Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 1st day December 26, 2010

Too much on too few for Australia

Australia's win at Perth felt like a lifetime ago as they were blown away for 98 on Boxing Day
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This is what happens to Australia when Michael Hussey and Shane Watson fail. Following the bowler-inspired revival in Perth last week, the real Australia re-emerged after Hussey and Watson were unable to carry the batting line-up. Australia are currently so reliant on them and Brad Haddin at No.7 that it's three-out, all-out. Today that left them with 98 in 42.5 overs and by the end of a Boxing Day to forget they were wicket-less and 59 behind.

Hussey is having a fantastic series with 525 runs and Watson is in the middle of a solid one, but they picked bad times for their first single-figures contributions of the campaign. Not that this embarrassment was their fault. Just that with no superhero in the middle order with a cape marked H, and no muscular start from Watson, the side face-planted on the biggest occasion of the cricket calendar.

It is not possible for two batsmen to cover for a top six throughout a five-match contest. Ricky Ponting (93), Michael Clarke (135), Phillip Hughes (30) and Steven Smith (49) have combined for less runs in the series than Watson's 298. That has left a cavern for Hussey, Watson and Haddin to attempt to patch up, but today they ran out of putty.

Buoyed by their stunning WACA performance, which looks more like a fluke with every session in Melbourne, Australia started on equal terms with England but quickly fell back through indiscipline and poor technique. Having been delivered a surface with life, they seemed to forget that their run-makers would have to survive against the moving ball, a perennial weakness. Sent in to deal with the seaming conditions, the batsmen kept aiming drives through cover instead of playing straight, edging to the cordon one lemming at a time.

Bowlers are told to feed the slips and England's were sated with eight of the ten catches, with the other two going to Kevin Pietersen at gully. Watson popped an edge to Pietersen after being dropped twice on the way to 5 while Hughes swung fiercely but misguidedly at one going away from him. He had spent an hour attempting to avoid such risk. Ponting started cautiously and correctly, ultimately doing well to get a nick on a Chris Tremlett ball that lifted and darted towards the slips. From 3 for 37, things really turned ugly.

Hussey survived a couple of close lbw calls until driving at one going away eight minutes from lunch. Smith arrived to play and miss badly from his only ball before rain sent the players off and he was even less convincing when he returned. Only 21, Smith will be a fine cricketer in the future, but he owns a limited-overs technique and is desperate to follow the ball when it curves. When he saw James Anderson's delivery leaving him he kept chasing it and was caught behind. More is expected from a Test No.6 in this type of situation.

Five for 66 became 6 for 77 when Clarke did the same thing as Smith, reaching for a ball he could have left. Haddin drove hard and nicked to first slip while Mitchell Johnson was caught behind at the same score. In the end, 98 was better than expected.

Such is the current frailty of the batting that it's only necessary to look back six months for a smaller Australian total. They made 88 after winning the toss against Pakistan in Leeds in July when the ball seamed and swung. It has been a horrible year for the batsmen, whose first day of 2010 included them being dismissed for 127.

The order has drifted with the ailing form of Ponting, a captain under immense pressure as he moves closer to becoming the second Australian to lose three Test series against England. Ponting finished the day fielding at mid-off due to his broken little finger and at times in his lonely position must have wondered if he would have been better off staying away.

While he is a brave leader who will live with the consequences, he is now desperate for runs from a group that can't be depended on to provide them. Ponting has become one of the unreliable, a shadow of his great days as a world-beating No.3. His men say they adore him, but not enough of them have been playing to keep him in charge. Last week Ponting experienced the fantasy of an Australian Ashes revival. Today he was back in reality.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • beakyjonjo on December 27, 2010, 7:25 GMT

    There is no doubt England bowled superbly with discipline and patience. It was a good toss to win as the conditions were definitely at their most favourable on that first morning. The pitch is now more a batting track. However with australia so far behind in the match the situation is impossible for them and a miracle is required to prevent England retaining the ashes. I hope that in the aftermath a real inquest is made into this debacle and it will be recognised that the selectors are to blame. Clarke should have lost his place after the second test. Doherty should never have been picked ahead of Hauritz. For the MCG a spinner needed to be picked. Smith is not the best number 6 in australia and though his bowling was servicable Hauritz on form would have proven a better batsman and bowler. The current 11 playing for australia are not the best 11 available.

  • Iceborn999 on December 27, 2010, 7:20 GMT

    I think its time for Australia to move on after this series..... Marsh (or best state opener currently), Watson, Khawaja, M Hussey (C), D Hussey, Haddin, White, Hauritz, Copeland, Starc, Siddle.............. Harris, O'Keefe,

  • anver777 on December 27, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    Aus need to bring inform batsmen like Khawaja & Ferguson for tests or form an ODI team for test cricket & I'm sure they will perform better than the present lot...... only Hussey & Watson showed good form during the series but unfortunately they too failed in this crucial encounter..........an impossible task ahead for Aussies to save this match !!!!!

