Cape Town – England’s hopes of regaining the Ashes were dealt a huge blow after they were bowled out for just 67 in the Third Ashes Test at Headingley on Friday, and it didn’t take long for the knives to come out.
It was England’s lowest Ashes total since 1948, and their fourth sub-100 total in the space of 18 months, and it has led to a whole host of former greats blasting the current team for their spectacular collapse.
“Maybe it is a lack of confidence in their defence, maybe a lack of judgment about what to play, or maybe an inability to adapt, or stubbornness about the need to adapt, maybe even a lack of knowledge about how to play here — maybe a combination of all these shortcomings — but the simple fact is that when the ball moves, this England line-up has been found wanting time and again,” Michael Atherton said in The Times.
“The excellence of Australia’s bowlers could only be admired: they were sharp, predatory, relentless. Still, this was as shoddy a batting display as you could wish to see. There is another saying in these parts that invokes a higher authority: He helps those who help themselves. Not for the first time, England’s batsmen let the side down.
“With a duck in front of his home crowd, and the Ashes fading from sight, this was as bad a day as (Joe) Root has endured.”
Speaking for Sky Sports, Bob Willis said: “That was abject, absolutely pathetic. Apart from Joe Root and Ben Stokes, these guys cannot bat. It’s as simple as that. This was totally unacceptable.
“England can’t play Test cricket at the moment and the Ashes are gone.
“If the penny hasn’t yet dropped with England’s cricket administrators about the programme of four-day cricket, (it needs to). If they want to keep Test cricket alive they are going to have to do something about it and pretty damn quick, because this was totally unacceptable.
“The cricket-watching public want England to win the Ashes. Winning the World Cup was fantastic, a real shot in the arm, but the real fans want England to play Test cricket at the highest level.”
And Geoffrey Boycott was no more forgiving in The Telegraph.
“What the hell is going on with this England team? How do you expect to win the Ashes with that sort of batting?.
“Everybody knows that when the sun shines at Headingley, the pitch is better for batting. Our batsmen should have been licking their chops, thinking there would still be a little in the pitch in the morning session while the ball is new.
“If England had batted all day they would have a lead of 100. So, what did England do? They batted without any brains and threw away the Ashes.”
Here’s what Michael Vaughan had to say on BBC Radio: “It was almost unfair what Australia had to bat in yesterday compared to what England were going to have to bat in on day two.
“(Marnus Labuschagne) scored a few ugly runs, but I haven’t seen that from the England team. I haven’t seen it for four years.
“They don’t look to me like they’re willing to put the hard work in (in the middle).
“Every time this England batting line-up has been put under pressure … they don’t get bowled out, they get blown away.
“With that talent in that dressing-room, I’m sorry but it’s just not good enough.
“It’s the pressure card — they just can’t cope with it.”
And finally Nasser Hussain had his say in The Daily Mail.
“Is it the obsession with white-ball cricket? Is it that techniques are being diminished by the modern game? Is it because, as Sir Alastair Cook says, the ball is doing more in English conditions now than he can ever remember?
“England desperately need to find the answer because what we saw on Friday was an accident waiting to happen.
“To carry out a technical analysis for Sky on the way England collapsed on Friday was to highlight the real concerns we must have about the way our red-ball game is going.
“We have to look at our domestic structure and the fact modern players do not get the time to work on their red-ball game.
“When did (Jason) Roy last play a first-class match for Surrey? You have to go back to last season.
“Then you have to consider tired minds after the World Cup and the lack of preparation time for this year’s Tests. It’s a deadly combination.
“So, do not expect a miracle cure. There is no guarantee Dom Sibley or Zak Crawley — two of the coming men from the Championship — could do any better.”