January 5, 2011

Falling to earth

Their aura has been fading over the last couple of years, but in 2010 the harsh reality of their decline hit Australia hard
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The SCG is usually a place for Australia to raise a trophy and wave to their supporters, signing off the year in style. This time they are playing there after experiencing 12 months to write off. The once mighty outfit has fallen so far that for the first time in 24 years England will leave with the Ashes. Not since the mid-1980s, a period in which Australia were beaten home and away by New Zealand, have the cricket followers in this country felt so bad.

And now to the most depressing aspect of the tumble from the top of the world: there is no quick fix. For years Australia have been pushing for a Test championship play-off as a way of adding prestige to the No. 1 spot. If the concept had been introduced in 2010, Australia may have failed to reach the tournament between the four top-ranked teams. The squad currently sits in the final qualifying spot, but spent time at No. 5.

Australia's senior players, such as Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Michael Hussey, didn't think the outfit was as bad as the number suggested. They were. A year that began with a suspicious series success over Pakistan and a clean sweep of an under-strength New Zealand, unravelled swiftly when the better teams or swinging conditions had to be conquered.

From May, Australia lost the final of the World Twenty20 to England, another vital step in the old enemy's demystification process, and then drew a series with Pakistan. The rubber was played in England, with the conditions suiting Pakistan's swing and seam bowlers, but it was the first embarrassing result of the second half of a year filled with them. Australia were dismissed for 88 in Leeds after winning the toss, a score only slightly worse than the 98 at the MCG, which ultimately did for their chances of regaining the Ashes.

The loss at Headingley began a sequence of seven defeats in all competitions. Not since the late 1880s had Australia failed so badly for so long. Yet still the players felt the next corner would be the one that started the turnaround. As the year ended, the only international victories after the slump were an ODI against Sri Lanka, who had already won their first series here, and the Ashes Test in Perth. They were more like the flickers of a fire trying desperately to stay lit.

At the start of the Ashes, the most important contest for an Australian, so many mistakes were made that the hosts were acting like the England of the 1990s. Nasser Hussain, a victim here twice, said it best before the series started: "You've nicked Vodafone as a sponsor, you've picked 17 players in a squad and you lose games. You keep your batsmen [too long], and you rotate your bowlers - we used to do that for a while."

It was funny at the time but there was no laughing from the locals after England took a 1-0 lead after dominating the opening two Tests. Having planned since the 2009 Ashes defeat at The Oval to retain most of the same faces, Australia's selectors panicked. Instead of grooming players like Steven Smith, Phillip Hughes and a new spinner in preparation for this campaign, the panel lobbed them into the side at vital points. Marcus North and Nathan Hauritz were discarded, Mitchell Johnson was given a break, and Simon Katich suffered a serious heel injury.

The case of Hauritz was the strangest. One unheralded slow bowler, Xavier Doherty, and another unheard-of spinner, Michael Beer, were used instead. Meanwhile Hauritz collected domestic wickets for New South Wales and scored two centuries.

At the start of the Ashes, the most important contest for an Australian, so many mistakes were made that the hosts were acting like the England of the 1990s

By the fifth Test the side's average age was in the mid-20s instead of the low 30s, which shows some promising signs for the future. Ponting, who had struggled with the bat, had been forced out of the final Test with a broken finger, having possibly played his final Test the previous week in Melbourne. As he handed over to Michael Clarke for the SCG encounter, Australia were chasing new beginnings on many fronts.

New kid on the block
Ryan Harris was the pick of the 2010 batch of debutants, but his hardworking swing-bowling performances soon lost out to his body. After five Tests and 20 wickets his ankle became too stressed in the first innings at the MCG and the crack put him out of the World Cup. That was a great shame for the side because he had also been excellent in the one-day outfit, and had fought to recover from a career-threatening knee problem.

Fading star
Sadly the man who lost most was Ricky Ponting. He started the second Test of the year with a double-century against Pakistan in Hobart, having been dropped at fine leg from his first ball. His good fortune then ran out. With the bat he averaged 37 for the Test year, but only 113 runs came in four games against England. He says he doesn't want to retire, but the World Cup seems the most appropriate stage to depart.

High point
For two days at the WACA, Australia felt like a team on top of the world again. Mitchell Johnson's amazing spells of swing bowling recovered the hosts from their first-day 268, and as England were falling to a 267-run defeat the swagger and sledging returned. "We're back", they said with renewed confidence, but the revival lasted for only one match. Johnson followed his nine wickets with another below-par display at the MCG.

