THE VIEW FROM DOWN HERE – 10 THOUGHTS ON THE ASHES FOURTH TEST

Ashes 4: A New Hopelessness

1] The Boxing Day Test Match in Melbourne is one of Australia’s sporting event icons. With the AFL grand final, the Melbourne Cup, Bathurst, the Phillip Island motorbike race, the Sydney to Hobart yacht race and the Tour Down Under, it is a sporting event that drags in the hugest crowds and often gives the bestest action.

2] There’s crumbled and then there’s this pile of steaming horse manure. Where Australia struggled on the first day of the Perth test, in this one they completely collapsed. All out for 98 in less than a day. Every single one of them caught as well.

3] To rub salt in Australia’s festering wounds, England finish day one on 0/157. Yes. No wickets, more than a hundred runs.

4] Day Two is England teaching Australia how to bat. That is all.

5] I have ragged pretty hard on Ponting over the years. His display on Day Two is worth mentioning. Pietersen was given not out. Australia called for the third umpire, who agreed. SO Ponting then went on about it to the umpires for 8 minutes! The video replay showed he had not hit it. Ponting felt the video was wrong. The technology they use is excellent. Ponting is… not.

6] Day 3 and England are finally dismissed for 513 runs.

7] The one – one! – positive out of England’s innings for Australia was Siddle. He took six wickets and two catches – that’s having a hand in 8 out of 10 wickets. England on the other hand saw Trott not out on 168, Prior with 85, Cook 82, Strauss 69 and Pietersen 51. Add this to Anderson’s 4 wickets and Tremlett’s 4 wickets and it looks like Perth was just an aberration.

8] End of Day 3 and Australia are 6/169, still 246 behind.

9] It took England an hour or so, but Australia were finally all out for 258, losing the match by an innings and 157 runs. That’s not a defeat – that’s a complete and utter humiliation. I’ve been watching cricket for 3 decades and it is the worst performance I have seen by an Australian side against England. Ever. What crap.

10] Ricky Ponting’s captaincy must be in doubt. Yes, I know he played with a broken finger, but that does not explain the fact he is now only the 2nd Australian captain ever to fail in 3 Ashes series. Yes, Australia can still draw the series in Sydney, but England have retained the Ashes because a draw won’t win it for Australia. His insipid performance as captain again must surely put his position in jeopardy, a view expressed by more than one ex-player. The problem with that, however, is: who takes over? Michael Clarke’s form is almost as bad as Ponting’s and he seems to be having a crisis of confidence. Watson is being touted as a possible, and his form has been okay, while he has fronted media more than once and done an admirable job. Hussey was also mentioned as – despite failing in Melbourne – has had a good series, but his age goes against him; Australia prefers younger captains who’ll stick around for a bit. It seems the whole team needs something of a going over, and with Harris out with an ankle injury some enforced changes are bound to happen.

Australia 1st innings 98; England 1st innings 513; Australia 2nd innings 258
            England won by an innings and 157 runs
            England have retained the Ashes.

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