After a woeful series of batting performances during the 2015 Ashes series, Australian captain Michael Clarke has announced he will retire from international cricket at the conclusion of the Fifth Test, with England already clinching the current series after a convincing innings and 78 runs victory in the Fourth Test. Clarke has scored 13 or less runs in six of his eight test match innings this summer to date but he is by no means alone in suffering a loss of form as the Aussies failed to adapt to English conditions during their embarrassing defeat at Trent Bridge.
Bowling in front of his home supporters in Nottingham, Stuart Broad claimed 8-15 as Australia were bowled out before lunch on the first day of the Fourth Test with just 60 runs accumulated. Records galore had been surpassed as, time after time, the tourist batsmen were unable to read the moving ball generated by the English bowling such that edges to the slip fielders became a common occurrence. When Alastair Cook won the toss and elected to bowl, the Aussies should have immediately thought about the probability of there being ball movement at the wicket but obviously failed to heed the warning.
In the hot conditions and flat wickets prevalent in Australia, the batsmen are able to produce forward attacking shots with great regularity but when the ball is swinging and moving as under the cloudier English conditions, more concentration is needed to judge the speed and direction of the ball requiring different timing and technique. Only at sunny Lords during the Second Test have the Australians been allowed to bat at their normal rhythm and there they claimed a resounding victory.
With Joe Root scoring 130 and helped by good support from Jonny Bairstow (74) and Cook (43), the hosts showed the Aussies that steady runs can be accumulated on such wickets as England replied to the Australians paltry total by amassing 391-9 declared.
The Aussie did shoe more resilience in their second innings as David Warner and Chris Rogers shared an opening partnership of 113 yet two dropped catches and disallowed wickets from two no-balls did help the Australians. Once the openers departed, the remainder of the team, with the exception of Adam Voges (51 not out), appeared to accept the inevitable defeat and the resulting loss of the Ashes.
England now lead the series 3-1 and managed to claim this latest victory inside seven sessions. There were the inevitable jokers among the home supporters who were suggesting that lunch breaks last longer than an Australian innings, but it is a concern for the tourists that both the Third and Fourth Tests have been nearly lost inside two days.
Michael Clarke has clearly accepted responsibility for this overall poor showing by the Australians but his fellow team-mates have offered him very little support and despite a good performance at Lords, Steve Smith has also failed to justify his alleged position as World number one batsman.