Eng v Aus, 2nd Investec Test, Lord's, 4th day July 21, 2013

Payback not so much fun after all

The balance between England and Australia changed at Lord's, when victory became a formality - the pursuit of a whitewash might be the only thing that stops the series descending into anti-climax
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Sport is a battle not just for supremacy but also for primacy. Who had the greatest influence on the result? Did Team A win the game or did Team B lose it? Every wicket, boundary, goal or try begets analysis: how much was down to good play and how much to bad? In tennis terms, what was the balance between winners and unforced errors.

In 2010-11, when England marmalised Australia, it felt as if it was more about their excellence than their opponent's limitations. That balance changed at Lord's over the last four days. This has been a landmark match in an era of Ashes cricket, the time when what should be one of the most precious things in cricket - an Ashes victory - became almost a formality. In the age of 140 characters, the last day is easily summarised: England bowled dry and Australia's batting was wet.

Our reference points have travelled 20 years inside a week. Last Sunday was all about 2005; now it's 1985, when England battered a feeble Australia 3-1. It seems history will record this series in a similar way, as an uneven contest between a good side and a poor one. There is one difference: this time England might be disappointed with a 3-1 victory. Yet it's hard to know quite what it all means. They have had tougher Tests against Bangladesh.

For many there is understandable schadenfreude and an unapologetic sense of payback. For those who grew up secretly idolising the Baggy Green and asking themselves in any given situation, "What would Steve Waugh do?" there is significant sadness to see an Australian side so pathetic. You really wouldn't wish this on your worst enemy.

When people are using cliches like "You can only beat what's in front of you" or "Cricket needs a strong Australia" - never mind wheeling out the old jokes about whether they deserve a five-Test series and whether runs and wickets against Australia should officially count - you know there is a problem. The cricket world is off its axis.

To misquote Martin Johnson, there is only one problem with this Australian team: they can't bat. The trouble is that their single problem is an absolute stonker. There was much criticism of Australia's batting before this series, yet they haven't even lived down to expectations: they are much worse than we thought.

Their performance in the second innings was that of men whose basic faculties had gone. Shane Watson could have had a premonition, a DeLorean, the ability to freeze time and unlimited reviews and he still wouldn't have been able to stop his dismissal; Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin were out offering no stroke; and Steven Smith, like Phil Hughes in the first innings, didn't even know he'd hit the ball. At this rate, they might become the first team to employ a specialist DRS coach.

The top order wagged for much of the afternoon session, but then came the increasingly familiar collapse: 5 for 28 to go with 10 for 86 in the first innings and 5 for 9 at Trent Bridge. During Ashes series in the 1990s it was often said that England were "five out, all out". At the moment Australia are almost nought out, seven down before their lower-order show them how to bat with pride and purpose. The top order needs to go into batting rehab.

What Australia would give for the following top six: Greg Blewett, Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Michael Bevan, Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting. That was the A team line-up in the Benson & Hedges Series final of 1994-95. Throughout Australia's years of world domination, their main fear was how they would replace Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. Nobody worried about the batsmen. Whatever else, Australia would always produce batsmen.

Australia's inadequacies are not England's concern - you can only beat what's in front of you - and their celebratory fizz will taste just fine. Yet even they must be a touch unnerved by how easy this has been. They have played a good Test match, no more, and beaten Australia by 347 runs. England won a single live Ashes Test between 1987 and 2005; over the last four days, this team have done the same without getting out of second gear. It all felt a little low-key, a triumph without recourse to exclamation marks. Yes, England have (all but) won the Ashes.

Those exclamation marks might be needed later in the summer. England achieved full mental and physical disintegration in this match. The precedent of India 2011 - a series that started tightly and ended as an inevitable procession once the visiting team were broken - suggests a whitewash is a genuine possibility. By the time of the fourth Test at Durham, Howay Five-0 might be on everyone's lips.

In his new book, Matt Prior says that the idea of England leaving a legacy has become the most important thing in his career. This team have already done that by winning in Australia and India and not to becoming the No. 1 side in the world. Now they have the chance to do something that no England team has ever achieved: a 5-0 Ashes whitewash. That pursuit might be the only thing that stops this series descending into anti-climax. The only way for England to save this series is to make it even more one-sided.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY left_arm_unorthodox on | July 21, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    It would not be so bad if the Aussies were at least playing as well as they can. They'd still get beaten, but right now they are playing the wrong cricket. The bowlers are bowling OK (and batting OK) and holding their own. But the batters! They don't know whether to attack or defend, they leave straight balls, they try to dominate when they need to hold the fort. There is undoubtedly a difference in ability between the teams, and that leads back to problems with Sutherland's handling of the Sheffield Shield, but that is no reason to play dumb cricket. The Aussies are (a) not as talented as Poms and (b) Not using the talent they have very well (playing dumb cricket, basically). (a) is unfortunate if you are an Aussie but things go in cycles and it had to happen. (b) Is less acceptable and more of a worry and suggests a cultural problem inside the team

  • POSTED BY on | July 22, 2013, 20:46 GMT

    @ffl: I've been thinking about your comments about Jimmy. There is no denying that he is world class. This series so far he 13 @ 18.5. Bresnan has good figures too, Broad and Finn far less so, so far. However Harris 7 @ 14.7, Siddle 11 @ 25, Starc 5 @ 27 make decent reading too. The more significant difference is in the spin attack. Root's and Smith's bonus success perhaps cancel each other out, but Swann is the real difference between the two teams for me bowling wise.

