Australians lament 'our worst cricketing day in 100 years'

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The Independent Online

The Australian media pulled no punches yesterday, with one newspaper describing the capitulation on the first day of the fourth Test against England as "its worst cricketing day for 100 years".

The home side started with high expectations following their emphatic win in Perth but ended the day in disarray after being bowled out for 98 before England raced to 157 without loss by the close in Melbourne.

The Australians in a bumper MCG crowd were filtering out long before stumps and the local press were damning in their verdict. Under the headline "Humiliation of a Century", the Sydney Morning Herald columnist Greg Baum pointed the finger at Australia's batsmen for their current predicament.

He wrote: "The bowlers have been ridiculed, but the batsmen have been more culpable in this series. On average, Australia have lost four wickets getting to 100. Yesterday, not even all 10 were enough.

"England's bowling was accurate, rigorous and sustained, but 98 all out flattered them. Phillip Hughes is not equipped for Test cricket and nor yet is Steve Smith. It's as simple as that.

"This is Australia's lowest ebb since the Ashes summer of 1986-87, perhaps lower. But that Australian team featured Allan Border, Geoff Marsh and Steve Waugh, apostles to lead their generation from the wilderness. None such impress in this team.

"It has taken two decades and too much bad airline food, but now it was worth their whiles. All England's Christmases have come at once."

The Melbourne Herald's Robert Craddock was the only man to find anything positive in Australia's demise, believing it may prompt a much-needed rethink.

He wrote: "Don't shed a tear over Australia's Ashes demise – the looming defeat could be just the kick in the pants Australia needs.

"While Australia has recklessly snatched at glory this summer, no team in 25 years has come to our shores better prepared or with a stronger collective focus than this England squad.

"Let's be honest. Australia did its best to cook up an even contest by offering up a couple of green wickets but the Perth win was a bit like a Red Bull shot for the Australians – a quick fix not totally connected to the real world.

"Spicing up decks is great fun but it is also the last chance saloon for every desperate cricket nation and a candid admission that you are lacking in orthodox skills – which Australia is.

"An Australian victory in this Ashes series would have only served to heighten Australia's belief that its system is going fine when it's clearly not producing young players of robust Test match pedigree. It needs an urgent review of its set-up. If England win the Ashes, they deserve it. They banned wives from the tour where Australia took them everywhere.

"They chose an XI and stuck to them while Australia was forced to experiment far and wide. They arrived for this series even before Australia did.

"They train hard. They catch well. They rarely bowl no-balls.

"They are not a great team but they play for each other and that is something we have not been able to say about any England team since Mike Gatting's men came here 24 years ago," Craddock added.