Low point
So many to choose from. Even though they lost seven in a row, the result against England was the worst. Not finishing a home Ashes series with the urn is the worst thing that can happen to a modern Australian team. There are cricket supporters in their early 20s who have never experienced this feeling. Ouch.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 8, 2011, 0:04 GMT

    @ gopul & hutty. i don't think either of you there are giving england enough credit for their performance in south africa last year. in the one test south africa let their guard down england smashed them to pieces and in the other three, whilst we did get battered, we survived two of them. the pitches weren't as flat as the ones south africa and india have just played on either, which makes that 1-1 draw even more of an acheivement. your right though, india, south africa and sri lanka in sri lanka are the teams to beat, but then so were the aussies. hopefully its already one down, with three more to come :)

  • gilly007 on January 7, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    Its funny to read the comments about how almost everyone in the world has written off Australia. Just a mere indication of how the Great Aus Team of the recent past thrashed the rest of the world ( literally and figuratively ). But come on. Hasn't all this been said before ( 2009 Ashes). And what happened next ?? England getting thrashed 6-1 and Australia winning the Champions Trophy by a mile. Ponting held the team together after 2006-07 ashes, with Glenn, Warne, Langer and martyn retiring. Something which would have crippled any other team. Ponting is an awesome captain and he will retire with the 2011 WC and ashes victory in England. Captain or otherwise

  • Pirran on January 7, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    As a Half Cornish / Half Aussie hybrid, I don't think Australia has sunk quite as low as some think; rather, I think Australia in the glory days of the 90's and early noughties weren't as wonderful as most concluded. The key to their overwhelming success were two great (and extremely durable) bowlers and poor International competition.

    In contrast, the assembly line of wonderful WIndian bowlers of the late 70's and 80's (Roberts, Marshall, Garner, Holding, Croft) were competing against other very good teams (Lillee, Thompson, Willis, Botham, Hadlee, Imran Khan and Kapil Dev for starters). They were a genuinely great team. Australia in the recent past were competing against a woeful England, a Windies populace that had switched to basketball and athletics as being more lucrative and Sub-Continental sides mired in factional in-fighting and corruption.

    When Warne and McGrath retired, Australia was bound to slide. The International competition is still not great, just a little better.

  • on January 7, 2011, 2:52 GMT

    Good point Hutty, but its not as if they'll be retiring with Tendulkar and company also. Hence, the retirements and transition will be much smoother for India. Also, England's strength has to be gauged by how they play against tough teams. By that I mean India/SA anywhere and SL away. These matches are important to determine if they have the potential to become a great side. So far we only know that they're better than Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia

  • Hutty86 on January 6, 2011, 22:29 GMT

    @Gopal Krishna Sharma Nandyala: The decline for India may not be quite as severe (although this was a disgraceful series form-wise for Australia and may not be a complete indicator of the future).. but the guys you mention like Sehwag, Singh, etc; they are fantastic cricketers but they're hardly young guys themselves!! England look a wonderful side, but they have yet to win in SA/India and that's where the real test lies. We'll just have to wait and see I guess.

  • James_10 on January 6, 2011, 22:28 GMT

    @Okakaboka, I would like to see you do better than Hughes,Hifenhaus, Smith, Doherty and North. o

  • on January 6, 2011, 20:12 GMT

    i'm an englishman - i'm not going to say ner ner or anything like that. i think it all went wrong for Australia when Nathan Hauritz wasn't selected. he is by far the best spinner you have and he can also bat. He has international fifties to his name and sheffield sheild tons. I'd have never dropped North or Bollinger either. He was a star performer in the 2009 Ashes. Whilst i'm delighted that England have finally got the monkey off our back, Austrlia aren't such a bad side, you've just had a really bad series (i know losing to us in Aus is unforgiveable for you guys, but still). Johnson has to go, get Bollinger, swap smith back for North, Hauritz for hilfenhaus and Khawaja for Ponting and there, problem solved :)

  • on January 6, 2011, 18:30 GMT

    Hands up who else thinks Mitchell Johnson is a better batsman than Phil Hughes? Maybe they should swap places in the Australian batting order. If you're going to bat like a tailender you may as well play there. Okay, Johnson got a first ball duck in the 2nd Innings but at least he wasn't involved in any inept run-outs.

  • Okakaboka on January 6, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    @geraldf...sorry...most of us bloggers are NOT making excuses for our team being flogged. We are frustrated with the continual chances given to players who fail consistently and seem to be immune to being dropped. England absolutely smashed us in every respect....out batted, out bowled, out fielded, out wicketkeeped, out coached, out thought......& the big one: OUT SELECTED! Yep...England beat...NSW and a couple of others. Victoria smashed England in the one match at the MCG. This was against the trend of all other tour matches. And Hodge didn't play....If he did...it may not have been pretty. He is now the best batsman in the country by a mile and he doesn't even play the 4 day format anymore. WHY? Thanks Hilditch...good work. Why didn't this creep treat Clarke like he did Hodge? Because he isn't from good old NSW. We know Smith, Hughes, North, Doherty, Beer, Hilfenhaus should never have been selected to play. Even Australia A got smashed...Who picked this team?...Yep. Selectors 0/10

