SYDNEY: England are facing another defeat in the final Ashes Test after Australia once again dominated on the fourth day in Sydney.
The tourists closed on 93-4, still 210 short of making the home side bat again.
They had been reduced to 15-2 and 43-3, but were held together by captain Joe Root’s unbeaten 42.
On a day of extreme heat in Sydney, Australia added handsomely to their overnight 479-4, eventually declaring on 649-7.
Shaun Marsh and brother Mitchell both completed their second centuries of the series as Australia rattled along at almost five runs per over.
Mason Crane, the 20-year-old leg-spinner, was unfortunate to return 1-193, the most expensive figures by an England bowler on Test debut.
Australia, already 3-0 up and with the Ashes secured, appear on course to earn their ninth win in 10 home Tests against England.
As they pursue the six remaining wickets on the final day, they will have the benefit of a pitch showing occasional signs of uneven bounce and large amounts of turn for off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
England managed just two wickets in hot weather on Saturday, but that was nothing to what they faced in a blistering half day in the field on Sunday.
Local media reported that some parts of the city were experiencing temperatures of 47 degrees, while readings taken in the middle of the SCG at lunchtime were said to be in excess of 50.
Across the city, the Sydney International tennis tournament implemented its heat policy, but an extra drinks break per session was the only alteration to play at the Test.
In the hottest part of the day, England’s weary bowlers were flogged by the Marsh brothers, with only James Anderson exerting any sort of control.
After Australia finally declared, their attack was vastly more potent, their pacemen making light of the slow nature of the surface while Lyon tormented England’s left-handers.
It is only captain Root’s presence at the crease that gives England the slimmest hope of surviving for any length of time on the final day.
The captain’s resistance was admirable, especially when he looked to be in significant pain after taking a blow on the right index finger when trying to pull Mitchell Starc.
Mark Stoneman was trapped on the crease to fall lbw to Starc and Alastair Cook, having been dropped at first slip off Josh Hazlewood, was bowled by a wonderful off-break from Lyon.
James Vince did what he has done so often throughout his career – got in, played a lovely cover drive, then flashed at Pat Cummins to be held at first slip for 18.
Both the Hampshire batsman and Stoneman face an anxious wait to learn if they have been included in the squad for the two Tests in New Zealand, to be announced after this match.
Dawid Malan – England’s leading run-scorer in the series – was deceived by a straight one from Lyon and was trapped in front.
Jonny Bairstow made an assured 17 not out to accompany Root to the close. Given Moeen Ali’s lack of form and the elongated tail that follows, it seems likely the fifth-wicket pair will have to do something remarkable if England are to escape on Monday.
Shaun Marsh, 98 not out overnight, drove the fifth ball of the day from Moeen for four to reach his sixth Test ton, after which he and brother Mitchell tucked into the England attack.
Shaun was at least troubled by Anderson’s marvellous spell with the third new ball, edging between slip fielders Cook and Root when on 118.
Mitchell, resuming on 63, continued with the belligerence he showed on the third evening and a cut off Tom Curran brought his second Test ton, only for the next delivery to take his off stump.
Shaun carried on with his off-side scoring and it was only when he was slow to respond to Tim Paine’s call that he was beaten to the striker’s end by Stoneman’s direct hit to depart for 156.
Starc holed out off Moeen, but by this point England had nothing to celebrate and the unwanted numbers were stacking up.
The 1003.2 overs England have spent in the field this series is their most against any opponent for 23 years while Anderson’s 223.3 is the third highest by a pace bowler in a single series this century.
Australia racked up their third-highest home Ashes total, having notched the second-best in the third Test in Perth. Presuming England do not bowl again, the 58 wickets they have taken in the series is the second-fewest they have managed in a five-Test Ashes tour.