  • on December 27, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    i think australia should completely shake up the team for the last ashes test and series against bangladash, with watto, marsh, khawaja, lynn, hussey, ferguson, paine, johnson, hauritz, harris and siddle. as these are the best preforming players in the country with alot of young talent (khawaja and lynn will be two of the best batsmen in the world in 5 years) and some expirence there to help the young players settle into test cricket.

  • sawifan on December 27, 2010, 6:21 GMT

    @Gopal Krishna, to say Ponting is 'over-rated' is pure, unadulterated ingnorance. The guy is obviously going through a rough patch coupled witht the failings of his fellow batsmen. The best thing that could happen to him is to lose the captaincy but remain as a player. Unfortunately that is not something that happens often in Australian cricket and not for the reason of 'egos'. It's a cricket hierachy thing. Ponting is a world-class batsman and i'm sure he can bounce back, we all remember SRT had a few rough years and now look at him!! (and no, i'm not comparing Ponting to Tendulkar, but in terms of batsmen in their generation, Ponting is probably 2nd only to him). While at times (most of it) in this series, the Aussies have been terrible, i think more credit should go the the Poms too, they've played well and deserve their successes.

    I believe any team in the top 5 or 6 could beat each other on their day, conditions willing. Either way, its good to see ball dominating bat for once

  • MisterE84 on December 27, 2010, 6:20 GMT

    Hooves, I agree with your comments here and I think its only natural that after a great rise you almost have to expect a great fall! The Australian great rise into 1990-2005 is over and we can expect to see a great fall from the amazing heights the team reached:

    You've got once in a generation players like Hayden, Gilly, McGrath, Warnie, JL and I am going to include Punter in that class. Most teams are lucky to have 1-2 of these in their side - I can't even think of WI, Pakistan, NZ (maybe Vettori) have one and for this period we had these SIX play in the same teams as each other.

    You have to expect a great fall as with champions you just can't tap them on the shoulder and say their time is up to blood young kids after all the great success they've brought to the country.

    Therefore logical to expect a sharp decline. Lets stop being so so harsh on the team - the Ashes are gone I am in pain there is no doubt but lets back our guys in to another great dynasty!

  • anikbrad on December 27, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    HAVE ANY ONE SEEN THE INFAMOUS DAAR- PONTING AND SIDLE ARGUEMENT? IF ANY ONE IN ASIA WOULD VAE DONE IT HE WOULD HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED FOR 5 TESTS. REMEMBER SHEWAG SUSPENDED FOR ESSESIVE APEALING IN HIS DEBUT MATCH AND THEN MCGRATH- SARWAN/ SLATTER- DRAVID. ALL AUSSIES GOT SCOTT FREE AND WHEN INDIA IS TOLD THEY ARE FLEXING MUSCLES I THINK YES WE ARE BUT MORE SHOULD BE DONE TO REMOVE THIS DISPARITY. IF PONTING AND SIDLE IS NOT SUSPENDED WE SHOULD STOP PLAYING WITH THEM. WE HAVE NOW GOT THE POWER WHAT THEY CAN DO OTHER THAN BEG NOTHING. LETS START FLEXING MUSCLES FOR PATIRY AND EQALITY.

  • Point4 on December 27, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    OMG...My fears have come true.....After the team announcement for Perth there were some nagging doubts in my mind which to my horror have come true...

    1.MCG wont assist Aussie pacemen like WACA (AUS missing quality spinner or a pretender for that matter..)

    2.Eng need only to draw the test series to win the ashes while Oz need to win at least 1 test and avoid defeat in another (HUGE pressure).

    This is the jinx..for Christs' sake

    3.PONTING MAY LOOS HIS COOL ONCE THINGS DONT GO HIS WAY .. and see what has happened today...

  • stormy16 on December 27, 2010, 6:13 GMT

    This is pathetic by Aus with everything to play for to be bowled out for 98!! Eng were brilliant with the ball (at bat!) but it seems Aus have forgotten how to bat. Surely some of these selections are not right - Hughes was dropped for technical flaws which are apparently unresolved and hasnt made runs this season so why did they pick him. What is the basis for picking Smith - he cant bat at #6 and cant bowl. When you #3 and 4 are struggling but you cant drop them because its your leadership then you must pack up with the rest of the order with proper batsman in form and Hughes and Smith arent either - no technique and no form.

  • arvin on December 27, 2010, 5:39 GMT

    ponting needs to atleast take a break if not retire for any chance of aussie revival... but his and idiotic chappal brothers greed to break sachins' batting records will make him stay in team forever and australia will continue to suffer...

  • beakyjonjo on December 27, 2010, 7:25 GMT

    There is no doubt England bowled superbly with discipline and patience. It was a good toss to win as the conditions were definitely at their most favourable on that first morning. The pitch is now more a batting track. However with australia so far behind in the match the situation is impossible for them and a miracle is required to prevent England retaining the ashes. I hope that in the aftermath a real inquest is made into this debacle and it will be recognised that the selectors are to blame. Clarke should have lost his place after the second test. Doherty should never have been picked ahead of Hauritz. For the MCG a spinner needed to be picked. Smith is not the best number 6 in australia and though his bowling was servicable Hauritz on form would have proven a better batsman and bowler. The current 11 playing for australia are not the best 11 available.

