We doubt that the Royal Ballet's performers are quaking in their boots. But if any team had the right to celebrate yesterday, it was the England cricket team. We congratulate them on a commanding victory at Melbourne; never before in its history has the Australian cricket team been twice defeated by an innings in a home series. The victory at Melbourne was an absolute pasting.
The Australian team for Sydney will be announced today, and we reckon that heads will roll. It seems as though Ricky Ponting will be "rested" due to his finger injury, and Ryan Harris is out of all cricket for several months. But surely Australia will have to include a spinner for Sydney, so that could be bad news for an out-of-form Ben Hilfenhaus. Likewise, we doubt that Phillip Hughes will be looking forward to the announcement today.
And we can't leave this match without reference to the reaction in the Aussie media today. Melbourne's The Age leads with the headline England dances on Australia's Ashes grave and comments:
It was midday. Overhead, the sky was blue, cloudless and Australian, but falling away to two vastly different horizons. Australia could not distinctly see even next week. Ryan Harris was at that moment under the surgeon's knife, and Ricky Ponting just back from hospital and waiting for a specialist's interpretation of X-rays of his broken finger. In every sense, there was so much remedial work to be done.
The team for Sydney will be announced today. It must show changes, in personnel and formation. Expect at the very least to see Usman Khawaja.
And the Sydney Morning Herald is no less scathing. Under the headline Rotten to the core; hard truths must be faced and tough changes made Peter Roebuck writes:
DEFEAT can be instructive. The Ashes have been lost, or rather, not regained, and once the sporting anguish has passed the cricket community can put on its thinking cap and plan its response. Strong sides expose fault lines in their opponents and ought to be thanked for their contribution.
No cricket community searching for leaders, bereft of opening batsmen, lacking spinners, burdened with injured fast bowlers or even an internal candidate for the ICC presidency, can be complacent about its prospects. The fall has been quick but was a long time building.
It's not the losses but their size that indicate the parlous state of the game in Australia. Two innings defeats are hard to swallow. That both matches were effectively lost in the first hour was frustrating and indicated that England was a strong frontrunner and Australia's batting lacked technique and tenacity.
Roebuck is right. From the moment that Warne, McGrath, Hayden and Gilchrist departed the scene, the Australians have flattered to deceive. Australian cricket used to boast about its depth. That depth is no longer apparent, and the Australian cricketers are mere cricketing mortals just now, not the unbeatable superstars of just a few years ago. How the mighty are fallen!