"It's time - and it has caught up with Ricky Ponting," Malcolm Conn writes in the Herald Sun, a day after Australia were razed by South Africa at Newlands.

Some former teammates of Australia's best batsman after Sir Don Bradman were right to believe that when Ponting retired from the captaincy this year he should have walked away altogether. His downward spiral has become a free fall but Ponting is not tumbling alone among those who were involved in Australia's second-innings debacle yesterday. If Simon Katich was sacked to rebuild for successive Ashes campaigns in 18 months, then the new selection panel under chairman John Inverarity has much to do.

"Madness, chaos, calamity and bizarre were the sorts of words thrown about Newlands as the Australians collapsed to 9/21," writes Peter Roebuck in the Sydney Morning Herald. "A few others might be added, including inept, irresolute, reckless, feckless and foolish."

A hundred years ago it was not unknown for a new cricket nation to be dismissed for 20 or 30. The pitches were rough and sometimes wet, the players were inexperienced and often out of their depth, the bats were thin and the gloves were spiky. Nowadays the players are professionals, fit, seasoned, trained, protected and surrounded by advisors. And the pitches are the same. It is just about conceivable that they might fall for 80 or 90, as did the hosts in their first innings. But 9/21?"

Also in the Sydney Morning Herald, Greg Baum writes: "At practice, Australia, conscious of a habit of losing wickets in a rush, had put a premium on the first 20 balls. In the middle, they lost their heads. Only two Australian batsman made it to 20 balls. One, Phil Hughes, was dropped en route. The other was No.11 Nathan Lyon. But no South African after the opening pair lasted 20 balls either. The bowling was good but no better than that. The batting was atrocious."

There's more from Greg Baum, and he says the mindset of Australia's batsmen was an acute problem. "Too many Australian batsmen played like dunces. Brad Haddin waltzed down the wicket as if this was beach cricket. It was the most spectacularly ill-considered, ill-conceived and embarrassing shot played by an Australian batsman since, well, Steve Smith at the fag end of the Ashes series in Sydney in January. Even the estimable Mike Hussey threw his bat at a wide ball, his first and the first after a break."

"Australia put off the post-mortems until after the match but there's no avoiding it. We need to talk about the 11. Or, at the very least, the top seven," writes Peter Lalor in the Australian.

If Australia is serious about the future in the wake of the first Test debacle against South Africa then Patrick Cummins must replace Mitchell Johnson, writes Malcolm Conn in the Courier Mail.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo