Can't bat, can't bowl, can't field: Is this the worst Aussie side ever?

The Baggy Greens have been terrible before, but there has always been an excuse. Not this time
  • @stephenbrenkley

They never like to admit it to anyone except themselves but at several points in their history Australia have had awful cricket teams. In 1912, in 1978-79 and in 1985 they were roundly defeated by England.

There were reasons, however. Six players were effectively on strike in 1912, plenty more had dashed for the dosh to the breakaway World Series Cricket in 1978-79 and a few others had plighted their troth to the Apartheid pariah of South Africa in 1985. Their finest players were unavailable.

This lot of 2010, however, are the best they have got. Not a strike, a rebellion or a boycott in sight; just a bunch of average international cricketers picked by an average bunch of selectors.

Where they go from an innings defeat on a flat pitch after winning a key toss only they can decide, assuming their selectors are capable of deciding anything. But it is a jolt to the notion of the strength of Australia's first class cricket. Indeed, before the Ashes series began, England were confronted by some insipid state opposition which made county cricket look as hard-nosed as the Mafia.

If they have been in long-term trouble before, Australia have usually found their way out of it. True, in 1958-59, after losing three successive Ashes series, they won by fielding a succession of throwers but generally they have relied on the less unorthodox methods permitted by a nation blessed with sunshine.

England are keen to point out that they have won a match not a series and that is so. But all of Australia knows their team are not what they were and is rounding on them like a mad dog in the midday sun.

To denigrate Australia is to damn England with faint praise. The tourists deserve better; they have played sleek cricket. England's greatest wins in Australian were in 1928-29 and 1932-33 when they won 4-1 both times with Don Bradman in the opposition. It would be a tough call to say that this is Australia's worst team. But to have a hope they need a Bradman and quickly.

Hall of shame: Australia's saggy greens

Shane Watson The opener seems to have an attention span issue. Keeps getting to 50, forgets he is supposed to go on and make big runs and slaps one to point. To make it worse, he admits he is well aware of the problem but can't sort it.

Simon Katich The tough guy of the team is injured. 35-year-old will be replaced by 3ft 5in Phil Hughes to whom a length ball can seem like a bouncer.

Ricky Ponting A true great, but creaking and under fire from all angles. Can't get a run and keeps being nice about England – that can't be Punter, can it?

Michael Clarke Next captain? Next to be dumped more like. Just dismissed by Pietersen's occasional spin. And then refused to walk.

Mike Hussey OK, Mr Cricket has made a few runs this Ashes but his dismissal yesterday to an ill-advised pull showed a rattled mind.

Marcus North Clings on to his spot not because of his own deeds but because of the lack of alternatives. A complete international batsman he is not. More dangerous with the ball than Xavier Doherty, though.

Brad Haddin No Gilly, but who is? Tough customer has got some runs this Ashes but seems to be constantly irked by the lovable Jimmy Anderson.

Ryan Harris A king pair for 'Rolf' says it all. Australia's best bowler (at 31) but that does not make him an opening bowler (or a No 8 batsman).

Xavier Doherty The oddest pick for Australia in decades. Left-arm spin (!) bowler clearly not up to the job of Test cricket. Brought in to unsettle Kevin Pietersen. 230 runs later ... Also spilt a sitter in the first Test. The sound you hear is Wilfred Rhodes spinning in his grave.

Peter Siddle Honest toiler who did snatch a hat-trick in Brisbane but that was deceptive. He can bowl all day and can also go that long without taking a wicket.

Doug Bollinger Doug the Rug himself, the man with the follicle transplant. Bowling was all over the show. Had a dreadful match – should be tearing his hair out.