  • Iceborn999 on December 27, 2010, 7:20 GMT

    I think its time for Australia to move on after this series..... Marsh (or best state opener currently), Watson, Khawaja, M Hussey (C), D Hussey, Haddin, White, Hauritz, Copeland, Starc, Siddle.............. Harris, O'Keefe,

  • anver777 on December 27, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    Aus need to bring inform batsmen like Khawaja & Ferguson for tests or form an ODI team for test cricket & I'm sure they will perform better than the present lot...... only Hussey & Watson showed good form during the series but unfortunately they too failed in this crucial encounter..........an impossible task ahead for Aussies to save this match !!!!!

  • on December 27, 2010, 6:24 GMT

    i think australia should completely shake up the team for the last ashes test and series against bangladash, with watto, marsh, khawaja, lynn, hussey, ferguson, paine, johnson, hauritz, harris and siddle. as these are the best preforming players in the country with alot of young talent (khawaja and lynn will be two of the best batsmen in the world in 5 years) and some expirence there to help the young players settle into test cricket.

  • sawifan on December 27, 2010, 6:21 GMT

    @Gopal Krishna, to say Ponting is 'over-rated' is pure, unadulterated ingnorance. The guy is obviously going through a rough patch coupled witht the failings of his fellow batsmen. The best thing that could happen to him is to lose the captaincy but remain as a player. Unfortunately that is not something that happens often in Australian cricket and not for the reason of 'egos'. It's a cricket hierachy thing. Ponting is a world-class batsman and i'm sure he can bounce back, we all remember SRT had a few rough years and now look at him!! (and no, i'm not comparing Ponting to Tendulkar, but in terms of batsmen in their generation, Ponting is probably 2nd only to him). While at times (most of it) in this series, the Aussies have been terrible, i think more credit should go the the Poms too, they've played well and deserve their successes.

    I believe any team in the top 5 or 6 could beat each other on their day, conditions willing. Either way, its good to see ball dominating bat for once

  • MisterE84 on December 27, 2010, 6:20 GMT

    Hooves, I agree with your comments here and I think its only natural that after a great rise you almost have to expect a great fall! The Australian great rise into 1990-2005 is over and we can expect to see a great fall from the amazing heights the team reached:

    You've got once in a generation players like Hayden, Gilly, McGrath, Warnie, JL and I am going to include Punter in that class. Most teams are lucky to have 1-2 of these in their side - I can't even think of WI, Pakistan, NZ (maybe Vettori) have one and for this period we had these SIX play in the same teams as each other.

    You have to expect a great fall as with champions you just can't tap them on the shoulder and say their time is up to blood young kids after all the great success they've brought to the country.

    Therefore logical to expect a sharp decline. Lets stop being so so harsh on the team - the Ashes are gone I am in pain there is no doubt but lets back our guys in to another great dynasty!

  • anikbrad on December 27, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    HAVE ANY ONE SEEN THE INFAMOUS DAAR- PONTING AND SIDLE ARGUEMENT? IF ANY ONE IN ASIA WOULD VAE DONE IT HE WOULD HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED FOR 5 TESTS. REMEMBER SHEWAG SUSPENDED FOR ESSESIVE APEALING IN HIS DEBUT MATCH AND THEN MCGRATH- SARWAN/ SLATTER- DRAVID. ALL AUSSIES GOT SCOTT FREE AND WHEN INDIA IS TOLD THEY ARE FLEXING MUSCLES I THINK YES WE ARE BUT MORE SHOULD BE DONE TO REMOVE THIS DISPARITY. IF PONTING AND SIDLE IS NOT SUSPENDED WE SHOULD STOP PLAYING WITH THEM. WE HAVE NOW GOT THE POWER WHAT THEY CAN DO OTHER THAN BEG NOTHING. LETS START FLEXING MUSCLES FOR PATIRY AND EQALITY.

  • Point4 on December 27, 2010, 6:14 GMT

    OMG...My fears have come true.....After the team announcement for Perth there were some nagging doubts in my mind which to my horror have come true...

    1.MCG wont assist Aussie pacemen like WACA (AUS missing quality spinner or a pretender for that matter..)

    2.Eng need only to draw the test series to win the ashes while Oz need to win at least 1 test and avoid defeat in another (HUGE pressure).

    This is the jinx..for Christs' sake

    3.PONTING MAY LOOS HIS COOL ONCE THINGS DONT GO HIS WAY .. and see what has happened today...

  • stormy16 on December 27, 2010, 6:13 GMT

    This is pathetic by Aus with everything to play for to be bowled out for 98!! Eng were brilliant with the ball (at bat!) but it seems Aus have forgotten how to bat. Surely some of these selections are not right - Hughes was dropped for technical flaws which are apparently unresolved and hasnt made runs this season so why did they pick him. What is the basis for picking Smith - he cant bat at #6 and cant bowl. When you #3 and 4 are struggling but you cant drop them because its your leadership then you must pack up with the rest of the order with proper batsman in form and Hughes and Smith arent either - no technique and no form.

