Atherton advocates youth movement

`We came here with a short-term ambition, which failed, and I don't thi nk we have made any progress at all in Australia'

Australia 402 and 345-8 dec England 295 and 123

Australia win by 329 runs He looked knackered, and confessed to feeling as though he had "hit a brick wall". However, nothing makes you more weary than losing, and Michael Atherton has had enough of it. Before he finally dragged himself off for a hot bath yesterday, the England captain announced that it is high time English cricket stopped kidding itself it is in need of nothing more than an aspirin and went in for major surgery.

England have played the three major Test nations, Australia, Pakistan and the West Indies, in nine series since 1988, and have lost eight of them. Forty-seven Tests, six wins, 26 defeats, and they have now lost 14 and won only two (both when the Ashes were already gone) in the last four series against their most ancient cricketing enemy.

Atherton has been involved in a good many of those matches, and is now so convinced that England are stuck in an international cul-de-sac that he yesterday prefaced yet another losing England press conference by reading out a written statement "imploring" the Test and County Cricket Board to pull their fingers out.

Specifically, it is time, he said, for the County Championship to forget about quantity and start concentrating on quality. "Australia's system is far more conducive towards preparing its players for the demands of Test cricket," he said, "and we must gear ourselves in the same way."

Atherton's major theme, however, was youth. "This tour has proved that we have to invest more in younger players, and I implore the selectors to do that. We are at the end of an era with Graham Gooch, Mike Gatting, David Gower and Allan Lamb leaving Testcricket, and it is time to stop being fearful of giving responsibility to the likes of Graham Thorpe and Mark Ramprakash. There is no other way to go.

"We have been well beaten out here, and although we won in Adelaide, we played moderately for the first four days. What cost us this last match was dropping up to a dozen catches, but it is our general ground fielding which has really let us down. You can't compete at this level if you are giving away 20 to 30 runs in the field every day. You need a fit and mobile team.

"The demands of Test cricket are now so great that I don't think too many future players will go beyond the age of 35 or 36.

"I'm not too downcast because I feel we have some very good young players, but we came here with a short-term ambition, which failed, and I don't think we have made any progress at all in Australia."

It was strong stuff, although when it comes to the 18 counties finally deciding to place national interest ahead of self- interest, Atherton may not be the first, or last, figure of any importance to conclude that he might just as well have picked up a telephone and addressed his remarks to the Speaking Clock. Atherton's statement will probably be discovered in about 100 years' time, locked away in the same dusty folder as the smog report commissioned by Lord Ted in Calcutta two winters ago.

Atherton also, one suspects, would like some more youthful thinking to go along with younger players. Having had his power base eroded by the dirt in the pocket business last summer, he had Gatting foisted upon him by Ray Illingworth, although Atherton'sdisappointment at one or two areas of his own captaincy here ("it's a hard job, and no one gets 10 out of 10 all the time'') doubtless includes preferring Gatting to John Crawley (at a time when he did not have to) for the first Test match.

What disappointed him even more, however, was Illingworth's insistence on Martin McCague ahead of Angus Fraser in the original tour party. The chairman of selectors cited Australia's "hard, bouncy pitches" as his reason, conveniently forgetting that there are more Test pitches fitting that description in England (Old Trafford and The Oval) than there are in Australia.

Here in Perth, on the one pitch Illingworth was quite right in thinking was right up Devon Malcolm's street, Malcolm took 2 for 198 in the match, and England, having lurched to 27 for 5 on the fourth evening, were finally dispatched five minutes before lunch yesterday - by the narrow margin of 329 runs - when Malcolm's middle stump travelled far enough backwards for Ian Healy to take no more than a couple of strides to collect his souvenir.

The bowler concerned was Craig McDermott, whose 6 for 38 took his total of wickets to 32 in the series, five more than Shane Warne, and 19 more than Malcolm. Had it not been for a partnership of 63 between Ramprakash and Steven Rhodes, more than half England's final total, Atherton would have become the first England captain to preside over four totals of less than three figures.

