Australia pray for Indian monsoon

Dunedin's inclement weather was not the only reason for fatalistic New Zealand's cricket fans to breathe a sigh of relief today - the forecast of more doom and gloom for Australia on the Subcontinent means those clouds also had a silver lining.

While the start of New Zealand's opening test against England at University Oval was delayed by rain and bad light - to potentially erode the possibility of a heavy defeat - in India, Australian supporters were probably praying the monsoon season strikes Mohali on Thursday, well ahead of schedule.

Australia's history-making capitulation in Hyderabad before lunch on day four of the second test yesterday by an innings and 135 runs practically guarantees they will hand over the Border-Gavaskar Trophy at the end of the four-test series.

And obtaining the Ashes in return either in England or during the Australian summer is a scenario that even the most partisan Channel Nine commentator would struggle to give credence to with a straight face.

Australia became the first team in history to lose a test after declaring their first innings closed - albeit nine down and close to stumps - and then lose by an innings.

The reaction has been predictably severe as cricket joins the London 2012 swim team in falling from grace in spectacular fashion.

Next to the dateline Hyderabad Chris Barrett, of the Sydney Morning Herald, typed: Humiliating.

"That is the only word for it. Australia's abject campaign in India was already a throwback to the dark ages of the 1980s, when Allan Border's men were lucky to beat a backyard side.

"They had turned up as much with hope as confident ambition that they could be only Australia's second touring party to win here in 40 years. India, after all, were ranked fifth in the world, had just been humbled at home by England and were supposedly there for the taking.

"Instead, they have crashed and burned and have to scramble to pick up what pieces are left. Losing in India is not a crime, but losing like this is."

Barrett labelled the defeat "of monumental proportions" as worse than other recent debacles: getting rolled for 47 in Cape Town and losing to New Zealand at Hobart.

"Victory, after the events of the preceding three days ... but the way in which they were fell, losing 8-57 before lunch, was embarrassing.

"The mosquitoes targeted by electric swatters wielded by Indian hotel staff stood more chance."

In The Australian, cricket correspondent Peter Lalor added: "The Australian batting was as bad as it has been on tour. The batsmen talk a good strategy, but are recidivists who seem locked in to repeating the error of their ways.

"The failure to learn lessons demonstrated by the Indian batsmen, whose shots they chase and boundaries they retrieve, is unfathomable. Cheteshwar Pujara and Murali Vijay scored more runs between them than the Australian batting lineup could conjure in two innings."

Former England captain and opening bat Michael Vaughan, who led the successful 2005 campaign, marvelled at his old adversary's predicament via Twitter.

"Breaking news. Anyone that has bought a fifth-day ticket for this summer's Ashes will receive [a] full refund due to Aussie team that won't make it."

He then dispatched another sitter when tweeting: "What do you call a great Australian cricketer??? Retired."

Vaughan told The Sun newspaper England's come-from-behind 2-1 series win in India in December proved England were superior to Australia in every facet.

He added Shane Warne's criticism of Cricket Australia also played into England's hands.

"Warnie spoke out, he wants change in coaching and selection - and that's good for England.

"The Australians are going through a period of arguing amongst themselves. They're not happy and that can only bode well for England."

Meanwhile, former Australian fast bowler Merv Hughes came up with a novel idea to improve Australia's harebrained performances: grow a beard or moustache.

Hughes, in India with a tour group, arguably provided the Australian highlight of the test when he caught a David Warner six in the stands.

In his prime the fast bowler was renowned for his handlebar moustache, propensity to lick his team-mates and sledge opponents.

"I feel facial hair brings the best out of the players," said Hughes, a former test selector.

"When I played, a lot of people had moustaches - David Boon [former Australian batsman] and Graham Gooch [former England skipper] both had lovely moustaches," he told The Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"They are just going out of the game. I firmly believe it should be brought back."

Judging by the reaction of fans to the Hyderabad horror show they would be pleased if India experienced a close shave in the remaining tests.

"Is this the start of our longest losing streak in history? 10 Ashes Tests coming up and we'll be lucky not to lose the lot of them," wrote Susan of Goonellabah in the Sydney Morning Herald.

On Mitch Fleming was at least encouraged by Michael Clarke promoting himself up the order from five.

"As our best batsman moving up is great.

"At No 4 he gets one more partner to bat with before the tail."

Fairfax Media