  • arvin on December 27, 2010, 5:39 GMT

    ponting needs to atleast take a break if not retire for any chance of aussie revival... but his and idiotic chappal brothers greed to break sachins' batting records will make him stay in team forever and australia will continue to suffer...

  • DINESHCC on December 27, 2010, 5:12 GMT

    Only one change is enough to win the Sydney Test. The selectors should throw Michael Clarke out of Australia and bring back Cameroon White. Please also drop anyone and bring C.Fergussen and this team is sufficient enough to beat any team in the world. But this is not going to happen. I already posted a comment during the second test that Michael Clarke will play another 10 tests as he scored 80 runs in the second test. It is highly ridiculous that still many people are in favour of to Michael Clarke for captaincy.

  • on December 27, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    @Hooves&Cricinfojunkie Poor planning played as much in the windies downfall as poor selection. Certain "great" players were repeatedly selected when out of form instead of giving others a chance. Not younger, but others. Hussey has blossomed since his selection and his was late in his 1st class career.

  • killbillgbu on December 27, 2010, 4:50 GMT

    Australia is having a temporary lack of belief in themselves. Leadership is burnt out. Cricket is a team sport. When the team management changes, there will be significant improvement in the way they play as a team. Mates, pls find a way to get new leadership.

  • gjando on December 27, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    Peter...spot on article. Should we be surprised when you look at the side; Hughes - in poor form coming into side & does not have the technique for test cricket Watson - a reluctant opener but done the job because he has a great technique Ponting - one of the all-time greats. Looked in good nick but got a cracker of a delivery...probably ready to move down the order Clarke - not a number four...does not play the rising or moving ball well...suspect technique...needs to move back to number five Hussey - Was going to miss out at some point Smith - not ready for test cricket...i cannot comprehend how any selector who would be watching his technique in shield cricket could be putting him forward as a test number six with such a poor technique Haddin - lives and dies by the sword...we have seen this irresponsibility from him before...not the shot to be playing given the circumstances

    A score of 98 has to have consequences for Sydney test...drop Hughes, Clarke, Smith & Hilfie

  • Pug23 on December 27, 2010, 3:11 GMT

    Gopal Krishna Sharma Nandyala, Ricky Ponting is not over rated!! Get ur facts correct bfr you write or post a comment. No disrespect to ST, but how many games has we won single handly compared to RP or BL. Go find out. Pocketing centuries and nvr been part of a winning World Cup Team is something to think about! RP put India in his left pocket and to them out in his right pocket in the World Cup finals. Overated it seems!!!!!! Sad to read some comments by ppl from test playing nation - have no clue about cricket.

  • on December 27, 2010, 2:34 GMT

    Can someone tell Ponting to try the Right Hand Seamers to bowl around the wicket. It is a very predictable line and length they are bowling. I am sure a new angle will confuse the batsman and create opportunities.

  • on December 27, 2010, 2:11 GMT

    I atleast expect 600+ target set by england team for our meaky aussies and again foresee there will be an innings defeat to the hosts. History says England has never had two Straight innings victory in one single Ashes series.

    Now Aussie is depending too much on Mr.Cricket, if he fails the whole team is failing. Its good that 8/10 times he drives the entire team forward, but should'nt there be someother way since cricket is played by 11 and not by 1

  • on December 27, 2010, 1:55 GMT

    Only way to save the test is to slow down the second innings of aussie without losing wickets. since the margin of run chase will be too huge set by england there is no other way aussie can gain a control. The main reason australia is losing control is that they dont have a genuine swing bowler though they 5 pace attacks. ACB, please consider good players and give them a chance.

  • Cricinfojunkie on December 27, 2010, 1:01 GMT

    @Hooves, my sentiments exactly. The difficulty I have here though is that Windies were berated and chastized for having abysmally poor performances. Some were even calling for Windies to be relegated to a minor league of sorts. Wonder if there will be similar utterances for the Aussies now??..or will there be a double standard?

  • raysa on December 27, 2010, 0:36 GMT

    I commented after Perth that only 5 players contributed and the other 7 being retained because they won was ridiculous. Hilfi has taken one wicket for @400 since the first over in Brisbane. Ponting is hanging in for the world cup. Clarke is struggling to hold his place let alone be future captain. O'keefe or Hauritz should be in the team and playing. They have one bowler too many and Maddinson or Khwaja at 3 might have saved the batting collapse with Ponting etc dropping down the order. This match was lost on the selection table before a ball was bowled. They might still have lost especially after losing the toss, but it would have been less pathetic.

  • Paulk on December 27, 2010, 0:27 GMT

    My armchair selection recommendation for next test: drop Watson down the order to where he belongs, no matter his success as opener. Drop Steve Smith. Get Katich and Khawaja to open the innings. Possibly bring in David Hussey for Michael Clarke and switch positions with M Hussey.