  • POSTED BY richardall8383 on | July 22, 2013, 20:11 GMT

    Some of the comments I've read about England thumping Australia, these are not strictly true. Australia have played poorly bating wise, so Has England. People can say England have been propped up by Bell and one good innings by Root, this is very true. But also the same can be said about 1 good innings from St Agar and one by Haddin, plus a hand full of tail order knocks. Both sides are better then this, and hopefully both teams top orders will fire, then this truly would become a great contest again. But even then I'd say that England would edge it. But for now, England are the better team. Not only from experience, but also confidence. They have taken their chances when presented, and because of this they have deserved to win both opening tests. Great to see Siddle leading from the front and Jimmy showing how far he has come, he is very fast becoming a great. Aussies, drop Hughes now while you still can. Great player, zero confidence.

  • POSTED BY on | July 22, 2013, 18:41 GMT

    @ffl: you are correct. My warning is not so much based upon what I consider the comparative differences between the two teams, and more about vagaries of this great game. Enjoy the moment, but don't celebrate too much or write a team off until the series is over. I think about how the Australians in these comments celebrated their draws against SA only to lose the series in December, or how SA's perfect game against England at the Oval doesn't truly reflect the difference between those two great teams. That all of England's batting hasn't fired yet is true, and I too look forward to a few great innings. Perhaps that sentiment can also be applied to the Aussie quicks or Mr Clarke.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | July 22, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    @ Roy Jones: By celebrating England's absolute smashing of Australia at Lords doesn't mean one doubts how a fresh match and after a rest of 10 days would change any team in any series. What's unsurprising is the failure of the predictions by some before the series about the supposed 'strengths' of this Australian team. This has happened before every Ashes in recent memory. James Anderson, for example, has proved both faster as well as obviously far more skillful than any of the Australian seamers. Swann obviously can't be matched by Australia either, but aside from Root and Bell England's batting hasn't even fired yet but will surely soon enough. That will be a right ol' thumping of a match when they do.

  • POSTED BY dabhand on | July 22, 2013, 17:59 GMT

    Broken record Sid - Aus have had SA players and SA coaches, all national teams have pulled resources from other countries - get over it - catch up with the real world where players ply their trade worldwide.

    BTW - MATCH top scorers - a Yorkshire man, 2nd top scorer from Warwickshire, top bowlers for England - a Lancastrian, a guy from Northants, a Yorkshireman and one from Notts

    It's a real shame for the Aus bowlers having to carry the team in both bowling AND batting, perhaps the openers would work harder if they were made to put in the hard yards bowling England out.

  • POSTED BY spickandspan on | July 22, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    There's been an awful lot written about the Australians troubles thus far, but let us not forget they came within a whisker of winning at Trent Bridge and at Lord's only three of England's batsmen actually stepped up. The gap between the sides isn't as large as some are trying to make out. Without three exceptional innings from Ian Bell then the score would be 1-1 or even 2-0 to the Australians at present. The main worry about the Australians is their fielding at present.

  • POSTED BY on | July 22, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    Before everyone gets too cockahoop, we're only 2 matches into the series. Remember 1981 and how fortunes changed? That said I agree the Australian batting does seem fundamentally weak. Even against SA where they batted brilliantly in two tests how often were Australia 40-3 before Clarke and Hussey plus A.N. Other dug them out of trouble? No Hussey, but Clarke's still there and he just needs A.N. Other to have his day, backed up by their impressive bowlers and they could be back in the series! I'm afraid too that the Agar experiment ultimately was a failure, despite his fairy tale batting.

  • POSTED BY dinom on | July 22, 2013, 16:36 GMT

    Lets focus on the ashes and forget about the other teams who are not playing (e.g. SA or India). Bottomline is that the first test was close but the second test was very one sided. Australia's problem is their batting, if a test opener can miss a spinner's full toss and then shoulder arms to be bowled, thats basically sums it for australia's batting. The selectors need to make changes with the top order batting line up, Watson and Rodgers are unreliable at the top. Perhaps a bold move of blooding Australia A openers into the test team may be an option. If the openers can see off the new ball and shield the middle order, I think the middle order can perform better. Watson can drop to no.3 (as he is a useful part time bowler), Warner can come back to no 4 (the position he bat with Australia A), Clarke can play in his favourite no 5, Smith can remain at 6 (as he can be a threat with his part time leggie). Bowlers are great, changes may only be necessary to avoid injuries.

