I mourn the death of Australian cricket - its Ashes will remain in England
The roles have been reversed; Australia cannot bat, cannot bowl and cannot field.
A demolition - no other word better suits England’s victory over the Australians by an innings and 71 runs. Actually, I believe demolition is a milder word too for so complete was England’s dominance that Australia must be wondering whether they were playing against the Australia of the Steve Waugh era or the West Indies of the 80’s.
The roles have been reversed. It is Australia who cannot bat, cannot bowl and cannot field and are being left high and dry at home looking for an inspiration. This is a situation that England are used to. But since South Africa beat the Aussies in a Test series at home in 2008, Ricky Ponting’s men have become accustomed to losing and have not won a Test match since the Lord’s Test earlier this year. In a space of one and a half years they have lost two fortresses: Lords where England beat them in a Test after 75 years and now Adelaide.
Murphy's law kicks in for Australia
The current Australian performance is the perfect embodiment of Murphy’s Law. Everything has crumbled together. Their bowlers cannot make inroads and their batsmen are not making runs. Ponting is out of ideas on how to captain and is short of runs. He is not able to control situations while batting in which, a few years ago he would have crushed the opposition. On top of this, the batsman Australia most fears, Kevin Pieterson came in his groove in this Test scoring a majestic double century. Once on song, he is an unstoppable force and would hurt Australia during the rest of the series as well.
This Australian side has no resemblance to the one that cruised to a whitewash in the 2006-07 series in Australia. That side had two all time bowling greats: Glenn Mcgrath and Shane Warne. The retirement of these two was bound to leave a big hole in the Australian line up. You can hardly recover from the loss of one great cricketer in a hurry - losing two is a tragedy!
But the bowling slide for the Australians has been greater and has meant that the one dominant side is now somewhere in the middle of the ICC Test Rankings. Gillespie and Brett Lee left the scene too in a hurry and the current crop is not good enough for now. For the Australians to regain their lost glory, they need to find some good bowlers and that too fast. Currently there is no leader of the crop. Mitchell Johnson looked like he could lead the attack but he has faltered and with him, so has Australia.
As for the batting, North’s form has gone south as an Australian great recently said and he needs to be replaced. Usman Khawaja is waiting in the wings along with Callum Ferguson. Simon Katich is injured and Phil Hughes should come in his place.
Fielding is another problem for the Aussies. They are dropping catches as if they are trying to catch a missile and not a cricket ball. Runout opportunities are being missed. This is the Australian team we are talking about and not India or Pakistan. The old adage, “catches win matches” is as true as it ever was and till Australia recovers its fielding form, matches are going to be lost.
England's King Midas' touch
On the other hand England are all set. Everything they touch seems to turn to gold. Their batsmen are probably enjoying the best form of their life and bowling is firing too. They have an injury worry in Broad for the next Test and that should force the only change in the winning combination.
So it is a headache for Ponting now before the third Ashes Test starts. He has already lost two Ashes series and a falter in the third one will not be spared. He will be 36 years old in two weeks and time seems to be running out on him. He needs to make runs and also find some inspiration in his captaincy for Australia are known for being ruthless even with their greats as Steve Waugh and Mark Taylor would testify (both were dropped from the ODI side).
As Peter English noted in his recent column, “An era is moving on and, sadly, a true great is being left behind.”