Sydney: Selectors, coaching staff and administrators were all flayed on Saturday as Australia’s newspapers called for heads to roll after the Ashes debacle against England.
Cricket Australia (CA) has promised a review of the failed campaign after England won their third Test by an innings in Sydney yesterday to take an Ashes series in Australia for the first time in 24 years.
The national press were in a scathing mood in the wake of Australia’s ‘rock-bottom’ performance, as acting captain Michael Clarke put it.
“Clearly the time has come to hold those responsible to account. Let’s start at the top,” famous columnist Peter Roebuck said.
“Substantial changes are required across the board and especially in the (CA) board.”
There were calls for former Test skipper Steve Waugh to take over immediately as the head coach of the Australian cricket team from the under-fire Tim Nielsen.
“Australian cricket is in desperate times. We need the toughest and the most honest people to guide us out of this awful mess,” former Test batsman Dean Jones said.
“We need Steve Waugh to bring back some honour to the baggy green cap, and to start reading the riot act from state cricket through to the Test team.”
Roebuck said: “The coaching staff cannot survive scrutiny. Nor need replacements be chosen only from this continent.”
“Disdaining parochialism, England appointed a Zimbabwean coach and an Australian bowling expert.”
The Daily Telegraph said Nielsen had to take a large slice of responsibility.
“Any sport on Earth, if a team becomes rabble, the coach gets flicked,” the Telegraph’s Will Swanton said.
There was a general sense of disbelief among the media that from the chief executive of CA down, no-one in the cricketing hierarchy took responsibility for Australia’s dismal series.
“The coach, chief selector and chief executive informally launched a review by fronting up to media,” The Age’s Greg Baum said.
“But (chairman) Andrew Hilditch said he thought the selectors had done a good job, and Tim Nielsen said he thought the preparation was about right, and so between them managed only to demonstrate how ingrained was Australia’s self-denial. It really was those pathetic players after all.”
Baum added that Cricket Australia suffered from “an appalling lack of awareness.”
“Doubtlessly, there are at all levels jobsworths and anti-visionaries who think they are doing a good job, but are not.”
“No one, from the chairman and chief executive to the least bag carrier -- but especially the coaches and selectors -- must be exempt from review.”
Roebuck agreed. “Regardless, CA needs to instigate an independent review of all cricketing bodies, including itself. Defeat is part and parcel of the game. Hammerings suggest that
the system is not working,” he wrote.
There was some relief that beleaguered Australia do not have to play Test cricket for another eight months, when they tour Sri Lanka in August and September.
Baum said that given the margin between the teams, “it can fairly be argued that right now, the worst Ashes team ever seen on these shores is Australia.”