English cricket greats blast poor Ashes tourists

CHRIS BARRETT
Last updated 15:40 08/12/2013

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England's shambolic showing at the Adelaide Oval has been slammed by former players, with Geoffrey Boycott declaring the Ashes ''gone'' and Michael Vaughan forecasting a 5-0 annihilation by Michael Clarke's team.

The Ashes holder is in tatters after only seven days of cricket in this series, the latest humiliation inspired by a lethal post-lunch display for the history books from Mitchell Johnson that tore the England batting order to shreds.

For the third time in three innings in this campaign Alastair Cook's men were bundled out for less than 200 and with defeat looming in Adelaide they will go to Perth this week needing a monumental turnaround to resurrect hope of staging a comeback.

The England cognoscenti were ruthless in their assessment of Cook's mentally shot side on Saturday.

''I just wanted to see fight. I felt that this was the day the heartbeat was going to get going,'' former captain Vaughan said.

''It's been as bad a display of batting [as] I've seen from an England side for many a year.

''I don't see any other result than five-zip the way that England are playing. This is as bad as I've seen from an England side. I've no idea what is going on out there.''

England's legendary all-rounder Ian Botham also turned on the tourists, tweeting: ''Did we bat on the same pitch as the Aussies ?? Embarrassing!!''

Australia hasn't won the Ashes for seven years, losing three consecutive series since the 5-0 defeat dished out by Ricky Ponting's side in the summer of 2006-07.

Another whitewash is a long way off being contemplated but from here it is difficult to see a way back for a befuddled England, even if it only needs to square the series to retain the silverware.

''The Ashes are gone ... forget this match, they're gone, they've flown away,'' Boycott wailed on the BBC radio commentary. ''If I were you I'd go to sleep if I were in England.''

Australia's utter dominance on Saturday could in large part be attributed to its own brilliance - from Johnson's insatiability to David Warner's incredible, one-handed catch to remove Michael Carberry - but England was again its own worst enemy.

It was hard to hold it against the middle and lower order terrorised by Johnson but earlier exits by Kevin Pietersen and Joe Root were inexcusable in their recklessness.

There had been an expectation that in their time of need this was when Pietersen would exhibit the greatness he believes he has and which he has in the past illustrated. But he failed by his own hand to provide any resistance, flicking Peter Siddle carelessly to George Bailey at short mid-wicket on four after not even 20 minutes in the middle.

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''Shocking shot ... absolute shocker,'' cried Boycott, having only just recovered from his dismay at the departure of Root, whose obstinacy went out the window on 15 when he slog-swept Nathan Lyon on the first ball he faced from the spinner.

''More brains in a chocolate mouse,'' was his cutting description of the new England No.3, whose own head went down immediately, realising a top edge was soaring high towards Chris Rogers in the deep.

England, on a day in which it was transported back to the dark days of Ashes contests a decade or so past, was not entirely devoid of character.

Ian Bell, the unsung hero in England earlier this year, did what he could with an unbeaten 72 but watched on helplessly at the other end as he lost partner after partner to Johnson.

Carberry, with 60, showed up far more experienced top-order colleagues and Monty Panesar, dealt no mercy and clipped on the lid by Johnson despite his tail-end status, displayed ticker.

He survived more balls than seven of his teammates and five of them combined, and when England returned to the field beat Clarke.

By then, though, it was too little, too late.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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