Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 3rd day December 7, 2013

Wretched, weak, timid and gormless

England's batsmen threw their wickets away and set the team on a path to destruction in a display that must rank among their most humiliating
95

There have been many bleak days in the history of England cricket. There have been whitewashes, blackwashes, thrashings and humiliations. Not so long ago, in 1999, England slipped to the bottom of the Test rankings and were knocked out of the World Cup they were hosting before the theme song was released. They know the taste of ignominy.

But even by those standards, the third day of this Test ranks among the worst. England's batting was not just wretched and weak, it was staggeringly gormless. Had this been boxing, the referee would have stopped it. Had it been swimming, England would have drowned.

Australia deserve credit, of course. Mitchell Johnson, providing a reminder of how precious a resource extreme pace remains, has finally developed into the strike bowler Dennis Lillee predicted he could be more than a decade ago and some of the planning and field placements have been outstanding. The improvement from the Ashes series in England is as remarkable as it is admirable.

Johnson will dominate the headlines and rightly so. His pace, delivered from a slingy, left-arm action that is hard to pick-up, is a wonderful weapon for any captain and the manner in which he dealt with England's tail - and, for the sake of argument, let us call that everyone after Ian Bell - was brilliantly ruthless. There were, however, some mighty timid strokes from England.

But it is the self-inflicted harm that is most galling for England. It was the top-order wickets, frittered away with thoughtless strokes, that exposed the lower middle order and set England on a path of destruction.

They had, to some extent, done the hard work. Joe Root had seen off the early Johnson burst and earned the right to milk the spinners and, perhaps, the other seamers who were gaining little help from a pitch that remains flat.

But then Root, facing his first ball of the day from Nathan Lyon, swept it down the throat of deep-backward square leg as obligingly as if helping in catching practice and Michael Carberry, having displayed admirable composure, became frustrated by five successive maidens and pulled a short ball to midwicket from the tight but unthreatening Shane Watson.

But most culpable was Kevin Pietersen. Knowing that England were missing Jonathan Trott, knowing that the team contained some inexperienced players and knowing that Matt Prior was out of form, Pietersen had a responsibility to lead the resistance.

But instead of playing the situation, instead of playing straight and waiting for the poor ball, he played like a luxury player and, having taken a couple of steps down the pitch, attempted to flick one into the leg side despite seeing two men positioned for the stroke. They weren't in camouflage. It was careless cricket from a great player whose side needed a sizeable contribution.

From then on it was slaughter. Ben Stokes was beaten for pace, Prior looks devoid of confidence and must be clinging to his place by his fingernails and most of the lower order had neither the stomach nor the ability for the fight with Johnson. He took only one of the wickets of England's top five but, because the tail was exposed to him, he was charged through them with embarrassing ease.

There were a couple of diamonds amid the dust. Carberry saw off the new ball with a solidity that suggested he could prosper at this level, while Bell made it look as if he were playing in a different game to his team-mates with an innings of class and style. And Monty Panesar, despite an obvious lack of ability and a barrage of short balls, showed the courage to move into line and grind it out. It only served to highlight what would have been possible if other, more able, colleagues had shown such pluck and determination.

This pitch, just like the one in Brisbane, is blameless. Yet England have now failed to reach 180 in any of their three innings on this tour and have failed to make 400 for 19 successive innings. They lost 6 for 24 here, just as they had lost 6 for 9 in Brisbane. These are not aberrations; they are the norm. Their batting has failed.

Such failures will bring change. Andy Flower, who has achieved so much as head coach, may well decide he has taken the side as far as he can in his current role. The intensity that once ensured higher levels of performance, now seems to stifle and brood. Ashley Giles, with a lighter touch and a fresh approach, could well be coach by the time England return home. Whether that will represent a change or just a change of name, remains to be seen; Graham Gooch, too, may be nearing the end in his current role: his recent record as batting coach is hardly pretty.

Cricket would not be the captivating sport we love unless it was unpredictable and surprising. But if England claw their way back into this match or this series, it will surely rate as the greatest achievement of the current team's history.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on December 10, 2013, 1:06 GMT

    As an English fan, all I can say is that we have been awful with the bat since getting off the plane in Perth 5 weeks ago. These test results aren't purely because of MJ, they are equally (or more so) because we've put in the WORST batting performances in the last 7 years, one after the other. MJ has been sensational, but we've contributed beautifully to the results thus far. Perth is almost impossible for us to win and that's the Ashes passed back to Aus for now.

  • CrikiLeaks on December 9, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    @Mohammad Irfan - you misunderstood me. I was suggesting a draw in Adelaide would be a great achievement for England (up there with the greatest in the history of the game.) Having watched the series in England I certainly wasn't writing Australia off for a loss here in Australia. I was hoping for 2-1 to Australia. (Brisbane, Perth -Aus Sydney- Eng). Australia's attitude has been fantastic, Johnson outstanding and England struggling to adjust to reality.

  • Meety on December 9, 2013, 7:11 GMT

    Its funny - the article is way more demeaning of the England players than anything Warner said in Brisbane. Could it be that Warner was spot on the money?

  • humdrum on December 9, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    If a couple of losses would do this team a world of good,imagine what a 0-5 verdict would do for them--- maybe send them into ecstasy ?

  • humdrum on December 9, 2013, 5:46 GMT

    Why no words of wisdom and sage advice from Sir Iron Bottom ? He has plenty to say when the team is doing well. He should be generous even in bad times.

  • WeirPicki on December 9, 2013, 1:50 GMT

    If England had caught cleanly then it might have ended differently. Australia still has lots of holes in the team - Rogers, Watson, Smith, Bailey.

  • LETSCOMPLICATEIT on December 8, 2013, 20:02 GMT

    Dear GD, This England Team has more metal, a lot tougher and more tenacity than a few losses, as hard as the loss in the first test was. Actually, a couple of losses will do this team a lot of good! I will predict that England will square the series and retain the Ashes! PC

  • Slysi on December 8, 2013, 18:18 GMT

    All the weaknesses that were apparent in the summer brutally exposed here, no surprises really. And no surprise Joe Root led the resistance yesterday a real talent at least. But please a bit more fight in the next matches !!