  • on January 6, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    @Flat_Pitch_Bully, completely agree. The more disappointing aspect, however is how they've always got away with such a pathetic behavior!! Had the officials been equal to all, this would've never happened

  • on January 8, 2011, 0:04 GMT

    @ gopul & hutty. i don't think either of you there are giving england enough credit for their performance in south africa last year. in the one test south africa let their guard down england smashed them to pieces and in the other three, whilst we did get battered, we survived two of them. the pitches weren't as flat as the ones south africa and india have just played on either, which makes that 1-1 draw even more of an acheivement. your right though, india, south africa and sri lanka in sri lanka are the teams to beat, but then so were the aussies. hopefully its already one down, with three more to come :)

  • gilly007 on January 7, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    Its funny to read the comments about how almost everyone in the world has written off Australia. Just a mere indication of how the Great Aus Team of the recent past thrashed the rest of the world ( literally and figuratively ). But come on. Hasn't all this been said before ( 2009 Ashes). And what happened next ?? England getting thrashed 6-1 and Australia winning the Champions Trophy by a mile. Ponting held the team together after 2006-07 ashes, with Glenn, Warne, Langer and martyn retiring. Something which would have crippled any other team. Ponting is an awesome captain and he will retire with the 2011 WC and ashes victory in England. Captain or otherwise

  • Pirran on January 7, 2011, 3:29 GMT

    As a Half Cornish / Half Aussie hybrid, I don't think Australia has sunk quite as low as some think; rather, I think Australia in the glory days of the 90's and early noughties weren't as wonderful as most concluded. The key to their overwhelming success were two great (and extremely durable) bowlers and poor International competition.

    In contrast, the assembly line of wonderful WIndian bowlers of the late 70's and 80's (Roberts, Marshall, Garner, Holding, Croft) were competing against other very good teams (Lillee, Thompson, Willis, Botham, Hadlee, Imran Khan and Kapil Dev for starters). They were a genuinely great team. Australia in the recent past were competing against a woeful England, a Windies populace that had switched to basketball and athletics as being more lucrative and Sub-Continental sides mired in factional in-fighting and corruption.

    When Warne and McGrath retired, Australia was bound to slide. The International competition is still not great, just a little better.

  • on January 7, 2011, 2:52 GMT

    Good point Hutty, but its not as if they'll be retiring with Tendulkar and company also. Hence, the retirements and transition will be much smoother for India. Also, England's strength has to be gauged by how they play against tough teams. By that I mean India/SA anywhere and SL away. These matches are important to determine if they have the potential to become a great side. So far we only know that they're better than Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia

  • Hutty86 on January 6, 2011, 22:29 GMT

    @Gopal Krishna Sharma Nandyala: The decline for India may not be quite as severe (although this was a disgraceful series form-wise for Australia and may not be a complete indicator of the future).. but the guys you mention like Sehwag, Singh, etc; they are fantastic cricketers but they're hardly young guys themselves!! England look a wonderful side, but they have yet to win in SA/India and that's where the real test lies. We'll just have to wait and see I guess.

  • James_10 on January 6, 2011, 22:28 GMT

    @Okakaboka, I would like to see you do better than Hughes,Hifenhaus, Smith, Doherty and North. o

  • on January 6, 2011, 20:12 GMT

    i'm an englishman - i'm not going to say ner ner or anything like that. i think it all went wrong for Australia when Nathan Hauritz wasn't selected. he is by far the best spinner you have and he can also bat. He has international fifties to his name and sheffield sheild tons. I'd have never dropped North or Bollinger either. He was a star performer in the 2009 Ashes. Whilst i'm delighted that England have finally got the monkey off our back, Austrlia aren't such a bad side, you've just had a really bad series (i know losing to us in Aus is unforgiveable for you guys, but still). Johnson has to go, get Bollinger, swap smith back for North, Hauritz for hilfenhaus and Khawaja for Ponting and there, problem solved :)

  • on January 6, 2011, 18:30 GMT

    Hands up who else thinks Mitchell Johnson is a better batsman than Phil Hughes? Maybe they should swap places in the Australian batting order. If you're going to bat like a tailender you may as well play there. Okay, Johnson got a first ball duck in the 2nd Innings but at least he wasn't involved in any inept run-outs.

  • Okakaboka on January 6, 2011, 14:24 GMT

    @geraldf...sorry...most of us bloggers are NOT making excuses for our team being flogged. We are frustrated with the continual chances given to players who fail consistently and seem to be immune to being dropped. England absolutely smashed us in every respect....out batted, out bowled, out fielded, out wicketkeeped, out coached, out thought......& the big one: OUT SELECTED! Yep...England beat...NSW and a couple of others. Victoria smashed England in the one match at the MCG. This was against the trend of all other tour matches. And Hodge didn't play....If he did...it may not have been pretty. He is now the best batsman in the country by a mile and he doesn't even play the 4 day format anymore. WHY? Thanks Hilditch...good work. Why didn't this creep treat Clarke like he did Hodge? Because he isn't from good old NSW. We know Smith, Hughes, North, Doherty, Beer, Hilfenhaus should never have been selected to play. Even Australia A got smashed...Who picked this team?...Yep. Selectors 0/10

  • on January 6, 2011, 13:25 GMT

    @Flat_Pitch_Bully, completely agree. The more disappointing aspect, however is how they've always got away with such a pathetic behavior!! Had the officials been equal to all, this would've never happened

  • Biggus on January 6, 2011, 12:02 GMT

    To younger Aussies this is an unknown thing but to those of us who saw Australia lurch from one thrashing to the next in the immediate post-Packer era it's all part of the ebb and flow of the game. The current state of affairs is in my estimation nothing on those days, and while we will probably fall lower than now before we rise again I would be most surprised if we sunk to those levels. Such is life! Honestly, it may sound treasonable but those years of rolling over all comers got a bit boring after a while.

  • KHooper1 on January 6, 2011, 7:06 GMT

    You can't hunt lions with pop-guns. Ponting will be the scapegoat for this terrible display yet he isn't responsible for team selection. The selectors have to stand up and say that they got it wrong from the first test. Clarke wasn't fit, and he and Ponting on form did not deserve their places. Steve Smith being selected before Kawaja should be a criminal offence, smith looks well out of his depth. Callum Ferguson and Cameron White have proven themselves at international level in the one day teams which was the usual apprenticehip served before a test debut. White even scored a hundred against tremlett and bresnan yet remained ignored. Hauritz should have a case in court for unfair dismissal, dropped for brisbane and ignored despite runs and wickets at state level. I turned a ball once - I'm a chance of being the next australian spinner. Time to take a broom though, through the selection panel. You have failed.

  • Flat_Pitch_Bully on January 6, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    The rise and fall of great teams in cricket is I think inevitable and desired too. Else we would have a Schumacher and a boring season for till he is around! Having said that, there are champions and then there are champions... The Aussies fall in the second category. While a loss is humbling, however hard fought, its humility in a win that is most desired. This Aussie side won very few hearts outside down under. Its is a hallmark of a champion that the others envy them. However, for this Aussie side there was more hatred than envy and that too not for its cricketing skills but lack of humility and at times even basic sportsmanship. Champion sides are also supposed to further the cause of the game, which I don't see the Aussies having done. Theirs is a great sporting culture where a lot of pride is taken in sporting accomplishments, perhaps more than any other culture, however a few lessons on sportsmanship and humility would hold them in good stead!

  • Pingissimus on January 6, 2011, 2:39 GMT

    As Michael Vaughan pointed out at least 4 Bangladeshis would get into the current Australian side. Nuff said

  • on January 6, 2011, 2:33 GMT

    @Hutty86, I agree that India's performance would come down after these greats retire, but we wont be half as bad as the Aussies right now as our next generation of cricketers like Sehwag, Dhoni, Bhajji are very good cricketers themselves adn will carry the team forward. Also, I disagree about the Sydney 08 test. Its one of the biggest blots on cricket including Oval 06 and the Bodyline series.

  • James_10 on January 6, 2011, 1:56 GMT

    @azzaman333. I agree with your thoughts but i am looking very long term. In three yrs Marsh will be 30, Watson will be 32, White 30 and Cosgrove 29, that is not exactly what i call a youthful team. My team included Ferguson and Clarke and Siddle as the only player over 24 years of age.

  • Pingissimus on January 6, 2011, 0:24 GMT

    Did I see the name Johnson and consistency mentioned in the same paragraph?

    Maybe I'm being unfair as Johnson and the Hilf are indeed devastating with the 3rd new ball. They only need to get the previous 160 overs right.

    It's terminal.

  • Hutty86 on January 5, 2011, 22:28 GMT

    A horrific year and with series against India and Sri lanka to come, it could all get worse before it gets better. But after dominating world cricket for 15 years, the run couldn't last forever. India will be in a similar position in 18 months anyway, when the likes of Tendulkar, Laxman, Dravid,etc retire. Oh and Sydney 08 was one of the great Australian wins, sensational.

  • misterjoeyman on January 5, 2011, 21:40 GMT

    As a Westindian, i can nod and sigh knowingly. As Richardson inherited from Richards in a period of decline, so now Ponting, having inherited from Waugh, presides over an inexplicable downturn. I remember everyone's astonishment when my team went straight from the peak to the valley, and how many supposed lowest moments there have been: the whitewash in South Africa, the utter rout in Oz that included McGrath's hattrick.

    And we've recently raised our bellies from the dust, but no one hopes too much, for fear of being disappointed again (of course, having only a couple Tests a year will never help our cause). The sportsman in me hopes Australia will not have to endure what WI has, but the diehard Westindian is relieved to see someone else falling for a change.