When Atherton was caught down the leg side (to a deliberate Australian plan) in the second over of the morning, England were 27 for 6 and almost odds-on to score fewer than last winter's 46 all out in Trinidad. However, Rhodes, with 33 runs in the seriesbefore yesterday, finally decided (a little belatedly) to start batting, and there was even the prospect of England delaying Australia beyond lunch until McDermott blew away the tail.

Ramprakash was caught in the gully off Mark Waugh, Chris Lewis was lbw to McDermott's inswinging yorker, DeFreitas collected a pair (like John Crawley) when he edged McDermott to first slip, and Malcolm was not only optimistic in asking the umpire for a middle-and-leg guard, but a good distance away from the line he had scratched out when his vague waft failed to make contact. It was by a similar distance that England, once again against Australia, finished second.

n When Mike Atherton previously called for a younger England team, before the win in Adelaide, with an inferred criticism of the inclusion of Graham Gooch and Mike Gatting in the party, Ray Illingworth responded with: "Mike was just as keen as the other selectors for the pair to go to Australia. The only area of disagreement was over the selection of Gus Fraser." At the time the party was chosen, Gatting was third and Gooch fourth in the national batting averages.

SCOREBOARD (Final day; Australia won toss)

AuSTRALIA - First Innings 402 (M J Slater 124, S R Waugh 99no, M E Waugh 88).

ENGLAND - First Innings 295 (G P Thorpe 123, M R Ramprakash 72).

AUSTRALIA - Second Innings 345 for 8 dec (M A Taylor 52, S R Waugh 80, G S Blewett 115).

England - Second Innings G A Gooch c and b McDermott 4

(11 min, 12 balls)

*M A Atherton c Healy b McGrath 8

(73 min, 43 balls, 1 four)

M W Gatting b McDermott 8

(16 min, 14 balls, 1 four)

A R C Fraser lbw b McGrath 5

(20 min, 13 balls)

G P Thorpe c Taylor b McGrath 0

(1 min, 1 ball)

J P Crawley c M Waugh b McDermott 0

(3 min, 4 balls)

M R Ramprakash c S Waugh b M Waugh 42

(70 min, 57 balls, 5 fours)

S J Rhodes not out 39

(106 min, 73 balls, 4 fours)

C C Lewis lbw b McDermott 11

(34 min, 26 balls, 2 fours)

P A J DeFreitas c Taylor b McDermott 0

(8 min, 5 balls)

D E Malcolm b McDermott 0

(2 min, 3 balls)

Extras (lb1 w1 nb4) 6

Total (180 min, 41 overs) 123

Fall: 1-4 (Gooch) 2-17 (Gatting) 3-26 (Fraser) 4-26 (Thorpe) 5-27 (Crawley) 6-27 (Atherton) 7-95 (Ramprakash) 8-121 (Lewis) 9-123 (DeFreitas) 10-123 (Malcolm).

Bowling: McDermott 15-4-38-6 (nb2) (11-3-28-3, 4-1-10-3); McGrath 13-4-40-3 (nb2 w1); Angel 3-0-20-0, Warne 7-3-11-0, M Waugh 3-0-13-1 (nb1) (one spell each).

Progress: Fourth day: Close 27 for 5 (Atherton 8, Ramprakash 0) 14 overs. Fifth day: 50: 100 min, 21.4 overs. 100: 136 min, 29.5 overs. Innings closed 12.25pm.

Australia won by 329 runs.

Man of the Match: S R Waugh.

Adjudicator: G S Chappell.

Man of the Series: C J McDermott.

International Cricketer of the Year: C J McDermott.

Umpires: K E Liebenberg and S G Randell.

TV Replay Umpire: T A Prue.

Match Referee: J R Reid.

PREVIOUS RESULTS First Test (Brisbane, 25-29 November; Australia won toss): Australia 426 (M J Slater 176, M E Waugh 140, M A Taylor 59; D Gough 4-107) and 248 for 8 dec (Taylor 58; P C R Tufnell 4-79); England 167 (M A Atherton 54; C J McDermott 6-53) and 323 (G A Hick 80, G P Thorpe 67, G A Gooch 56; S K Warne 8-71). Australia won by 184 runs.

