Australia must get Ashes act together - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Australia must get Ashes act together

By Adam Cooper 16/08/2005 07:29:34 PM Comments (0)

Australia has just over a week to get its house in order if it wants to retain the Ashes against a confident and commanding English cricket team.

As the euphoria of the heart-stopping draw in the third Test dissipates, there is no denying the world champion Test team is on the ropes after being outplayed by England for the second week in a row.

Only a majestic century from captain Ricky Ponting and another rearguard effort from the tailenders saved the tourists from defeat at Old Trafford, in another magnificent match that has strengthened cricket's renaissance.

After losing by two runs at Edgbaston a week ago, the Australians celebrated the draw because it had been the lesser team for the entire match.

The series might be level at 1-1 but the reality for Australia is that its batting, fielding and one-time dominance over the cricket world are all in question.

Australia's situation breathes new urgency into this week's matches against Scotland, on Thursday, and Northamptonshire, over the weekend, where the batsmen hope to begin to turn their tour around and where some struggling players face challenges from outside.

Out of sort paceman Jason Gillespie - whose three Tests have yielded three wickets at 100 each - and middle order batsman Simon Katich - whose past four innings have produced only 49 runs and fresh concerns about his ability to face the swinging ball - will face challenges from squad members Michael Kasprowicz, Shaun Tait and Brad Hodge.

But Katich is not the only batsman under-performing against England's all-varied, all-threatening attack.

Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn and the injured Michael Clarke have consistently been reined in before they start building on their frequent starts, while the usually dominant Adam Gilchrist is averaging only 24.

Ponting's match-saving 156, crafted over almost seven hours, is Australia's only hundred from six team innings, and the skipper must be tiring of demanding his batsmen lift.

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