  • WildnFree on January 5, 2011, 20:49 GMT

    I think people are being a trifle impatient with their obituaries for Australia. It is on the verge of spawning a dreaded new pace quartet in Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus/Doug Bollinger. NO other team in the world can boast of 4-5 bowlers who all hit 145kmph with such consistency. Give 'em some quality time with a quality ex-bowler like Akram, Waqar or Lillee, let 'em start swinging it regularly and bowling the right lines, let their middle order mature a bit and I bet Australia will be MORE formidable than SW, RP's champion teams.

  • swervin on January 5, 2011, 19:11 GMT

    exactly - a lot of australians were dreaming if they thought aust would win this series - fact is the batting looked fragile for some years - even against pakistan the previous year...aust would lose to any of the top teams right now and made england look very good...the english bowling is not nearly as good as we made it look (but they have some good bats) a lot of these players up and coming are just not mentally tough enough which is why it is better to get a few more years out of ponting, maybe not as captain but at least as a batsman, while nurturing guys that have talent and hardening them up...there actually look to be a few promising fast bowlers coming through at least though it is a great shame about harris (he would have been a great one) - maybe aust should just ditch the idea of a specialist spinner until someone really special comes along and use part-timers that can bat but they certainly need more batting depth in the team - the team selection for sydney was suicida

  • imja on January 5, 2011, 18:51 GMT

    too hell with hughes.bring back phill jaques, no clarke,

  • Bradman12345sachin6 on January 5, 2011, 18:32 GMT

    Well obviously the aussies aren't as good as they used to be.But , they aren't playing as well as they can play either.If they did they would mop the floor with team's like the current english team!

  • Rahulbose on January 5, 2011, 18:15 GMT

    The Aus empire has finally come to an end. How fitting then that the last rites are being performed in an Ashes series in their backyard.

    Aus need to find a new generation of players like they did in the 80s and a tough captain. Signs are not good because the young players that have been picked are not very good and they have a softy lad nick named Pup as the captain.

  • on January 5, 2011, 18:06 GMT

    Lol Marcio, arent you the same guy who brought up the Sydney 2008 match saying that umpiring errors happen and that Aus won fair and square? Also, there was nothing to get overjoyed at for the Indian fans in that series, against an opposition of such low quality and one of the worst skipper of all time, 2-0 was expected anyway. The point mamahajan and others were making was from an aussie point of view. You'd understand if you didn't have this blind bias and the proud ego, Mayte!! :-)

  • MM100 on January 5, 2011, 16:10 GMT

    Any team in the world would take Johnson and Siddle? You must be joking. Siddle might have a chance of being a back-up, but Johnson wouldn't get anywhere near this England squad, because he only has one good game in every 10 or so. South Africa might take Siddle as a back-up, and India and a full-strength Pakistan might do the same. That's not to say I'd give up on Johnson. If someone actually tackled his technical flaws, he could soon be up there with Steyn as the world's best. But the Aussie coaches, and Johnson himself, seem content to just wait for it to come right every now and then.

  • azzaman333 on January 5, 2011, 15:18 GMT

    cont... Bowlers, I like the sound of Faulkner, O'Keefe, Siddle and Copeland, with plenty of backup from players like Pattinson, Hastings, George, Butterworth, McKay, Christian, Starc, Hazelwood, etc. The most important thing is the selectors are replaced, specifically Hilditch. You can't afford to play players back into form at test level if you don't have those superstar players like Warne and McGrath to pick up the slack.

  • azzaman333 on January 5, 2011, 14:59 GMT

    @james_10 You're on the right track with a youthful team, but the team you chose is far from what I'd have. For a start, Hughes needs to go back to state level and play himself into form before he can even be considered to open the batting for Australia again. Watson has proven himself a more than competent opener at test level, and next in line to open has to be Shaun Marsh, who's averaging almost 60 with the bat this season. Agreed on Khawaja and Maddinson. The middle order should be Lynn at 4, Cosgrove at 5, White at 6. Lynn has been superb this year, especially considering that he's playing at the volatile Gabba half the time. Cosgrove, despite his weight, is a great batsman. His supposed lack of fitness shouldn't count against him if it doesn't affect his batting. White at 6, because he's the best captain in the country. Not the greatest batsman going round, but a very handy lower order player. Keeper could reasonably be Paine or Wade, I wouldn't mind either.

  • geraldf on January 5, 2011, 13:35 GMT

    Love how all of the Australians are continuing to make up excuses for their continual failures. Grow up and just admit you aren't as good as you once were... Nowhere near as good.

