Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 5th day December 9, 2013

Reactive England dance to Australia's tune

England have lost control of their game in a very public fashion
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During a charity golf day in the 1990s, Seve Ballesteros settled over the tee and announced to a large gallery that he would hit a deliberate slice. As the laughter from the stroke subsided, he declared that now the fun was out of the way, his next would be fairway-bound. When this stroke also veered right into the trees, no-one laughed. Golf's master manipulator had lost control.

Over the first two Ashes Tests in Australia, England have increasingly worn the puzzled expression that passed across Ballesteros' face that day. For so long a team of tremendous self-discipline and application, shepherded by another master manipulator in Andy Flower, they have lost nearly all semblance of calm and control.

This has been most evident in their fevered batting against Mitchell Johnson, but it has also been visible with the ball and in the field. Australia have goaded England into dancing in a manner with which they are neither familiar nor comfortable, resulting in two of the greatest maulings of their history. A team known for steadiness, determination and method are employing nothing of the sort. A team known for playing within their limitations have forgotten what they are.

Stuart Broad summed all this up in the space of an extraordinary sequence in the first over of the final morning in Adelaide. Having hooked Peter Siddle for six, he perished to a catch at deep square leg attempting to repeat the shot next ball. Broad is better than that, yet he found himself doing it just the same. Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann, to name four senior players, can all tell of similar torments.

In the aftermath of Adelaide, Cook had no trouble admitting that his team had fallen away from what worked for them. Frank words have been exchanged within the team across the second Test, particularly after the batsmen played dead on the third day. "We haven't batted very well, and when you do that people start looking at shot selection and execution," he said. "We've probably gone away from what we've done [previously]. I lead from the front in that way, and I've got to make sure I'm better than that."

By contrast, Australia's progress has been the result of working out precisely what their most effective "brand" of Ashes cricket would be. It has been a long and arduous search, spanning several years and many players and support staff. As recently as the start of the England tour, Michael Clarke's team looked no closer than ever to finding the key to locating their best. The appointment of Darren Lehmann as coach helped, as did Clarke's resignation as a selector, stabilising the atmosphere of the dressing room and the tenor of selection.

A period of planning and discovery ensued. The batting line-up was shuffled relentlessly in England, drawing valid criticism at the time but resulting in conclusions from Lehmann and Clarke about who needed to be in their team. David Warner was tried in the middle order then returned to the top. Chris Rogers joined him. Shane Watson settled in to No. 3, Steve Smith to No. 5. Clarke left his comfort zone to walk in at a more suitable No. 4. George Bailey won his place at No. 6 by attacking R Ashwin in India. Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja were discarded.

Among the bowlers, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon earned their places by bowling to a high standard in England, though the spinner had to fight especially hard for his place after twice being dropped for lesser twirlers. Johnson had not been risked in the Tests in England but moved to the forefront of the selectors' thoughts by frightening out several batsmen in the ODIs that followed. With Harris and Siddle more than capable of keeping things tight, Johnson became a viable shock weapon of the kind the great Australian sides have always favoured.

"It's been about trying to work out how you use him best in the team," Clarke said of Johnson. "I think our attack right now, and that includes Nathan Lyon and Shane Watson and the other two quicks, really complement each other. That allows Mitch to be used the way I feel is best for our team right now. And Mitch has played a number of roles through his career. But I think his role in this team right now is complementing our attack."

Attitudes were also examined. Among the least savoury moments of the England tour was Warner's punch of Joe Root in a Birmingham bar following the loss of Australia's opening Champions Trophy match to England. While Warner was punished for his action, team leaders were appalled by the thought that Australian players had been out socialising with Ashes opponents after their first loss of the summer. While sledging is not the subject of explicit team discussion, the tourists were reminded to remember who their opponents were, and that their job included making life uncomfortable for England at every opportunity.

Back in Australia, the selectors contributed to this by denying Cook's team the sight of any particularly fast bowling until Brisbane. The one spell of decent pace England did glimpse, by Ben Cutting for Australia A in Hobart, revealed frailties that Johnson, Harris, and Siddle would soon exploit. Tymal Mills and Harry Gurney were flown over by the ECB to provide left-arm pace practice, but their provision contributed as much to Australia's notion that Johnson would pose problems as it prepared the Englishmen themselves.

All the while Australia played a game of public provocation, speaking of their desire to be aggressive while chiding England for pursuing what Lehmann called a "dour" style of play. Cook, Flower and others registered their irritation at this goading, often referring to the results that style had reaped. But over time it had some sort of effect, at least subconsciously, leading England to a Brisbane posture that seemed more about the fight than the process.

So when Clarke unleashed his pacemen on England at the Gabba, there was a sense of fight-or-flight reflex about the tourists. Apart from Ian Bell, numerous batsmen simply found themselves doing what they do not regularly do. The salient example came from Jonathan Trott, Flower's "rock" at No. 3, suddenly swinging at Johnson in a manner that ensured his batting destruction. Trott's problems were revealed to be far deeper than those on the field, but plenty of others were similarly cornered into repeated error. Their reactions transcended their actions.

The Gabba result was painful and pivotal, establishing a pattern to be maintained in Adelaide. Not even a pitch that might easily have been made to Flower's specifications could change the flow of things. So pivotal in England, Swann has been neutralised almost totally by a batting line-up handpicked to confound him. Lacking his wickets or control, the rest of the attack has sagged under the weight of added responsibility. If not quite so clearly as the batsmen, England's bowlers are also lacking their former cohesion. Dropped first-innings catches completed a picture of misery.

After the early hiccups on the first afternoon, Australia played vibrant, aggressive, confident and openly hostile cricket in Adelaide. England were harried, hurried, haunted and harangued. Jaded by fielding for two days, many of their batsmen hit out in a manner that suggested what they really wanted was a way out. Even Cook, the indefatigable leader, found himself hooking at the first short ball he received. Like Ballesteros, England have lost control of their game in a very public fashion. Three days before Perth is a very meagre space of time in which to locate it.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • wellrounded87 on December 10, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    Selections are going to be a key factor for both sides for the next Test. I know i'm going against the age old addage that you don't change a winning team but i think both Teams would be wise to make some changes.

