Sydney: The recall of two 35-year-old veterans for the Ashes series against England shows the lack of quality coming through the Australian ranks, with the squad the "best of a bad lot", media said on Thursday.
Selectors picked Brad Haddin and Chris Rogers, with five openers among seven specialist batsmen alongside just one spinner, Nathan Lyon, for the five-match series starting in Nottingham on July 10.
Given the sorry state of Australian cricket following an ignominious 4-0 Test series drubbing in India last month, pundits bemoaned the lack of options.
"The resurrection of previously discarded veterans Brad Haddin and Chris Rogers for the Ashes has merely confirmed the soft underbelly of Australian cricket," according to a leading English daily.
"That the selectors were forced back to the future for a 16-man touring party is a poke in the eye of every batsman in state cricket who fancies himself as a future Test player.
"Given that Haddin and one-Test wonder Rogers are both 35, and Ricky Ponting was Sheffield Shield player of the year aged 38, Australia is in danger of losing a generation when it can least afford it."
An Australian newspaper columnist said the Ashes squad was the "best of a bad lot".
"The essential question that needs to be asked is: can we make that Test squad bound for England any better by fiddling with the work of (chairman of selectors) John Inverarity and his mates? The summer gone has us fretting," Smith wrote.
"If there are no obvious places that need to be overhauled or even fine-tuned, no names chucked overboard, then Inverarity and his panel have settled on a sensible, fair and uncontroversial collection of players charged to bring the Ashes to Australia.
"That doesn`t mean they will come back with anything more than battered limbs and tarnished reputations, rather just that we have gathered together the best of a bad lot."
A daily wrote that the squad "inevitably will be derided as the worst Australian outfit to visit England".
"What is beyond dispute is that no Australian team since 1989 has travelled to England surrounded by such low expectations," she added, referring to the 1989 Allan Border-led team that confounded expectations and thumped England.
An experienced ABC radio commentator rated Australia`s chances of winning the Ashes at 50-50.
"England`s performance in New Zealand would make you think they are a bit vulnerable, but certainly Australia has to improve massively on its very poor showing in India if it`s to regain the Ashes," he said.
"But I will be optimistic and say 50/50 at this distance. Australia has got a lot of good fast bowlers and that is the key to this team doing well - it has tremendous strike power."