  • on December 8, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    @Chris Howard : Respectfully I need to contest a couple of points - Watson is an outstanding batsman as his ODI record tells us. He just isn't an accomplished test batsman, as you implied. Rogers' inconsistency isn't really an issue as he's a stop-gap and I don't think anyone is expecting him to play beyond this series. (The real worry is the bloke waiting in the wings for him!)

    There's nothing wrong with Johnson's record on foreign pitches - one of his first away series against South Africa he out-bowled Steyn by a whisker and got Player of the Series, and the English weren't looking untroubled by him in the ODIs. I'd also argue that anyone who's scored a test century against the world's best bowling attack at the time as Mitch also did that series, isn't exactly the tail.

    Sadly, where I do agree is that Cricket Australia won't be concerned enough about the obvious hurdles the team needs to overcome - we need a #2, a #5, and a #7 soon at the very least and probably #3.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge.. on December 8, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    @Nick Sharland I tend to agree with the sentiments that a number of our players careers are on the line here. There's no point us resting on past achievements, don't forget a number of these players were here for the last whitewash.

  • on December 10, 2013, 1:06 GMT

    As an English fan, all I can say is that we have been awful with the bat since getting off the plane in Perth 5 weeks ago. These test results aren't purely because of MJ, they are equally (or more so) because we've put in the WORST batting performances in the last 7 years, one after the other. MJ has been sensational, but we've contributed beautifully to the results thus far. Perth is almost impossible for us to win and that's the Ashes passed back to Aus for now.

  • CrikiLeaks on December 9, 2013, 11:55 GMT

    @Mohammad Irfan - you misunderstood me. I was suggesting a draw in Adelaide would be a great achievement for England (up there with the greatest in the history of the game.) Having watched the series in England I certainly wasn't writing Australia off for a loss here in Australia. I was hoping for 2-1 to Australia. (Brisbane, Perth -Aus Sydney- Eng). Australia's attitude has been fantastic, Johnson outstanding and England struggling to adjust to reality.

  • Meety on December 9, 2013, 7:11 GMT

    Its funny - the article is way more demeaning of the England players than anything Warner said in Brisbane. Could it be that Warner was spot on the money?

  • humdrum on December 9, 2013, 6:08 GMT

    If a couple of losses would do this team a world of good,imagine what a 0-5 verdict would do for them--- maybe send them into ecstasy ?

  • humdrum on December 9, 2013, 5:46 GMT

    Why no words of wisdom and sage advice from Sir Iron Bottom ? He has plenty to say when the team is doing well. He should be generous even in bad times.

  • WeirPicki on December 9, 2013, 1:50 GMT

    If England had caught cleanly then it might have ended differently. Australia still has lots of holes in the team - Rogers, Watson, Smith, Bailey.

  • LETSCOMPLICATEIT on December 8, 2013, 20:02 GMT

    Dear GD, This England Team has more metal, a lot tougher and more tenacity than a few losses, as hard as the loss in the first test was. Actually, a couple of losses will do this team a lot of good! I will predict that England will square the series and retain the Ashes! PC

  • Slysi on December 8, 2013, 18:18 GMT

    All the weaknesses that were apparent in the summer brutally exposed here, no surprises really. And no surprise Joe Root led the resistance yesterday a real talent at least. But please a bit more fight in the next matches !!

  • on December 8, 2013, 9:23 GMT

    @Chris Howard : Respectfully I need to contest a couple of points - Watson is an outstanding batsman as his ODI record tells us. He just isn't an accomplished test batsman, as you implied. Rogers' inconsistency isn't really an issue as he's a stop-gap and I don't think anyone is expecting him to play beyond this series. (The real worry is the bloke waiting in the wings for him!)

    There's nothing wrong with Johnson's record on foreign pitches - one of his first away series against South Africa he out-bowled Steyn by a whisker and got Player of the Series, and the English weren't looking untroubled by him in the ODIs. I'd also argue that anyone who's scored a test century against the world's best bowling attack at the time as Mitch also did that series, isn't exactly the tail.

    Sadly, where I do agree is that Cricket Australia won't be concerned enough about the obvious hurdles the team needs to overcome - we need a #2, a #5, and a #7 soon at the very least and probably #3.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge.. on December 8, 2013, 9:10 GMT

    @Nick Sharland I tend to agree with the sentiments that a number of our players careers are on the line here. There's no point us resting on past achievements, don't forget a number of these players were here for the last whitewash.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 8, 2013, 8:57 GMT

    @Chris_Howard "And they only won in Brisbane because of the batting of the tail in the First innings". That is a truly ridiculous statement. What about the first innings bowling performance? The second innings batting? The second innings bowling? It is a batsman's job to make runs, why is it so surprising when they do? Your point is like saying well we wouldn't have won the match if we hadn't of scored those runs and taken those wickets. Nonsense.

  • milepost on December 8, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    @Nick Sharland, the writing has been on the wall for a while and a number if ex-England players have been very critical of the guys and calling for players to be dropped (which they should be). It's easy to gloss things over in a winning side but when your team is getting smashed you have to look at what you can do about it. Let's see Flower's team sheet in Perth.

  • kh1902 on December 8, 2013, 6:09 GMT

    I'm surprised by how England has performed here. I expected them to lose but not like this. I thought their batting would be a lot more robust. We can only speak of an Australian renaissance if they can beat South Africa early next year. That will be the real litmus test for how far Australian cricket has progressed.

  • Ms.Cricket on December 8, 2013, 4:58 GMT

    After the Gabba thrashing it was sad to see England not take advantage of the 2 day match in NT. They should have played their best six batsmen in that match to get some time in the middle irrespective of the young opposition.

  • CricIndia208 on December 8, 2013, 4:10 GMT

    Do not over react. This is only the second test.

