'Everybody misread the wicket' - Hilditch
Andrew Hilditch, Australia's chairman of selectors, has conceded that everyone in the Australian side misread the pitch in The Oval Test but said they lost the match because of the first-innings collapse. Australia's decision to overlook Nathan Hauritz and persist with a four-man pace attack hurt them after England's Graeme Swann exploited a turning pitch to pick up eight wickets.
"We would've changed the side (from the fourth Test at Headingley) if we'd read the wicket right, and we would've played Nathan Hauritz," Hilditch told reporters in Adelaide a day after the defeat. "But it would be an over-simplification to say that meant we lost the Test match, that'd be incorrect. We lost the Test match because we got 160 in the first innings.
"Jamie Cox was the selector on duty, but everybody misread the wicket, from our entire playing group, captain and coach included, and that just happens. To see the hard work that all those players put in, a very important series for everybody, to see it fall apart at The Oval was hard for everybody."
Cricket Australia's chief executive James Sutherland today defended the selection committee, saying it wouldn't be right to blame them for the defeat. He also ruled out any major changes to the three-member panel, but confirmed that one among those those three positions will be made full-time.
Hilditch admitted that it was painful watching his team slide to their second Ashes defeat in four years.
"I'm feeling gutted and in some disbelief over the last couple of days," Hilditch said. "The traditional signs of who's going to win a Test series are all there and it should have been Australia. We had six of the top seven batsmen, 10 centuries, eight of them Australian, the three leading bowlers in the series were all Australian. Everything indicates that we dominated the Test series."
Looking back at the five-Test series, he said England won because they clinched crucial moments.
"We lost the Test series through five hours of cricket. We lost the Test series in the last hour in Cardiff (first Test) when we should have won. I thought at the time it was going to hurt us, which it did. There were two hours of batting at Lord's in the second Test and maybe even an hour's batting at The Oval in the first innings, when we really needed to get 400-500 runs and get into a good position."