Aussies embarrassed by Ashes ‘darkest day’

Sydney: Australia’s humiliating batting collapse against England which saw the team all out for 60 before lunch was today acknowledged as a “horror show” and prompted a call for skipper Michael Clarke to retire.

Australia were demolished in just 111 balls on the first day at Trent Bridge on Thursday in the shortest completed first innings in Test history, all but smashing hopes of an Ashes victory for the tourists. “Australian cricket has spiralled into crisis after arguably the darkest day in Ashes history, as England took an extraordinary 214-run lead heading into day two,” declared Brisbane’s Courier Mail.

Australia’s specialist batsmen were destroyed by England’s bowling in the fourth Ashes Test, with Stuart Broad taking eight wickets for just 15 runs. The home side’s Joe Root then followed with a stunning 124 not out. “Before lunch, Australia had already been Broadsided. By stumps their Ashes campaign was all but Rooted,” said the Courier Mail online. “Not since Australia stuttered to 58 in 1936 have they suffered a worse Ashes collapse.” Ben Horne from Sydney’s Daily Telegraph said Australian cricket now “faces a mass cleanout”. “This is as bad as it gets, in the only series Australians genuinely care about,” Horne added.

The Sydney Morning Herald described the wipe-out — in which extras accounted for the most runs on the Australian scoreboard with 14 — as “a first day that will live in infamy”. The paper said the entire first innings fitted within the 140 characters of a single Tweet and noted that skipper Clarke’s eight-minute post-play press conference lasted as long as his first three batsmen did at the crease.

Clarke, who last week insisted he would keep playing after this Ashes series, made only 10 runs in the lamentable innings, prompting Herald columnist Peter FitzSimons to call on him to quit. “After a debacle like this — all out for 60; Australia humiliated to historical proportions; the Ashes lost; dead lucky to push the English into the third day; and reduced to doing a victory lap if we win so much as the toss before the fifth Test — someone has to pay the piper,” he wrote.

Despite 34-year-old Clarke’s record, FitzSimons said Australia cannot keep selecting a player who doesn’t score runs and it was clear that “Pup”, as Clarke is known, was now an “Old Dog who has no new tricks”. “Michael, it’s over. You’ve been an extraordinary player, the best of your generation. You’ve been a great servant of the game in general, and Australian cricket in particular. “But … it’s over.” The Australian newspaper called the innings a “Trent Bridge horror show”, with cricket writer Peter Lalor saying while Broad was assisted by the wicket, the Australian batsmen showed “no patience or intelligence”.

The dismal performance was at least accepted with good humour by foreign minister Julie Bishop, who was questioned on what could be done for the team after the humiliation. “I’m not sure that there’s anything more that I can do but just cheer them on,” Bishop said on Channel Seven’s Sunrise programme. “We do have great expectations of our cricket team but I think we should let them come home, I really do. I think we should let them come home and face the music here.”

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