Australia could have no complaints. They had none. Shane Watson, one of their partial successes in a wretched Ashes campaign, took it on the chin and then some.
"The English have totally outplayed us," he said. "We've been doing everything we can but the English have outplayed us." He repeated it because like so many Australian cricketers he could hardly have believed it. The world had been turned on its axis. Watson never expected this and there was a sense that Australia had underestimated England until it was far, far too late.
"In a way definitely," he said. "With the history of the Ashes and how it's panned out, and playing in our home conditions, it has surprised me in a way. The way they've played, and how complete they are as a team, it's very impressive. The Australian team hasn't done that."
There was also the suspicion that Watson, like the hare-brained selectors, did not know how or why it had all gone so wrong. Just that it had. "It's not great being a part of something that has been so disappointing, the last little while in Test cricket. It would be nice to be in the golden era, but we're not playing well enough to be part of that this year. Going into this series I thought there were going to be defining moments in careers and there has been on the wrong side, unfortunately."
When Watson spoke, Australia were staring down the barrel of three innings defeats in a single series, an unprecedented occurrence. Nobody could be sure the selectors had picked the best team, plenty were convinced it was the worst side ever to represent Australia.
"It's not great," he said. "Ask the selectors if they think they have the best team. But we've been convincingly outplayed. There's no doubt we've let ourselves down in the way that we've played. The English have made the most of the conditions, whether it's been swinging or seaming in first innings, or going reverse and turning. Hats off to them, they've played unbelievably well. We haven't played up to our standard."
Watson, who was involved in a run-out for the third time in the series, said it simply was not good enough and had to improve. It was a mea culpa of the first order. All of it.
"It comes down to players alone," he said. "There's no doubt there will be an inquest. We don't want to be losing the support that we've had for such a long time with the Australian public. We've got to play so much better to keep the faith." The faith may already be unkept.Reuse content