  • POSTED BY bythecrin on | July 22, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    I have suffered on 3 Ashes tours, watching Warne, McGrath, Lee, Steve Waugh, Hayden, Ponting etc grind us into the dust. Now we have the upper hand, but I am sure that the Aussies will improve. It is worth noting that 4 of England's leading all time Century makers are in the current team, even though some of them haven't fired yet ! I wish the current England regime would be really brutal and bring in Simon Kerrigan at Old Trafford, he really is a talent and with him in the team, Swann, Root and Kerrigan could bowl 60 overs in a day ! But it won't happen !

  • POSTED BY left_arm_unorthodox on | July 21, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    It would not be so bad if the Aussies were at least playing as well as they can. They'd still get beaten, but right now they are playing the wrong cricket. The bowlers are bowling OK (and batting OK) and holding their own. But the batters! They don't know whether to attack or defend, they leave straight balls, they try to dominate when they need to hold the fort. There is undoubtedly a difference in ability between the teams, and that leads back to problems with Sutherland's handling of the Sheffield Shield, but that is no reason to play dumb cricket. The Aussies are (a) not as talented as Poms and (b) Not using the talent they have very well (playing dumb cricket, basically). (a) is unfortunate if you are an Aussie but things go in cycles and it had to happen. (b) Is less acceptable and more of a worry and suggests a cultural problem inside the team

  • POSTED BY on | July 22, 2013, 20:46 GMT

    @ffl: I've been thinking about your comments about Jimmy. There is no denying that he is world class. This series so far he 13 @ 18.5. Bresnan has good figures too, Broad and Finn far less so, so far. However Harris 7 @ 14.7, Siddle 11 @ 25, Starc 5 @ 27 make decent reading too. The more significant difference is in the spin attack. Root's and Smith's bonus success perhaps cancel each other out, but Swann is the real difference between the two teams for me bowling wise.

  • POSTED BY richardall8383 on | July 22, 2013, 20:11 GMT

    Some of the comments I've read about England thumping Australia, these are not strictly true. Australia have played poorly bating wise, so Has England. People can say England have been propped up by Bell and one good innings by Root, this is very true. But also the same can be said about 1 good innings from St Agar and one by Haddin, plus a hand full of tail order knocks. Both sides are better then this, and hopefully both teams top orders will fire, then this truly would become a great contest again. But even then I'd say that England would edge it. But for now, England are the better team. Not only from experience, but also confidence. They have taken their chances when presented, and because of this they have deserved to win both opening tests. Great to see Siddle leading from the front and Jimmy showing how far he has come, he is very fast becoming a great. Aussies, drop Hughes now while you still can. Great player, zero confidence.

  • POSTED BY on | July 22, 2013, 18:41 GMT

    @ffl: you are correct. My warning is not so much based upon what I consider the comparative differences between the two teams, and more about vagaries of this great game. Enjoy the moment, but don't celebrate too much or write a team off until the series is over. I think about how the Australians in these comments celebrated their draws against SA only to lose the series in December, or how SA's perfect game against England at the Oval doesn't truly reflect the difference between those two great teams. That all of England's batting hasn't fired yet is true, and I too look forward to a few great innings. Perhaps that sentiment can also be applied to the Aussie quicks or Mr Clarke.

  • POSTED BY Front-Foot-Lunge on | July 22, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    @ Roy Jones: By celebrating England's absolute smashing of Australia at Lords doesn't mean one doubts how a fresh match and after a rest of 10 days would change any team in any series. What's unsurprising is the failure of the predictions by some before the series about the supposed 'strengths' of this Australian team. This has happened before every Ashes in recent memory. James Anderson, for example, has proved both faster as well as obviously far more skillful than any of the Australian seamers. Swann obviously can't be matched by Australia either, but aside from Root and Bell England's batting hasn't even fired yet but will surely soon enough. That will be a right ol' thumping of a match when they do.

  • POSTED BY dabhand on | July 22, 2013, 17:59 GMT

    Broken record Sid - Aus have had SA players and SA coaches, all national teams have pulled resources from other countries - get over it - catch up with the real world where players ply their trade worldwide.

    BTW - MATCH top scorers - a Yorkshire man, 2nd top scorer from Warwickshire, top bowlers for England - a Lancastrian, a guy from Northants, a Yorkshireman and one from Notts

    It's a real shame for the Aus bowlers having to carry the team in both bowling AND batting, perhaps the openers would work harder if they were made to put in the hard yards bowling England out.

  • POSTED BY spickandspan on | July 22, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    There's been an awful lot written about the Australians troubles thus far, but let us not forget they came within a whisker of winning at Trent Bridge and at Lord's only three of England's batsmen actually stepped up. The gap between the sides isn't as large as some are trying to make out. Without three exceptional innings from Ian Bell then the score would be 1-1 or even 2-0 to the Australians at present. The main worry about the Australians is their fielding at present.

  • POSTED BY on | July 22, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    Before everyone gets too cockahoop, we're only 2 matches into the series. Remember 1981 and how fortunes changed? That said I agree the Australian batting does seem fundamentally weak. Even against SA where they batted brilliantly in two tests how often were Australia 40-3 before Clarke and Hussey plus A.N. Other dug them out of trouble? No Hussey, but Clarke's still there and he just needs A.N. Other to have his day, backed up by their impressive bowlers and they could be back in the series! I'm afraid too that the Agar experiment ultimately was a failure, despite his fairy tale batting.

  • POSTED BY dinom on | July 22, 2013, 16:36 GMT

    Lets focus on the ashes and forget about the other teams who are not playing (e.g. SA or India). Bottomline is that the first test was close but the second test was very one sided. Australia's problem is their batting, if a test opener can miss a spinner's full toss and then shoulder arms to be bowled, thats basically sums it for australia's batting. The selectors need to make changes with the top order batting line up, Watson and Rodgers are unreliable at the top. Perhaps a bold move of blooding Australia A openers into the test team may be an option. If the openers can see off the new ball and shield the middle order, I think the middle order can perform better. Watson can drop to no.3 (as he is a useful part time bowler), Warner can come back to no 4 (the position he bat with Australia A), Clarke can play in his favourite no 5, Smith can remain at 6 (as he can be a threat with his part time leggie). Bowlers are great, changes may only be necessary to avoid injuries.

  • POSTED BY bythecrin on | July 22, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    I have suffered on 3 Ashes tours, watching Warne, McGrath, Lee, Steve Waugh, Hayden, Ponting etc grind us into the dust. Now we have the upper hand, but I am sure that the Aussies will improve. It is worth noting that 4 of England's leading all time Century makers are in the current team, even though some of them haven't fired yet ! I wish the current England regime would be really brutal and bring in Simon Kerrigan at Old Trafford, he really is a talent and with him in the team, Swann, Root and Kerrigan could bowl 60 overs in a day ! But it won't happen !

  • POSTED BY jb633 on | July 22, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    I think this article is absolutely spot on and the media need to be careful not to confuse Ashes 2005 wins for example and wins here. Lets face it we have not played particularly well. We have bowled well enough in patches but the Aussie batsmen are getting themselves out and rarely are we getting them out. I am still not convinced about our seam attack, I can't seem to shake the memory of SA at 639/2 last year. Similarly the fact that Peter Fulton made runs against us says to me that the fault is more of Australia's than our own class. From an outside perspective I can't work out for the love of me what has been going on in their cricket post 2007. Yes there has been the retirements of greats, this is an inevitability of life. But the way they have managed some players is a disgrace. Take Katich, Hodge and Voges. These guys are not young but still have a lot to offer Aus cricket. They have played in all conditions and have succeeded. In contrast how many chances does Hughes need??

  • POSTED BY SidArthur on | July 22, 2013, 13:24 GMT

    Hang on a minute. First, England won the toss in both the first and second tests, a big advantage. Second, two of their top order batsmen are from South Africa. So therefore, pommy cricket is not that good. Yes, they have some good players, but they are not streets ahead of Australia as far as pommy talent is concerned.

  • POSTED BY on | July 22, 2013, 13:23 GMT

    Just as a brief aside to all the English gloaters here. If Australia had a referral left when Broad nicked it England would have LOST THE FIRST TEST. Seriously, ridiculous overconfidence from English supporters here. Not saying Australia is liable to win the Ashes (obviously not now) but they are not as terrible as everyone is saying.

  • POSTED BY peter4lc on | July 22, 2013, 12:32 GMT

    This otherwise excellent report says that England "battered" Australia 3-1 in 1985. But it was 1-1 after 4 Tests. I tend to think of that team as the worst Australian team in my lifetime, but they had Border (two 100s) and Ritchie, Hilditch and Wood (one each). They scored 539 at Trent Bridge, and the wheels didn't come off until the 4th day of the 5th Test when they were 39-5 at stumps and were all out for 142. The reason they were a poor side was the bowling - only McDermott and Lawson got more 6 wickets, and England were not bowled out for less than 400 apart from at Lord's.

    I suspect that England's batting is weaker than it was in 1985 (Gower three 100s, Gatting and Robinson two each, and Gooch one), and Australia's bowling is a bit better. But this must be the weakest Australian batting for decades.

  • POSTED BY Moppa on | July 22, 2013, 12:07 GMT

    @left_arm_orthodox, I agree entirely with your post. We have lost a lot of talent, but what has come in hasn't even played to its potential, with clear mental AND technical faults. A lot of people probably blame Clarke. I don't know, but I think with the batting some of these problems long pre-date Clarke's captaincy. Take Ponting for example - he dominated the Shield last summer and signed off with 169 not out for Surrey just recently. But from about 2008 on he was a pale shadow of his former self in Test cricket and never seemed to be able to turn things around (with the exception of two innings against India). The loss of Hussey, the only reliable partner for Clarke, has magnified what were already concerning problems around ability to convert 50s to 100s and general application to the circumstances at hand. @Cyril_Knight, yes Katich-gate has hurt us, but experience alone won't solve this. I thought Rogers would shore up our top order but he has failed with the rest.

