Australia on their knees in the city of churches – no thanks to the Aussie hacks

Just under an hour and a half. Eighty nine minutes. That’s how long it took  Australia to capitulate to an innings and 71 run defeat at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday morning. It was their first innings defeat at home for seventeen years, and England’s one hundredth win against the baggy greens. It all adds up to an enormous headache for Ricky Ponting and Australia’s hopeless selectors.

The Aussie press aren’t exactly keen on throwing them some aspirin either. They’re furious. But the press need to take a long hard look at themselves. They’re culpable in this humiliation. They put the Australian team under so much pressure that it’s been difficult for them to perform. They’ve also made it tricky for the selectors to do their job properly – even if Andrew Hilditch and Greg Chappell have got less backbone than a Box jellyfish.

Nathan Hauritz is clearly the best spinner in Australia, but the press harangued him after a couple of poor performances in India and demanded his head. The decision to call up the hapless Xavier Doherty was therefore partly the press’ responsibility.

Because Hauritz was dropped before Brisbane, it would be an admission of incompetence if the selectors recalled him now. Therefore I’d expect Steve Smith, or perhaps even Stephen O’Keefe to play – at least the latter has a decent first class record. But what price the press now clamour for the return of Hauritz?! It wouldn’t surprise us.

The decision to pick Doherty was perhaps one of the biggest blunders in living memory. England have had some stinkers in the past – Martin McCague was surely a trojan horse planted by Australia to increase the takings of Brisbane pie vendors – but even my two cats know that Doherty isn’t remotely test class. In fact, he’s half the bowler that England’s cat, Phil Tufnell, was.

The press generally welcomed the inclusion of Doherty two weeks ago because they thought he would trouble Kevin Pietersen, who, we were told, was vulnerable to all left arm spinners – including left arm ‘filth’. Unfortunately however, Doherty isn’t as good as filth. He makes the likes of Yuvraj Singh look like Bill O’Reilly.

Then there’s the Mitchell Johnson conundrum. As the leader of Australia’s attack and ICC cricketer of the year in 2009, you’d have thought the Aussie press would cut him some slack. Wrong! Common sense and a sense of fairness go out the window when the Poms are winning. The press wanted someone to blame. Therefore they insisted that Doug ‘the rug’ Bollinger should play. Remind me how that one worked out?!

As the Ashes carnival leaves the city of churches and moves onto Perth, the Australian team has become a circus. They can still win the Ashes, but their attempt to do so is being sabotaged by the clowns in the Aussie media.

James Morgan


  • I’m not sure you’re quite on the money here.

    In the case of Hauritz, there have been quite a few reports in the press, and a lot of talk in the commentary box, that the main issue with Hauritz is that he won’t do what Ponting tells him/Ponting doesn’t know how to captain spinners, and Ponting doesn’t want him in the side anymore.

    With Bollinger, I saw him, along with Ryan Harris. play when I was in Oz last winter. They’re both good bowlers, and Bollinger’s had a lot of success. He’s been injured recently, otherwise he would likely have beaten Siddle for selection in the first Test. Calling for him to be picked in Johnson’s place is perfectly logical. It’s the selectors’/management’s job to see if he’s fit before he’s selected, not the press’s, and it’s their fault they played him when he clearly wasn’t.

    • But why do the selectors resort to such folly? I’d suggest it’s pressure from a kneejerk press that convinces them to do so. They panic into giving the public/press what they want, rather than what’s best for the team.

      Yes, Harris is a good bowler, and yes, Bollinger has done well at home. But would the English press call for Anderson to be dropped after one bad game? Of course not. The English press are no saints, but they at least have more patience than their Aussie counterparts. For example, they only started calling for Cook’s head after several bad matches stretching six months or so. Meanwhile, how many centuries has Collingwood scored agaisnt meaningful oppostion in the last 2 years? Not many. But the press haven’t called for him to be dropped.

      The Aussie media are amongst the harshest in the world. They turn on their own players in a flash. It’s very much a blame culture – and Mitchell Johnson was the scapegoat after Brisbane. He’s gone from hero to national joke pretty quickly. The English football press behave in a similar manner, but our cricket press are generally more enlightened, loyal and relatively patient.

