There is Bazball and then there is just Brainless.
England crossed the line with an inexplicable and totally irresponsible passage of play that risked squandering a golden opportunity to put real pressure on Australia.
Just when England looked to have put a nightmare opening day of this second Test behind them and were batting their way, positively but sensibly, towards at least parity with Australia they seemed determined to throw it all away.
England had taken the last five wickets to fall for 77 runs in the session and restricted Australia to 416 all out when, at one stage on Wednesday as they reached 316 for three, it looked like being much worse.
Then they raced along to 188 for one at nearly six an over and had just seen Australia’s most successful bowler in this Ashes in Nathan Lyon limp off with a calf injury that may keep him out of the rest of this Test and possibly the series.
Ollie Pope was the first of the three quick dismissals, falling on 42 off the bowling of Cameron Green
Opener Ben Duckett departed for 98 – just two shy of his second ever home Test century
Joe Root fell disappointingly short with 10 after a brilliant diving catch from Steve Smith
Meanwhile Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were leaking runs and Cameron Green was struggling with the no ball problem that has so affected England so far in this series.
The clouds had lifted and the pitch had flattened out after all that movement through the air and off the surface under lights on the first day. It was too early, with England still 228 behind, to say Australia were out but they were certainly down.
All England had to do was carry on as they were. Just put their foot down on Australia’s throats and bat themselves back into a Test they cannot afford to lose. Instead they seemed intent on gift-wrapping the urn and handing it to the old enemy.
It was crazy cricket as Ollie Pope, Ben Duckett, within two runs of an Ashes hundred at Lord’s, and even Joe Root all threw their wickets away by taking on the most obvious short-ball ploy that can ever have been devised in an Ashes Test. It was just dumb.
Dumb was the only description for the way Harry Brook batted too. He just seemed determined to back away and slog and should have been caught by Marnus Labuschagne at square leg off Pat Cummins on 25 to hand Australia another wicket on a plate.
Yes, England want to continue with their ultra-aggressive brand of cricket that has so transformed their Test fortunes and which should have brought them victory in the first Test of this series at Edgbaston.
But this took that approach too far and tested the patience of even the most devoted disciples of what Bazball is doing for the great old game. Were we not entertained? Well, it was hardly boring but it was far too reckless for long suffering English comfort.
Thank goodness Ben Stokes batted sensibly and, with Brook calming down alongside him, England moved to 278 for four by the close. But it should have been so much better.
Nathan Lyon was forced off the field with what appeared to be a calf strain late on day two
The second day had started so well too. There was more purpose about England in the field, a spring to their step that was so curiously lacking on the first day. From the moment Stuart Broad trapped Alex Carey with his fourth ball of the day, with the help of a review, England were back into the game.
Starc swung wildly at Jimmy Anderson and was well caught by Jonny Bairstow, having a much better game behind the stumps, before Steve Smith moved inexorably to his 32nd Test hundred and his 12th against England.
Josh Tongue was the first bowler to dismiss Smith in his short spell with Sussex earlier this season, to a questionable lbw decision at New Road, but there was no doubt this time as Smith aimed a big drive at the Worcestershire bowler and was well caught in the gully.
When Lyon and Hazlewood were both dismissed by Ollie Robinson England had had a satisfying morning and they turned it into a successful afternoon when Duckett and Zak Crawley batted with purpose and enterprise in an opening stand of 91.
Crawley’s driving was of the highest class and it was again possible to see why England retain so much faith in him. At least until he danced down the wicket to Lyon and gave him his fourth stumping of this Ashes. It was too easy but it is part of the Crawley package.
What was less excusable was the decision of England’s other batsmen to take on every bouncer aimed at them in a seven over spell of complete madness.
Pope looks a much more complete player when he is playing properly and scored perfectly quickly in moving on to 42. But then he moved across and tried to smash Cameron Green for six and succeeded only in top edging to Smith on the square leg boundary.
Three balls later Green appeared to have the wicket of the No1 ranked batsman in the world when Root gloved another short one through to Carey only to see umpire Ahsan Raza signal the fifth no-ball of the all-rounder’s spell. It was a reprieve that England did not heed.
Harry Brook came to the crease after the wickets of Pope, Duckett and Root and ended on 44*
A staunch 17 from 57 by captain Ben Stokes (left) helped steady the ship and guide the hosts to the close
Duckett was taking on every short ball and was just falling short of holing out to most of them, including one that saw Lyon run in and damage his calf, when he scampered a single to take him to 98.
It would have been three figures had a throw from Labuschagne not hit the stumps and instead had gone for overthrows with no-one backing up. How Duckett will regret that piece of accuracy from Labuschagne now after then handing Hazlewood his wicket.
What Root was thinking in carrying on the madness only he knows but he too went top edging a short ball, this time Smith running in from square leg and completing a low catch that TV umpire Marais Erasmus rightly adjudged was clean.
England are still very much in it, still 165 behind, but who knows what lies in store on day three. The only thing certain is that it will not be dull.