  • inefekt on December 8, 2013, 2:47 GMT

    Australia in Australia is still a very tough proposition, even when Australia look like the world's easy beats. South Africa were lucky to survive their tour here last summer and they are clearly the number one side in the world. India were thrashed 4-0, then beat Australia by the same scoreline back in India earlier this year. It was never going to be easy for England. Add a resurgent Mitchell Johnson into the equation and you have a very tough task for any side in the world. I wouldn't be too worried if I were England, the class of Cook, Bell, KP et al will shine through again sooner rather than later.

  • on December 8, 2013, 2:24 GMT

    Agree with Chris Howard - 3-0 to England was flattering, the only game that was all England was Lords, the other two England won could easily have gone the other way. Out here in NZ, England were very ordinary in the test series last southern summer. Not surpried they are struggling in Australia. But, this English side have shown plenty of fight before in series where they'vve seemed dead and buried...

  • Chris_Howard on December 8, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    Unfortunately, winning masks flaws. England weren't great in England. A couple of results were quite close to going very differently.

    It should have been obvious to all, that if England didn't improve, they would struggle here - no matter who bowled - in Australia's backyard.

    England are looking old and tired. They've got mostly the same team from a couple of years ago, who of course, are all two years older, and it shows. If they don't get a second wind soon, they're going to get brutalised in this series.

    Likewise, Australia can't afford to gloat or rest. Clarke has back issues, Watson is still not a batsman, Johnson is still unproven on unfriendly pitches, Warner, Rogers, Smith are still inconsistent, Bailey is still new, and Haddin can't have too many years left. And they only won in Brisbane because of the batting of the tail in the First innings.

    But of course, this is Australia. Arrogance is our strong suit. After this series we'll strut around like we're #1 and invincible

  • on December 8, 2013, 0:17 GMT

    @milepost. Show a bit more respect. These players have won three Ashes series in a row, and as recently as last year beat India in India. Everybody is having a tough time in Australia, but that doesn't mean that they aren't top-quality professional cricketers with a lot to offer the game in the future. My one concern is whether they still have the desire to keep going. I hope they do.

  • on December 8, 2013, 0:17 GMT

    Not only is England's batting poor, they have been lacking quality in pace. It seems Anderson and Broad have not had much impact on the Aussies as Mitch, Harris & Co have had on England. Why was Onions not selected for this tour? Apparently he is out of favour with the selectors. The revival of Mitch is a fairy tale story for the Aussies. Where England have failed miserably in all departments, Mitch has actually made the Aussies realise they are the Lions this summer. I think this Ashes series is going to be the turning point for the Aussies in world cricket and they will begin to dominate once again.

  • on December 8, 2013, 0:13 GMT

    @kepler22b Re: Haddin, Clarke and Warner. The same could have been said of Swann, Anderson and possibly Joe Root in the first series. But England were on top of the first test until Mitchell Johnson started batting, and when he started bowling we just fell apart. Of course cricket is a team sport and more than one man has to perform, but the way Johnson's bowling lifted the pressure off the batsmen and the other bowlers was, in my view, immense. Also, I'm not comparing the teams, I'm saying that they find themselves at a similar cross-roads, with the core of the team likely to retire within a few years of each other.

    @wellrounded87, I don't see what your argument is- I put lesser in inverted commas in my original comment. All I was saying is that England haven't been able to target the other quicks because they are also good bowlers, and Lyon has picked up wickets because you have to go for the spinner, and Lyon's good at getting wickets when the batsman is trying to hit out.

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on December 8, 2013, 0:09 GMT

    And the parade begins afresh as Clarke declares overnight ... Momma. Cook gone in Johnson's first over

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on December 8, 2013, 0:05 GMT

    Grey tinge of despair now getting towards Byronic black. And Momma is not going to be of any help here. Trott at least knew. He may just be the smartest of them all

  • camcove on December 7, 2013, 23:59 GMT

    I write this before a ball is bowled on day 4. The second innings will require guts and concentration, particularly for Cook and Pietersen. I remember Australia v. the rest of the world in the 1970s, and there was a young Australian quick who had got into the minds of the ROW, including the incomparable G Sobers. This was Melbourne, and Sobers scored a duck in the first innings, even appearing to be physically scared of Lillee. In the second innings, he played the best innings I have ever seen, a sublime double century that Bradman described as the best he'd seen. (It's possible that he'd seen more than I had)! That showed the courage and skill of Sobers, who along with V Richards would be clearly the best batsmen I've ever seen. No-one in this English side has ability like Sobers' ability. They do have ability, however. I ain't countin' me chickes till they're hatched...

  • VillageBlacksmith on December 7, 2013, 23:54 GMT

    listening to the eng players now is just like listening to the aussie players 5 months ago trotting out the same old nonsense… the early headline then from aussie was eng rely too much on anderson… now aussie rely too much on johnson.. to see how hopeless aussie were at lords is to see how hopeless eng are here… it's taken aussie a year to respond to kickings (4-0 & 3-0 and a change of management) abroad, I wonder how long it will take england…? a lot of players from both sides will not be around next series so the pressure is on for this group

  • ChristopherG on December 7, 2013, 23:43 GMT

    The English batsmen also have a new song:

    'All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth, My two front teeth, Keep my two front teeth.'

  • cooljack_143 on December 7, 2013, 23:42 GMT

    well well well, now the CAPTAIN will RETIRE and COACH will be changed. That's English Tradition for you!!!

  • AshesErnie on December 7, 2013, 23:35 GMT

    Am I alone in thinking that Ali Cook has started impersonating Flower in interviews? As well as the erms and ums, he even does a slightly fay Zim accent with the same intonation too. Autumn for Flower.

  • on December 7, 2013, 23:25 GMT

    The hysteria continues. Yes, England have been awful for 1.5 Tests and they haven't shown any signs of being likely to improve over the rest of the series. Yes, several players are horrendously out of form. No, this is not the end of the world. In the last year or so they've beaten India away, NZ and Australia at home. Cook and Pietersen made crucial contributions in India, Anderson and Broad destroyed the Aussies a few months ago. Making drastic changes now is unnecessary and would probably be unhelpful - give them time and they'll regain their form, but we'll just have to accept that it will come too late to change the result of this series.

