'The Ashes are gone'

Just two Tests into the five-Test series, the British press on Wednesday largely conceded the Ashes to Australia after England crashed to a spectacular defeat at the Adelaide Oval.

The hosts came from behind to win by six wickets, going 2-0 up in the best-of-five series with three to play, leaving England with a mountain to climb in their battle to retain the Ashes.

The Daily Telegraph pointed out that when England held on to win the second Test of last year’s series, then captain Michael Vaughan had said that if England had “gone 2-0 down, I don’t think we’d have come back from that.”

Yet that is the deficit that England faces, and former captain Geoffrey Boycott was unconditional in his declaration: “Make no mistake about it, the Ashes are gone.”

“If you support England, don’t kid yourself that they might come back,” Boycott wrote in the Telegraph.

The Sun‘s match report was similarly downcast, saying that “the Ashes, won so spectacularly last year, have effectively now been surrendered”.

“Realistically, England can achieve little more than damage limitation in the remaining three Tests.”

The tabloid, Britain’s best-read daily, even published a “Timetable of shame”, recounting the exact timings of the English wickets that fell, and the Australian runs that won the match.

The Times, meanwhile, summarised the fifth day’s action at Adelaide neatly in its match report, when it said: “Too much caution, the genius of Warne, and a needless run-out—that reliable catalyst for many a cricket calamity—combined to turn England’s almost fireproof position overnight into a defeat as deeply disappointing as any in living memory.”

Ian Bell’s run-out, part of a horrible mix-up, was accompanied by a strong performance from Test cricket’s greatest wicket-taker, who claimed 4-49 off 32 overs, to spark the English slide, with the tourists losing their last nine wickets for 60.

According to the newspaper, the Australians “seized the second Test on the final day in the manner of commandos raiding by night”.

The Independent was even more gushing in its praise for Warne: “Inevitably, it was Warne who transformed what was widely expected to be a dull day into a memorable one.”

“It is hard to find superlatives to describe how great a cricketer this man is. His legend grows at a faster rate than his tally of Test wickets ... and he has nothing more to prove, but here he was getting dirty and pushing his sore and tired body to the limit to win a game of cricket for his side.”

The general tenor of the British press was seen in the Daily Mail, which reported that there “is surely no way back from this for England—and nor do they deserve one after such a spineless surrender of the second Ashes Test”.

“This turned out to be a horror show of historic proportions; England manufacturing an epic defeat from the harmless, bland passages of play that marked the game right up to the start of the final day.”

“England were quite simply an embarrassment.” - Sapa-AFP

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