'Fish rots from the head' – how the press turned on Baggy Green flops

Thoughts turn to captaincy succession amid growing feeling that Clarke may not be right man to step up

Miserable, feeble, abject, catastrophic, humiliating, hopeless and all accompanied by the smell of rotting fish. Australians do not like losers; especially, it would seem, when they are wearing the treasured Baggy Green.

The reaction Down Under has grown ever more hostile to the home side as hopes of regaining the Ashes have dwindled and, by the time Ricky Ponting was making his lonely journey back to the bowels of the MCG, the prevalent sound ringing round the MCG was of butchers' knifes being sharpened up in the press box.

There was some sympathy for the beleaguered Australian skipper (or rather the soon to be "former Australian skipper"), his standing as one of the game's greats earning some wriggle room. Although not much.

"Fish rots from the head" fumed The Sydney Morning Herald's online edition, peculiarly over a large picture of Ponting's head. The Herald Sun in Melbourne wondered, "Is this the end?" alongside another close-up of the captain behind bars (of his helmet). Greg Baum, one of the leading cricket voices Down Under, wrote of how the "devils that multiplied in Ponting's mind" have left him with nowhere to go. England's imminent victory, said Baum, proved that Perth was nothing more than a "one-dead cat bounce" and Australia "must stop deluding themselves".

The Australian declared: "The urn is lost – and so is the captain." Ponting's demise, playing on via a bat that had come down once again from the direction of gully, left him looking as "shattered as his stumps", according to Peter Lawlor.

He added that "an ugly slice of history is his. The Ashes are lost and Ponting's career and captaincy are in doubt. The Tasmanian is in decline and will claim the ignominious distinction of being the only Australian captain to have lost the Ashes three times."

But if Ponting is "master and commander no more", who should take over at the helm? "The only question that remained was whether the captain would go down with his ship," said Malcolm Conn, also in The Australian. But the alarming lack of alternatives raises the prospect of Ponting limping on. Michael Clarke has been seen as heir apparent for almost as long as Prince Charles, but there appears a strengthening feeling across the Australian media that he is not the man for the job – though some see it coming his way regardless. According to The Australian, Ponting's finger injury provides the perfect excuse to "rest" him from the final Test and so begin the rebuilding job immediately.

There is plenty of concern over Clarke's position, not least his alarming lack of form. "His game is in disarray," said The Age. "There's a belief that Clarke's confidence is more shot to bits than Ponting's," suggested The Herald Sun, which also considered his popularity, or supposed lack of it, in the home dressing room.

Clarke is supposed to have been unhappy with the green-topped pitch at the Waca and to have given voice to his opinions, something that is thought not to have gone down well with other members of the team.

A rare voice of calm came from Shane Warne, who cautioned against change for change's sake for the final Test of the series in Sydney. He wrote: "Let's go away and think about things, rather than rush into any silly decisions."

But gnashing of teeth remained the overarching theme of the day. Back to The Herald Sun and Andrew Webster: "We can cop the hiding. We can swallow that England is better. We can even stomach the Barmy bloody Army. But what we want to know now is how Australian cricket, the national sport, will be recovered and rebuilt."

And finally, a historical summation from Baum: "Rarely since the First Fleet dropped anchor has Australia been so comprehensively claimed for England."

Suggested Topics
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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there