On the third day of the Fifth Test between Australia and England, it was expected that the tourists would summon one final effort to draw some fleeting pride from perhaps the most embarrassing Ashes series from an English perspective. Dismissing the host for 276 offered some hope but another pitiful display with the bat, in collecting only 166 runs, allowed Australia to complete a one-sided 5-0 series whitewash with two days to spare.
Having scored modest totals of 326 and 276 in Sydney, the Australians underlined that they are not quite in the same bracket as vintage teams from a bygone era, but they were still too powerful a unit for the demoralised English squad. Centuries by Steve Smith and Chris Rogers proved to be the difference between the two teams in this final test as once again no touring batsmen was remotely near to scoring one hundred runs.
The third day had also been earmarked as a pink day in recognition of the Glen McGrath Breast Cancer Foundation, with the charity to benefit from $100 dollars for any boundaries that day. Unfortunately, there were too few scored with only Michael Carberry, Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad providing any real resistance to the Australian attack. That Broad was second highest scorer on 42, only one behind Carberry, is a sad indictment of the state of the English batsmen.
No doubt there will be an inquest as to why a team which retained the Ashes with a fairly comfortable 3-0 series win during the 2013 English summer should squander its possession of the small trophy without mustering a semblance of a fight just several months later. The performances of the selectors, coaches, captain and the players will all be examined over the coming months.
Yet perhaps it is the attitude of the touring party which may need to be questioned. After completing another Ashes victory during the summer, could it be that the hunger and determination so prevalent in previous series was missing this time and hint of complacency had developed.
Nobody will ever forget the summer of 2005 when England regained the trophy after a series which ebbed and flowed but which was characterised by some intriguing cricket which captured the attention of both nations. Just 18 months later, Australia recovered to record another 5-0 on home territory.
England clearly learned from that inauspicious tour as they claimed a 3-1 win during the 2010-11 tour down under after reclaiming the Ashes 18 months previously.
If similar lessons can be learned from this embarrassing Test series, future England and Australia clashes may once again provide the watching public with a genuinely competitive cricketing spectacle.
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