  • POSTED BY arm_chair_Ed on | July 22, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    I couldn't understand why this Auz batting is so poor when they were out-batting No.1 ranked SA at home for most of the series at the end of 2012. I looked it up and only Clarke (plus Siddle & Pattinson) from that batting order played at Lords. Cowan did well in one SA match, but Hussey is surely their big loss.

  • POSTED BY whatawicket on | July 22, 2013, 11:35 GMT

    during the good years of Australian cricket to the run up start of a series we would get various Aussie players hoping for a better even sporting contest ( which they rarely got ). i must admit i have as yet, not got to that point, in fact i am quite happy with the contest as it is. not sure of other Brits and supporters but i enjoy beating Australia

  • POSTED BY Hammond on | July 22, 2013, 10:17 GMT

    @electric_loco_WAP4- is that all you have left? "SA are still better than you?" If SA are that much better than England how do you expect next years Australian tour of South Africa will go? 3 tests to nil all done and dusted in 9 days?

  • POSTED BY milepost on | July 22, 2013, 10:15 GMT

    @lancsroyal what do you mean Australia should have been out for 131 not 280? It was your almighty England bowling at number 11. It is a bit like me saying Root should have been out for 8. But he wasn't, because we didn't attempt to catch it.

  • POSTED BY on | July 22, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    Payback not so much fun after all.................... Ohhhhh yes it is !!

  • POSTED BY Cyril_Knight on | July 22, 2013, 8:25 GMT

    Biggest problem is the Australian selection policy. They almost try to mirror England by picking players who have come through their age groups. They disregard older batsmen who have performed exceptionally in the first-class game for many years, but who never had a sniff at the Test side because it was so strong. And they discard players before their time to replace them to blood youngsters who just aren't good enough.

    David Hussey and Simon Katich are both far better players now than Khawaja, Hughes or Warner will ever be. They are both tough cricketers who know their game inside out.

    If Australia selected an XI from the best players available they could have a competitive side. Rogers, Robson, Katich, Clarke, Hussey, Watson, Haddin. I know that batting line-up is superior to Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Hughes, Clarke, Smith, Haddin.

  • POSTED BY MartinC on | July 22, 2013, 8:24 GMT

    electric_loco_WAP4 - this is just killing you isn't it mate. England thumping India 4-0 in England and then beating them 2-1 in India must have hurt worse though.

    No question though SA are the number 1 team in Test cricket right now but England are number 2 by some distance whatever the rankings say. We will press SA hard for that top ranking though when we play them next as players like Kallis and Smith approach the end of their careers. We saw what a SA batting lineup without them in it looked like in the Champions Trophy.

  • POSTED BY mikeyp147 on | July 22, 2013, 8:22 GMT

    As a thirtysomething Englishman, there is definitely an odd feeling about this series. I have vague recollections of the 1981 Ashes, no doubt enhanced by endless reruns, and 1985 was when my cricket addiction took hold - that glorious summer when Gooch, Gower, Gatting, Botham and, err, Les Taylor smashed the Aussies into oblivion.

    However, for the best part of 20 years, Ashes cricket has been an extremely bitter pill to swallow. From 1989-2005 we were humiliated, clueless, utterly outclassed and accepted defeat after shambolic defeat with inevitability.

    To have been 2-0 up in any series during that timeframe would have been the stuff of a madman's dreams. But now, for some reason, it's very difficult to get excited about it. We're 2-0 up, yeah, so what? England have been ok, Australia have had their moments, but the fact is that there's very little to savour in hammering such a poor side. The one thing the Aussies have always had is 'ticker', but it appears to be sadly lacking now.

  • POSTED BY armchairjohnny on | July 22, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    I disagree with those who say the Aussies haven't played 'that badly'. I would say this series is more a reflection of how dire Australian cricket is, rather than how good the England team is. Whilst the England batsmen have obviously improved under the guidance of Gooch, there is still plenty of room for improvement, especially against high quality spin bowling, or high quality bowling of any sort for that matter, (the sort that all the other teams lack!). Let's not forget that not long ago, England were hammered by Pakistan 3-0 in the UAE, drew a tame series in Sri Lanka, were annihilated by South Africa at home, beat a decrepid Indian side carrying deadwood like Sehwag and Tendulkar, and very nearly lost the first test against a woeful New Zealand side.

    England may be one of the stronger teams at the moment, but they still have a long way to go to even compare to world beating West Indies and Australian teams of the past.

  • POSTED BY balajik1968 on | July 22, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    5-0 looks a distinct possibility. This Aussie side seems to have given up the fight. The only thing stopping England could be if they slacken after wrapping it up in the next match. The other could be the weather. It certainly does not look like this Australian team. As far as I recall, Australia was at its weakest in 1985- plagued by 3 big retirements, quite a few players going to SA, but there were some players who gave hope: Boon, McDermott and the tough as nails captain Border. Here there is'nt much. Siddle is one, but he is essentially a support bowler, not someone who can blast a batting order. Agar has shown character. but he is too raw; just hope he is not dumped post this series. Clarke is a nice guy, but what Australia needs is someone like Border, backed by someone like Simpson. Maybe Steve Waugh is the guy; after all he once made a century on one leg.