      The Hauritz scenario is a bit more complicated, if what you say about his relationship with Ponting is true (apparently, Ponting was also an advocate of Doherty’s inclusion) but it cannot be denied that Hauritz has received a bad press down under – mainly because he isn’t a genius called Warne.

  • Well, I don’t know about that. The English press is often cited as the most vicious in the world. I remember England walking out to bat against the Windies, getting skittled for forty-odd, and Atherton being vilified. (and losing his job)

    The English press call for pretty stupid things all the time, and is often completely unreasonable. Every captain’s autobiography is full of stories about their treatment at the hands of the Sun. The reality is, though, there’s no margin in slating a winning team, and England are winning right now. They always want to be on the right side of the mob.

    I’ve been reading the Aussie press online and haven’t found it particularly harsh, especially given the team’s fall from grace. They’ve given more leeway than I would expect from our press. The example of Johnson is an interesting one. His last good series was South Africa at the beginning of 2009. He’s been a passenger almost ever since, yet he’s only just been dropped. The Sydney Morning Herald, for one, was still carrying articles calling for his retention on the team at the time he was dropped, a year and a half after he ceased to be any good.

    I think the problem lies with the current selection panel, the captain, and a pool of under-performing players. It’s all very English, we should recognize their problems better than they do.

  • MHA: the Aussie press are state-partisan sometimes, a phenomenon irrelevant in England.

    My fear about the English press right now concerns inflated expectations and the risk of getting carried away and It’s 0-1 with three tests to go – series is not won yet and Aussie won’t play as badly again.

  • The English cricket press can be cynical, but they don’t turn on our heroes so quickly. They do in other sports, but not so much in cricket. I agree we can be vicious too, but we normally give players a bad press if they’ve been underperforming for a while. When I was in Australia in the Ashes a few years back, I saw articles slating the likes of McGrath after one bad innings! I can’t see the sun doing the same to Flintoff, unless it’s about off field issues.

    Johnson was ICC player of the year in 2009, so he must have done well throughout that calendar period (except during the Ashes of course!). I think you make an interesting point about Hauritz, but I think that Ponting will be questioning ALL his bowlers after the last two tests. Apparently, the Aussie batsmen are already a little fed up with their bowlers for being so ineffective.

    Just quickly going back to the Aussie cricket media, i think they are generally harsher on sportsmen than their English contemporaries. They’re famous for ripping into opponents when they arrive on Australian shores. They called Tuffnell and chucker, and as for Murali – well, need I say more. In England, Mark Nicholas even gave him the chance to bowl in a brace during C4’s lunchbreak to prove his innocence. Doubt that would have happened in Australia.

    Then again, perhaps our personal experiences of Oz are just different. What does everyone else think?

  • Just a suggestion: Bill O’Reilly is a particularly loathsome right-wing ranter in the US. You might want to refer to the Australian bowler as Tiger O’Reilly, just as most people did in his own day.

    • We are familiar with Bill O’Reilly’s work on Fox. He’s just left of genghis khan. However, as cricket was around long before Fox’s favourite ‘fair and balanced’ political commentator, we feel it’s right (on a point of principle) to keep referring to Australia’s Bill O’Reilly, as err Bill O’Reilly. Furthermore, the name Tiger has been tainted by some golfer who used to win a lot! Cheers for the heads up though.

  • In England a lot of the press have an interest in, or an understanding of, what goes on in selection. The broadsheets often have ex-players (Selvey, Marks, Pringle and recently Fraser off the top of my head), who realise that players need confidence and consistency of selection to perform. On the other side, a few papers are Murdoch-owned, and therefore connected to the large payments that the ECB receives from Sky. They may not want to create too much pressure and therefore bad feeling within the hierarchy.
    That doesn’t explain why the Aussie press is different (if it is). Do they have ex-players as journos?

  • They do (deservedly) get quite a slagging in the Sydney Morning Herald today, as it happens. This article particularly is rather funny:–this-side-would-be-lucky-to-beat-bangladesh-20101207-18oct.html

    This one from Peter Roebuck is a little more informative:

    Does give one a warm glow to read England described in such glowing terms by Australian commentators (I don’t mean Roebuck).


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