  • landl47 on December 27, 2010, 0:10 GMT

    Australia are suffering because they had a great side, all of whom were about the same age, and they don't have similar players coming up behind. They're not helping themselves by strange selections and by Ponting's lacklustre captaincy. They need to accept that they have to rebuild, get young players in the side and let them mature. However, they need quality and some of the suggestions here are very strange. For example, Michael Hogan, a seam bowler almost 30 years old with 43 first-class wickets in 13 first-class games, or David Warner, a batsman who doesn't average 30 in any form of cricket and only 26 in first-class cricket. Still, I suppose when the Australian selectors are picking Doherty and Beer in the squad, anything goes.

  • featurewriter on December 26, 2010, 23:23 GMT

    I was at a Christmas BBQ over the weekend with about 30-odd family and friends, and the topic of the day was the Boxing Day Test (on the following day). Everyone, without exception, was questioning the selectors' decision to include Hughes and Smith in the third Test and persist with them into the fourth. Hughes was in the worst form of his short career leading into his selection, and Smith isn't even one of the top 10 domestic batsmen (outside the current Test lineup). We decided to select our own dream team, and it went something like this: Hodge, Watson, Clarke, Mike Hussey, Ponting, David Hussey, Haddin, Hauritz, Johnson, Harris and Siddle. They should have gone with experienced players in Perth and Melbourne, and only then, if we lost the series, should they have brought in emerging talent like Hughes, Smith, Khawaja and even Hill. Bring them in when there isn't the pressure that can destroy - or delay - promising careers. The team isn't the problem, it's the selectors. Drop them.

  • Statsmatter on December 26, 2010, 22:02 GMT

    Australian selectors should look back at some of their other couragous lifelines they have handed to players on the brink of test retirement. Drop Hughes and note to selectors DON"T pick players without current form. Marcus North should have been given 1 chance and to open the innings - then all can tell if he is the real deal, as all his successes has come on the back of top order scoring runs before his time. Time for opportunity, select Kuwaja - player with current form. Move Ponting to 4 - a great player not really out of form rather getting great deliveries. Clarke to 5 as is struggling also as much as North when those above fail. Mr Cricket moves to 6, Haddin retains spot due to his ability to bat. Hard to rely on the bowlers regardless what the opposition do as any score on the first day in Test cricket below 100 is dead man waiting. The service has been booked and the furnace fired up - time to burn some more ashes and send the demons back home.

  • balajik1968 on December 26, 2010, 21:51 GMT

    I don't understand why Tim Paine is not playing. The way the Aussies are going what they need is a guy who can stick it out. He may not play fast and fluent, but from what I saw in the India series, he looks likes one guy who can stick around, spend some time in the crease. What Australia needs is guys who can occupy the crease and Paine was worth a try. Frankly speaking, I did not watch the match, but 98 all out in Home conditions and all 10 catches in the close cordon shows poor discipline. Time for some major surgery in Aussie cricket. They need to rebuild the team. They need a new coach who will stress the basics, much like Simpson did 2 years back. I am an Indian. It hurt when Australia steamrolled opposition. But seeing them play as badly as they are also hurts, just as much as it hurt to see the West Indies now.

  • Rahulbose on December 26, 2010, 21:49 GMT

    Poor Aussies, the middle order needs a shakeup. Both Ponting and Clarke need some rest.

  • m_baker on December 26, 2010, 21:48 GMT

    Peter this is a great article and the 3-out all-out comment is absolutely on the money. Ponting, Clarke, Hughes and Smith have become walking wickets. It's ironic that after Brisbane and Adelaide so much focus was on the Australian bowlers when in fact all the time the problem was really the batting. Okay, spin bowling is a problem but basically there are some good quick bowlers around and that area can be plugged up pretty fast if there is an underperformer in the team. But where are the batsmen? If there were convincing replacements then surely Hughes and Clarke at least wouldn't be still there. It's going to be a long period of rebuilding for Australia. Won't be three decades like the Windies because Aust not subject to the WI proximity to US basketball and demographic issues.

  • on December 26, 2010, 21:09 GMT

    Its easy to see why the Aussies struggle after some greats retire. Something similar seems to have happened in the 80's. Unlike the myth that it is the sub continent teams which rely on individuals rather than as a team and the Aussie teams on teamwork, its quite the opposite!! Another fact wrongly portrayed is the selfish nature of the Asian players. The current Indian team has 2 full time former captains under Dhoni (who's not even half as experienced as the guys he's leading), but even after seeing Puncture failing time after time, i really doubt he'll leave captaincy and play just as a player. Whose got the ego there? Finally many of the Aussie and English players are over rated and over hyped. Numerous examples for this, Ricky Ponting being the prime example.

  • Hooves on December 26, 2010, 20:22 GMT

    Re Mervin James comment. Courntey Walsh is interviewed on here somewhere and he says they WI cricket didn't plan for the future enough when the times are good. They just took for granted there would be another Viv Richards, Joel Garner, M Marshal the list goes on and on. If you think about the last 10 years, Aus have done exactly the same. How many Tests did Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Martyn, Hussey, Clarke, McGrath, Warne etc play in togther? Maybe a few to many? I suppose drip feeding young talent into the side isn't so easy to do as it is to say. Captiains say, you pick your best side. But if total collapse is the net result of 10 + golden years then maybe people will take it onboard now they;ve had the chance to witness WI and possibly Aus go through the skids.