  • POSTED BY ooper_cut on | July 22, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    England bowling is at best disciplined and mediocre. Except for some of Swann's and Anderson's deliveries, everything else is absolutely playable and whack-able. It is in the minds of the OZs, most of it is to do with off the field stuff that is flying around. Sacking Arthur at this time was the worst thing CA could have done. Sacking Watto would have been the best though. With the right kind of mental refreshment, I am sure this Oz side is capable of handing a beating to these Poms. Damn, even the weather is warm and sunny in England.

  • POSTED BY JeffG on | July 22, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    @ John Bailey - actually England's run rate in 1985 was 54 per 100 balls - or just over 3 an over - not the 4 an over that you wrote and not that much better than their scoring rate in this current series.

    England have never scored at 4 an over in any Ashes series - the closest they got was in 2005.

    And for the record, Australia haven't ever reached 4 an over either - 2001 is the closest they got to it.

  • POSTED BY Hammond7249 on | July 22, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    Funny how many of you forget that Australia should have been out in their first innings at Trent Bridge for 131 not 280. Funny how you only focus on Stuart Broad.

    England didn't play well against South Africa last year but to say that they can't beat them is a joke. If you don't like England, fine, but to demean their abilities is just plain childish.

  • POSTED BY Herbet on | July 22, 2013, 5:41 GMT

    Two stats in this article show just how far Australia have slumped:

    " Greg Blewett, Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Michael Bevan, Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting. That was the A team line-up in the Benson & Hedges Series final of 1994-95." and "England won a single live Ashes Test between 1987 and 2005".

    Incredible really.

  • POSTED BY WalkingWicket11 on | July 22, 2013, 5:17 GMT

    Pretty disappointed that England did not go on to set 700. They should have really pounded Australia's spirit into the dust when they had the chance. Never mind, three more Tests coming up.

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | July 22, 2013, 5:09 GMT

    Talks of legacy again and this time it's not Botham who's boasting for a change . Well ,how about last years thrashing by SA that brought them crashing down ? Just for a start ,Eng could avoid been thrashed badly every time by SA as in past few series . Of course ,they are far from no.1 as SA proved last year and languishing way below at no.3 ,below India. Add to a bare trophy cab, and they may by a miracle leave a legacy in Eng cricket -which is no big task- but remain 1 of bottom 50 teams in history , long way short of the true legacy of WI and Aus' teams past. It's true.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | July 22, 2013, 4:39 GMT

    Sorry, but I don't agree with articles saying after 2 tests of a 5-test series how bad one side is and therefore the series is worthless. It demeans the side which lost and by implication the side which won as well. The first test was extremely exciting and could have gone either way (although I'd answer Zacchariah etc. by saying that since Aus didn't have to take Trott's wicket they still only took 20); in this test everything went wrong for Australia, but that doesn't mean the same will happen in the next test.

    Wait till the end of the series before starting to make judgments on the relative strength of the sides. If Aus were to come back and win the next 3 this article would look extremely ill-considered.

  • POSTED BY cric_wanderer on | July 22, 2013, 2:34 GMT

    I don't think that Australia have performed so badly so that we feel sorry for them. Yeah, I have always like close test matches. Matches where each session, each hour, each over is important. Following Indian cricket for sometime, I still remember waking up early morning each time to view the series in 1999. The tests and odis, we just couldn't given then any competition. Just when it would seem that we are on top, always there would be a partnership or wickets would fall in a heap.And those one-sided matches they had against the windies in 2000's. After all they had beaten India 4-0 less than 2 yrs back. So its not that they have completely gone down. Yes, if they loose 10-0, I would agree.. ;) For now, I am just enjoying it...

  • POSTED BY on | July 22, 2013, 1:48 GMT

    i am a ig fan of ashes series after 2005 as before that English boys were always given severe beating by the Australian there is not too much bad with what happened to Australia they know how it is for the other side and tasting there on medicine is kind of teach them humility as there players pride was hell lot before and its high time they respect and learn from others equally I would suggest the aussies to try and build this team around smith usman fahd who is not playing right now agar and there young battery of fast bowlers they should open with the guy with the best technique and save Watson for middle lower order I think there is enough talent in Australia to find someone who is keeping his act clean and can play properly as an opener not ready to accept there are none sandhu should also be fast track to this side as was lehman in coaching role I feel they need to change player now in 10 days bring in fahd warner and play sandhu as well

  • POSTED BY kriketeer on | July 22, 2013, 1:33 GMT

    I reckon the issue is to find Proper batsman who can bat for 1-2 days at domestic level. you cant win matches in England with 20-20 super stars. Batsman should have the skill and patience to tackle England Seamers who are deadly in their home conditions. Shane Watson opening in a test match tells the story... even he doesn't like it...

