English cricketers dance on Australian papers

London: Australia`s surrender of the Ashes on home soil for the first time in 24 years had English cricketers dancing on the front pages of local newspapers on Thursday and cricket writers pulling apart the home team like a left-over Christmas turkey.
The tourists swept to an innings and 157-run victory in the fourth test on Wednesday in front of thousands of English fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"What a spray," the Herald Sun front-page headline said on a full-page picture of a joyous England team doing the "sprinkler" dance on the MCG`s turf.

"Just when you thought the cricket couldn`t get any worse, we had to endure this at the MCG yesterday," the caption fumed.

"The Age" newspaper also gave front-page treatment to the victory jig, adding the more mournful: "England dances on Australia`s Ashes grave."

The Daily Telegraph took on the mantle of mouthpiece for a shattered Australian public.

"Sack these failures, say angry fans," it said, posting results that showed respondents demanding coach Tim Nielsen and chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch be shown the door.

A poll in The Australian newspaper backed the sentiments, with 78.5 percent of respondents agreeing that captain Ricky Ponting should go.

Ian Chappell joined the chorus, saying that the 36-year-old Tasmanian, who has had a dreadful series with the bat, was past his use-by date.

"I always thought this was the right time for Ponting to finish as test captain because you do have a use-by date," the former Australia captain said.

"Ricky has reached that point. He captains the World Cup and then whether he decides to stay on as a player is entirely up to him."

Prominent cricket writer Malcolm Conn felt change needed to come from the very top, blaming Cricket Australia`s board for failing to prepare the team for the retirements of a bevvy of world class players, including the likes of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

"It wallowed in the glory of Australia`s decade of domination instead of reading the signs of what was coming," he wrote in the Australian.

The Herald Sun was scathing in a report card of all the players it called "Rank and Vile".

It spared Shane Watson and Brad Haddin for their solid form with the bat, while praising paceman Peter Siddle for his persistence, but gave nine players 3.5 or less out of 10.

Ponting was given three.

"He was dismissed seven times for a total of 62. Looks jumpy, unbalanced and too square at the crease. At 36 his days could be over," it said.

Bureau Report

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