  • shehanpj on December 26, 2010, 20:10 GMT

    well, RP cannot be blamed 4 when the rest don't do thier part. when sitters are dropped, when the bowllers do otherwise as he sets the feild 4 something, when the batters bat irresponsibly, so 4 all these RP is at fault? he should be blamed 4 his poor form with his bat. i don't see a captian in MC, better option would be MH whether his cricketing knowledge is good or bad. those serving @ comentry box, were very busy talking about the poor techniques of the batsman with the moving ball, short ball etc, when they were doing other countries. but in here, it is poor shot selection not the flaws in their technique!. i saw how good were the techniques of both these teams when those defamed two Mohamads squared them up left, right, @ the center in England last summer.

  • Scgboy on December 26, 2010, 19:47 GMT

    all we ask is to show some grit.if we are beaten by a better side , so be it but just come out swinging . 98 is unacceptable.I cant blame hussey , haddin or even watto for this one either.Going to happens sometimes you get a low score. The others have a bad run of form.

    plus wheres haurity??

  • gerardpereira20 on December 26, 2010, 18:36 GMT

    What ever happned to Tim Paine, Brad hodge, Craig White, David Hussey, David Warner? they cannot be any worse than Hughes, Smith etc To say australia are poor is an under statement.

  • on December 26, 2010, 18:30 GMT

    Australia is having a real rough time. I love the Aussie style of cricket. They are aggressive, they never give up and they have set standards for the world to beat, but I think now teams have caught up with them. But I still believe the Aussies will never give up and we can surely expect a brilliant comeback. If they save this game it is bigger than any win.

  • on December 26, 2010, 18:16 GMT

    I think after Ashes Series Rickey Pointing will loss his captain post ,What you guys thinking about Pointing constancy?

  • on December 26, 2010, 18:05 GMT

    @snoffarman Pakistan have been given chance after chance to sort their house out and have failed miserably, they should be banned from all cricket for 5 years minimum.

  • on December 26, 2010, 17:03 GMT

    LOOKING OVERALL CRICKET IS OUT FOR ATLEAST FEW OLDIES - AS AN OFF TOPIC, GIVEN PAKISTAN'S FULLL RESOURCES THEY COULD BEAT ANY. ALAS! HANDS ONLY GET AT THE WEAK AND FEEBLE -THIS IS NOT CRICKET FOR ALL ITS SEARCH FOR GODLY TRUTH...SHAME ON THOSE!!

  • on December 26, 2010, 17:01 GMT

    Even critics were praising ponting's captancy when he had one of the best team. Now after the departure of key players his captancy is exposed. So more than the captancy the right combination is required to win and Australia lacks that at the moment.

  • sonoffarman on December 26, 2010, 16:53 GMT

    Feel sorry for Australia as they battted poorly. If it were Pakistan, the whole world would have said they threw away the game. Did Australia do the same? It is cricket - unpredictable, thrilling and what about comparison to any other sport. Let's give Pakistan a fair dea and not judge it without evidence!

  • on December 26, 2010, 16:51 GMT

    In any team when the "impact players" leave at one time this is what happens. The likes of Langer, Hayden and Shane Warne, Macgrath would really dent Australia. The same for India to keep the bench strength stronger as Dravid, Lakshman, Tendulkar are almost in the brink of their career respectively.

    As an Indian Fan I enjoy ponting failure as he cannot surpass Tendulkar by any means.

  • 2.14istherunrate on December 26, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    i am slightly amused that North has been replaced by Smith. North looks better at both by far. I am amazed Hughes gets a gig. I am amused that Hauritz was dropped. The selections have been fascinating but iloogical.

  • on December 26, 2010, 16:21 GMT

    hmmm.... reminds me of Windies when they started going DOWN! The Aussies don't seem to know what hit them, and if they are still trying to understand what is happening, they will lose badly... My prediction was always 3:1 England and it seem to be heading that way!

  • Pacelover on December 26, 2010, 15:53 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson shares a lot of similarities with Steve Harmison (Johnson is more talented for my money though). Johnson comes alive at Perth, Harmison at Old Trafford. Outside of their comfort zones however they struggle. However i think its always worth the gamble of playing Mitch, mainly because he has some batting ability. It is frustrating not to see the Johnson who broke many a south african bone more often. Also why replace the reliable , stedying influence of Katich with the erratic Phil Hughes? There must be another solid opener in the Sheffield Sheild.

  • on December 26, 2010, 15:52 GMT

    @Sabika Zehra, think in reality man thats never gona happen.Instead what happens is both cook and strauss get to their hundreds ,england gets to a lead of 350 n decl then aussie will loose by an innings.

  • george204 on December 26, 2010, 15:26 GMT

    The game's not over yet: England could still collapse, Aus might have the best of the conditions in the 2nd innings & put up a target that England can't get.

    (I'm an England supporter by the way, so I never believe in victory until I read about it in the next day's papers, so the above scenario looks the most likely - when you got used to 1990s England, you can't see it any other way!)