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 22, 2013, 0:26 GMT

    Wow, certainly a very poor test from Australia. But the Australians can't be all that bad considering they would have won the first Test if they only had to take 20 wickets and not 21. How many did Broad add after that shot. How many did Australia lose by?

    Ask South Africa if Australia can bat. They've given the best in the world far tougher opposition in recent history than the English. Perhaps you can only judge a team by how they perform against the best. And that is definitely not this English side.

  • POSTED BY Trickstar on | July 22, 2013, 0:16 GMT

    @ Saffie1987 SA whitewash England lol, I've got to laugh that it's almost become folklore that SA were so much better than England last summer, well those people must have been watching the Olympics or something because after the first test it was mighty close series and what more if England didn't have such a comedy time catching the ball the result could have been so very different. There's an article on here that mentions that England dropped over 600 runs or something off the likes of Amla and Petersen. We saw how SA went on against this very team in Oz, so I wouldn't count my chickens yet about being No1 for years to come.

  • POSTED BY 512fm on | July 22, 2013, 0:11 GMT

    @ Tigg: I couldn't agree more, the only weak link in that 2010/11 side was Paul Collingwood. Whereas this time there are certainly more cracks in this side they are just getting papered over byt the fact that Australia is so bad. I don't think this current England team would have any chance against South Africa.

  • POSTED BY 512fm on | July 22, 2013, 0:08 GMT

    @ OhhhhhMattyMatty : Calm down there mate, wasn't even a year ago that England were beaten in there own back yard 2-0 and were humiliated themselves in that first test match. I maintain the opinion that this current England team is not anywhere near as good as the 2010-11 England team, and I would be very surprised if they were able to win a test in South Africa let alone win a series

  • POSTED BY on | July 21, 2013, 23:46 GMT

    The Fourth Test is at Chester-le-Street, not Durham. They're entirely different towns.

  • POSTED BY Jaffa79 on | July 21, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    Let us be realistic: Eng are crushing an abysmal Australian outfit and have a long way to go to beat the Saffas. We were poor last summer and I think we'd play a lot better next time but Steyn, Smith, Kallis etc on their own turf are a formidable side. Still, next series between Eng and S.A is a long way off and a lot could happen before then...

  • POSTED BY on | July 21, 2013, 23:06 GMT

    Think it is hard to see how good England are at the minute because each game someone stands up to be counted. Australia are poor currently and the rest of the series could just be a laughing stock of how bad can Australia get. When we play over in South Africa it will be interesting whitewash probably not but competitive hopefully.

  • POSTED BY on | July 21, 2013, 22:53 GMT

    @Saffie1987: That's exactly what test cricket doesn't need. SA and ENG at the top with the rest playing buffoons. This is why you have to get rid of all the meaningless T20s and ODIs played between nations and stick to a pure test tour. Players need to be paid high for playing good test cricket which is exactly what the ECB are doing with their players. That's one of the reasons why the English players get to give the IPL a miss without remorse. SA are good because they are on a high and India are the BEST Asian team by far. However, that's not enough. If we have 8 teams playing tests. At least the top 6 have to be competitive against each other. These are testing times for test cricket. I think somebody in the ICC needs to shake things up. I am disappointed with the current FTP. Not many test matches to be played up to the lead up to the 2015 World Cup following the Ashes down under later this year.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 21, 2013, 22:19 GMT

    It'll be a 5-0 whitewash how ever the team heads towards the victory And my man Anderson will be man of the Ashes

  • POSTED BY VillageBlacksmith on | July 21, 2013, 22:03 GMT

    ''there is significant sadness to see an Australian side so pathetic. You really wouldn't wish this on your worst enemy.''....... no there isn't and yes I would... long may it continue...

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 21, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    This team is decent, but please rest that bottle down and move away, slowly.

    Top 5 of all time?

  • POSTED BY Tigg on | July 21, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    The depressing thing is that the current England side would get smashed by the 2010/11 English team.

    In 2010/11 we had: Cook and Trott batting for days and not playing a single false shot. Prior at his counter-attacking best and KP swaggering through it all. Anderson was almost as good then as now, Bresnan and Swann were at their best and Tremlett terrorised the Aussies.

    Now: A Cook somewhere inbetween his 2010 form and the liability he was before. Trott gets to30-50 then gets out. KP isn't up to speed yet after his injury. Bairstow and Root flick from excellent to vulnerable and Prior can't buy a run. Broad is up and down as he always is and Brez and Swann aren't back to their best yet. Only the current version of Bell is a huge improvement over the former version.

  • POSTED BY on | July 21, 2013, 21:11 GMT

    Australia may have been poor in 1985, but back then England were scoring at 4 an over - a rate they haven't remotely approached against the current Australian attack.

  • POSTED BY Seaforth on | July 21, 2013, 21:07 GMT

    This is fun, after all the years of gloating and abuse by Aussies I have absolutely no problem in seeing Australian cricket in this state. I can assure you after years of living and travelling abroad that when England have lost to the likes of Australia, South Africa and others here is not one iota of sympathy.

