What the papers say: Two-nil up in Adelaide

From England's dire batting, to Australia's new-found aggression and sense of purpose, writers in Blighty and Oz had a few topics in mind when jotting down their post-match thoughts.

With Australia going two-nil up in the Ashes after winning the second Test in Adelaide, needing just 11-odd overs to take the final four England wickets, the pundits had much to ponder.

From England's dire batting, to Australia's new-found aggression and sense of purpose, writers in Blighty and Oz had a few topics in mind when jotting down their post-match thoughts.

Former England captain <b>Michael Atherton</b> wrote in the <i>Times</i> of the astonishingly huge defeats thus far, saying: "Here is the crux of the matter: it is not the defeats that have been so surprising, but the scale of them and the manner of them.

"England have been out-batted, out-bowled and out-fielded, for sure, but also out-fought and It prompted the next question to Cook as he was asked to pick over England's defeat: 'Are your players hungry enough?' This time the captain's response was more in tune with reality. 'It's a good question,' he acknowledged, and in the Pinteresque pause that followed, there were any number of inferences to be drawn."

The <i>Guardian</i>'s resident Australian, <b>Aaron Timms</b>, was, on the other hand, delighted at the turn-around shown by the players, writing: "Suddenly, all the things that have seemed idiotic about this Australian side over the past few years seem prescient, sensible, even visionary today.

"The old joke about Mitchell Johnson was that he was a 'once in a generation bowler' because he only managed to bowl well once a generation. But who would dare scoff at Dennis Lillee's infamous description of the man now? Maybe Brad Haddin really is the next Adam Gilchrist after all, and David Warner a Boon for this side in more ways than one.

"This is a team that has achieved the improbable: in the space of just three months, it has transformed itself from a scattered, trigger-tweeting donkey herd into a flaxen pack of wolves moving silently through the night in search of blood."

Former England batsman <b>Geoff Boycott</b> was harsh in his criticism of England's batting, saying in the <i>Telegraph</i>: "Look, there is no chance of us retaining The Ashes after going two down. Not a cat in hell's chance. What they have to work out is how they are going to get some pride back in the team. They cannot do that unless they bat with more common sense and stop gifting wickets away.

"The reason we are in this mess is because 50 per cent of the batsmen have given their wickets away to the opposition. The majority of runs have to be made by the top six batsmen and the wicketkeeper-batsman. In two Test matches, four England innings, they have had 28 opportunities to score runs. I worked out that 50 per cent of the dismissals have been caused by bad shots."

<b>Greg Baum</b> in the <i>Sydney Morning Herald</i> agreed with Boycs, writing: "Australia barely bowled a ball that the English batsmen needed to play, but they played at them all anyway. Their approach betrayed addled minds, perhaps full of the image of a leering Mitch Johnson bearing down on them again.

"Actually, Johnson was less menacing this day on this Bermuda Triangle of a pitch, on which good bowling disappeared and was never seen again. Prior cut and pulled him with impunity, the first to do so in this series. But that served only to highlight England's general wrongheadedness."

Veteran cricket writer <b>Scyld Berry</b> wrote in the <i>Telegraph</i> of Darren Lehmann's effect on the Aussies: "Darren Lehmann's two predecessors as Australian coach were 'one-percenters'. Neither Mickey Arthur nor Tim Nielsen had played Test cricket, so they made the players focus on peripheral matters which they – the coaches – could control, like diet, sleep, or gym routines.

"Lehmann, having played Test cricket, can see the wood for the trees and concentrates on the essence. Getting his players to be true to the traditions of Australian cricket through the ages – which, as results prove, is the most successful way to play cricket in Australia – is what matters."

The <i>Independent</i>'s <b>Stephen Brenkley</b> wrote of the obvious animosity between the sides: "The discord between these sides is growing by the day. Whatever they say about mutual respect it is evident that they have a fervent dislike of each other. Throughout the fourth day, as England batted vainly to save the match, praying for rain, Australia were sledging.

"While Joe Root tried to smile his way into their affections (a tougher ask than fending off a Johnson bouncer at full tilt), the old campaigners, Stuart Broad and Matt Prior, were embroiled in bitter altercations towards the end of the day. They continued the discussions leaving the field. They might have thought that as ye sow, so shall ye reap."

<b>Vic Marks</b>, also in the Guardian, pondered whether England should drop Graeme Swann for Perth, opining: "Swann has been a talismanic figure for England in the last four years. Currently his potential omission in Perth raises this alarm – who the devil is going to take the catches at second slip?

"This would be a genuine concern, but the emphasis on Swann's fielding is also a measure of how the threat of his bowling – and his batting – has declined. The Aussies have played the English spinners exceptionally well. So far Swann and Panesar have taken 6-595 in the series."