First, the good news: cricket fans around Australia would have enjoyed a full night’s sleep on Thursday, following their side’s day-one capitulation in the fourth Ashes Test in Trent Bridge.
All out by lunch for a measly 60 was the dire first innings score, with more runs via sundries (14) than the top-scoring Aussie batsman, Mitchell Johnson (13).
And didn’t the Australian press embrace the spectacle, tearing strips off a side that went off promising to end Australia’s 14-year losing streak on English soil, and instead looks like extending it.
“It’s Pomicide” read the Sydney Morning Herald’s back page. No less dramatic was its front, which drew on the 1975 dismissal of prime minister Gough Whitlam by the governor-general, lamenting a day-one collapse “that will live in infamy”.
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph took a scattergun approach, letting readers pick the headline from a choice of three: Embarrassed, Demolished, Humiliated.
Its Melbourne News Corp stablemate, the Herald Sun, pictured a downcast Clarke under “Ashes Disgrace” (“They couldn’t even make it to lunch,” it added). The West Australian plumped for “Cr-Ashes”.
Brisbane’s Courier-Mail kicked off Australia’s 5-0 thrashing during the 2013 series with an infamous “Broad-ban”, its short-lived boycott of the England paceman it branded a “smug Pommie cheat”.
Broad had his revenge on Friday morning, given full billing on the Courier-Mail’s front page in wide-eyed elation at his 8-15 figures, paired with “Ashes to crashers: pathetic Aussies humiliated by arch-nemesis”.
Worse than the first-day score perhaps was the playing of out of all sorts of hokey dares made by Australians who could not have imagined their side crashing and burning so comprehensively. Among them was host of the Nine Network’s Today show, Karl Stefanovic, who promised on Thursday evening to “gear off” should the out-of-sorts captain Michael Clarke fail to make 100.
One might suggest it’s a poor bet if by winning you simply maintain the status quo (ie continuing to wear your clothes). What exactly did Stefanovic stand to gain from this wager? Let’s not think too hard about it. Cue Friday morning on the Today Show:
The Australian’s storied cricket writer Peter Lalor let rip in his despatch from Trent Bridge, pronouncing the session “one of the most shameful days for Australia in this series and possibly in the history of the contest between the two countries”.
Gideon Haigh was characteristically elegant, which made his jab at the Australian captain’s aura (“collapsing, vortex-like”) hurt all the more.
Inevitable were the obituaries, and the Daily Telegraph’s Ben Horne delivered, opening his analysis of the day thus: “In affectionate remembrance of Australian cricket, which died at Trent Bridge on 6th August, 2015, deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances. RIP.”
The ABC’s election analyst, Antony Green, was one of several who opted for numbers over words to express the gravity of Australia’s collapse.
Even the news wire Reuters got stuck in, quantifying just what a poor innings Australia had by recourse to the history books.
The worst of them: Australia’s 18.3 over innings was the shortest in Test history; never have the fourth, fifth and sixth wickets fallen so early; at no time in Ashes history have the sundries been a side’s top scorer. Pity the nation.
This article was written by Michael Safi, for theguardian.com on Friday 7th August 2015 02.44 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010