  • xtrafalgarx on December 7, 2013, 23:19 GMT

    @BArry Glynn: Not as much as the English, they face him everyday in the nets.

  • on December 7, 2013, 23:19 GMT

    Given the record of both teams over the last couple of years I'd say the teams are fairly evenly matched. Both play poorly away but take full advantage of home conditions. Truly great teams will consistently win in all conditions like the great West Indian & Australian teams of the 80's,90's & 2000's. We know Australia is going to be in Transition for the next 5 or so years and I think England will be going through the same soon. England has been a highly competent team, but never great.

  • AnanRam on December 7, 2013, 23:10 GMT

    England's batting has shown lots of chinks in the recent years. When Newzealand toured England earlier this year, they played badly against left arm seamers (Boult, Wagner). It was only some late order hitting and inexplicable NZ batting collapses that saved the day. Even in the last Ashes, the scoreline did not reflect the closeness of the contests except in Lords test.

    Cook, like Graeme Smith, is primarily a leg side player and the bowlers seem to have worked out the correct lines of attack.

    Bell and Pietersen appear to be the only classy batsmen. Leaving out Ballance was a mistake.

  • Ambaarr on December 7, 2013, 23:07 GMT

    Take away Johnson and the Aussie bowling attack looks no where close to menacing. Case in point they had to bring the tiring Johnson back to get rid of the last England pair. However the "Johnson effect" has been such that England has already surrendered the Ashes and has shown no will to stand up and fight. If England can't handle the pace in Adelaide pitch they night as well forego the Perth match.

  • pat_one_back on December 7, 2013, 23:07 GMT

    Not since Curtly Ambrose terrorised us have I seen batsmen looking so inept at preserving their bodies and wickets. We've seen no 10's get behind and clout 150k bowling in short form, I thought all the Brisbane hype about fear of pace was just that but clearly Mitch is inside the Eng heads and bowling 160+ on the psychological speed gun. If Eng are caught 'watering pitches' again it's definitely involuntary.

  • Chris_P on December 7, 2013, 23:04 GMT

    I got to add, a great deal of respect for Monty for the way he put his body on the line & got behind the ball. It takes a lot of courage to play this way, especially when not possessed with much batting skills. That effort should be an inspiration for the Pom batsmen I would suggest. Good stuff, Monty.

  • dunger.bob on December 7, 2013, 23:03 GMT

    @ Bodders70: Just between you and me, it's kinda why we love you. I remember the talk of dynasties and world wide domination after '05 quickly followed by morose eulogies after '07. .. Complete polar opposites and fascinating to witness.

    You're right about the truth being somewhere in between. It nearly always is. .. I'd also like to say that we're not all that much better when it comes to that sort of thing but I think we aren't quite in your league. Our current team is also a mid-table team but our's is carrying some baggage with a miserable 12 months behind them. We have a hell of a lot of work to do to get our shiny crown back and the truth is we may never reach the heights we once scaled. .. The only thing that's a certainty about that is that we'll NEVER stop trying. Other than that, no guarantees.

  • on December 7, 2013, 22:52 GMT

    The English team was far too concerned with minute and nonsensical details (read an 82-page diet plan) than playing cricket. Acting pompous is fine but seriously, you're not there to eat but play cricket ! On a lighter note: they should have added more nuts to the menu to compensate for the lack of it in the team members. :)

  • ShutTheGate on December 7, 2013, 22:47 GMT

    I have to say that I am totally shocked but happy about England's performance. The English are here playing in person but in spirit they're not here. It's like we're playing different players.

    Six months ago everyone was saying that our batters were the worst that left our shores and that English were one of the best batting line ups that they have ever produced and one of their all time great teams.

    Wow, maybe it all went to their head. Their smugness has meant that they've fallen hard and they now look mentally defeated.

    While I can't see them getting back into this game and I doubt they'll be a threat in Perth, I'm expecting them to show up in Melbourne and Sydney.

  • on December 7, 2013, 22:37 GMT

    No won likes real pace and this real pace. The Aussie batsmen would be struggling against it. Mind you, facing Waquar and his mate in the nineties was worse because they also swung it round corners.

  • katwash on December 7, 2013, 22:08 GMT

    The Barmy Army have a new song "All I want for Xmas is a draw"

  • righthandbat on December 7, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    I think that England may be able to win at the MCG and SCG but will definitely be 3-0 down at that point. Surely now is the time to call up Ballance, Compton, Taylor and Bairstow and have them populate the order. Give Bairstow the gloves and give Prior a break. Rankin needs a game as well. But the problems run far deeper than that.

  • milepost on December 7, 2013, 22:03 GMT

    @Nick Sharland, I love a good joke so thanks for the comment. The players you mention; their careers should finish tomorrow, about 5.33 Adelaide time.

  • CricketingStargazer on December 7, 2013, 22:02 GMT

    The headline says it all. England are not as bad as they are being made to look, nor Australia so good but, while Mitchell Johnson continues in this vein they will beat better sides than England, including South Africa.

    There is not a whole lot that England can do, although, in another parallel with 2006/07 to match the introduction of Monty, there is likely to be a change of wicket-keeper for the 3rd Test. Same batting order, better batting in the second innings. Carberry has been looking calm and organized: a century from his in the second innings might just persuade one or two of his colleagues to follow his example.

  • wellrounded87 on December 7, 2013, 21:52 GMT

    @Ncik Sharland. How has Harris had more success in Australia than England? He took England apart over there, he has yet to claim a wicket in this test and took 5 i believe in BNE. His performance in England was much ebtter. Siddle also performed better.

    Johnson has been stealing the show so far, but don't expect Harris to remain quiet and i'd hardly think of him as a "lesser" bowler with an average in the low 20's and a strike rate in the 30's.

