fight any more.

England got off to a terrible start when Alastair Cook was out playing no shot to the second ball of the day and, on this occasion, there wasn't the excuse of having to captain a beleaguered side in the field for two days. He could, for once, bat on a good night's sleep.

Ian Bell was dropped first ball and James Anderson was ruthlessly beaten up at the other end by the fast bowlers.

To send out a nightwatchman to face that sort of bowling is not right. The senior batsmen who stayed in the pavilion and let Anderson go out and face it need to take a look at themselves.

Anderson suffered a horrible blow on the hand and was finally put out of his misery when he was caught off Mitchell Johnson. Kevin Pietersen played a distracted and brief innings and was out driving to a ball which was not there to be driven, and in no time England were 23-5.

It was a pitiful performance and England ended up with a bloke on debut - Gary Ballance - walking out with his side 17-4 and 40,000 people going mad in the stands.

I thought Ballance played quite nicely although I am a little worried about his ability to deal with the short ball because he didn't play one particular Mitchell Johnson delivery very well and was hit on the grille of the helmet.

Yet again, it was Ben Stokes who showed the most fighting spirit. He made 47 and showed a great deal of character. He batted well and he batted properly - moving his feet and playing with a straight bat until he also played no shot and was bowled by Peter Siddle.

Overall, it was another totally disappointing performance and one which means England will lose this match either on Sunday or Monday. I can't see any other way around it now.

Ultimately, when Australia make it 5-0, nobody can quibble with that result.

Jonathan Agnew was talking to BBC Sport's Marc Higginson.

Listen to Jonathan Agnew and Geoff Boycott's review of the day in the TMS podcast.

Relive the day's play in Sydney in the Pint-Sized Ashes.

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