UK View: Poms react to ‘doomed shambles,’ Rory burned, as lightning strikes twice


An inevitability hung over England’s doomed Ashes campaign after another miserable day of unremitting struggle for Joe Root’s tourists in Adelaide and growing press pack demands for team changes.

A wearying 150 overs in the field under a broiling sun and an all-too-familiar loss of early wickets as England wilted again and left them fighting to prevent going 2-0 down in the series before the Boxing Day showpiece at the MCG.

“These Ashes feel doomed already after a day in which England were reduced to 17 for two, 456 behind,” the Guardian’s Barney Ronay grimly pronounced.

“And yet, with all due respect to Australia’s good batting and excellent seam bowling, this has been a case of self-dooming.

“In the past there has been a feeling of inevitability about England Ashes defeat. You get what you deserve. England are being asked to play Test cricket while wearing leg-weights and a lead-lined saddle.”

(Photo by Peter Mundy/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Telegraph’s Nick Hoult concurred: “A tour four years in the planning has taken only six days of cricket to unravel and expose English Test cricket’s shortcomings.

“Rory Burns edged to slip and Haseeb Hameed lamely poked to mid-on in nine overs of meek submission by England that would have been worse had lightning not intervened.

“Unless there is a radical turnaround this series will lead to one of those reviews that follows every Ashes shambles and will leave several senior figures fearing for their jobs.”

Lawrence Booth, in the Daily Mail, thanked the heavens for prematurely ending England’s misery.

“Not long after, with England clinging on at 17 for two, a dramatic flash of lightning, followed with alarming haste by a clap of thunder, drove the players from the field,” he said.

“Dawid Malan and Joe Root could not get off quickly enough, completing another miserable day for the tourists on what is fast becoming a miserable trip.

“It all followed another tough day in the field, as England’s all-too-unvaried attack toiled in temperatures in the high-30s on a pitch designed to break seam bowlers’ hearts.”

And the drums are beating ominously for under-pressure opener Rory Burns amid calls for him to be dropped after another underwhelming performance with the bat and in the field.

Isabelle Westbury, in The Telegraph, summed up his series dilemma: “If Stuart Broad was in the mind of David Warner throughout the 2019 Ashes, dismissing him on seven of ten occasions, then Starc is lodged firmly in that of Burns.

“It may have taken until Starc’s first ball of his second over in this Test, but he has now got his man twice in three innings.

“The contest between Starc and Burns currently reads 15 deliveries, 10 runs conceded and two wickets down. It is going to be a long old way back for Burns to climb out of this hole.”

David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd was more blunt in the Daily Mail: “These England openers are a sorry sight. Both Rory Burns and Haseeb Hameed are playing across the line.

Marnus Labuschagne celebrates a century

(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

“All the Aussie bowlers had to do was put it in the right place and the openers went across the line again. They are walking wickets I’m afraid.

“I’d change both openers for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. England might as well open with Joe Root and Dawid Malan because they are repeatedly in so early anyway!

“Or how about going back to Jonny Bairstow and Zak Crawley to open at the MCG….”

Simon Wilde, in The Times, said there was a grim inevitability about the wicket of Burns.

“Burns looks so out of form with a technique that has so many moving parts, it has to all come together perfectly to be successful. Trying to alter your technique in the middle of a series is almost impossible,” he observed.

“Barring a century in the second innings, It’s hard to see how England can keep on picking him in this series which brings Zak Crawley and Johnny Bairstow firmly into the discussions and could further throw England’s plans into disarray.”

Former England captain Mike Atherton said there was a certain weariness and inevitability about the way this series is unfolding for England.

“Second evening — check. Twilight — check. Lights on — check. Pink ball — check. Heavy atmosphere — check. Runs on the board — check. Opposition weary after 150 overs in the field — check. This, in a nutshell, was the ideal pre-match scenario, imagined by the boot room planners,” Athers wrote in The Times.

“Except it was England who were now batting under immense pressure; Australia who were now bowling and in control. The witching hour was upon us and England were up against it again.

“Inevitably — and there was an air of inevitability about what followed — it was too much for the openers.”

The Telegraph’s Oliver Brown paid tribute to Steve Smith, but took issue that the stand-in Aussie skipper for sidelined Pat Cummins is playing out a redemption tale three years after the sordid sandpaper scandal in South Africa.

“The very concept of being redeemed is as hoary as it is problematic. It implies an absolution of which Smith seems undeserving. A doughty knock of 93 on his return as captain does not expunge his complicity in the sandpaper scandal of 2018. But it does help burnish his credentials as the 21st-century Bradman,” Brown argued.

“Drawing any parallel with Don Bradman here at the Adelaide Oval feels borderline sacrilegious. But since Australia’s last home Ashes series, Smith has built a body of work that brooks no argument.

“In 11 Tests across those four years, he has amassed 1,566 runs at an average of 111.85. Had he not been trapped in front by James Anderson just when he looked least ruffled, he could have drawn alongside Sir Jack Hobbs on 12 Ashes centuries. Only Bradman, with 19, would lie ahead of him.

“Smith was a study in torment at his untimely lapse. You would have thought he had just squandered the series, not inspired his players to a 456-run lead before lightning stopped play. Such are the unfeasible standards he demands of himself.”

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