Paying the price for Ashes hope: Why do the Aussies make us look so lame? | Jack Marshall's column

I know, we’ve seen it all before. England cricket teams go to Australia and get tonked, they lose by thick margins, humiliated in the dead of night as the country rolls over and falls asleep to TMS.

By Jack Marshall, Reporter
Monday, 24th January 2022, 4:55 am
Ollie Pope after being dismissed (credit Darren England via AAP PA Wire)
Ollie Pope after being dismissed (credit Darren England via AAP PA Wire)

But I don’t know if we’ve ever seen anything quite as pathetic and meek as this. A surrender from ball one. Good series are often described as an arm wrestle, ebbing and flowing with a sheen of effort and sweat. This was an execution.

The speed with which all hope evaporated was shocking. Granted, we should’ve known better, been more familiar with the tendencies of a batting line up which seems singularly incapable of making 300 runs. We got drunk on hope, then humiliated.

The past two years have been hard for our cricketers. They’ve been ensconced in Covid bubbles and have made sacrifices. They are, ultimately, the scapegoats for an English system which has emphatically failed to prepare them. Lambs sent to the slaughter.

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England's cricketers following the 4-0 Ashes loss (credit Darren England via AAP PA Wire)

But when even the Aussies start feeling sorry for you, you know it’s bad. This Australian side has great bowlers and okay batters - they’re not eons ahead. But they spent the entire tour being relatively kind and jovial towards us because they simply weren’t scared.

It’s beyond gallows humour, it’s not even funny how bad we are. These are some of the highest paid cricketers in the world and they can’t even bat. The grim predictability of the series was dangerous because it made people not care. That’s terrifying.

This is existential, so bleak that 4-0 is a preferable scoreline to 3-1 because 3-1 would’ve suggested some fake modicum of fight. Instead, we’ve been slapped awake and now have to make changes. Those players wanted out. Why?

Because we make them like this. Despite just 7% of the country attending fee-paying schools, 50% of our cricketers do. They’re homogenised. They’re weaker and less street-smart than the Aussies forged in Grade Cricket under an unforgiving sun.

Joe Root after being bowled by Scott Boland in the Hobart Test (credit Darren England via AAP PA Wire)

We look small next to them. They make us look lame with their tans and accents and physicality. Our bowlers are old and tricksy, theirs are burly. Scott Boland is made of bison muscle, Ollie Robinson can’t bowl a third spell because he’s too pudgy.

As our cricketers learn Latin in the rain, the Aussies are playing rugby and Aussie Rules, tossing jellyfish and fighting sharks on Bondi. Drop our cookie-cutter softies into the fray at the Gabba and what do you get? In cricket, it’s boring being so dour, so pale. So English.