    Lyon is a class spinner, he might not be as good as Swann or someone like Ajmal for example. But he is definitely good enough to hold his own, and if Australia had some more capable keepers behind the stumps he'd have about 10 more wickets to his name.

  • JB77 on December 7, 2013, 21:46 GMT

    Wow. When Bell and Ashley Giles are the solution, you know you're in trouble.

  • on December 7, 2013, 21:38 GMT

    Some people are seeing this as the kick up the backside the England team needs to reassess itself and take some tough decisions regarding a particularly arrogant approach to the game in the past 2 years, I think those people are wrong, the kick up the backside should have been the spanking by Pakistan, or SA, or the poor performances against NZ.....this has been going on for so long now it's not funny

  • mamboman on December 7, 2013, 21:19 GMT

    Pietersen is a broken man. He's finally fallen to that dark shadow which alway threatened to claim him as a cricketer - that fatal mix of arrogance, hubris and believing his own press. If there was any honour in him, he would go and go quietly. Perth looks like a very grim prospect for him, indeed.

  • kepler22b on December 7, 2013, 21:14 GMT

    Nick Sharland - Australia has four players making a huge difference. They are Johnson, Haddin, Clarke and Warner. All four have had great starts and all are playing better than any English player.

    And to compare the recent English team with the Australian team of the 90/00s really misunderstands how dominant the aussie's were for so long. Has England even been number one in the last 5-7 years? They certainly have found the saffas a handful.

    Narayanan - yep, too attacking when they should be defending (Pietersen, swann) and unbelievably slow when the game was still to be won. Bell is the only player with the right balance. Having Carbery and Root together is just plain dumb and guaranteed to bog the English down - both will be better separated - Carbery at 2 and Root at 6.

  • Ozzz.z on December 7, 2013, 20:57 GMT

    I hope Australia WIN the Ashes and win well, but Dont write England OFF AT ALL, the players they have in this side is over three quaters of there players and there all capable of making this game go into a draw or even win. Go Australia, well done Mitch , Warner your a GOD. Peace :)

  • on December 7, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    As a New Zealander, I am really disliking articles like this. I would like to challenge George Dobell to go down to the next net session of the English team, and let Broad and Anderson have a bowl at you.

    England have been playing some good cricket for sometime, and have been a pleasure to watch. The fact is - Australia are playing there best cricket in over 3 years. It is just a shame both teams do not hit the vein of form in the same match.

  • on December 7, 2013, 20:05 GMT

    England just don't want to be here, it's as simple as that.

  • FredBoycott on December 7, 2013, 20:02 GMT

    Things could not be much more simple for England for the last two days of this match. No fancy dan shots needed. No platform for ego maniacs to perform on. Run scoring not required. Dead simple: crease occupation. No shots required, no sweeps, no hooks, no pulls. Shot choice is 1. Do I block it. 2. Do I leave it. Nothing more, nothing less. Dead simple, a chocolate mouse could understand it. NOW GO AND DO IT! #digin

  • on December 7, 2013, 20:00 GMT

    For some time the English bowling (and other teams' batting problems) has (mostly, other than against Pakistan) hidden the batting deficiencies (not making 400 first innings for too long). Now the wheels are coming off. The bowling has looked ordinary so far on this tour and lacked real pace (Broad in Brisbane was an exception). Swann, who is in some ways the lynchpin of the English attack, as been poor. The batting has been dreadful (not making 180 in any of 3 innings tells its own story). And no changes are made. Bell must move to 3. Prior needs a rest (dropping), as does Pietersen. Anderson has been ineffective on this tour (where is Onions?), and Finn or Rankin should have a go. This England side seems to have run its course, and fresh blood will have to come in.

  • harishk8006 on December 7, 2013, 19:55 GMT

    Where are those English supporters who criticized the scheduling of One day series b/w India and Australia suggesting it would not be ideal for the preparation of this test series....foot in their own mouth????

  • on December 7, 2013, 19:34 GMT

    I feel this Ashes has shown, as the last one did, that one man can be the difference between the two sides. Yes, England have made Nathan Lyon look like a top-class spinner, and Siddle and Harris have had greater success than they did in the summer Ashes, but the threat posed by Mitchell Johnson to life, limb and wicket must be partly responsible for some of the rash decisions made by England batsmen against the 'lesser' Australian bowlers.

    I don't feel that Swann, Pietersen, Prior or Anderson are finished as international cricketers; far from it. We are lucky to have their talent and experience around, and this England team will be remembered far longer for the three Ashes series they won that the one they lost. I am proud of what they have achieved. But, like the Australian team of the 90s/00s, they will go sooner than we think, and we need to look to the future, and the competitiveness of the county game will be of paramount importance to ensuring that this doesn't happen again.

  • on December 7, 2013, 19:09 GMT

    as an England supporter, I hope that England lose and lose to a considerable extent, there has been an arrogance about there game in recent years which can only be addressed by a complete thrashing. the English batsmen nay aswell be non-existent and the bowlers, even with 2 spinners on an adelaide wicket look unthreatening, lacking in pace compared to the Aussies and one dimensional. certain players and coaches have had there time and a fresh approach on the future of the team needs to be applied.

  • on December 7, 2013, 18:35 GMT

    harsh to be critical of Carbs, eye in gets a bad ball plays it well stunning catch.

  • 12thUmpire on December 7, 2013, 18:25 GMT

    Q: When Johnson wasn't bowling, what song were the Barmy Army rehearsing mentally?

    A: "We want Mitch!"

  • on December 7, 2013, 17:28 GMT

    This complete and utter shambles of a performance makes the bad old days of English cricket look like salad days. At least they seemed to try back then. Now they have seemingly given up without so much as a fight with a couple of exceptions. This Test is lost and the series is as good as over. In Perth i can't see the Poms making 100 in both innings.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on December 7, 2013, 17:09 GMT

    @R_U_4_REAL_NICK I am after some padding in good condition, so will be looking elsewhere (the gallows humour is appreciated).