    Obviously England are going to drop at least 1 spinner, If i were english i'd be calling for both to go and play Bresnan and Tremlet in a 4 man pace attack with Anderson and Broad.

    Australia is a tricky problem but I think Faulkner is a must inclusion. I'm torn between whether Lyon or Smith should be the one to make way for him. I'd also consider dropping Bailey for someone like Hughes or Cameron White. Someone a bit better at playing swing and driving the ball. Bailey is much better on flat tracks like adeaile than a green bouncy swingy pitch like the WACA.

    My XI for both teams would be ENG Carberry Cook Bell Peterson Root Stokes Prior Bresnan Broad Tremlett Anderson

    AUS Warner Rogers Watson Hughes Clarke Haddin Faulkner Johnson Harris Siddle Lyon

  • Meety on December 12, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    @Nutcutlet on (December 10, 2013, 9:44 GMT) - "... Let's hope Cook wins the toss this time. We just might get a contest!" - what do you think he would do if he won the toss? I felt at the Gabba - Cook would of been happy to lose the toss, as I think he would of been spooked by the look of the Gabba (other Pommy captains have been before). Adelaide was a bad toss to lose. Thing about the WACA is, often the 2nd day is way quicker than the 1st!

  • milepost on December 11, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    Australian batsman play the cross bat shots better than any in the world, please do bounce them, it is good to watch bowlers be smashed inot the stands, it is good for the spectators. They must play Finn, the pressure is immesnse his career will be on the line, like many of the other England players.

  • AussiePhoenix on December 11, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    @ Joel Carter Nice dream, and then there is reality. To do what you are suggesting England have to transform, not just improve, but totally change their collective form. Their best score in Adelaide was still 200 runs below par on a batting paradise. Everyone is talking about Mitchell Johnson, but the only top order batsmen he got out was Cook and Prior (both out of form). He blitzed through the lower order to end first innings quickly. The threat of Siddle and Harris has been forgotten, they will be stronger at WACA because Adelaide was hard work - look out! Most importantly, Johnson did get key top order wickets in 2011 Ashes at WACA, against an England team that had been all over Australia in the first two tests. Reality is looming for England Joel, I think you are afraid to face it.

  • AussiePhoenix on December 11, 2013, 1:51 GMT

    @TheChap What are you talking about? England rested at home between these Ashes series, Australia went to India! I think the Ashes should be played back to back like this every 2 years. Just like we used to play South Africa, 3 tests in Oz then 3 tests in SA all in the one summer. A fair indication of the strongest team.

  • satkaru1 on December 10, 2013, 22:49 GMT

    All English batsmen had a decent outings in the middle.. every one had a half century to their name in one of the first four innings.. I strongly think they will click in the next test...Mark Prior especially is very important for them.. He demoralizes the teams with some great batting to the end.. Kevin has to come up with one of those special innings aswell...

  • on December 10, 2013, 12:55 GMT

    @chitti_cricket Sorry but SA would NOT face Englands fate playing this Aussie side. The fact is Australia has a fantastic bowling attack (probably as good as South Africa's) but their batting is still frail it has just not been at all tested by the England attack.

    Steyn, Philander, Morkel, Duminy, Kallis & Tahir will be a very different prospect for the Australian batsmen. On the other hand South Africa has an immense batting line-up with a number of all time greats currently playing and still in excellent form Amla, De Villers, Duminy are in great form and Smith and Kallis are all time greats who can always be relied upon.

    Luckily Australia will soon tour SA so we will get to see. It will be a hard fought contest and a great test of this SA team's claim to greatness. I expect them to prevail.

  • on December 10, 2013, 12:16 GMT

    Englands best chance is to first select Steven Finn. Someone with a bit of extra pace who can Bounce the Aussie batsmen just like MJ is doing to England. Get Bell batting at number 3 with Root at number 5. Win the toss, put Aus in and get them out under 250. Time for Cook to play a long innings and KP to knock Midge out of the attack and give him something to Think about. Should not be long Before he loses the plot again and starts throwing pies... 2-1 after Perth test.

  • Nutcutlet on December 10, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    Changes for the WACA: I can't see much of a case for retaining Swann. He has been consistently ineffectual both in wicket-taking & in terms of economy. He offers nothing with the bat against serious pace, and although his catching might be missed in the slips, slip-catching expertise doesn't safeguard a place. Bresnan has his berth, IMO. The batting remains the same, with Prior #6, Stokes #7. This signals to Stokes that his primary role is as an impact bowler on this surface. So Bres bats #8; Broad #9; Jimmy #10 & Monty #11. I'm with Bob Willis on this one. Throwing in a novice like Rankin, for this Test especially, is unwise & smacks of panic. That said, I would have liked Rankin to have had a Test or two under his belt by now as he represents a future that needs to be mapped out. BTW, I wish people would stop suggesting players that are not in the touring party - those are just silly suggestions, aren't they? Let's hope Cook wins the toss this time. We just might get a contest!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 10, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    @LooksPlumbFromHere, I agree about the nature of the thumping, we declared twice and England managed only 12 wickets, just a few more than Mitch. I do disagree the English bowlers will be helped in Perth. Any short stuff from them will be punished to the boundary as we are cross bat experts. Mitch will be too hot to handle. England's only chance is to bring in Finn and Rankin and ask them to bowl full and fast playing for caught behind the wicket. Ultimately England have no answer to our bowling so there's very little chance they can make a total to win a match do they need results with the ball.

  • wellrounded87 on December 10, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    Selections are going to be a key factor for both sides for the next Test. I know i'm going against the age old addage that you don't change a winning team but i think both Teams would be wise to make some changes.

    Obviously England are going to drop at least 1 spinner, If i were english i'd be calling for both to go and play Bresnan and Tremlet in a 4 man pace attack with Anderson and Broad.

