Peter Roebuck: The locals have been outclassed, the teacher has become the pupil

The Australian angle

England deserve enormous credit for the sustained excellence of their cricket in this series. Watching them has given pleasure to all save the most one-eyed observer, a breed not unknown in either nation.

It has been a team without heroes or egos, a hard-working, tough, thoughtful and committed outfit that has avoided bleating and inexorably crushed a shaky opponent.

Andrew Strauss's side has been a cut above the glamorous Pommy outfits seen in the 1980s, an era whose failings were hidden by the emergence of a handful of gifted players. That was a time of rebel tours and dissolution, cynical domestic exchanges, lazy champions and false prophets. It's taken a long time and a lot of hard work and several African coaches, but finally England have regained the grit that was for so many decades their hallmark.

Now it is Australia's turn to reflect upon their failings. Except in Perth, Ricky Ponting's side have been outclassed. Nor can locals be confident that the pain will be short-lived. By the look of things the malaise is widespread. English counties are not seeking Australians with quite the old urgency.

Australia can begin a revival by acknowledging the superiority of the well-drilled touring team, superiority evident as much off the field as on it. The teacher has become the pupil. Strauss's side have taught the locals many lessons, not least in the attention they pay to detail.

A long list can be provided of areas in which England have surpassed their hosts. None of the tourists has carried any extra baggage. Contrastingly, a local speedster has "hit the wall" and another paceman has broken down in the middle of the match. Young pacemen are regularly in dry dock. That Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey are the fittest players in the Australia side tells the story.

England's work in the outer has been athletic and alert. It's hard to recall a modern Australia side being outrun by any touring team, let alone by traditionally heavy-footed Poms. Strauss's outfit had no weak links, no Phil Tufnell or Eddie Hemmings, to provoke caustic comment. Everything, too, has been rehearsed, including the relays and flick-backs. No stone was left unturned.

England's selectors have been the more astute. The touring party was carefully chosen and each player was assigned a role. Steve Finn's stack of wickets in Brisbane alone denied Ajmal Shahzad an opportunity on an Adelaide track that suits his skidders. Tim Bresnan's mastery of reverse swing secured him a place at the MCG, whose scarred surface of course assisted the practice. The hosts often looked amateurish in comparison.

Strauss has had a tactical edge. Graham Swann went around the wicket to remove Michael Clarke yesterday and the catch was taken at a second slip stationed in anticipation of exactly that error. Hussey was held at short cover placed especially for him. Shane Watson's best shot had been blocked by a deep and straight mid-on. It's been the case all summer. England have played a fine leg much wider than usual, thereby saving a fieldsman.

England's batsmen have given their opponents object lessons in occupation and concentration. Throughout, the basics have been respected. Alastair Cook does not have many shots but he waits upon chances to play them and executes with precision. Jonathan Trott's application did not flag in his eight hours at the crease. None of the locals looks as solid. Some of them resemble flibbertigibbets.

The Pommy bowlers revealed skills beyond their counterparts. Jimmy Anderson swung the new ball sharply while Bresnan and Chris Tremlett moved the old ball. All of them kept a full length. Swann was modest enough to produce a containing spell as requested and wise enough to adjust his pace to suit the MCG pitch. His faster, flatter deliveries worried every batsman.

Clearly, David Saker, the bowling coach, knows his biscuits. Andy Flower was another fine appointment. Whether England can manage without an African coach remains to be seen.

Contrastingly, Ponting's ill-chosen team have floundered. Cricket captains tend to get an excess of credit and blame. He will come under scrutiny but the think tank cannot escape examination: coaches, chairmen and selectors can make a captain's job easier or a great deal more difficult.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower