MELBOURNE Dec 30 Australia's surrender of the
Ashes on home soil for the first time in 24 years had English
cricketers dancing on the front pages of local newspapers on
Thursday and cricket writers pulling apart the home team like
a left-over Christmas turkey.
The tourists swept to an innings and 157-run victory in
the fourth test on Wednesday in front of thousands of English
fans at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
"What a spray," the Herald Sun front-page headline said on
a full-page picture of a joyous England team doing the
"sprinkler" dance on the MCG's turf.
"Just when you thought the cricket couldn't get any worse,
we had to endure this at the MCG yesterday," the caption fumed.
"The Age" newspaper also gave front-page treatment to the
victory jig, adding the more mournful: "England dances on
Australia's Ashes grave."
The Daily Telegraph took on the mantle of mouthpiece for a
shattered Australian public.
"Sack these failures, say angry fans," it said, posting
results that showed respondents demanding coach Tim Nielsen
and chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch be shown the door.
A poll in The Australian newspaper backed the sentiments,
with 78.5 percent of respondents agreeing that captain Ricky
Ponting should go.
Ian Chappell joined the chorus, saying that the
36-year-old Tasmanian, who has had a dreadful series with the
bat, was past his use-by date.
"I always thought this was the right time for Ponting to
finish as test captain because you do have a use-by date," the
former Australia captain said.
"Ricky has reached that point. He captains the World Cup
and then whether he decides to stay on as a player is entirely
up to him."
Prominent cricket writer Malcolm Conn felt change needed
to come from the very top, blaming Cricket Australia's board
for failing to prepare the team for the retirements of a bevvy
of world class players, including the likes of Shane Warne and
"It wallowed in the glory of Australia's decade of
domination instead of reading the signs of what was coming,"
he wrote in the Australian.
The Herald Sun was scathing in a report card of all the
players it called "Rank and Vile".
It spared Shane Watson and Brad Haddin for their solid
form with the bat, while praising paceman Peter Siddle for his
persistence, but gave nine players 3.5 or less out of 10.
Ponting was given three.
"He was dismissed seven times for a total of 62. Looks
jumpy, unbalanced and too square at the crease. At 36 his days
could be over," it said.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom, editing by Greg Stutchbury; To
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