Ashes gone and now England fighting off Aussie whitewash
So where do England go from here? Beaten, battered and humiliated by the Australians in all three Test matches down under, they must be wishing they could pack their bags and sneak back home, but there are two more ordeals to get through and the real possibility of a whitewash.
Coral go 13/8 that Michael Clarke gets his wish and England are stuffed 5-0, an outcome rated 66/1 and impossible to contemplate, even by Glenn McGrath, as the teams sang their national anthems before the first Test at Brisbane.
The stats are pretty damning: seven Australian centuries compared to England’s one, 2.100 plus total runs against 1,400, the list goes on. Nobody is disputing it – England have been outplayed in all departments, batting, bowling and fielding.
Aussie dominance and England subservience was summed up in two consecutive balls in Perth. George Bailey struck James Anderson for six off the last ball of the Aussie second innings to complete a Test record-equalling 28 off one over. Then Alastair Cook was out next ball, clean bowled by a Ryan Harris beauty.
Anderson, so dominant last summer, has been made to look very ordinary this time around (he’s taken just seven wickets at an average of 80), while Graeme Swann has been targeted and taken apart by the Aussie batsmen.
Best of our bowlers by a mile has been Stuart Broad with 14 wickets at under 30, but he was hobbled by a Mitchell Johnson yorker at the WACA and must be a doubt for the 4th Test in Melbourne.
So is there any light at the end of the tunnel for England? Of course there is, and not just because we may have found the answer to the number six problem in the shape of all-rounder Ben Stokes, more than useful with the ball and so impressive with the bat on only his second start.
Australia are unlikely to let up as they continue in their quest to lead the world again and their fans (especially hostile in Melbourne and Sydney) won’t ease off, either.
But though some of the players may now be on the wrong side of the hill (Matt Prior, in particular has endured a nightmare tour), England have not suddenly turned into a bad side and I find it hard to believe, as has been suggested, that the hunger has gone..
A few days of rest and soul-searching and they might start remembering what good players they were not so very long ago. And a bit of luck wouldn’t go amiss, either, Cook has lost all three tosses so far, a not insignificant factor.
So the final two games may be much tighter affairs and I fancy England can share the remaining spoils. Coral go 7/2 it finishes 4-1 to Australia.