  • on December 7, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    England is too confused with its approach. They are either too defensive or too attacking(which is not paying off). Definitely a change in the batting order in second innings is necessary. Cook carberry bell root pietersen prior stokes and tail should be the order. I don't believe England can save this test match but let's hope some miracle happens

  • WalkingWicket11 on December 7, 2013, 16:32 GMT

    They managed to convert a draw to a loss in 2006 here, now can they convert a loss to a draw this time? Sounds highly unlikely unless weather intervenes.

  • on December 7, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    It is all Afridi fault. As any former Pakistani cricketer. The problem in Pak cricket is batting. The problem of batting is Afrid cuz all batsmen try to bat like Afridi. Maybe English specialist batsmen are also batting in test, the way #7 Afridi bats in T20.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on December 7, 2013, 16:10 GMT

    FOR SALE: 1x long-handled cricket bat in almost immaculate condition; just the initials "K.P." inscribed on one shoulder and also down on the toe. Not been able to put bat on ball for so long. Might also get a good deal on another bat with the initials "M.P." on it...

  • anupkeni on December 7, 2013, 16:05 GMT

    It looks like being a winter of humiliation for both England in Australia as well as India in South Africa unless they bat better.

  • milepost on December 7, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    @Twinkie, the Aussies competed in every game except Lords on the last tour. England have barely competed an hour on the whole tour here. I'm not sure comparing the performances is particularly fair. Let's get that 650+ run lead quickly and get the game over with tomorrow.

  • BMDeep on December 7, 2013, 15:43 GMT

    To strt of wid,I guess,d series was started on a wrongful note.Too much banter frm Aussie media(although I wudnt entr into debate if it was a payback/revenge or watever) nd Captain,coach nd sme players getting carried away by dat nd started speaking about rather unwanted things like calling truce nd stuff whn d need of d hr was to address sme key issues in d bat dept fr Eng.Media was highly successful in taking away d main attention frm gme to mch lesser issues nd it ws quiet evident frm d gme plan nd implementation of it frm Eng.I saw playrs compare batting lineups of both d teams and ridiculed abt warner, rogers and watson.Yet,dey wer vry succesfull in quietly getting their jobs done.xcept smith,evry 1 of d top 7 frm Aus hav made atleast 1 fifty from 3 ins so far.xcept Clarke,no bdy of dem wer so talented r gifted as sme wud say,bt nonetheless dey applied themselves. No disrespect to MJ who is bowling like a dream bt had Eng batsmen applied demselves a bit more,res wud've been diff

  • SurlyCynic on December 7, 2013, 15:42 GMT

    The likes of Broad and Swann actually look like they want to get out quickly against Johnson, absolutely no bottle for the fight.

    The sweetest thing is that this is a featherbed of a pitch and guess what's next - Perth!!! Another tour from hell in the making.

  • on December 7, 2013, 15:37 GMT

    Wait till England fight back and save this one. If you just raised your eye brows, sorry. Carberry, Bell and Root has shown that Johnson can be handled well. The fact that Aussies are a relying heavily on Johnson is becoming visible. England have their work cut short.

  • Twinkie on December 7, 2013, 15:17 GMT

    They look even more pathetic right now than the Aussies did a few months ago. I think the schedule that is in place these days does not allow away players to acclimatise until the series is halfway through. This does not make for exciting cricket. I'm falling asleep in front of the television!

  • Gauss on December 7, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    Of course the other way to look at it would be that Australia batted with confidence and skill, then Mitch Johnson delivered one of the all-time great fast bowling spells.

  • Rahim_A on December 7, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    Or 'He bowls it fast, he bowls it short, he aims it at your head. His name is Mitchell, Mitchell Johnson. He'll knock off your head'

  • azzaman333 on December 7, 2013, 15:04 GMT

    I'm not sure which English wicket was the most embarrassing. Take your pick from Cook missing a straight one, Root's ridiculous slog, Pietersen's bizarre walk across the stumps to hit it straight to one of the two catchers in close on the leg side, Broad wasting 5 minutes worrying about a little bit of glare on the sightscreen only to jump out of the way and get bowled, or Swann's wild whoof at a wide one. Add that to the awful fielding effort in the first innings, and it seems like an English team that just has no desire to apply themselves mentally to Test cricket.

  • Vishal_07 on December 7, 2013, 14:53 GMT

    2 losses (not yet, but almost there) and suddenly the world is collapsing. Come on, this is international cricket. There are ups and downs. When Aussies lost earlier this year to the English they weren't as bad as the scoreline made it look. Ditto here. Aussies are playing at home, and no matter the last few Test series, they are still a very good side. I have no doubt that if India were to visit them, they would lose badly even though Australia lost 0-4 not too long to India in India!

  • MarkTaffin on December 7, 2013, 14:46 GMT

    @ IPSY on (December 7, 2013, 14:00 GMT) quite right; Prior isn't close to being dropped, he'll at least get Perth and, as England prefer to do these days, probably get the full series. And if he can get the SL series next summer he should rehabilitate himself okay as there won't be much of a danger there. And besides, his only challenger is Bairstow who the management seem loathe to pick.

  • milepost on December 7, 2013, 14:44 GMT

    @dunger_bob, I'm with you, it's time for sympathy. England might be able to bat 5 sessions to save the game but when I wake up tomorrow I'm thinking I'm more likely to see the presentation to Clarke and Mitch's man of the match award. The signs were there in England and I still think the 3-0 scoreline was flattering for the home side (though credit to them they took their chances). Right now Australia are a steamroller. There could be a number of English players who will hold the very rare blight on their CV's of being whitewashed in an Ashes twice.

