Australian media slam home team players

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The Independent Online

The Australian press mixed praise for England with a damning assessment of their own team's display in the first Ashes Test today.

The hosts appeared well set to win the opener in Brisbane having gained a 221-run first innings lead but England fought back well, aided by a toothless Australia attack, to reach 517 for one in their second stint at the crease as the contest petered out into a draw.

It gives Andrew Strauss' men the psychological edge heading to Adelaide and the media Down Under are not impressed.

Columnist Peter Roebuck, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, said: "Australia have been cooked and served up for supper.

"Their bowlers have been taken apart by an opponent that usually departs from Brisbane in a state of shock.

"Records were broken and the score rattled along till the head was spinning, a trait that eluded the local tweakers. With the terrible logic of sporting supremacy, 300 became 400 and then 500 and still no sign of a wicket.

"St George was slaying the dragon. In a trice Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott became not shaky players susceptible to bounce but machines churning out runs.

"The Barmy Army roared its approval and the locals were stunned into silence. It had been a long time since any Australian outfit, let alone its cricket team, was treated with such disdain by any opponent, let alone a bunch of Poms.

"England had been down and almost out. Now they were putting the boot in."

Greg Baum was equally critical in his column in the same paper.

He wrote: "England in its second innings piled up a monolithic 517 for one declared. Here was a two-day reprise of the wretched mid '80s, fortunately beyond the memory of half the population and carefully forgotten by the rest.

"Alastair Cook, a doughty left-handed opener with a reputation for frailty away from home, batted 10 hours for 235 not out.

"In this innings he was like time, able neither to be rushed nor slowed, registering runs but scant emotion, even at his plentiful milestones.

"Jonathan Trott made an effortless 135 not out, sharing 329 with Cook, the most for England for any wicket in Australia.

"Here, shudder to think it, is England's future, and Australia's.

"Trott debuted only last year but already has as many Ashes hundreds as Mike Atherton and Alec Stewart, redoubtable foes from Australia's halcyon days.

"Trott looks to a narrow focus and a wide bat.

"Cook is 25 and has 14 centuries already. At 25, Adam Gilchrist and Mike Hussey had played no Tests, and Matthew Hayden one.

"Australia was helpless even to stem the tide, let alone stop it. Edges, wides and byes flowed, interspersing the drives and cuts.

"Chances came along a half at a time, widely spaced, and all spurned.

"Ricky Ponting might have attacked more, but with what? Australia's bowling lacked not just bite, but teeth and gums."

The Courier Mail, which is based in Brisbane, believes Cricket Australia must demand pitches that are likely to produce a result for the rest of the series as they try to regain the urn.

The Courier's Ben Dorries wrote: "The Gabba was meant to be the one Australian Test venue where Ponting could count on a win. It was Australia's own field of dreams and no visiting team had won in Brisbane since 1988.

"Indeed, such has Australia's dominance been here that only five times in 22 years have touring sides been able to cling on for a draw.

"Granted, the Gabba pitch was as flat as a pancake after the opening two days. But if Australia's quicks could hardly fire a shot on the pitch which has overtaken Perth as Australia's bounciest track, how the hell are they going to do any better anywhere else?

"It is sad that it has come to this but Australia must pull a rabbit out of a hat and order its curators to inject some surprise blood and thunder and loads of extra venom in their pitches.

"A green pitch here, a dusty pitch there, a lumpy pitch there. Roll the dice and make this a 50-50 Ashes series where Test matches go crazy. It might be the only way."