    Australia is a tricky problem but I think Faulkner is a must inclusion. I'm torn between whether Lyon or Smith should be the one to make way for him. I'd also consider dropping Bailey for someone like Hughes or Cameron White. Someone a bit better at playing swing and driving the ball. Bailey is much better on flat tracks like adeaile than a green bouncy swingy pitch like the WACA.

    My XI for both teams would be ENG Carberry Cook Bell Peterson Root Stokes Prior Bresnan Broad Tremlett Anderson

    AUS Warner Rogers Watson Hughes Clarke Haddin Faulkner Johnson Harris Siddle Lyon

  • Meety on December 12, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    @Nutcutlet on (December 10, 2013, 9:44 GMT) - "... Let's hope Cook wins the toss this time. We just might get a contest!" - what do you think he would do if he won the toss? I felt at the Gabba - Cook would of been happy to lose the toss, as I think he would of been spooked by the look of the Gabba (other Pommy captains have been before). Adelaide was a bad toss to lose. Thing about the WACA is, often the 2nd day is way quicker than the 1st!

  • milepost on December 11, 2013, 9:53 GMT

    Australian batsman play the cross bat shots better than any in the world, please do bounce them, it is good to watch bowlers be smashed inot the stands, it is good for the spectators. They must play Finn, the pressure is immesnse his career will be on the line, like many of the other England players.

  • AussiePhoenix on December 11, 2013, 2:03 GMT

    @ Joel Carter Nice dream, and then there is reality. To do what you are suggesting England have to transform, not just improve, but totally change their collective form. Their best score in Adelaide was still 200 runs below par on a batting paradise. Everyone is talking about Mitchell Johnson, but the only top order batsmen he got out was Cook and Prior (both out of form). He blitzed through the lower order to end first innings quickly. The threat of Siddle and Harris has been forgotten, they will be stronger at WACA because Adelaide was hard work - look out! Most importantly, Johnson did get key top order wickets in 2011 Ashes at WACA, against an England team that had been all over Australia in the first two tests. Reality is looming for England Joel, I think you are afraid to face it.

  • AussiePhoenix on December 11, 2013, 1:51 GMT

    @TheChap What are you talking about? England rested at home between these Ashes series, Australia went to India! I think the Ashes should be played back to back like this every 2 years. Just like we used to play South Africa, 3 tests in Oz then 3 tests in SA all in the one summer. A fair indication of the strongest team.

  • satkaru1 on December 10, 2013, 22:49 GMT

    All English batsmen had a decent outings in the middle.. every one had a half century to their name in one of the first four innings.. I strongly think they will click in the next test...Mark Prior especially is very important for them.. He demoralizes the teams with some great batting to the end.. Kevin has to come up with one of those special innings aswell...

  • on December 10, 2013, 12:55 GMT

    @chitti_cricket Sorry but SA would NOT face Englands fate playing this Aussie side. The fact is Australia has a fantastic bowling attack (probably as good as South Africa's) but their batting is still frail it has just not been at all tested by the England attack.

    Steyn, Philander, Morkel, Duminy, Kallis & Tahir will be a very different prospect for the Australian batsmen. On the other hand South Africa has an immense batting line-up with a number of all time greats currently playing and still in excellent form Amla, De Villers, Duminy are in great form and Smith and Kallis are all time greats who can always be relied upon.

    Luckily Australia will soon tour SA so we will get to see. It will be a hard fought contest and a great test of this SA team's claim to greatness. I expect them to prevail.

  • on December 10, 2013, 12:16 GMT

    Englands best chance is to first select Steven Finn. Someone with a bit of extra pace who can Bounce the Aussie batsmen just like MJ is doing to England. Get Bell batting at number 3 with Root at number 5. Win the toss, put Aus in and get them out under 250. Time for Cook to play a long innings and KP to knock Midge out of the attack and give him something to Think about. Should not be long Before he loses the plot again and starts throwing pies... 2-1 after Perth test.

  • Nutcutlet on December 10, 2013, 9:44 GMT

    Changes for the WACA: I can't see much of a case for retaining Swann. He has been consistently ineffectual both in wicket-taking & in terms of economy. He offers nothing with the bat against serious pace, and although his catching might be missed in the slips, slip-catching expertise doesn't safeguard a place. Bresnan has his berth, IMO. The batting remains the same, with Prior #6, Stokes #7. This signals to Stokes that his primary role is as an impact bowler on this surface. So Bres bats #8; Broad #9; Jimmy #10 & Monty #11. I'm with Bob Willis on this one. Throwing in a novice like Rankin, for this Test especially, is unwise & smacks of panic. That said, I would have liked Rankin to have had a Test or two under his belt by now as he represents a future that needs to be mapped out. BTW, I wish people would stop suggesting players that are not in the touring party - those are just silly suggestions, aren't they? Let's hope Cook wins the toss this time. We just might get a contest!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 10, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    @LooksPlumbFromHere, I agree about the nature of the thumping, we declared twice and England managed only 12 wickets, just a few more than Mitch. I do disagree the English bowlers will be helped in Perth. Any short stuff from them will be punished to the boundary as we are cross bat experts. Mitch will be too hot to handle. England's only chance is to bring in Finn and Rankin and ask them to bowl full and fast playing for caught behind the wicket. Ultimately England have no answer to our bowling so there's very little chance they can make a total to win a match do they need results with the ball.

  • DragonCricketer on December 10, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    Aussies have also taken most of their catches and some real screamers as well.

  • dunger.bob on December 10, 2013, 6:53 GMT

    @ TheChap: Here's a few reasons for poor beset upon old England to get fired up. Four Ashes series in a row. The very real chance to become the best England team of all time. A chance to improve your averages, an opportunity to dine out on some kangaroo and lets not forget do a bit of sightseeing while they're here.

    The reasons for England to get fired up for another tilt are unique and only on offer to this group of players. Who knows how long it'll be before you win three in a row again. Also the timing is due to Olympics and the 2015 world cup, goddamit, and actually WON'T happen again.

