Ashes 2013-14: Snapped bat says it all about series of English disasters

Carberry's broken bat was the most symbolic moment of the series

Sydney

In mid-afternoon on the final day of England’s worst Ashes series came the most symbolic moment. Michael Carberry, the opening batsman, played a regulation defensive shot to a good length ball from Ryan Harris. And his bat simply snapped in two, the bottom half flapping forlornly against the top.

England were utterly broken. For 10 weeks their batsmen had shown no resistance and now their bats had given up the unequal struggle as well. That image will pervade the memory of this whole sorry campaign. Carberry smiled. There was not much else he could do save break down in tears and scream for mercy.

Soon after, 110 minutes later, at 4.23pm to be precise, England had lost the fifth Test by 281 runs on its third day and the series by 5-0. It was the third such margin in history and this one came from nowhere. Only three months ago at home, England had won 3-0. They felt like kings of the world then.

The fight had gone out of them on Sunday. There had not been much of it in the preceding weeks as potentially winning positions were surrendered and Australia’s bowlers ran rampant.

Read more:

Ashes 2013-14: The Aussie Angle - Darren Lehmann deserves more credit than he will admit  

Ashes 2013-14: Which players should England stick with going forward, who is playing for their future and who should hang up the pads?

Ashes 2013-14: ‘We let you all down,’ Alastair Cook tells England fans after whitewash

Ashes 2013-14: Alastair Cook ‘desperate’ to show he’s still the right man for England

Ashes 2013-14: Ian Botham 'embarrassed' by Alastair Cook's 'spineless' England after series whitewash  

No one alive expected England to make the 448 runs required to win after Australia were bowled out in their second innings for 276, a total reached at well above four runs an over. They were in the business of plundering and England were not in the business of stopping them.

ASHES PODCAST: Stephen Brenkley and Tom Collomosse discuss the third day of the Fifth Test. Listen below…

Chris Rogers, whose place was in jeopardy before the fourth Test, scored his second hundred of the series and became the leading runscorer of the two series between the sides. It was a finely appointed innings of 119, full of measured strokes, containing 15 fours and spanning 169 balls.

There were three wickets for Scott Borthwick as the tail thrashed, which may have counted for almost nothing but were the best figures by an England leg spinner for 20 years. He did not quite look the part but you never know.

Reaching the target was a different proposition from taking the match into the fourth day. It proved well beyond them. Alastair Cook was the first wicket to fall, as he has been in seven of the 10 innings; he has been out six times before the 11th over has been complete.

If he is the right man to take England on from this – and he probably is – he has to take a long look at himself, at his team and at its simplest how he balances the demands of batting with those of captaincy. He has an enduring weakness around and just outside off stump but the majority of his dismissals in this series have been caused by careworn strokes attached to limited foot movement.

Cook’s average in the past 10 Tests is 25.7. If he were not captain, a player, even one with a record as illustrious as his, would be under serious scrutiny by the selectors. He followed a ball outside off stump from Mitchell Johnson and kept following it until he made sure he had edged it to Brad Haddin.

Before tea, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen, the men who should have been his senior lieutenants in this rubber, had departed to lamentable errors of judgement, a cut to point and a prod to short leg. Without any performances of note from these three, a tough task has been made impossible.

The final seven wickets fell in 64 balls in the evening session, by now the calamity approaching risible proportions. Johnson, Ryan Harris and Nathan Lyon were all among the wickets, probably finishing a career or two, some of them almost before they had started.

Australia celebrate victory during day three of the Fifth Ashes Test Australia celebrate victory during day three of the Fifth Ashes Test  

It is difficult to think that Jonny Bairstow will be called to the colours any time soon, or Boyd Rankin, or that Borthwick will be asked to start the summer. There was a flurry of resistance at the end from Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad, the only two players remotely to have done themselves justice.

Stokes is a real find who may be the fulcrum of this side for 10 years. He bowls too short and his batting sometimes lacks rigour, which may tell against him on the bad days. But he has a fearlessness about his play which means that he is always standing up to be counted.

Johnson, the man of the series, should perhaps have applied the coup de grâce but it was fitting enough it was done through a combination of Harris and Michael Clarke. Rankin, one of the three debutants, essayed a drive which went high to slip where Clarke took it above his head.

Clarke was immediately engulfed by his colleagues and they joined in the ubiquitous huddle. Australia had picked the same XI for the entire series, something they had never done before. By contrast, England used 18 players, Steve Finn the only member of the original party who did not have a game.

Had anybody suggested on that first day at Brisbane when Australia were 132 for 6 and staring down the barrel that Scott Borthwick of Sunderland would be bowling for England before the series was out they would have been laughed out of the ground.

Borthwick himself, happily playing club cricket in Sydney, would doubtless have been aghast. But that was where England had plummeted in a little over six weeks of cricket. At least the SCG, unlike the Oval in August, was spared a drenching. It was England who had been urinated all over.

Five steps: To disaster how it all went wrong

1 Alastair Cook’s stiff back

It seemed a piffling thing at the time when the captain disembarked at Perth and found himself unable to play in the first game, a long flight having taken its toll. But it meant the team for the opening game changed, which meant the intended Test team changed, and everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

2 The Johnson factor

As soon as he was unleashed at Brisbane it was clear that England had to respond quickly. Trouble was that Mitchell Johnson had become a bit of a joke, a fast bowler who could perform in patches but swiftly fell apart. Instead he was a constant and rapid menace.

3 Jonathan Trott’s illness

Poor Trott was worked over by Johnson in the first Test and was clearly suffering as, it transpired, he had been for some time. He went home and the balance of the team, nurtured carefully over four years, was terminally destroyed.

4 Graeme Swann’s retirement

Swann was targeted mercilessly by Australia’s right-handed batsmen and eventually decided enough was enough, announcing his retirement after the third Test. He deserves better than being remembered for being hit for 22 off his final Test over.

5 Kevin Pietersen’s disengagement

Despite all his protests and his determination to show otherwise, Pietersen never quite convinced that he meant business on the grand scale. It is possible to wonder if he will ever again be as good as he was. Ashes 2013-14: The Aussie Angle - Darren Lehmann deserves more credit than he will admit

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital