SYDNEY: Australia’s media lashed out at the country’s ‘mollycoddled’ cricketers on Wednesday, saying they were a ‘disgrace’ and heads should roll after crashing to a fifth successive Test defeat.
With the sport in crisis after a dismal performance against South Africa in the first two Tests of a three-Test series, the press was unrelenting in its criticism.
“Humiliating”, the Sydney Morning Herald screamed in a front page headline, while The Australian said: “Disgrace to the Baggy Green.” The tabloid Sydney Daily Telegraph called the team “a bunch of amateurs”, with cricket writer Robert Craddock saying they had become pampered and lost their backbone.
“Australian cricket is facing its greatest crisis in 30 years, and it only has itself to blame,” he said, adding that there were no longer any of the “flint hard Test players that once did our nation proud”.
“Australia’s players are overpaid and mollycoddled to the point where the priceless quality that separates the great from the good — resilience — is almost invisible.
“Australia is facing the reality that old fashioned, stone-faced Test match warriors like Allan Border and Steve Waugh are a dying breed.”
Sydney Morning Herald cricket correspondent Greg Baum followed a similar theme after another batting collapse in Hobart on Monday sent them spiralling to an innings and 80 run defeat.
“It is the meekness that was so shocking. For so long, the Australian cricket team’s hallmark has been its swagger and braggadocio,” he said. “Even when charging, all guns blazing, to occasional defeat, it was unapologetic about it. It was ‘the way we play’: an unofficial motto.
All major newspaper agreed change must happen, and fast.
“The captain has no answers. The coach has no answers. The men in suits are boarding planes,” said The Australian’s senior sports writer Peter Lalor. “Heads have to roll, but no matter how many sacrifices are made, it will not satisfy the blood lust of the public, of whose game they are the guardians.”
Lalor added: “An examination of the tenure of the CEO, the high-performance manager and Lehmann himself must also be on the cards. There is a pattern developing, and it is an ugly one.”
Australia, who lost the opener against South Africa by 177 runs in Perth, head into the series finale at Adelaide Oval riding a five-match losing streak, with confidence at rock bottom.
“Worst XI — Australian cricket in crisis after record capitulation,” read a headline in the Courier Mail.
Former captain Allan Border, who like current skipper Steven Smith had to carry the team through a low point in the mid-1980s, put the blame squarely on the players.
“Tuesday was a terrible day at the office for every member of the Australian cricket team — and every supporter, too,” he wrote in Daily Telegraph. “Nothing has changed in regards to team managers, staffing and high-performance. And that’s why the players have to take responsibility.”
Ricky Ponting, another former captain, was scathing of the team’s batting, which produced a paltry first innings total of 85 in Hobart and another collapse when they lost eight wickets and scored just 40 runs in the session before lunch on day four.
“The Aussie batters, they just didn’t know where to go, what to do,” Ponting said on BT Sport. “They got very defensive minded and when they do that — it’s been shown through this Test series — their techniques aren’t good enough to stand up.”