    Poor, poor England my foot. They should be running on high octane with the prize that's in front of them. They've just been hit with two very good punches they didn't dream we had in us and now they don't know what to do. .. Flowers computer probably blew up because the reality of what was happening on the ground was too far removed from expected parameters.

  • on December 10, 2013, 6:16 GMT

    I hope Bresnan and Tremlett are not included for Perth. Both men are now medium pace trundlers, Tremlett rarely hitting 82mph. That's not what you want for Perth. Might as well let Bell bowl as these pop-gun bowlers. ( and I'm really not suggesting that Bell bowls) Finn and Rankin in with Broad and Mills. Root can throw down a few tweaky dobbers - he couldn't be much less effective than Swann has been. Pietersen needs to go, as does Prior. Ali and. Buttler in for those two. I see Cooke retiring in the next 18 months so maybe replace him as well. He looks like he's had enough. That's probably the biggest thing. As a batter and a captain Cooke looks spent. England should look to replace him as captain at least with Broad for now and a permanent captain sorted by the English summer.

  • Kolpak1989 on December 10, 2013, 1:55 GMT

    @gavbergin, You may not be an England supporter, but you're starting to sound like one by making such a virtue out of a draw! Three tests to play still. They should be trying to win!

  • Clyde on December 10, 2013, 1:46 GMT

    I would not like to be in a crowd watching a match that was compromised due to a search for the Ashes. What we spectators expect is a competition on the field, on the day, at the moment, for the match under way. It has been suggested that pursuit of the Ashes might alter what goes on on the field when there is an actual match at stake. No one likes the word 'corruption', and I am irked by anyone who suggests that the Ashes, of all things, could interfere with the winning of Test matches.

  • LooksPlumbFromHere on December 10, 2013, 1:46 GMT

    The Adelaide result flatters England somewhat. Australia declared 2x, England only took 12 wickets and scored cheap runs late against attacking fields. It was a serious thumping, and the result most likely from Day 2 on. But things can change quickly and Perth is not necessarily the lay-down misere many are expecting. The pitch will help the English attack as much as the Australian attack. Anderson, Broad and Bresnan, assuming he plays, should go well. If England hold their catches and a couple of their top 6 find a way, anything is possible. Good players and good teams on the decline are still capable on their day. That said, Australia are still improving, and there is plenty of up-side still. They have their mojo (MoJo) back and I'm guessing The Ashes will be handed over sometime early next week.

  • whensdrinks on December 10, 2013, 1:33 GMT

    It is not only the bowling, one of the obvious differences is the batting from the tail. From the keepr down (both Haddin and Prior bat at 7), Australia have had 6 innings over 30 with 5 of them scoring over 50. England have had 2 innings over 30 with only Prior's 69 being over 50. And remember that Australia declared its second innings in Adelaide before Hads batted so they are averaging 2 30+ scores an innings while England average one per test.

    For England it has been a case of 5 out - all out. Australia regularly adds extra runs and many extra overs and frustration for the English bowlers who already look tired two tests in.

  • on December 10, 2013, 1:30 GMT

    It may sound weird but Perth is England's best chance to retain the Ashes. It will be nothing less than a miracle if England win in Perth and all the smart money is on Australia to romp to another huge victory and take back the Ashes. But, if England manage to pull one out of the hat, I believe Australia (and the media) will be so shocked that the claws will come out and Australia will lose or draw the series. Test cricket is a game of momentum, form and confidence. At the moment Australia have all three, but this can be stolen with one massive upset.

  • Thegimp on December 10, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    I think Cook's biggest dilema comes if he wins the toss. I believe England's only chance of winning in Perth is if Australia bat first and get rolled cheaply and then the pitch does its usual and turns into a batting paradise on day 2 and 3. If Cook wins the toss and sends Aust in he will look like a coward, if he bats first they will be in a heap of trouble.

  • on December 10, 2013, 0:49 GMT

    Being an australian, I thought some of england's players showed a little bit more of a fight on day 3. However, it was none of their senior players. Kevin Pieterson is the one key figure that has been irresponsible so far this series. He needs to have his head deflated and needs to be told he is a senior player who needs to show leadership. So far in the series, he has not applied himself well at all discipline wise and allowed the australian bowlers to frustrate him. For such a great player, his attitude is leaving a lot to be desired. Bell has shown remarkable improvement and is the shining light for england and is showing he is actually a better player than Pieterson at the moment. For australia, I still am not happy with watson at all. He still has to show his role as a senior player.

  • left_arm_unorthodox on December 10, 2013, 0:23 GMT

    They just need to win a could of tosses. I know it is impossible, but I think test series would be a lot more interesting if the visiting teams were handed the toss for at least the first match of the series. Look over Ashes history, at least the last few years. The toss is really important. If Cook had won it in Brisbane, it would have handed him the initiative on a plate, and everything else would be different. England are not that bad, Australia are not that good. Winning the toss in home conditions makes the difference. England won the first two of the series in England, Australia the first two of the series in Australia. Simple as that.

  • Shan156 on December 9, 2013, 23:51 GMT

    True that England have been mauled in the first 2 tests but lets not forget that this was the same team that gave England fans a lot of joy in the last 4 years. Home Ashes wins in 2009 and 2013 and Away Ashes win in 2010-2011, a "come from behind" series victory in India (something this Australian team will not achieve. For that matter, no team can beat India in India at least for a few more years, and that includes #1 RSA), a valiant draw in SL, a 4-0 win against India and a 3-1 win against Pak. at home, a T20 World Cup and losing finalist in ICCCT 2013. However, all good things have to end and some of the players seem to have lost it - Swann, Anderson, and Prior especially. This may be Swann's last series and despite his poor performances this series, he is still the best spinner England have produced since Underwood. This may be Flower's last series for England as well. Aus. played well but having said that, they are by no means a great team. This same team will get thrashed in Ind.