  • peterstich on January 5, 2011, 12:25 GMT

    Kallis, Sachin, Mahela are the best batsmen of their respective sides and still they are not captaining their teams. Infact they all are playing under captains younger to them. I remember both Mahela and Sachin got into long performance slump, so as to Mahela was dropped and Sachin was booed on his home ground. I wish Ponting would return with the same grace and proves again that he is the best batsman of his side, but certainly not as a captain again.

  • JFAB on January 5, 2011, 12:24 GMT

    Hi Peter. You seem to be following the popular misconception that England dominated at the Gabba. They got a very strong draw but were 200 behind after the first innings - hardly dominant. They were certainly dominant in Adelaide and Melbourne.

  • trumpoz on January 5, 2011, 10:46 GMT

    For non-Australians wondering why the Ashes is the low point for the year. I think the majority of Australian cricket fans rate the Ashes as a higher cricketing prize than any other. This debacle should really be placed squarely on the shoulders of the selectors and administrators of the past 5 years. Yes, Ponting has placed additional pressure by his lack of runs, but so did Clarke, North and the rest of the non-performing batsmen. Non-performing players have been allowed to continue too long before being dropped (North and Johnston), Hauritz was dropped too soon, the tried and true tradition of 'being selected for your country through performance at state level' has been ignored. It was ignored during the peak of Australian cricket becuase there were so many in the team that could cover for someone elses poor performance. Time for a shake-up. We will have to see what happens in the next 12-18 months, it will be tough times for the team during that time.

  • TheDoctor394 on January 5, 2011, 10:26 GMT

    I can't get over all this "if so-and-so hadn't got the wrong decision, my country would've won" kind of talk. It takes into account one decision (that, of course, goes against the writer's team), but conveniently ignores various other controversial ones in the match or series. If this one decision "should have gone the other way", then all the other wrong ones should have as well, so this particular decision might never have come about in the first place. Really, there are so many variables throughout the average Test Match, can't we let go of these controversies that go both against, and for, all teams in the end?

  • tjsimonsen on January 5, 2011, 10:25 GMT

    @Marcio: The sheer fact that Aussie supports now have to rely on "if onlies" to cheer themselves up show how bad the situation is for Australia. Not so long ago it was well and truely the other way around.

  • on January 5, 2011, 10:05 GMT

    @Stephen Sashi Kiran Soudamalla: For an Indian, the worst thing is losing to Pakistan and vice-versa. For an Aussie, it is losing to England and again vice-versa. This is the longest running sporting contest between two countries in history. Thus, losing the ashes hurts the most. Another thing, since England last won an Ashes series in Australia in 1987, this is the weakest Australian side, and this is easily the best England side since then. This Australian side is not quite as weak as the Australian side of the horror mid 1980s, but the toothless bowling of this side brings back some terrible memories from that era. Also Ponting, who has been a great player, is unfortunately way past his best. For the good of Australian cricket, he has to leave voluntarily and not force the selectors into pushing him out. He will not make a recovery like Tendulkar, and to think he will captain the side in the 2013 Ashes series is wishful thinking.

  • on January 5, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Australia were a great side 4 years ago. The problem is that we have not nurtured the young talent coming through, instead throwing them into an Ashes series without much experience.

    Australia can reclaim the ashes in 2013, they can quite possibly become the #1 Test side in the next decade BUT in order to do this, the following things must occur ASAP: 1. Ponting retires; Players like Callum Ferguson are given a chance 2. A solid #6 batter is chosen as neither Haddin or Smith are worthy of that position 3. Bring in a young bowler that can lead the bowling attack and handle the new ball like a McGrath; Clark; Anderson.

  • on January 5, 2011, 9:44 GMT

    @mamahajan89: Aus lost to india in australian conditions? You kidding me, aren't you? The ball wouldn't bounce above chest high. The pitches were flat and barren. i reckon the aussies lost because they were the only team to push for a win.

    @marcio: but ishant and gambhir got wrong decisions too earlier. so did ojha ( not out when out) and hussey in the 1st test. so 2 against india and 2 for india. In the end, i guess it was a fair result? and remmber hussey was out of form then. In the 2nd test, hussey was again given wrongly out lbw. In fact, i feel too many of these umpiring decisions have been going in favour of indian batsmen and bowlers ever since the 2008 scg test because the umpires are scared . sachin survived one yesterday too from steyn (udrs is a must else england should refuse to play india..)

    and australia are placed where they should be. They havent got a spinner, they cant play seam or swing, havent got any bowler who can seam or swing consitently all day

  • James_10 on January 5, 2011, 9:10 GMT

    My team in 3 yrs time to take Australia forward is 1: Hughes (NSW), 2: Maddinson(NSW), 3: Khawaja (NSW), 4: Ferguson (SA), 5: Clarke (Captain) (NSW), 6: Smith (NSW)/ Beaton (WA), 7: Paine (TAS), 8: O'Keefe (NSW)/ Beer (WA), 9: Siddle (VIC), 10: Starc (NSW) 11: George (SA)

    Others that could be used include: James Faulkner (TAS), Trent Copeland (NSW), Chris Lynn (QLD) and Mitchell Marsh (WA).