  • 2.14istherunrate on December 7, 2013, 14:41 GMT

    That was hell for anyone with expectations of England turning up. England are too dependant on winning the toss and seem to go to pieces batting second. There were some bad shots for sure,but one or two of those died as they lived. KP is like Gower in many ways. When it works it is brilliant; when it does not they both look(ed) foolish. So be it. The leopard fortunately does not change its spots. It sounds like Prior's place will be the first to go. But Bairstow to keep? Seriously ? Where is Davies? Is he anywhere near? because I reckon we need that standard especially when the ball is going high at Perth. Re Stokes: He really did it with the ball-very good, but even before he got out one could sense it would happen very soon. I am interested too that Harris is now a bit part player for Aus instead of the lead. Cricket is a fickle mistress.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on December 7, 2013, 14:24 GMT

    Or perhaps: He bowls it to the left. He bowls it to the right. Aussies don't care. He turns England to .....

  • stackbabber on December 7, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    I'm not so sure Mohammed, you are welcome to trawl the net looking for all these pundits who thought England would win 5-0 but I was never one. Johnson showed England's lack of ability against pace in the one-day series earlier this year, and Anderson was never going to be as effective in Australia. England knew what was coming but seem to be totally unprepared. I thought this series would be close, maybe 2-1 to England, but I don't think anyone saw this capitulation coming, as you said, well done, Australia.

  • jokerbala on December 7, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    He bowls it to the left. He bowls it to the right. Mitchell Johnson bowls it.... with all his might !!!! A phoenix has risen from ashes in the ashes.

  • IPSY on December 7, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    "..Prior looks devoid of confidence and must be clinging to his place by his fingernails.." I don't agree! Matt was picked specifically as THE WICKET KEEPER - a very COMPETENT one too! His overall batting avge in tests is 41+ runs. But it's just in March, 2013, he made a 110 against New Zealand - that's only 16 inngs ago, and his place is in jeopardy? Nonsense! It's true that he's only avging 30+ in 3013! But how many of the legendary wicket keepers avgd much more than his 30, due to a bad patch? Allan Knott, his compatriot, and touted Ace Wicket Keeping model of All Time, only avgd 32! Jeff Dujon who kept for WI in their 'all-conquering' days, only avgd 31! And lots didn't avge so much! It was Adam Gilchrist and the said Matt Prior who spoilt the appetite of selectors for big runs from Keepers! But why drop a KEEPER avging 30 for being out of form, in just 8 months, when a "BEST BATSMAN" batted for half of Bradman's career (40 inngs); in 3 yrs; can't score a 100 and avging 32! Cont'd:

  • Robster1 on December 7, 2013, 13:51 GMT

    Yes, good article. Time for Prior to take a rest and Bairstow to take the gloves plus it may well be the end of the line for Flower, Gooch and Thorpe. The latter two were hardly the most inspiring of player sin their day so no quite sure why they're coaching others to bat. Jobs for the boys perhaps.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on December 7, 2013, 13:51 GMT

    Ashley Giles as the next head coach? Now there's something to get the pulse racing.

  • Bodders70 on December 7, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    I know, Bob, we don't exactly follow the Kipling philosophy and treat triumph and disaster the same! We're either the best in the world or rubbish. In truth, we're between the two and probably always will be as it's such a minority sport and all the best in England will go to football (not that we'll ever be above mid-table in that either!)

    At the moment, simply being outplayed by a team in its home conditions with better personnel for the task, hungrier and not mentally shot as we seem to be.

    I apologise in advance for all the hand-wringing and self analysis articles that will follow through the rest of the series and after. It's even worse than normal because it's come from nowhere, even Glen McGrath didn't predict the very possible 5-0 before the series started. Onwards, well played Australia and I'll continue to support you England even if I expect the loss tomorrow and of the Ashes overall, I'll hope for more.

  • on December 7, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    If its not too late ,all England need is a gun barrel fast bowler like Johnson who can bowl above 145kph consistently. Bell was the difference between the sides in the English summer and now its Johnson

  • on December 7, 2013, 13:25 GMT

    @CrikiLeaks..I dont think so it will be greatest achievement for England as pre-series prediction were 5-0 in favour of England.(that is not going to happen at all). You should better said that it is great achievement for Australia so far as a team written off by many legends of cricket. Hail Aussies & Mitch !!

  • CrikiLeaks on December 7, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    'But if England claw their way back into this match or this series, it will surely rate as the greatest achievement of the current team's history.' - to salvage a draw from here would rate as one of the greatest cricketing achievements period. For the sake of the series and some english batting careers they need to forget the past seven days of ashes cricket and bat with fresh minds and purpose tomorrow.

  • PACERONE on December 7, 2013, 12:41 GMT

    Why blame Pietersen for playing that stroke.In his finest innings that is how he plays.Australia set a field that he failed to pierce.It always seemed to be a per-meditated shot to me.

  • dunger.bob on December 7, 2013, 12:40 GMT

    I can't believe this. I'm already feeling a bit sorry for England and we're exactly 1.5 tests into the series. .. They may know how to proclaim their successes but nobody is quite as melancholy about their losses as the Poms. .. I was almost reaching for the tissues when I read this.

  • Cyril_Knight on December 7, 2013, 12:36 GMT

    A lot of people saw this coming (I didn't), but with hindsight it's very obvious that Flower's philosophy has gone stale. He sets the wrong tone with his emphasis on playing the percentages. England started this series well, having the Aussies in trouble; then the Flower syndrome kicked-in. They stopped attacking, they were settling for getting Australia out for a below par score, instead they should have been aggressive. But they did not try to bowl Australia out cheaply.

    This is Flower's influence and his army of analysts. England do nothing on the spur of the moment. It must be time for Flower to move on now. He and the team he leads have not learnt from any of the mistakes they have made in the past two years.

    When they are out of their comfort zone, of doctored pitches, dodgy scheduling and "resting" he has no ideas. None that work anyway.

  • MarkTaffin on December 7, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    Sadly, I think Gilo as the next coach would be more of the ECB-by-the-book as Flower, pulling players through from the hot-house production line - U19s, Perf Squad, Lions, etc - and finding most of them aren't very good at all, and ruining the few that have potential (Finn - just let him bowl fast - and Root - should never have been moved from 6 in the summer).