  • Chris_P on December 9, 2013, 23:37 GMT

    @Beertjie As you know I am a Blues fan & have followed Smith's career for a while. He made a concious effort to work on his technique a few years ago, you will see how much he has changed from the ugly front foot swatter of then compared to now. He also worked on footwork for spinners (although he forget to use them Adelaide 1st innings) & has really applied himself with patience. His efforts in India & England showed the value of his hard work. He is in for the long term (barring form slumps). Bailey is different. I have seen him decimate NSW attacks & he does possess a solid technique, but I am still unsure about his application. All in all, I would rather be in our shoes than England's. That 312 on what was still a very good batting track is still masking problems for them. I can't put a finger on why they have dipped so much.

  • ScottStevo on December 9, 2013, 22:23 GMT

    @TheChap, that's a ridiculous excuse. England were just as aware of the schedule as Australia were. In fact, the Aus team headed over to India for an ODI series whilst England had time to properly prepare. It's potentially the weakest excuse imaginable for such dire performances. These performances can easily be explained though. They are getting beaten by a side who are playing a higher level of cricket than they are and who desire to win it more. A great indicator of this is the respective fielding efforts from both sides which shows the vast chasm separating the performances of the sides in this series. This series isn't 'devalued' in any way whatsoever. But that's a typical response to a loss (which hasn't even occurred yet!); devalue their importance and pretend it never happened - just like 06/07!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on December 9, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    Aussies must be over the moon to have won their second test match in four years so congratulations must firstly go to them. Johnson's comeback has been a good story, and England's inability to cope with the pitches and not repeat the 4-0 of the last series has taken us all, including the Aussies of course, completely by surprise. England need to bring in Bresnan for Perth and take the game to these overrated aussie players, then normal Ashes service can be resumed for us all :)

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 9, 2013, 21:08 GMT

    Australia out played England in the batting department all last summer despite losing the series, nothing has changed here except our scores have increased and England's have decreased. The WACA will be where Australia win the Ashes back, no doubt.

  • __PK on December 9, 2013, 20:39 GMT

    Cook still isn't facing the truth. Listen to what he said vs what he should have said. He's clearly still trying to deny it. "We haven't batted very well" vs "We batted badly." "We've probably gone away from..." vs "We went away from...". And TheChap, seriously? If you can't get motivated for Test cricket, you should resign.

  • RandyOZ on December 9, 2013, 20:37 GMT

    Disgraceful effort by England, once again. Their team of United Veterans is falling apart at the seams, and unlike Australia they have nothing in the cupboard except Root, who admittedly played very well. Hopefully Perth will produce some serious bounce and we can wrap this up!

  • briancummins on December 9, 2013, 20:29 GMT

    How many backroom staff do England have? Coaches for batting, bowling, fielding, sport psychologists, video analysts, they even get pages of dietary advice. I wonder if these people feel they are worth the money. Then again, imagine how bad England might be if they didn't eat their muesli. Johnson only got one wicket in the second innings, so perhaps his place is under threat.

  • gavbergin on December 9, 2013, 18:11 GMT

    Everyone talks as if England have already lost the series. They only have to draw the series. It seems unlikely now, and the odds are now heavily against it. But the likelihood-before the series began-of Australia winning back the urn, let alone dominating England so, was considered by the bookies to be just as low. I'm not an England supporter, but if I was I wouldn't be giving up already. You only need to draw the series remember!

  • CM1000 on December 9, 2013, 18:06 GMT

    @drnaveed - Australia did score some big totals in England a few months ago, twice declaring their first innings at over or just under 500, being the only two occasions where Australia won the toss and got to bat first. England never reached 400 the whole series, against a very good Australian attack. In fact, Australia had a first innings lead in four of the five tests! Let's all be honest, the only reason Australia didn't win at Old Trafford and The Oval (the two Tests where they batted first, scored 500 and declared) was because of a full day being lost to rain in each of those matches, otherwise the series would have been 2-2 and the difference would have been the 14 run margin to England in the 1st Test. Sure, England smashed them at Lords and played better in the key moments of that series, but Australia played the better cricket after the second Test - all the signs were there that England would get done in Australia.

  • Beertjie on December 9, 2013, 17:57 GMT

    While I agree that 3 days is a rather short turn around, Australia need to reflect upon how they will bat at the WACA. Will there be another 132/6? And will they recover to post 300? Hope Rogers does rather better there than on his debut 6 years ago. I've real concerns about Smith and Bailey against good swing bowling. Maybe it's just my pessimism, but this team is still a good way short of a decent top 6. Without that, Lords-like collapses may be just around the next corner.

  • jackiethepen on December 9, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    I don't think Rogers, Watson and Smith have done very much so far. It's all relied on Clarke, Haddin and Turner and Johnson. At some point that might prove to be a weakness as it was when Bell had a quiet innings.

    By the way it's very hard for Bell to be in the runs in the first innings when he was 72*. Where was the rest of the side? If he had batted at 3 it might have been a different story. The game was gone by the time he came in with only Stokes and Prior and the tail to follow. All blown away.

  • TheChap on December 9, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    I'm astonished that no pundit or poster so far has mentioned the effect of having this Ashes series `back-to-back` with this English summers just gone.

    The effect this has had on the England camp is considerable, you can physically see it! They are demotivated and flat, and must be asking themselves `why do we have to face this lot again so soon, when we've just beaten them!?`

    It goes a long way in explaining why the Aussies are so much more motivated and aggressive than England...and I can guarantee you that was their gameplan before Brisbane, it was no accident. In my experience, professional sportsman at the highest level need motivation and goals - where are they for this England team?

    The Ashes are so special and this quirk of the fixture list devalues them in my opinion - it should never be allowed to happen again!

  • Bumble2 on December 9, 2013, 16:53 GMT

    I think the thing most readily overlooked in England's performance on this tour has been a marked decline in the standard of their fielding. Well over 240 runs were added to Australia's first innings total in Adelaide as a result of dropped catches. Dismissing Clarke (148) and Haddin (118) for under 20 runs each would have made the paltry 137 England scored in the first innings almost a competitive total.