    Just so you know I am a Tasmanian not from NSW even though it may look like I am because of the amount of NSW players in my team.

  • Marcio on January 5, 2011, 8:42 GMT

    Love how the Indians refer to the two tests in India as a "whitewash". By any fair measure, Australia should have won the first game, and lost by a wicket, after being robbed by poor umpiring after being the better team. The second game was in the balance till after lunch on the 5th day. To lose two close games in India is hardly a "whitewash", nor is it any reason for India to be particularly overjoyed. If Michael Hussey, Australia's best batsman, had not been given out LBW in both second innings of the two tests when the ball was clearly missing the stumps, then AUS would have won the 1st test easily, and maybe even the second one.

  • amit1807kuwait on January 5, 2011, 8:35 GMT

    @Aussasinator - Whilst I agree with most of what you have said, I slightly disagree on the fact Johnson and Siddle would be lapped up by anyone. Both these bowlers are quick no doubt, but they are also gun-barrell straight most of the time. Johnson has a huge flaw in his bowling action, which ensures that his "on-days" are far less than his "off-days". Siddle is an honest trier at best. The only stand-out quick bowler in the game today who would be welcomed by anyone in their team should really be Dale Steyn.

  • Mannix16 on January 5, 2011, 8:35 GMT

    The two test series loss against india and their home loss to england and sri lanka (for Odis) is signalling another change of power (?Maybe to the INdians?)

  • diss on January 5, 2011, 8:29 GMT

    Why the hate on Ponting? Right now we're witnessing a Test that's following the exact same script, sans Ponting. And Clarke has been a decent captain (minus the runs). Thus the captaincy is not an issue. We need the following: batsmen in form and a consistent strike bowler or two. A better spinner would be nice. New selectors and coaches with a grasp on reality. On the bright side our wicketkeeping stocks are fantastic!

  • Aussasinator on January 5, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    @redneck. Ponting mostly had the best team and his non-captaincy went unnoticed in Australia's wins. Now, although the major stars have retired, the current bowling attack is still very good and can win matches. It's just that they are not being handled well.Any team in the world will take Johnson & Siddle. The batting, however, is extremely vulnerable now and that is mainly due to the weakness at the pivotal No. 3 position where Ponting's diminished skills as a batsman and the oppsition bowlers having detected his various weaknesses, emerge as the twin factors affecting the inability of the side to make big scores.Pressure is too much on the likes of Hussey and Watson to score and they're bound to crumble too, very soon. Now that Ponting is out of the team, the rebuilding of this side can start, if he's kept out for good. His re-entry will be a negative move and a burdensome deterrant for the new captain. Nobody seems able to play their best game in the presence of Ponting. Fact.

  • amit1807kuwait on January 5, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    A sign of a team low on confidence/skills is when they are not able to close out games where they have been dominating. India at Mohali and SL in Australia won games from impossible situations. But obviously the author of this article feels that the lowest point was losing to the Poms. How silly?!?!

  • mamahajan89 on January 5, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    mr. peter english is so much obsessed with england and the ashes that he forgets the foundation stones laid down by other teams that lead to this ashes debacle.....loss to pak in engalnd(a drawn series against a strugling pak side..).....whitewash against india...(not in typical indian spin friendly conditions but in very aussie like conditions at mohali and bnglore).....a one day series loss to lanka at home...all contributes to denting the psyche of the aussies....for me that was more the reason aussies are plummeting to new lows...... but i m pretty sure about aussies hittin back...hittin back very hard....give them a year or two.....likes of khwaja and hughes settling in and giving torrid time under settled leadership of PUP..... they are still good enough to be one of top 3 teams in world...but aussies would not settle for that.....they'd b back n rulin at 1....

  • cricket_wins on January 5, 2011, 6:25 GMT

    I believe that this situation poses a complete turn-around of fortunes world over. The game is cruel and who better to endorse the view than Punter himself? He starts in 1995-96 after Border handed the reins to Taylor, saw a superb Steven Waugh take Australia to its heights in 1999-2004, then he himself continued to handle a great team and rode the wave, until the mass exodus of top performers left him to fend for himself. It would also be unfair to point fingers only at him - yes, as a batsman, he was nowhere near the lofty standards he himself has set - but as captain, he did not get the best team. Instead, some top talents were left out for reasons only the selectors would know. But in the end, no excuses. Punter has to pull up his socks, or give way.

  • adamgilly on January 5, 2011, 6:12 GMT

    sadly have to agree with peter on most points, especially the fading star.... sad to see oz crkt in demise.... anyone for bringing back gilly as captain??

  • on January 5, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    Poorest year of Australia I have watched in 20 years of my Cricket watching. Good bye Punter!

