Analysis: ‘Dad’s Army’ Australia must wield the axe


Immediately after a crushing defeat in the fourth test on Saturday which gave the Ashes back to England, Australia captain Michael Clarke announced that he will be standing down after the final match of the series.


He will not be the only eminent Australian player to leave the international arena.

All-rounder Shane Watson, 34, and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, 37, were dropped during the current series while opener Chris Rogers, 37, has already said this one will be his last.

England’s new-look team had too much skill and energy for Clarke’s side in favourable home conditions.

Only at Lord’s were the Australians able to thrive after winning the toss on a flat pitch that nullified the threat of an England attack with less pace but more guile than their opponents.

At Cardiff, Edgbaston and Trent Bridge Australia were blown away, their batsmen unable to cope with the swing and seam movement generated by James Anderson, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes.

Rogers started well in Cardiff with 95 and made a superb 173 at Lord’s where Steve Smith contributed a double century.

David Warner racked up four half-centuries without going on to three figures but the other batsmen failed to adapt to the conditions.

Clarke, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh and Shaun Marsh struggled in the middle order and although Peter Nevill made a battling fifty at Edgbaston, England knew that once they were through the top order a collapse was not far away.

Australia’s much-vaunted pace attack also failed to fire.

Mitchell Johnson, the scourge of England in Australia’s 5-0 Ashes whitewash on 2013-14, was neutered by the pitch at Cardiff.

He did bowl a hostile spell at Lord’s which propelled Australia to victory but he failed to make a sustained impact at Edgbaston or Trent Bridge and, at 33, his best days must be behind him.

Mitchell Starc struggled for control in the first three tests before claiming six wickets at Trent Bridge and with Josh Hazlewood proving steady but none too penetrating the Australian attack was toothless.

Smith looks certain to replace Clarke as captain and the future of coach Darren Lehmann is also in doubt.

The laid-back matey style that brought much success in the past two years, including a World Cup victory, was exposed in the cauldron of an Ashes series going badly.

Former opening batsman Justin Langer is favourite to succeed Lehmann and it would be no surprise if Cricket Australia opted for a new coach to build a young team under Smith’s captaincy, much as England have done since their Ashes humiliation just 18 months ago.


(Editing by Justin Palmer)

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