    Similar thing in Brisbane where Broad got the team a winning start but their fielding let the bowlers down. The England bowlers have twice got Australia in trouble but the rest of the team has not been able to capitalise on the position.

    The oldest cliche in sport is that "catches win matches" (or dropping them costs you) but how true.

  • AKS286 on December 9, 2013, 16:27 GMT

    England select wrong team for Adelaide test. Tremlett is the second best bowler who bowled in Brisbane and out in Adelaide.Its very tough for England to select playing XI for 3rd test. Whether to take some harsh decisions or not because 2-0. Eng has to find another KP because KP game is over it does't matter if he hits century after Ashes loss. AD HALES is the man. Bairstow is ready to replace Prior. KP, Prior are in notice period now. Its really hard to believe that Eng don't have any specialist batsman replacement in Ashes squad.

  • drnaveed on December 9, 2013, 14:59 GMT

    the differences between this particular Ashes series in Aus , and the previous one in England is that the Australian batsmen are putting up high score of runs on the board , whenever they get the opportunity , whereas the Eng batsmen are struggling against pace especially that of M.Johnson,though Harris ,siddle ,watson, lyon are equally supporting johnson, to keep the pressure on the batsmen and also taking some wickets. the Eng bowlers are not that penetrating ,finding it difficult to get the Aus batsmen out.both Captain Cook and Bell who dominated the previous series are not among runs. i remember, Johnson was called back home from india before the end of the one day series ,for preparation for the Ashes, full marks to them who took that decision , as they will not be given any credit for this series win , if they do so, And now see what wonders has Johnson done with the ball..........

  • Nutcutlet on December 9, 2013, 14:02 GMT

    What a waste of Joe Root's gutsy 269 minutes' work! The very least his team mates could have done was to honour his effort by going down with a bit more of a show. This England side is not just lacking in skill, it's demonstrating that they have no application either - no stomach at all for the fight. This is indeed the end of an era. The players have already declared it closed. We must belive the evidence of our eyes, not the much-repeated 'must-do-better' utterances of the skipper. Now, I just wonder whether they can prove me wrong! No phoneix-rising has been sighted thus far.

  • chitti_cricket on December 9, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    England losing to Aussies 2-0 is no shame but the manner in which they lost. England has time and again proved with same tactics they are following now have won them matches in past against major oppositions. Problem what they are facing here in Australia this season is form of some of the players and M.Johnson. Even SA current #1 team will have same fate if they play now against Aussies at this form. All Aussies lacked in English summer was their batsmen not firing but not their bowlers (Note: England never posted major totals during that tour). This time around in their home conditions and right combinations their batting is also firing and in form and we are seeing the results. It is yet not over for England, if they win this Pert test match (Which looks odd at this moment) they can still win one of the last two test matches and make this series a cracker and new history. But how much the will and power remaining in them is million dollar question.

  • phat55 on December 9, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    well said jb633 english & aussie media are too quick to make their teams world beaters

  • jb633 on December 9, 2013, 13:17 GMT

    @drs, that is the most flawed thinking I have heard. If you tally up the losses for any side and forget about the wins of course the record is going to look terrible.

  • jb633 on December 9, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    Agreed that England are declining but the Aussie journo's need to be careful to not make the same mistakes ours did. It could just as easily be said that Aus are woeful away from home but good in their own conditions. These wins have been thoroughly deserved but they have come at home. I wish journalists would look at things in context more than jumping the gun either way. We are done for this series no doubt but if Aus went to the UAE following this tour Pakistan would whitewash them and so would India etc. The only side worth shouting about in the world is SA as they can play on all surfaces home and away. Whilst India were winning at home we heard nothing but how this new look side would dominate everywhere but as soon as they get on decks that seam and bounce they are rabbits in the headlights. The modern game is lacking in the quality in had in the 90's as most series now are a foregone conclusion with the home sides winning with ease.

  • phat55 on December 9, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    glad to see some Aussie supporters have a voice again! They've been pretty quiet over the last while.....enduring all those consecutive test defeats lol

  • Stevros3 on December 9, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    @DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement Let me get this straight to get to the 10 nil in TEST cricket you're ignoring the following series (all since series 2012 Pakistan away) Sri-Lanka away Drew (1-1) West Indies home Won (2-0) India away Won (2-1) (strange how you missed this one as an India fan) New Zealand Away Drew (0-0) (Ok we were nilled and deserved to lose) New Zealand Home Won (2-0) Australia Home Won (3-0)

    If we're only looking at series that have been lost to nil. In that time India lost 4-0 to Australia which as England in the time frame you're looking at (by the end of the series) England will hvae played double the number of matches which would equate India to already being 8-0 down.

    That's me being kind and not bringing the 4-0 test series at the end of 2011 which India lost to England

  • Happiness_is on December 9, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    @heathrf1974 just wonder if the lighter bats of the 70s, 80s and 90s would be better suited to handling the express pace of MJ. They can club the ball out of the park but extra mass has extra inertia and maybe it only gets exposed at MJ's express pace. Physics - just sayin'

  • on December 9, 2013, 12:05 GMT

    All this talk of how fast Johnson is. He has been frighteningly quick and more importantly accurate, but don't forget (when fit) Stark, Pattinson and Cummins all bowl over 145k and are all 23 and under. Plenty for world cricket to be scared of in years to come.

  • orangtan on December 9, 2013, 11:57 GMT

    It's deja vu all over again..... in 2006-07 Australia won 5-0, but lost in England in 2009, it can and will happen again come 2015. The days of dynasties are over, thank God for that

  • dusey456 on December 9, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    Good luck England. Next game in Perth where they have win-loss ratio of 0.12 and where Johnson has 36 wickets in just 5 games at an average of less than 20. I know stats don't mean everything but they are going to have to pull something special out of the hat here if they want to save this series.