  • sachin1111989 on December 26, 2010, 15:24 GMT

    Loving it!! Well done England. Time for Ricky to hang up his boots and hand over the captaincy to Clarke. As far as this series is concerned, Aus will go down 3-1...

  • rumyfala on December 26, 2010, 15:06 GMT

    I told this before the 3rd test. Im telling again. Ricky Pontng has to be relived of his captain's duties and I am sure he will score runs. Yes it would have been better if he had stayed away from this test.

  • Howling_Wolf on December 26, 2010, 15:02 GMT

    There must come a point in time when the selectors realise that certain great players do not not necessarily make great captains. This happened to Botham and Sachin, and we know what happened when that burden was removed from them. Maybe Ponting is a little too set in his ways, and being led by another player might be too bitter a pill to swallow. But he is still one of the finest players in the world, and freeing him of the captaincy might do a personal world of good, as well to his country. Who's the replacement? Hussey is a very good player, but too nice; Watson is way too emotional; Clarke's confidence is too low....so that leaves Haddin, and I'm not sure about his leadership qualities. Marcus North was dumped as a result of his bad form - he seemed level-headed, and a thinking cricketer. Maybe captaincy could be the making of him, a little bit like Brearley.

  • k.mithilesh on December 26, 2010, 14:41 GMT

    I am a follower of the Australian cricket team since I have started watching cricket. I might not be too erudite with stats and figures. But I know this much. Following a team also means sharing their owes as much as sharing their victories. This australian team is weak and would perhaps lose more matches than win. And this is the time to show that our commitment has not wavered.

  • on December 26, 2010, 14:18 GMT

    Never in the history of Ashes Cricket, England bowlers have dominated consistently.This time english men have proved on australian soil. To support them well england batsmen tend to start and resist the australian attack. Time for Ricky to rethink about his old strategy .

  • on December 26, 2010, 13:52 GMT

    Dreams of all AUS players who were dropped inspite they deserved a place in the team s being fulfilled...punter ll b forced to quit cricket or tests..hus ll b thr..as said warne glen did not nurture any of their young players...feel sorry for how they playing now...

  • Bytheway on December 26, 2010, 13:48 GMT

    Drop the lot and play Victoria v England at the SCG. They will put up a fight. This lot are lost in the desert and wandering hopelessly. As for the selectors, it's like complaining about the weather.

  • CheerforUnderdogs on December 26, 2010, 13:34 GMT

    I think AUS selectors r not passing right signals to the youngsters.. After loss of legends like Mcgrath, Warne, Gilly, Hayden... they need to pick guys and nurture them instead of chaging playing 11 just for the namesake.. Performance should ne the criteria but NOT the only... TALENT does matter and being inexperienced is adding to the pressure... Still think AUS will not go the West Indies way and wil recover...

    You guys need to accept that you are being beaten by a BETTER ENGLAND team...

  • on December 26, 2010, 13:01 GMT

    If u remember last time after the Ist day in perth I had predicted Mitch 6 for destroys england. Now I predict England to take 220 lead and australia to score 480 in their 2nd innings with Hughes top scoring with with 135. In short final result Australia wins by 48 runs.Two critical run outs for england on Day 4.Go aussie go.

  • Something_Witty on December 26, 2010, 12:35 GMT

    Three out all out really is the best way to describe our batting at the moment. It was inevitable that this would happen, hopefully now something can be done about it.

  • TheLoneStranger on December 26, 2010, 12:27 GMT

    Ponting should never have been allowed to play in this test. When it comes to common-sense decisions, Ponting is a first-class ****head. So many times he has made the wrong decision after winning a toss; instance the 88 after winning it against Pakistan. Any captain with an ounce of nous would have sent the opposition in, but not our Punter! Mind you, he DID send England in at Lords, I think, and.....oh yes, they made over 400, because it was a BATSMAN'S wicket! As a captain, I always liked to chase totals rather than set them, but only if the conditions were conducive to bowling first. If I could do it at the level I played, how hard should it be for a Test captain to assess a pitch and weather conditions for his team? Bring S.Clark, Bollinger, and Hauritz back for Sydney; drop Smith, Siddle and Johnson. After seeing Mitch today, I despair at him ever playing consistently to his full potential with bat OR ball. If he ever does, he'll rival the great Alan Davidson!

  • Joji_ on December 26, 2010, 12:26 GMT

    I have never been an australian fan. But I really really want the punter to be back scoring runs.

  • on December 26, 2010, 12:24 GMT

    i agree with greg Q team and batting order nathan haurtz is best spinner by a long shot the selectors should be sack for reason alone and not playing him scg test would be crime as for steve smith need to learn his trade at first class level first

  • on December 26, 2010, 12:00 GMT

    selection is wrong. no place for smith in test team. ponting has lost it

  • on December 26, 2010, 11:59 GMT

    Quillos i agree with you and im close to the team you picked also. I would have cosgrove opening the batting with shaun marsh, i would have khawaja at 3, ponting 4, hussey 5, watto at 6, haddin or paine at 7, hauritz or o'keefe at 8, johnson at 9, Copeland at 10 and either pattinson or hazlewood at 11. I like harris but see how his knee goes. I think in a year or 2 when hussey retires a tough guy like chris lynn, who has showed a great ability this year to score runs in tough conditions when the rest of his team has crumbled around him. He is also the best fielder out of the younger bregade and handy left arm orthodox.