Second Test (Melbourne, 24-29 December; England won toss): Australia 279 (S R Waugh 94no, M E Waugh 71; D Gough 4-60) and 320 for 7 dec (D C Boon 131); England 212 (G Thorpe 51; S K Warne 6-64) and 92 (C J McDermott 5-42). Australia won by 295 runs.

Third Test (Sydney, 1-5 January; England won toss): England 309 (M A Atherton 88, J P Crawley 72, D Gough 51; C J McDermott 5-101) and 255 for 2 dec (G A Hick 98no, Atherton 67); Australia 116 (D Gough 6-49) and 344 for 7 (M A Taylor 113, M J Slater 103). Match drawn.

Fourth Test (Adelaide, 26-30 January; England won toss): England 353 (M W Gatting 117, M A Atherton 80) and 328 (G P Thorpe 83, J P Crawley 71, P A J DeFreitas 88; M E Waugh 5-40); Australia 419 (G S Blewett 102no, M A Taylor 90, I A Healy 74, M J Slater67) and 156 (Healy 51no; D E Malcolm 4-39, C C Lewis 4-24). England won by 106 runs.

FINAL ASHES TOUR AVERAGES ENGLAND

TEST BATTING

M I NO Runs HS Ave 100 50 Ct St M R Ramprakash 1 2 0 114 72 57.00 - 1 2 - G P Thorpe 5 10 1 444 123 49.33 1 3 5 -G A Hick 3 6 1 208 98* 41.60 - 2 9 - M A Atherton 5 10 0 407 88 40.70 - 4 4 - J P Crawley 3 5 0 171 72 34.20 - 2 1 - G A Gooch 5 10 0 245 56 24.50 - 1 - - D Gough 3 5 1 98 51 24.50 - 1 4 - A J Stewart 2 4 1 73 33 24.33 - - 2 - M W Gatting 5 9 0 182 117 20.22 1 - 3 - P A J DeFreitas 4 8 0 141 88 17.62 - 1 2 - C C Lewis 2 4 0 68 40 17.00 - - 3 - D E Malcolm 4 7 3 50 29 12.50 - - 1 - A R C Fraser 3 5 0 53 27 10.60 - - - - S J Rhodes 5 9 1 72 39* 9.00 - - 20 1

P C R Tufnell 4 7 3 6 4* 1.50 - - 2 - M J McCague 1 2 0 1 1 0.50 - - - - TEST BOWLING

O M R W Ave BB 5w 10w Econ D Gough 152.5 33 425 20 21.25 6-49 1 - 2.78

C C Lewis 78.5 13 249 11 22.63 4-24 - - 3.15

A R C Fraser 129.5 25 389 14 27.78 5-73 1 - 2.99

P A J DeFreitas 184 39 558 13 42.92 3-91 - - 3.03

P C R Tufnell 207.4 45 442 10 44.20 4-79 - - 2.12

D E Malcolm 181.1 32 588 13 45.23 4-39 - - 3.24

M J McCague 19.2 4 96 2 48.00 2-96 - - 4.96

G A Gooch 25 6 74 1 74.00 1-20 - - 2.96

G A Hick 16 3 58 0 - - - - 3.62

M R Ramprakash 19 1 74 0 - - - - 3.89

FIRST-CLASS TOUR BATTING M I NO Runs HS Ave 100 50 Ct St G A Hick 8 15 1 877 172 62.64 3 3 16 - A J Stewart 5 9 4 291 101* 58.20 1 1 3 - M R Ramprakash 1 2 0 114 72 57.00 - 1 2 - G P Thorpe 10 20 3 756 123 44.47 1 5 9 - J P Crawley 9 15 2 563 91 43.30 - 6 3 - M A Atherton 10 20 1 755 88 39.73 - 6 8 - G A Gooch 10 19 0 685 101 36.05 1 5 3 - M W Gatting 9 16 1 532 203* 35.46 2 1 5 - C White 3 5 0 125 46 25.00 - - 2 - D Gough 5 8 2 114 51 19.00 - 1 5 - C C Lewis 2 4 0 68 40 17.00 - - 3 - P A J DeFreitas 7 13 1 190 88 15.83 - 1 2 - S J Rhodes 11 19 2 240 50 14.11 - 1 40 6