  • heathrf1974 on December 9, 2013, 11:23 GMT

    Going down 2-0 to Australia was totally un-foreseen. In 1989 when England were beaten 4-0, Australia had a young team and England an aging one. However, this English team should be in their prime. Something has gone terribly wrong and it is called Mitchell Johnson. It's because there are no players of genuine pace anymore except perhaps MJ and batsman just aren't experienced anymore to face that pace. Quality batsman of the 70s, 80s and 90s would handle MJ much better. Very strange times.

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on December 9, 2013, 11:02 GMT

    @158notout: i forget few, performance of eng in last 3 series in odi's against in india are 5-0, 4-0 and 3-2. And also 2-0 in tests in 2008-09.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on December 9, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    Excellent analysis one of the great turnarounds in Test cricket. England have "simply found themselves doing what they do not regularly do" and it has been brilliantly planned and executed to date and has largely been a mental process.

    This has Lehmann's stamp all over it. Everything from turning Broad into public enemy number one to the overt sledging in Brisbane has resulted in the cricket being aggressive and hostile (and, at times, quite pulsating). In other words, very Australian.

    For someone who enjoys the mental test in Test cricket, this has been utterly fascinating. Others, as is their absolute right, will see the superficial and complain about ugliness.

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on December 9, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    @158notout: england beaten by SA 2-0 AT HOME (in eng). Beaten by pak 3-0. Got it.

  • on December 9, 2013, 10:53 GMT

    Surgically precise article about what is happening to this English team down under.. Only difference i see is attitude... England is looking like a team who are looking like a lost team in the field and Aussies are like good old waugh's men!!

  • aus_trad on December 9, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Just after England's awful 1st innings collapse in Brisbane, Kerry O'Keefe made a very perceptive comment on ABC radio here in Aus: that the balance of power between Eng and Aus had been shifting since the Lord's test. What we have seen so far in this series is simply a continuation of that trend. In the northern series, the growing weaknesses of the Eng side were concealed by a combination of Aus batting frailty and home country advantages (and luck with weather). In the current series, Aus have all the home advantages, the batting has done well enough, and the result has been that the Eng weaknesses have been cruelly exposed. Aus (especially Johnson) have done well with the ball - but this has been to a large extent due to England's problems at 1, 3, 6 & 7, which were shown up in England; Aus have done well enough with the bat - but this has been helped by Broad being the only bowler who has performed to potential. At the moment, 5-0 is on the cards - unthinkable after Lord's.

  • Markdal on December 9, 2013, 10:42 GMT

    Don't want to bag Mickey Arthur, who I regard as a very good coach, or his cronies, but it seems that the Australian players as a whole are performing a lot better without the "sword of Damocles" hanging over their heads. In the previous couple of years, it seemed that if you had two failures. you were out. I think Darren Lehmann has breathed life back into the Australian team by offering them solidarity. Rogers, Watson and Bailey failed in the 1st Test - under Arthur (and Neilsen), they were under pressure. Under Lehmann, it's "ah well, it happens to the best of us", and they all came good in the 2nd. The English winter tour was a learning curve for Lehmann and Clarke, and they are now reaping the rewards.

  • Gary_ADL on December 9, 2013, 10:39 GMT

    If Mitchell Starc and others had been fit Johnson would be kicking his heels now. So not a great selection more like last man standing, sometimes the luck goes with you...

  • 158notout on December 9, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    Great article, as an England fan I do not mind losing when Australia are playing so much better. And it is great to see Mitch back on form. Please don't shave the 'tache.

    electric_loco - thats about the most sensible post I have ever read from you. Keep it up and don't revert to the silly baiting. As an England fan I do not mind losing when Australia are playing so much better. And it is great to see Mitch back on form. Please don't shave the 'tache.

    DRS-Flawed. - I don't understand your post at all, please explain. I guess by 3-0 you mean the England loss there, and of course the last series is the current Ashes but what is the 2-0 in England? And by the way as an Indian fan I reckon I would be a bit quieter right now - whitewashed in all formats by England, whitewashed in tests in Australia, beaten by England AT HOME and now being whipped by South Africa. Dear me.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 9, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    I think Australia should target an aggregate 1200 runs series thrashing of England and make sure some of these English players never want to play Australia again. Being ruthless might not sound very nice but it is a trait of successful sportspeople whether we like it or not.

  • CricketMaan on December 9, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    Can somebody tell me which team has won the most AWAY tests in the recent past say last 2-3 years? I think Test wins are more and more becoming home wins. I can think of SA wins in England and Aus and Eng in India, but i can recollect that many. Everyone is comfortable playing home. Where are we going?

  • on December 9, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    I don't understand why a lot of Indian supporters barrack for Oz against Eng? Nothing wrong with the hook shots. Keep playing it- only need to play it better.

  • tamperbay on December 9, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    I agree. Much of Team England's recent success of Australia was based on relentless discipline and patience, exemplified by the batting of Cook, Trott, and Bell - waiting until the opposition tired. Not really dominating and smashing them into submission but playing the %'s - calculated by their team of computer analysts. And it worked!

    What has changed? Perhaps they have been goaded into being aggressive or perhaps they started to believe that their success was based more on superior natural talent than on sticking to the team plan. For me Trott's attempts to score of short balls directed at his body was an example of this. He just needed to keep avoiding them and wait for the ball he could score off more safely.

    I think Warne, Ian Chappell, and Lehman (amongst others) coaxed the English into trying to be more aggressive. And that means they have to rely more on talent which unfortunately they only have in equal amounts (or less) than their counterparts.

  • on December 9, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    AUssies won they showed ENGLAND whos the boss england were favorites but aussies have played superb agressive and a grt plan they wrap up the series in PERTH grt going clarke all hats to lehman johson keep up the attack i love the aussies team

  • on December 9, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    This is really a well written article. Eng. is in no position to face Aus. It may be a humiliating series for ENG. The speculation may be 5-0 in favour of Aussies. This would be real boost for Aus cricket.