  • redneck on January 5, 2011, 3:53 GMT

    i really hope ponting comes back and makes journos like mr english eat their words. hes still the best man to lead the country and still the country's best batsman. i hope the appropriate stage he chooses to depart will be winning the ashes back in 2013. you only have to look at what tendulkers doing to understand exceptional players shouldnt be disposed of so hastly just because of a rut in their mid 30's. ponting deserves support for all hes achieved for us over the years and seeing how quick the media have been to stick the boot in is appauling! as evident with whats happening at the scg, its not just pontings fault for how mediocre the teams been playing.

  • on January 5, 2011, 3:47 GMT

    Wht about the 2 test losses in India???

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  • on January 5, 2011, 3:47 GMT

    Wht about the 2 test losses in India???

  • redneck on January 5, 2011, 3:53 GMT

    i really hope ponting comes back and makes journos like mr english eat their words. hes still the best man to lead the country and still the country's best batsman. i hope the appropriate stage he chooses to depart will be winning the ashes back in 2013. you only have to look at what tendulkers doing to understand exceptional players shouldnt be disposed of so hastly just because of a rut in their mid 30's. ponting deserves support for all hes achieved for us over the years and seeing how quick the media have been to stick the boot in is appauling! as evident with whats happening at the scg, its not just pontings fault for how mediocre the teams been playing.

  • on January 5, 2011, 3:56 GMT

    Poorest year of Australia I have watched in 20 years of my Cricket watching. Good bye Punter!

  • adamgilly on January 5, 2011, 6:12 GMT

    sadly have to agree with peter on most points, especially the fading star.... sad to see oz crkt in demise.... anyone for bringing back gilly as captain??

  • cricket_wins on January 5, 2011, 6:25 GMT

    I believe that this situation poses a complete turn-around of fortunes world over. The game is cruel and who better to endorse the view than Punter himself? He starts in 1995-96 after Border handed the reins to Taylor, saw a superb Steven Waugh take Australia to its heights in 1999-2004, then he himself continued to handle a great team and rode the wave, until the mass exodus of top performers left him to fend for himself. It would also be unfair to point fingers only at him - yes, as a batsman, he was nowhere near the lofty standards he himself has set - but as captain, he did not get the best team. Instead, some top talents were left out for reasons only the selectors would know. But in the end, no excuses. Punter has to pull up his socks, or give way.

  • mamahajan89 on January 5, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    mr. peter english is so much obsessed with england and the ashes that he forgets the foundation stones laid down by other teams that lead to this ashes debacle.....loss to pak in engalnd(a drawn series against a strugling pak side..).....whitewash against india...(not in typical indian spin friendly conditions but in very aussie like conditions at mohali and bnglore).....a one day series loss to lanka at home...all contributes to denting the psyche of the aussies....for me that was more the reason aussies are plummeting to new lows...... but i m pretty sure about aussies hittin back...hittin back very hard....give them a year or two.....likes of khwaja and hughes settling in and giving torrid time under settled leadership of PUP..... they are still good enough to be one of top 3 teams in world...but aussies would not settle for that.....they'd b back n rulin at 1....

  • amit1807kuwait on January 5, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    A sign of a team low on confidence/skills is when they are not able to close out games where they have been dominating. India at Mohali and SL in Australia won games from impossible situations. But obviously the author of this article feels that the lowest point was losing to the Poms. How silly?!?!

  • Aussasinator on January 5, 2011, 7:54 GMT

    @redneck. Ponting mostly had the best team and his non-captaincy went unnoticed in Australia's wins. Now, although the major stars have retired, the current bowling attack is still very good and can win matches. It's just that they are not being handled well.Any team in the world will take Johnson & Siddle. The batting, however, is extremely vulnerable now and that is mainly due to the weakness at the pivotal No. 3 position where Ponting's diminished skills as a batsman and the oppsition bowlers having detected his various weaknesses, emerge as the twin factors affecting the inability of the side to make big scores.Pressure is too much on the likes of Hussey and Watson to score and they're bound to crumble too, very soon. Now that Ponting is out of the team, the rebuilding of this side can start, if he's kept out for good. His re-entry will be a negative move and a burdensome deterrant for the new captain. Nobody seems able to play their best game in the presence of Ponting. Fact.

  • diss on January 5, 2011, 8:29 GMT

    Why the hate on Ponting? Right now we're witnessing a Test that's following the exact same script, sans Ponting. And Clarke has been a decent captain (minus the runs). Thus the captaincy is not an issue. We need the following: batsmen in form and a consistent strike bowler or two. A better spinner would be nice. New selectors and coaches with a grasp on reality. On the bright side our wicketkeeping stocks are fantastic!

  • Mannix16 on January 5, 2011, 8:35 GMT

    The two test series loss against india and their home loss to england and sri lanka (for Odis) is signalling another change of power (?Maybe to the INdians?)