In the end Australia left Adelaide with barely a whimper and long before the arrival of the thunderstorm that must have being praying on English minds overnight.
In truth the only storm that counts is the one that is now engulfing Ricky Ponting and the Australian selectors as they try to find an XI that can compete with England and somehow win two and draw one of the three remaining tests in the series. Otherwise, Ponting is in danger of having his legacy as the best Australian batsman since Bradman besmirched. Instead, he will forever be known as the captain that lost three Ashes series.
As an honest Ponting admitted, Australia were “out-batted, out-bowled and out-fielded” by a rampant England team. And as he and the selectors pick through the wreckage, the temptation will be to make wholesale changes to the side that takes the field at the WACA next week.
There will be at least one change, with Simon Katich’s achilles problem ruling him out of the rest of the series and given his years will perhaps curtail his test career for good. Phil Hughes is likely to return at the top of the order. Elsewhere, Marcus North’s position at number six will come under scrutiny and then there are the bowlers. Of the four who played in Adelaide, only Ryan Harris comes out with any credit with the other three all in danger of losing their place.
Aside form Andrew Strauss’ injudicious leave, Doug Bollinger looked was simply dreadful - he wasn't quick enough, leaked too many runs and his body language was terrible. He certainly lacked the fizz that his name would otherwise imply. As such Mitchell Johnson’s exile may only last for one match.
Peter Siddle has experienced the highs and lows of test cricket in just a week - six wickets and a birthday hat-trick on day one of the series and 54 wicketless overs since. Whilst he continued to run in and give it everything, Siddle looked like what he is – a bowler returning from a long-time injury. It is likely to come down to a borderline decision between him and Ben Hilfenhaus – who was inexplicably left out at Adelaide.
Both may play if the selectors opt for four seamers – as Xavier Doherty’s brief sojourn in test cricket will surely be put out of its misery. The gamble simply hasn’t worked – hardly surprising given his first-class record. However, having dispensed with Nathan Hauritz before the series, are the Australian selectors prepared to look a bit foolish by going back to him cap in hand now? Or do they turn instead to the rookie Steve Smith, who could take North’s place and provide support to a four-seam attack? If so, Mark Cameron of New South Wales is a good outside bet to join Harris, Johnson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus in the squad.
If Hauritz gets the nod and Australia retain the four bowler policy with Shane Watson as back-up seamer, North could survive for his home test. Cameron White - a possible alternative to Clarke as next captain, Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson are all contenders for North's spot if the selectors press the eject button.
For what it’s worth our squad would be as follows, with the XI highlighted in bold: Watson, Hughes, Clarke, Hussey, Ponting, White, Haddin, Johnson, Hauritz, Harris, Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Smith. We've been calling for Ponting to drop down the order for a while. It will allow him to compartmentalise the captaincy and give him a better chance of getting back to his imperious best with the bat.
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