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The Lord's Test Paper Round

Vaughan Again Losers

Martin Williamson

July 25, 2005

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The Lord's Test was preceded by weeks of anti-Aussie rhetoric and predictions that the Ashes were coming home ... but it took a little over three days for reality to hit home. You only had to look at the tabloids to realise that normal service had been resumed.

"You bunch of drips," boomed Mike Walters in The Mirror. "England didn't just fluff their lines; they blew their screen test by succumbing with all the passion of eunuchs," he wrote, unable to resist a sideswipe at the ECB and Sky Sports at the same time. "Where are tomorrow's cricketing role models going to come from if people drift away from the game because it's marginalised on television and everyone's fed up of losing to the Aussies?"

The Sun took the headline "Vaughan Again Losers" and concentrated on quotes from Ricky Ponting that England were "making lots of mistakes - big mistakes at crucial times."

In The Times, Simon Barnes reflected on England's last-day capitulation, noting that "Kevin Pietersen's cheerful six-hitting at the end was like the V-sign you give the headmaster ten minutes after you've left school. It makes you feel a bit better, but it doesn't affect the balance of power." And as for Australia being too old? "It was the old gunslinger against the young punk. The young punk might believe he is faster, but the old master is accustomed to deference. It's not really about who is faster: it's about who blinks first."

The Daily Telegraph's Martin Johnson turned his attention on Pietersen. "The trouble is [that he] is still adjusting to his newly-acquired nationality, and people will refuse to accept his right to call himself a genuine member of an England dressing-room until he realises that the sight of a baggy green cap brings with it the immediate requirement for the bulldog to turn into a poodle. After only one Test match, Pietersen is already being talked about as good enough to get into the Australia team, and who knows? He might yet apply. He's a bright lad, and is doubtless already instructing his agent to get up to Somerset House and start scouring the archives for a third cousin who eloped with a jolly swagman, or a great-grandmother who played the didgeridoo."

Geraint Jones did not escape Johnson's attention either, his spills on Saturday coming to mind. "He has a pair of wicketkeeping gloves that appear to have been hewn from a trampoline, and his attempt to catch Jason Gillespie by sticking out an arm was less like watching a professional athlete as one of those old Morris Minors with a semaphore trafficator. So the plan now must be to have him stand up to the wicket to all the English bowlers and hope that he fells a couple of the Australian batsmen with vicious rebounds."

Richard Williams in The Guardian stated what all England supporters suspected all along. "Rolling over West Indies is no longer, sadly, the same as competing with Australia on an equal footing. The blow to England's morale will have been severe. For all the lack of a contribution from Ian Bell or Ashley Giles, nothing betrayed England's inherent flaws as clearly as their slapdash fielding, equal parts anxiety and poor technique."

Peter Roebuck in The Independent preferred to concentrate on Shane Warne's superb bowling. "Even in his pomp he could not have bowled better. During a long stint from the Nursery End he produced every word in the leg-spinning vocabulary and added several of his own creation. It was mesmerising, entertaining and destructive."

"England has been brought down in the first Test by Glenn McGrath on the first day and by Warne on the third," wrote Martin Blake in Melbourne's Age newspaper. "There is a terrible familiarity about all this for the home team." Blake added that Warne had cut a distracted figure on the eve of the match, beset as he is by off-the-field issues. "But put a ball in his hand and the genius within him will come through."

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

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