Cricket: `Rabbits' taunt to Stewart's troops

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The Independent Online
THE ENGLAND team have been lampooned as "rabbits" in the Australian press after their seven-wicket defeat in the Perth Test.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph featured a mock back page picture which showed batsmen Mike Atherton, John Crawley and the captain, Alec Stewart, complete with rabbit's heads and ears.

Under the headline "Rabbit Stew" and unflattering references to the trio's Test averages, the paper also claims "Australian bowlers feast on England's bunnies."

The Telegraph claimed that most of the England batsmen were "so psychologically shattered by Australia's Ashes dominance yesterday they could not look their tormentors in the eye."

The paper also claimed that most England players snubbed an invitation for a drink in the Australian dressing-room although Atherton, Mark Ramprakash, Graeme Hick and Stewart did turn up.

Melbourne's Herald Sun said the Perth Test proved the tourists were "markedly inferior" to the Australians and that it was only by luck that they were trailing 1-0.

The Age reported: "Certainly England did have their moments in this remarkable three-day Test but their problem was that they could not string them together."

There was some relief from the Pom bashing thanks to the syndicated column of the former Somerset captain Peter Roebuck. He wrote: "The distance between the sides did not appear as great. The seven-wicket winning margin was a bit rough."

Shane Warne will miss Victoria's game with England this weekend. Australia's leg-spinner, recovering from the shoulder operation he had in May, has no intention of risking himself in the four-day game, starting in Melbourne on Saturday. "There's nothing to be gained by playing against the Poms when I'm still only half fit," he said. "I want to have a go at the Poms in this Ashes series but I am still in the middle of a carefully worked out programme, designed to get me back into Test cricket. "Why should I let the Poms have a go at me when I am honestly nothing like 100 per cent spot on with my bowling?

"There's no secret about me not having my full repertoire together yet. I only want to play against England when I can send down the same bag of tricks that has baffled them before."