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Aussie PM admits to Ashes 'sinking feeling'

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Tuesday admitted to a "sinking feeling" after watching Australia's Ashes Test defeat by England and urged the country to get behind the team.

cricket Updated: Jul 22, 2009 19:57 IST

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Tuesday admitted to a "sinking feeling" after watching Australia's Ashes Test defeat by England and urged the country to get behind the team.

Rudd joined Australian media in lamenting the 115-run loss, which prompted local bookmakers to install bitter rivals England as favourites to snatch cricket's most famous trophy.

"Like all Australians, I watched telly last night with a sinking feeling in my stomach. But you know something, it's only two Tests down, and there's a few to go," Rudd said.

"So I'm looking forward to the next Test, and we have a first-class Australian team. And we should all be in there backing them, each ball that's bowled, and each delivery which is struck to the boundary by Australian batsmen in the remaining Tests."

Rudd's comments came as media grumbled over umpiring, England's attitude and the state of Australia's once formidable team after their first loss at Lord's in 75 years.

"Ricky Ponting faces the greatest challenge of his captaincy to save the Ashes series," columnist Malcolm Conn wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

"For decades we have heard how Australians are always inspired by the spiritual home of cricket," he added. "Unfortunately this inexperienced team was overwhelmed by the occasion."

A Sydney Morning Herald editorial lamented umpiring standards, after replays appeared to show England captain Andrew Strauss grassing a catch off opener Phillip Hughes.

"What standards does the International Cricket Council live by?" the Herald complained.

"This is the television age, an era unforgiving of error by referees and umpires in major sports.

"Yet even with the benefit of replay, the match officials in the current Ashes series have produced a medley of incompetence and inconsistency that has cast a shadow over the series."

Newspaper columnist Greg Baum also hit out at England's "unexpectedly cynical" approach.

"It stands in stark contrast to the generally noble spirit of the 2005 series," Baum wrote in The Age.

"It was evident before the series began, in the widespread sneering towards the unorthodoxy of rookie opener Phillip Hughes. It showed in England's elaborate time-wasting tactics at the end of the first Test in Cardiff, which lay in that bleak no-man's-land between gamesmanship and cheating.

"At Lord's, England again has been the uglier team ... England's bowlers have sledged more than Australia's."

Meanwhile online bookmaker Centrebet slashed the odds on England winning the five-match series, putting aside patriotism to install the "Poms" as 2-to-1 favourites.

Other online bookies were similarly pessimistic, with sportingbet paying 2.05 dollars per dollar bet for an England win, 3.25 for a draw and 3.50 for Australia.

Many experts focused on Australia's lacklustre bowling and on the key role played by England's Andrew Flintoff, who took five wickets in the second innings.

"Neither umpires, toss, luck nor the conditions were to blame for Australia's poor position," wrote columnist Peter Roebuck.

"Throughout, their fate has lain in their own hands. For three-and-a-half days the Australians were outgunned. At no stage did they look like the best side in the world."