England belt Australian cricket into crisis

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

SYDNEY - Australia’s once all-conquering cricketers were branded the worst side in baggy green caps in 25 years after being humbled Tuesday by England’s easy innings-and-71-run victory in the second Ashes Test in Adelaide.

Captain Ricky Ponting’s side, which scraped a draw in the first encounter with Andrew Strauss’ team in Brisbane last week, now has to win two of the three remaining tests to wrest back a trophy that supposedly contains the ashes of wickets burned in 1882 after England recorded a famous loss to its colony’s visitors.

“Santa’s on his way, but he’ll need to open with the Tooth Fairy and have the Easter Bunny batting at four if you believe in fairy-tale comebacks,” said betting agency Sportsbet’s Matthew Campbell. “It’s not going to happen.”

Sportsbet installed England as clear favourites to retain the trophy after the Adelaide game delivered Australia its biggest Ashes thrashing on home soil in 45 years.

The Ashes series, one of the most watched contests in world cricket, is hosted alternately by England and Australia.

“It’s been our skills and maybe our thought processes that have let us down,” Ponting said of a team having its worst run in 13 years. “We’ve faced a lot of challenges, and the guys have stood up to those challenges, but we haven’t been good enough to win them. That’s the bottom line.”

With Australia contemplating its eighth-successive series loss in all forms of the game, Ponting’s future as captain looks bleak.

When he was appointed in 2004, Australia were the world’s top-ranked side. Now, the lads in the baggy green caps languish in fifth place.

“Ponting is the greatest batsman we’ve produced since Don Bradman; however, his cricket IQ is extremely low,” The Australian newspaper commented.

“Ponting’s win/loss record looks good, but if you dig deeper, many of those wins are against lowly ranked test teams. It is his lack of self-awareness that makes me sure that he will need a push.”

Jim Maxwell, the doyen of Australian cricket commentators, despaired of Australia if they could not find new bowlers.

“England’s batting has been magnificent, and Australia’s bowling abject and ineffective,” Maxwell said.

On the final day in Adelaide, England’s bowlers skittled Australia’s final six batsmen for just 66 runs.

Ponting, 35, conceded that his side was on the ropes. “It probably looks that way from the outside, yeah,” he said.

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