Having started the Ashes trying to produce an upset, Australia’s cricketers will end it trying to avoid gaining a place in the record books for the wrong reasons. Another collapse in the fifth and final Test, which starts Wednesday, would leave the tourists as the first Australia side to lose four matches in a series in England.
A 4-0 margin would equal the Ashes campaign in 1978-79 as its worst. That team, captained by Graham Yallop and neutered by defections to Kerry Packer’s World Series, was beaten 5-1 on home soil. And, according to Australia vice captain Brad Haddin, a 3-0 deficit is a fair reflection of the team’s performance going into the final Test.
“We just haven’t been good enough in the big moments,” Haddin said. “England deserve to be where they are, 3-0 up.”
Changes in squad
Australia captain Michael Clarke insisted the latest changes to his side were all designed to help the tourists salvage some pride. Clarke found himself having to defend the selectors’ decision Tuesday to give a Test debut to James Faulkner, which appeared to be a classic case of taking a punt on a player with the series lost.
Although considered an all-rounder, the Tasmanian has yet to make a senior hundred in any class of domestic or international cricket.
The debutant was brought in at the expense of under-performing No. 3 batsman Usman Khawaja. Shane Watson, who started the series as an opener and was then deployed at No. 6, was given the task of filling a problem position for Australia. Mitchell Starc was recalled in place of Jackson Bird.