No sympathy for battered foes

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So deep was the gloom in the England camp following yesterday's crushing defeat in the third Test that Australian commentators almost refrained from poking fun. Almost, but not quite.

So deep was the gloom in the England camp following yesterday's crushing defeat in the third Test that Australian commentators almost refrained from poking fun. Almost, but not quite.

After Nasser Hussain's men sealed their fate in Perth, Matt Price wrote in The Australian: "There have been numerous excuses put forward for England's poor showing during the Ashes series: a collective lack of skill, nous, courage, coordination, commitment, knowledge, fitness, resilience, imagination, talent, esprit de corps, energy, nerve and I could keep going but I'll run out of space."

Victory was regarded as a foregone conclusion before England even arrived "down under" – not surprising, given Australia's record of seven straight series wins. What was not expected was the unprecedented speed and ease with which England were dispatched.

Under the headline "Blink and you'd miss it", Daniel Lewis noted in the Sydney Morning Herald that it took 65 1/ 4 hours to thrash England. "Never before has so little cricket been played to decide an Ashes series," he said.

The triumphant march of Steve Waugh's team through the series prompted renewed calls for the Ashes to be sent to Australia. The Daily Telegraph, a Sydney tabloid, ran three separate pieces demanding that the trophy – which resides at the MCC – be looked after by whichever nation wins the tournament.

The Telegraph invited its readers to telephone a hotline to express their views on the subject. One columnist, John Pierik, wrote: "Hand it over now. The time has come for the stuffy-nosed Marylebone Cricket Club at Lord's to hand over cricket's most famous prize to Steve Waugh and his world champion Australians.

"It's ridiculous that the original urn... remains housed in England when the Old Dart hasn't won a series against us in 14 years."

Writing in the Herald the day before England's collapse in Perth, Peter FitzSimons bemoaned the disappearance of England's once-vaunted fighting spirit. Under the headline "No sign of the old bulldog, only poodles", he said: "The most perplexing thing about the whole English débâcle that they are pleased to call their Ashes 'campaign' is that these blokes come from the same country that produced the likes of Boadicea, the Duke of Wellington, Ian Botham, Darren Gough and Michael Atherton.

"Where is their manhood? Where is their fury at their fate and determination to fight their way out, come what may? Are these blokes really the toughest, hardest, best cricketers that England can produce?"

Some cricket writers said the series boded ill for the future of the Ashes. Mike Coward, writing in The Australian, described the win as a hollow victory. "England's breathtaking ineptitude is bringing Test cricket to the brink," he said. "The traditional game is so fragile it cannot afford a pitifully weak England and rarely can England have been so pitifully weak."

Other commentators were more restrained. "If anyone still has anything bad to say about the Poms, let them speak now or forever hold their peace," said Peter Roebuck in the Herald. "There is no fun to be had in driving staves into a corpse."

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