Ashes to Ashes: Australian media review
It has often been said that the last time an England cricket team claimed the Ashes with a series victory in Australia - way back in late 1986 - the Australian media relegated the story and instead focused on other sports in which Australians were prevailing.
This time round, no such acts of denial are obvious in the online editions of Australia's newspapers.
Mindful of the devastating floods currently afflicting Queensland, the papers avoid using the word "disaster" to describe the Test team's comprehensive defeat at the hands of the old enemy, but "humiliation", "stunning" and the more neutral "memorable" are among the words employed by headline writers reflecting on a result that has struck a hammer blow to the country's sense of sporting superiority. Writing in the Australian, Malcolm Conn says the home side's batting was "dismal", adding:
"The eventual gulf between the sides is highlighted by the fact that for the first time Australia lost three Tests in a series by an innings."
In Sydney's Herald-Sun - which promotes its Ashes coverage under the heading "Awful Aussies" - Will Swanton reports that legendary former Test captain Steve Waugh will be invited to participate in Cricket Australia's post-mortem into the Ashes debacle. He goes on to accuse the upper echelons of Australian cricket of being in denial, and says the position of chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch is "untenable".
Peter Roebuck in the Sydney Morning Herald says the gulf between the two sides has been laid bare over five Test matches. In a piece published shortly before England mopped up the last pockets of Australian resistance at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Friday morning, he does not hold back:
"Despair has descended upon Australian cricket. Embarrassment has become an acquaintance. Humiliation has introduced itself. Calamity has piled upon calamity."
Roebuck goes on to contrast the two teams' approaches:
"During the series Australia perforce changed captain and openers, tried an all-pace attack and fielded more spinners than the government and still looked inept. Its demon bowler turned out to be a dud, its mystery spinners lacked mystique and spin. Running between the wickets became a hazardous operation. The bats consisted of edges. Meanwhile, the Poms reigned supreme... Throughout England resembled a boa constrictor, a reptile that wraps itself around its foe and crushes it until its eyeballs pop out. Seldom has ruthlessness been as attractively and painfully delivered."
In Melbourne's The Age, Will Brodie says Australia needs to swallow some "bitter medicine" and rebuild the Test match team with young players:
"Without a core of well-performed elder statesmen to shield these greenhorns, there will be some more collapses with the bat, and floggings in the field. There will be some disappointing losses. But unless Australia takes the short-term pain to blood several youngsters with the right techniques and temperaments, it will be consigned to a sustained period of mediocrity."
By contrast, Andrew Webster in Sydney's Herald-Sun urges the retention of veteran captain Ricky Ponting and instead focuses his ire on the administrators of Australian cricket, whom he accuses of seeking to avoid blame for this defeat:
"The Australian public is seething at this Ashes humiliation and Cricket Australia should realise that playing a dead-bat will only inflame the discontent."
On the captaincy front, Webster says there is simply no alternative to Ponting:
"Yes, he has become the first Australian captain in 120 years to lose three Ashes series... Yet the simple fact is no individual in Australian cricket right now has the experience or strength of character like the skipper."
Sydney's Daily Telegraph is scathing, promoting its coverage of the Ashes finale with the headline "Aussie BBQ: Cooked in our own backyard" and going on to report that in a poll, its readers have declared the current team the worst to lose an Ashes series on home soil.
However, at the time of writing the most read item on the newspaper's website was a column written ahead of the five matches by Will Swanton under the headline "10 reasons Poms WON'T win" which, in the light of subsequent events, makes for hilarious reading - if you are an England cricket fan, that is.