    But, sadly, I can't think of anyone other than Giles and it WOULD seem Flower's number is up.

  • BradmanBestEver on December 7, 2013, 12:32 GMT

    Bell aside, the English performance has been insipid.

    They are not up to the world standard because they lack the backbone to achieve when the chips are down. Wholesale changes must be made in administration and in the team - they should have never let Petersen back in after the Strauss affair - yet they were desperate and they had no viable alternative.

    This shows a lack of vision and spine in the face of adversity. It will be a long, dark passage ahead for them.

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on December 7, 2013, 12:21 GMT

    He bowls it to the left. He bowls it to the right. Mitchell Johnson bowls it.... alright?!?!? What a strange world we now live in. A scary, brave new world. Everything I once knew is a lie.

  • Dangertroy on December 7, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    Nice article George, I quite enjoy your work when you are denigrating the English team.

    As someone who has been critical of Johnson's inconsistency over the years, I now see it as an asset. The way he has destroyed England in the last three innings is going to keep them cautious of him for the rest of the series. When he has a bad spell, they will still be wary of the next one.

    Bell played a fantastic innings again. I understand the reluctance to move him from 5, I felt the same way about Clarke when he was making big runs at five. But with no support below him, England are throwing runs away by not batting him higher. I also think KP should think seriously about a move down the order.

    That being said, as an Aussie supporter I hope they stick with whats not working...

  • Front-Foot-Sponge on December 7, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    Nice article George. In a way it's nice to be winning but I think a lot of cricket fans would have liked a tough and tightly contested contest. That doesn't look like happening and when they do make the necessary changes you'd have to say Perth is not exactly the place you want to be debuting as a batsman against what is not far off the best bowling group going these days. It's a good point you make about the tail as well it is almost the case that if we can get to number 6 the other wickets are too easy.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Front-Foot-Sponge on December 7, 2013, 12:00 GMT

    Nice article George. In a way it's nice to be winning but I think a lot of cricket fans would have liked a tough and tightly contested contest. That doesn't look like happening and when they do make the necessary changes you'd have to say Perth is not exactly the place you want to be debuting as a batsman against what is not far off the best bowling group going these days. It's a good point you make about the tail as well it is almost the case that if we can get to number 6 the other wickets are too easy.

  • Dangertroy on December 7, 2013, 12:11 GMT

    Nice article George, I quite enjoy your work when you are denigrating the English team.

    As someone who has been critical of Johnson's inconsistency over the years, I now see it as an asset. The way he has destroyed England in the last three innings is going to keep them cautious of him for the rest of the series. When he has a bad spell, they will still be wary of the next one.

    Bell played a fantastic innings again. I understand the reluctance to move him from 5, I felt the same way about Clarke when he was making big runs at five. But with no support below him, England are throwing runs away by not batting him higher. I also think KP should think seriously about a move down the order.

    That being said, as an Aussie supporter I hope they stick with whats not working...

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on December 7, 2013, 12:21 GMT

    He bowls it to the left. He bowls it to the right. Mitchell Johnson bowls it.... alright?!?!? What a strange world we now live in. A scary, brave new world. Everything I once knew is a lie.

  • BradmanBestEver on December 7, 2013, 12:32 GMT

    Bell aside, the English performance has been insipid.

    They are not up to the world standard because they lack the backbone to achieve when the chips are down. Wholesale changes must be made in administration and in the team - they should have never let Petersen back in after the Strauss affair - yet they were desperate and they had no viable alternative.

    This shows a lack of vision and spine in the face of adversity. It will be a long, dark passage ahead for them.

  • MarkTaffin on December 7, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    Sadly, I think Gilo as the next coach would be more of the ECB-by-the-book as Flower, pulling players through from the hot-house production line - U19s, Perf Squad, Lions, etc - and finding most of them aren't very good at all, and ruining the few that have potential (Finn - just let him bowl fast - and Root - should never have been moved from 6 in the summer).

    But, sadly, I can't think of anyone other than Giles and it WOULD seem Flower's number is up.

  • Cyril_Knight on December 7, 2013, 12:36 GMT

    A lot of people saw this coming (I didn't), but with hindsight it's very obvious that Flower's philosophy has gone stale. He sets the wrong tone with his emphasis on playing the percentages. England started this series well, having the Aussies in trouble; then the Flower syndrome kicked-in. They stopped attacking, they were settling for getting Australia out for a below par score, instead they should have been aggressive. But they did not try to bowl Australia out cheaply.

    This is Flower's influence and his army of analysts. England do nothing on the spur of the moment. It must be time for Flower to move on now. He and the team he leads have not learnt from any of the mistakes they have made in the past two years.

    When they are out of their comfort zone, of doctored pitches, dodgy scheduling and "resting" he has no ideas. None that work anyway.

  • dunger.bob on December 7, 2013, 12:40 GMT

    I can't believe this. I'm already feeling a bit sorry for England and we're exactly 1.5 tests into the series. .. They may know how to proclaim their successes but nobody is quite as melancholy about their losses as the Poms. .. I was almost reaching for the tissues when I read this.

  • PACERONE on December 7, 2013, 12:41 GMT

    Why blame Pietersen for playing that stroke.In his finest innings that is how he plays.Australia set a field that he failed to pierce.It always seemed to be a per-meditated shot to me.

  • CrikiLeaks on December 7, 2013, 12:44 GMT

    'But if England claw their way back into this match or this series, it will surely rate as the greatest achievement of the current team's history.' - to salvage a draw from here would rate as one of the greatest cricketing achievements period. For the sake of the series and some english batting careers they need to forget the past seven days of ashes cricket and bat with fresh minds and purpose tomorrow.

  • on December 7, 2013, 13:25 GMT

    @CrikiLeaks..I dont think so it will be greatest achievement for England as pre-series prediction were 5-0 in favour of England.(that is not going to happen at all). You should better said that it is great achievement for Australia so far as a team written off by many legends of cricket. Hail Aussies & Mitch !!