  • Raaakz on December 26, 2010, 11:55 GMT

    Punter, Pup, Hughes, Smith and Beer should go for the decider... My team for Sydney would be, Watson, Katich (if he recovers), Ferguson, Hussey, White (c), Khwaja, Haddin, Hauritz, Johnson, Harris and Siddle/Hilefenhaus.

  • Boidji on December 26, 2010, 11:26 GMT

    Golly, I just heard - apparently the Australians have a batting coach! And a bowling coach! And people who are paid well to bat, and even, get this, people who are paid well to bowl!!! Who would have thought?

  • Razor88 on December 26, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    what was the Victory they won convincingly a week ago ? Ponting sure said they are high on confidence :D - Of what ?? Collapsing ?

  • on December 26, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    Congrats to England. They are doin great...and as for aussies, how come they didnt pick Usman for their middle order. Clarke is in really bad shape.

  • popcorn on December 26, 2010, 11:22 GMT

    I predict Australia will come from behind and save ths Test.

  • TywinLannister on December 26, 2010, 10:59 GMT

    Feel sad for Dicky Ponting? Spare a thought for Ganguly then.. this is exactly what happens to anyone who listens to Greg Chappell.. the guy is bad news!

  • StarveTheLizard on December 26, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    Congratulations England. You deserve to retain the Ashes. Oz is at an all-time low. You on the other hand have run a well-organized and purposeful campaign. On the bright side, there is only one way for Australia to go from here. That is up!

  • indianpunter on December 26, 2010, 10:23 GMT

    down to earth with a loud, painful thud ! that describes the aussie team today for me. everyone back to doing what they do best. Mitch leaking runs, clarkey looking like he does not belong, punter giving catching practice... the ashes are done and dusted !

  • on December 26, 2010, 10:13 GMT

    oh. poor ricky. i think time to go for the old hero

  • on December 26, 2010, 10:06 GMT

    Back to the ground!!! Keep it up aussies!!!

  • Quillos on December 26, 2010, 10:03 GMT

    Sack the Selectors

    "Steve Smith is the number six batsman first" The selectors have lost the plot. The only reason we won in Perth was that Johnson lived up to the potential he has and Hussey. Ponting, Clark, Smith and Hughes still failed.

    New team is needed.

    1 Mark Cosgrove 2 Shaun Marsh 3 Michael Hussey 4 Usman Khawaja 5 Ricky Ponting 6 Shane Watson 7 Brad Hadden 8 Nathan Hauritz 9 Michael Hogan 10 Mitchell Johnson 11 Ryan Harris

    12 Peter Siddle 13 Michael Clark

    Greg Q

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  • Quillos on December 26, 2010, 10:03 GMT

    Sack the Selectors

    "Steve Smith is the number six batsman first" The selectors have lost the plot. The only reason we won in Perth was that Johnson lived up to the potential he has and Hussey. Ponting, Clark, Smith and Hughes still failed.

    New team is needed.

    1 Mark Cosgrove 2 Shaun Marsh 3 Michael Hussey 4 Usman Khawaja 5 Ricky Ponting 6 Shane Watson 7 Brad Hadden 8 Nathan Hauritz 9 Michael Hogan 10 Mitchell Johnson 11 Ryan Harris

    12 Peter Siddle 13 Michael Clark

    Greg Q

  • on December 26, 2010, 10:06 GMT

    Back to the ground!!! Keep it up aussies!!!

  • on December 26, 2010, 10:13 GMT

    oh. poor ricky. i think time to go for the old hero

  • indianpunter on December 26, 2010, 10:23 GMT

    down to earth with a loud, painful thud ! that describes the aussie team today for me. everyone back to doing what they do best. Mitch leaking runs, clarkey looking like he does not belong, punter giving catching practice... the ashes are done and dusted !

  • StarveTheLizard on December 26, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    Congratulations England. You deserve to retain the Ashes. Oz is at an all-time low. You on the other hand have run a well-organized and purposeful campaign. On the bright side, there is only one way for Australia to go from here. That is up!

  • TywinLannister on December 26, 2010, 10:59 GMT

    Feel sad for Dicky Ponting? Spare a thought for Ganguly then.. this is exactly what happens to anyone who listens to Greg Chappell.. the guy is bad news!

  • popcorn on December 26, 2010, 11:22 GMT

    I predict Australia will come from behind and save ths Test.

  • on December 26, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    Congrats to England. They are doin great...and as for aussies, how come they didnt pick Usman for their middle order. Clarke is in really bad shape.

  • Razor88 on December 26, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    what was the Victory they won convincingly a week ago ? Ponting sure said they are high on confidence :D - Of what ?? Collapsing ?

  • Boidji on December 26, 2010, 11:26 GMT

    Golly, I just heard - apparently the Australians have a batting coach! And a bowling coach! And people who are paid well to bat, and even, get this, people who are paid well to bowl!!! Who would have thought?