  • POSTED BY Saffie1987 on | July 21, 2013, 21:06 GMT

    @ Oh Matty Matty: You can forget about England defeating South-Africa, home or away. Don't get so enthusiastic because you are beating a weak Australian Team. South-Africa has a better chance of ending up in the top 5 all-time teams , seeing as we will probably be number 1 for years to come, and are far ahead of the pack. I think South-Africa could whitewash England, but i will admit, you guys are certainly the number 2 team, that is for sure.! Congrats on the victory today, you guys deserved it!

  • POSTED BY StJohn on | July 21, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    I think Australia flattered England a bit in this match - we'd have to play much better to beat South Africa.

  • POSTED BY on | July 21, 2013, 20:38 GMT

    Someone in comments mentioned England is ranked 1 in all formats. India is the world number one ODI side since a long time now!

  • POSTED BY on | July 21, 2013, 20:36 GMT

    Zimbabwe withdrew from test cricket as they were not competitive. Perhaps we should do the same?

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 21, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    @oohhhmattmattyy....u forgot pak and uae...although englnd hav significantly improvd their spin playng horrors in asiaa...but they lost 2-0 in 2006 in pk afyr winning ashes and also agnst w.i in w.i and thn white washd in 2011 in dubai...i gav ref to thse two series coz the talk is off ths currnt england side to b amongst the greatest 5 of all times...!!!

  • POSTED BY george204 on | July 21, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    A stonker indeed. How could the batting cupboard get so bare in less than a generation? Has the Sheffield Shield really sunk so low?

  • POSTED BY on | July 21, 2013, 20:01 GMT

    I still think thatif Strauss as captain had been more asertive ,and if the MCCdidnt feel like it had to prove a point to Pietersen by dropping him , England might have actually beaten South africa at home then they would be the undisputed numero uno today

  • POSTED BY OhhhhhMattyMatty on | July 21, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    World T20 champions, Champions Trophy finalists, world number 1 in all 3 formats, series wins in Australia and India, soon to be 3 consecutive Ashes wins. Only thing stopping this England side from being in the top 5 sides of all time is a series win in South Africa!

  • POSTED BY on | July 21, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    I have no problem with seeing Australia sink into the mire.. I've never bought into the fact that cricket needs a strong Australia or a strong West Indies.. Although with the state of test cricket at the moment, one wonders if eventually England will have nobody worth playing against

  • POSTED BY on | July 21, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    I have no problem with seeing Australia sink into the mire.. I've never bought into the fact that cricket needs a strong Australia or a strong West Indies.. Although with the state of test cricket at the moment, one wonders if eventually England will have nobody worth playing against

  • POSTED BY OhhhhhMattyMatty on | July 21, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    World T20 champions, Champions Trophy finalists, world number 1 in all 3 formats, series wins in Australia and India, soon to be 3 consecutive Ashes wins. Only thing stopping this England side from being in the top 5 sides of all time is a series win in South Africa!

  • POSTED BY on | July 21, 2013, 20:01 GMT

    I still think thatif Strauss as captain had been more asertive ,and if the MCCdidnt feel like it had to prove a point to Pietersen by dropping him , England might have actually beaten South africa at home then they would be the undisputed numero uno today

  • POSTED BY george204 on | July 21, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    A stonker indeed. How could the batting cupboard get so bare in less than a generation? Has the Sheffield Shield really sunk so low?

  • POSTED BY android_user on | July 21, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    @oohhhmattmattyy....u forgot pak and uae...although englnd hav significantly improvd their spin playng horrors in asiaa...but they lost 2-0 in 2006 in pk afyr winning ashes and also agnst w.i in w.i and thn white washd in 2011 in dubai...i gav ref to thse two series coz the talk is off ths currnt england side to b amongst the greatest 5 of all times...!!!

  • POSTED BY on | July 21, 2013, 20:36 GMT

    Zimbabwe withdrew from test cricket as they were not competitive. Perhaps we should do the same?

  • POSTED BY on | July 21, 2013, 20:38 GMT

    Someone in comments mentioned England is ranked 1 in all formats. India is the world number one ODI side since a long time now!

  • POSTED BY StJohn on | July 21, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    I think Australia flattered England a bit in this match - we'd have to play much better to beat South Africa.

  • POSTED BY Saffie1987 on | July 21, 2013, 21:06 GMT

    @ Oh Matty Matty: You can forget about England defeating South-Africa, home or away. Don't get so enthusiastic because you are beating a weak Australian Team. South-Africa has a better chance of ending up in the top 5 all-time teams , seeing as we will probably be number 1 for years to come, and are far ahead of the pack. I think South-Africa could whitewash England, but i will admit, you guys are certainly the number 2 team, that is for sure.! Congrats on the victory today, you guys deserved it!

  • POSTED BY Seaforth on | July 21, 2013, 21:07 GMT

    This is fun, after all the years of gloating and abuse by Aussies I have absolutely no problem in seeing Australian cricket in this state. I can assure you after years of living and travelling abroad that when England have lost to the likes of Australia, South Africa and others here is not one iota of sympathy.