Sydney: Australia’s miserable summer continued when they were dismissed for 268 on the first day of the third Ashes Test, leaving them with a huge fight to get back into the match and save the series.
Australia’s rejigged top order collapsed and although that was mitigated by strong performances from tailenders, the Australian media pulled no punches in their reaction on Friday.
“The Crashes” read the headline in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, while The Age had “Hung Out To Dry”.
“Australia’s brave new world bore a stark resemblance to the bad old world. Far from rejuvenating a flagging campaign as had been hoped, the newcomers flopped and within hours the team’s position had become dire,” columnist Peter Roebuck wrote in the Age.
“The pitch cannot be held accountable for the latest top-order collapse,” he added. “Australia batted badly. Horribly.”
“Ugly truth of latest Ashes disaster” read The Australian’s headline.
“Previous generations had the art of making ugly hundreds at tough times,” wrote Malcolm Conn. “Now Australia is just plain ugly as yet another Ashes series slips away.
Conn blamed the malaise in Australian cricket on several elements but the Test team’s captain and vice captain bore the brunt.
“Australian cricket is a shambles, with leaders Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke the most obvious part of the problem,” he wrote.
“Ponting should move down the order and away from the new ball to prolong his career.
“That may be only until the end of this series unless he and his vice captain can produce the results that will somehow save what appears to be a hopeless Ashes campaign.
“Sadly, there is no one worthy of inheriting Ponting’s pivotal position at first drop.”
Ponting, who was dismissed for 12 runs for his fourth failure in five innings in the series, was the subject of a more sympathetic but no less damning assessment in the Herald Sun.
“His bullet-proof vest was gone and nothing could hide the sorry fact he was bleeding,” wrote Will Swanton.
“For the first time in his career, he appeared genuinely heartbroken. His shoulders slumped and his head dropped as he slowly left the arena.
“Ponting will keep fighting. The swagger, the spitting in the hands and the pride will be restored. But the body language temporarily went south yesterday.”