A R C Fraser 4 6 1 60 27 12.00 - - 1 - D E Malcolm 8 12 4 91 29 11.37 - - 1 - S D Udal 2 4 0 30 16 7.50 - - 1 - M J McCague 4 5 1 29 16 7.25 - - 3 - J E Benjamin 4 4 0 11 7 2.75 - - 1 - P C R Tufnell 9 13 7 12 4* 2.00 - - 5 -

FIRST-CLASS TOUR BOWLING 0 M R W Ave BB 5w 10w Econ C C Lewis 78.5 13 249 11 22.63 4-24 - - 3.15

D Gough 222.5 44 688 26 26.46 6-49 2 - 3.08

C White 60.5 10 195 7 27.85 3-13 - - 3.20

D E Malcolm 340.3 55 1133 34 33.32 6-70 1 - 3.32

M J McCague 125.2 21 487 14 34.78 5-31 1 - 3.88

P A J DeFreitas 299.1 67 852 24 35.50 4-60 - - 2.84

A R C Fraser 157.5 30 504 14 36.00 5-73 1 - 3.19

P C R Tufnell 384.2 70 1018 27 37.70 5-71 1 - 2.64

G A Gooch 27 7 79 2 39.50 1-5 - - 2.92

J E Benjamin 105.5 23 341 6 56.83 2-36 - - 3.22

S D Udal 81.5 4 345 5 69.00 2-95 - - 4.21

G A Hick 61 8 224 2 112.00 1-11 - - 3.67

M A Atherton 2 0 6 0 - - - - 3.00

G P Thorpe 2 1 6 0 - - - - 3.00

M R Ramprakash 19 1 74 0 - - - - 3.89

australia

TEST BATTING M I NO Runs HS Ave 100 50 Ct St G S Blewett 2 4 1 249 115 83.00 2 - 3 - M J Slater 5 10 0 623 176 62.30 3 1 - - S R Waugh 5 10 3 345 99* 49.28 - 3 3 - M A Taylor 5 10 0 471 113 47.10 1 4 7 - M E Waugh 5 10 0 435 140 43.50 1 2 8 - I A Healy 5 10 3 249 74 35.57 - 2 23 2

D C Boon 5 10 0 246 131 24.60 1 - 2 - T B A May 3 5 3 31 10* 15.50 - - - - M G Bevan 3 6 0 81 35 13.50 - - - - D W Fleming 3 4 0 40 24 10.00 - - 2 - C J McDermott 5 8 2 42 21* 7.00 - - 3 - S K Warne 5 10 1 60 36* 6.66 - - 5 - J Angel 1 2 0 11 11 5.50 - - - - G D McGrath 2 2 0 0 0 0.00 - - - - P E McIntyre 1 2 0 0 0 0.00 - - - - TEST BOWLING

O M R W Ave BB 5w 10w Econ M E Waugh 53 1 157 8 19.62 5-40 1 - 2.96

S K Warne 256.1 84 549 27 20.33 8-71 2 1 2.14

C J McDermott 232.5 56 675 32 21.09 6-38 4 - 2.89

D W Fleming 102.2 30 274 10 27.40 3-52 - - 2.67

J Angel 25.3 7 85 3 28.33 3-65 - - 3.33

G D McGrath 67 16 229 6 38.16 3-40 - - 3.41

P E McIntyre 27.3 3 87 2 43.50 2-51 - - 3.16

T B A May 101 30 219 1 219.00 1-3 - - 2.16

M G Bevan 7 1 19 0 - - - - 2.71

G S Blewett 24 5 9 0 - - - - 3.79

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