December 6, 2006

Ashes

Where did it all go wrong?

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew Flintoff congratulates Michael Hussey after Australia's remarkable win, Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, December 5, 2006
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The post-mortem into how England managed to lose the Adelaide Test is in full swing throughout the British press. The universal theme is that their final-day performance will go down as one of the worst and will haunt the team for a long time to come. In The Guardian Gideon Haigh says it has undone all the good work that Edgbaston in 2005 achieved.

For their part, England have found a way of cancelling out their chief good recent memory of Ashes cricket. They will always have Edgbaston '05, but they will now also always have Adelaide '06.

In the same paper, Lawrence Booth picks out 10 reasons why it all went wrong for England and Richard Williams says that Andrew Flintoff's personality alone is not enough to make him a successful captain.

It was distressing to watch him in that final session, sending down ball after ball of immaculate length and focused aggression at who knows what personal cost, while at the other end his team-mates failed to produce anything that might seriously inconvenience the opposition. But leading by example is not enough in a game as sophisticated as Test cricket, and Flintoff was able to match neither the guile with which Ponting managed the game nor his skill at identifying the right moment to fire up his players.

In The Times Simon Barnes follows the line that England fell to new depths by managing to lurch to defeat from the apparent comfort of a draw.

It was a marshmallow-hearted performance from the batsmen, who failed spectacularly and en masse. It seemed impossible that any team could be in any kind of trouble - still less lose a match - after declaring the first innings closed on 551 for six. Perhaps they should have batted on. No England team had lost a Test match after such a towering first-innings performance. England have, once again, set a benchmark for ineptitude.

For a slightly different take on the result, The Independent has a piece by David Este, a Brit who has lived in Australia for 19 years, on what it's like taking the flak after such a defeat

I have reached the point where I can shrug off the comments of my next-door neighbour Don, who is convinced I keep my money under the soap and is always kind enough to offer me a warm beer on a hot day. But everyone has a weak spot, and mine is cricket, or more accurately the Ashes. Each successive series brings hope followed by the inevitable disappointment.

But just to bring a more positive spin to events, back at The Times Patrick Kidd gives England fans 11 reasons not to give up hope just yet. They certainly need them all.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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