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England consider fall-out from 'Thrashes' defeat

CRICKET: LONDON, Jan 6, 2007 - There was something very British about the response of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to their side suffering the first 5-0 Ashes drubbing for 86 years - they announced the creation of a new committee.

Australian bowler Shane Warne right, and teammate Glenn McGrath wave to the crowd as they leave the field during their win over England in the fifth and final Ashes cricket test in Sydney, Friday, Jan. 5, 2007. Australia completed the most crushing Ashes series victory in 86 years on Friday, sending bowling greats Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath into test retirement with a 5-0 sweep of England. AP

After Australia had wrapped up a 10-wicket win with more than a day to spare in the final Test in Sydney on Friday, the ECB issued a statement whose civil service tone did not exactly convey a sense or urgency.

"The Board unanimously supported the establishment of a comprehensive review and will now meet formally to agree the process and composition of the review team," the statement said.

In fairness to the ECB, they said that cricket director John Carr's separate tour report would be completed by February so action could be taken in time for England's World Cup campaign in the Caribbean starting in March.

However, as the World Cup is a tournament made up of one-day matches, it is hard to see how lessons from Australia, where England were up against undeniably impressive opponents, will be applied in the West Indies.

A review might well have been ordered after England lost the first Test in Brisbane by the huge margin of 277 runs.

The opening ball of that match from fast bowler Stephen Harmison was so off-target it carried to captain Andrew Flintoff at second slip, a delivery symbolic of England's form throughout the series.

And certainly any lingering euphoria from England's 2005 Ashes triumph had disappeared by the time the second Test in Adelaide had been lost in spectacular fashion.

England scored a seemingly impregnable 551 for six declared in their first innings before snatching defeat from the jaws of what seemed a draw by being bowled out for 129 second time around in a fearful display which even the brilliance of Shane Warne could not explain fully.

From then on the massive defeats kept coming.

Retiring Australian pace bowler Glenn McGrath is overcome with emotion as he does a farewell victory lap after winning the fifth and final Ashes Test at the Sydney Cricket Ground, 05 January 2007.

England scored just three hundreds in the whole series but Australia posted nine centuries, captain Ricky Ponting scoring two of them in fine style.

As for the bowling, Matthew Hoggard led the averages at an expensive 37.38 per wicket, the wayward Harmison going for more than 61.

By contrast Australia's Stuart Clark, the "new Glenn McGrath", took an impressive 26 wickets at just over 17 apiece in the style of what many old pros would say was that of a "typical" English seamer.

Several former players also noted how little cricket - seven days in all - England had played before the first Test. "They're good players, but they weren't ready," said Mike Gatting, who 20 years ago became the last England captain to win a Test series in Australia.

England were weakened by being without Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan and reverse-swing specialist Simon Jones, two key members of the 2005 team, both missing with knee injuries. Then, at the beginning of the tour, opening batsman Marcus Trescothick withdrew because of a stress-related illness. That would have done little for a side with a lengthy tail where wicket-keepers Geraint Jones and Chris Read were unable to provide the runs expected of a No 7. But recalling Ashley Giles - out for a year with a hip injury - instead of fellow left-arm spinner and England's rising star of 2006 Monty Panesar - never looked like being the answer to the lower order problem.

Panesar, who went from No 11 to England's nightwatchman at Sydney, took a creditable 10 wickets at a shade under 38. His self-reliance was not in question but there was a sense that some England players had become too cossetted by the squad's vast support group.

Former England captain Nasser Hussain couldn't hide his anger after Harmison said he didn't know what he would be doing when he returned to England.

"You see England with big buses, security guards, 45 backroom staff, all pampered. Warney (Shane Warne) is carrying his bag on his back with his shirt hanging out - they do it themselves."

Flintoff was optimistic his young side would be better for their humiliation come the next Ashes series in 2009 where Australia will be without the retired quartet of Warne, McGrath and batsmen Justin Langer and Damien Martyn.

Even so, British bookmaker William Hill felt able to offer odds, albeit of 500/1, on England not regaining the Ashes this century.

Such was Australia's haste in completing their Sydney rout, some editions of Friday's British papers carried the news despite the 11-hour time difference.

Christopher Martin-Jenkins, cricket correspondent of The Times, wrote: "There has been an almost religious zeal in the way Ricky Ponting and his men have hunted down only the ninth 5-0 whitewash in Test history." Come the finish, England had indeed been left without a prayer.


291 (A. Flintoff 89, I. Bell 71; S. Clark 3-62, G. McGrath 3-67, B. Lee 3-75)

AUSTRALIA - 1ST INNINGS 393 (S. Warne 71, A. Gilchrist 62; J. Anderson 3-98)

ENGLAND - 2ND INNINGS (114 for 5 overnight) A. Strauss lbw b Clark 24 A. Cook c Gilchrist b Lee 4 I. Bell c Gilchrist b Lee 28 K. Pietersen c Gilchrist b McGrath 29 P. Collingwood c Hayden b Clark 17 A. Flintoff stp Gilchrist b Warne 7 M. Panesar run out (Symonds) 0 C. Read c Ponting b Lee 4 S. Mahmood b McGrath 4 S. Harmison not out 16 J. Anderson c Hussey b McGrath 5 EXTRAS (B2, LB3, W1, NB3) 9 TOTAL (all out) 147 FALL OF WICKETS: 1-5, 2-55, 3-64, 4-98, 5-113, 6-114, 7-114, 8-122, 9-123, 10-147 BOWLING: Lee 14-5-39-3 (1nb, 1w), McGrath 21-11-38-3 (1nb), Clark 12-4-29-2 (1nb), Warne 6-1-23-1, Symonds 5-2-13-0 Overs: 58

AUSTRALIA - 2ND INNINGS J. Langer not out 20 M. Hayden not out 23 EXTRAS (LB3) 3 TOTAL (0 wkt) 46 BOWLING: Anderson 4-0-12-0, Harmison 5-1-13-0, Mahmood 1.5-0-18-0 Overs: 10.5 Man-of-the-match: Stuart Clark (AUS) Man-of-the-series: Ricky Ponting (AUS) Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK) Billy Bowden (NZL) Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)



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