Updated: 12/16/2013 13:24 | By Agence France-Presse

Calamitous England lurch towards Ashes defeat

England’s ill-starred Ashes campaign plunged to scarcely believable depths Monday after a calamitous morning which put Australia on the verge of regaining the trophy.

Calamitous England lurch towards Ashes defeat

England batsman Alastair Cook leaves the ground after being dismissed for no runs on the fourth day of the third Ashes cricket Test match in Perth on December 16, 2013

After a catastrophic day on Sunday, when England were left looking at a large deficit in the second innings, things got even worse for them on day four in Perth.

Shane Watson raced to a quickfire 103 and George Bailey twisted the knife when he hit strike bowler James Anderson for a record-equalling 28 runs off one over before Australia declared on 369 for six.

Then England's improbable run chase of 504 to win got off to the worst possible start when captain Alastair Cook, in his 100th Test match, got out to his first ever golden duck in the very first ball of the innings.

At lunch, England were 24 for one, with Michael Carberry on eight and Joe Root on seven, and needing to bat until stumps on Tuesday to avoid going 3-0 down in the series and handing the Ashes to Australia.

With England paceman Stuart Broad out with a foot injury after being hit by a Mitchell Johnson thunderbolt on Sunday, Australia resumed at 235-3 and belted 134 runs in 78 minutes and 17 overs.

Watson raced from 29 overnight to his fourth Test century before being run out in bizarre fashion when Ian Bell dropped the simplest of catches from a top edge.

With Watson out of his ground, an alert Tim Bresnan picked up the ball and threw down the stumps for a wicket the Australian batsman will want to forget.

Bresnan had earlier caught Watson athletically on the boundary when he was on 90, but he fell over the ropes to give the batsman a six.

England's abject fielding, including two missed stumpings and a dropped catch on Sunday, continued when Bell and Anderson stood looking at each other as a simple chance from Bailey dropped between them.

Cook, sumptuously clean-bowled by Ryan Harris, became the only player to be out first ball in his centenary match, while Bailey's 28 off one Anderson over matched the record set by Brian Lara in Johannesburg in 2003.

Possibly the only good news for England was that Broad was cleared of a serious foot injury and could still play in the last two Tests of the series.

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