The Ashes Test, held between Australia and England, has long been the stuff of legend. Traditionally a grudge match between a former colony and its cultural ‘Motherland’, the Ashes captivates huge crowds from both countries and offers spectators an unparalleled sporting experience. But Australia’s recent performance in the fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge has set tongues wagging.
The Australian cricket team was bowled out for a paltry total of 60 runs from 111 balls! The performance ranks as the quickest innings in test match history and the seventh lowest cricketing score of all time. Overnight, the British tabloids were quick to run headlines such as “Throw another wimp on the barbie”, an indicator that the national team was easily dismissed by the hometown heroes.
Elsewhere, commentary focused on the team’s poor performance and lack of drive. In the media, several prominent voices expressed dismay and anger at the embarrassing dismissal. Figures such as Allan Border, Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting and many others voiced their disappointment in the team. But are these expressions warranted?
Former Aussie captain Allan Border was critical of the team’s capacity and fighting spirit. “I don’t think they are playing like a cohesive unit that love each other, I don’t think there was enough heart in that performance, there definitely wasn’t enough technique, there definitely wasn’t enough grit to stick it out.” Similarly, former Australian wicketkeeper Ian Healy suggested that the team was not mentally prepared for the epic fight. “Their hearts might not be that strong … are they together as a team? Do they fragment from here? Do they meet and talk about it tonight? Will they confront it?”
Former bowler Glenn McGrath suggested that there were some errors in the team’s technical approach to the game. “They went a little hard at the ball and you can’t afford to do it on wickets like this. If you go too hard at the ball you’re going to start nicking them and that’s what Australia did.”
Meanwhile, other commentators seemed to add insult to injury. “It’s the sort of score you expect to see at the under-9s on the village green,” former England captain Ian Botham joked. “They batted like lemmings,” English batsman Geoffrey Boycott added. “It’s the poorest Australian batting performance I’ve seen in 50 years. I’ve never seen anything as bad.”
Even the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, refused to pull any punches. “Yes, that has crossed my mind,” she answered, after being asked whether she had considered revoking the team’s citizenship.
Though it may have been a well intentioned joke, the atmosphere surrounding the team’s performance is downright toxic. With matches still yet to be played, the Australian locker room would no doubt be a place of quiet contemplation and refuge. Until their next performance, the team will have to contend with the continued criticism surrounding their less-than-ideal performance.
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