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on December 9, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    As a indian fan, i am looking forward 10-0. let me explain, firstly against pak 3-0 IN UAE, 2-0 IN ENG (HOME), 5-0 (2-0 now, hoping further 3-0). well done OZ.

  • on December 9, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    No way to hide for England team.... It's pay back time for Australia... With fast pitch awaiting in Perth, Eng will go down surely there handing Australia 3-0 Ashes series lead with Ashes won even before Christmas... One thing Australia got correct in their batting line up is by including 6 right handers compared to last Ashes series.. Swann always struggled to bowl to right handers..

  • on December 9, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    Lovely article. The lack of fight shown by this England side is confounding. It's hard to believe that it's the same Stuart Broad who eclipsed the record for longest time on nought only six months ago. The same Monty and Anderson who batted for a the famous draw in '09. That no batsmen got out to a delivery that was going on to hit the stumps is telling. Would expect England to come out and show some semblance of fight from the 3rd test going forward. Seems highly unlikely however, and looking more and more likely that a whitewash is on the cards

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on December 9, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    Talking about reactions ,moot Q is how will 'react' @ WACA- bouncy Perth ? I don't mean the result - only 1 result is poss. Q of by how much and how many days Aus needs to make it 3-0 . On a slow Adelaide , Eng batsmen barely had time to bring the bat down before seeing his stumps knocked back by a Johnson 150 kph nut - Cook in 1st inngs.At Perth, they will barely have 3/4 of 'reaction' time of what they had here and with Mitch's pace likely to go 5-6 kph + on the fast deck it will be most daunting task for any batsmen let alone Eng . Intersting to watch how batsmen deal with 155 kph bolts by Mitch on his fave. Pert with barely 0.2 of a sec to even react before ball reaches.

  • hsk-cricket on December 9, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    I think Englad should bring Ravi Bopara in the squad. Well, my playing XI will be 1.Cook 2.Carberry 3.Root/Bell 4.Pietersen 5.Bell/Root 6.R Bopara/M Prior 7. Pror/Bresnan 8.Broad 9.Swann/Panesar 10.Anderson 11.Panesar/Bresnan

  • hsk-cricket on December 9, 2013, 8:26 GMT

    I think Englad should bring Ravi Bopara in the squad. Well, my playing XI will be 1.Cook 2.Carberry 3.Root/Bell 4.Pietersen 5.Bell/Root 6.R Bopara/M Prior 7. Pror/Bresnan 8.Broad 9.Swann/Panesar 10.Anderson 11.Panesar/Bresnan

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on December 9, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    Talking about reactions ,moot Q is how will 'react' @ WACA- bouncy Perth ? I don't mean the result - only 1 result is poss. Q of by how much and how many days Aus needs to make it 3-0 . On a slow Adelaide , Eng batsmen barely had time to bring the bat down before seeing his stumps knocked back by a Johnson 150 kph nut - Cook in 1st inngs.At Perth, they will barely have 3/4 of 'reaction' time of what they had here and with Mitch's pace likely to go 5-6 kph + on the fast deck it will be most daunting task for any batsmen let alone Eng . Intersting to watch how batsmen deal with 155 kph bolts by Mitch on his fave. Pert with barely 0.2 of a sec to even react before ball reaches.

  • on December 9, 2013, 8:33 GMT

    Lovely article. The lack of fight shown by this England side is confounding. It's hard to believe that it's the same Stuart Broad who eclipsed the record for longest time on nought only six months ago. The same Monty and Anderson who batted for a the famous draw in '09. That no batsmen got out to a delivery that was going on to hit the stumps is telling. Would expect England to come out and show some semblance of fight from the 3rd test going forward. Seems highly unlikely however, and looking more and more likely that a whitewash is on the cards

  • on December 9, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    No way to hide for England team.... It's pay back time for Australia... With fast pitch awaiting in Perth, Eng will go down surely there handing Australia 3-0 Ashes series lead with Ashes won even before Christmas... One thing Australia got correct in their batting line up is by including 6 right handers compared to last Ashes series.. Swann always struggled to bowl to right handers..

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on December 9, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    As a indian fan, i am looking forward 10-0. let me explain, firstly against pak 3-0 IN UAE, 2-0 IN ENG (HOME), 5-0 (2-0 now, hoping further 3-0). well done OZ.

  • on December 9, 2013, 8:42 GMT

    This is really a well written article. Eng. is in no position to face Aus. It may be a humiliating series for ENG. The speculation may be 5-0 in favour of Aussies. This would be real boost for Aus cricket.

  • on December 9, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    AUssies won they showed ENGLAND whos the boss england were favorites but aussies have played superb agressive and a grt plan they wrap up the series in PERTH grt going clarke all hats to lehman johson keep up the attack i love the aussies team

  • tamperbay on December 9, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    I agree. Much of Team England's recent success of Australia was based on relentless discipline and patience, exemplified by the batting of Cook, Trott, and Bell - waiting until the opposition tired. Not really dominating and smashing them into submission but playing the %'s - calculated by their team of computer analysts. And it worked!

    What has changed? Perhaps they have been goaded into being aggressive or perhaps they started to believe that their success was based more on superior natural talent than on sticking to the team plan. For me Trott's attempts to score of short balls directed at his body was an example of this. He just needed to keep avoiding them and wait for the ball he could score off more safely.

    I think Warne, Ian Chappell, and Lehman (amongst others) coaxed the English into trying to be more aggressive. And that means they have to rely more on talent which unfortunately they only have in equal amounts (or less) than their counterparts.

  • on December 9, 2013, 8:55 GMT

    I don't understand why a lot of Indian supporters barrack for Oz against Eng? Nothing wrong with the hook shots. Keep playing it- only need to play it better.

  • CricketMaan on December 9, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    Can somebody tell me which team has won the most AWAY tests in the recent past say last 2-3 years? I think Test wins are more and more becoming home wins. I can think of SA wins in England and Aus and Eng in India, but i can recollect that many. Everyone is comfortable playing home. Where are we going?