Gabba draw, Johnson rubbish, Ponting finds form: columns of conviction

England rescued, then dominated. Australia dominated then wilted before making the most of some batting practice. This Australian side has really not convinced its press following

Alastair Cooks Aussies
Sydney Morning Herald
England climbs off the canvas
The Age
Aussies may be second-rate
Herald Sun

Phil Lutton summed it up in the Sydney Morning Herald, damning Cook with faint praise.
‘The day in 25 words or less [sic] Cook’s double ton surprises everyone but himself. Brick walls and banged heads for Aussie bowlers. English crowing, Australia plot’s soundly lost.
The heroes It’s fair to say few Australian players or fans expected Alistair Cook to be a major factor in this series.’

The story for many Australians is the disappearance of Mitchell Johnson. Will Swanton writes in the Herald Sun – quoting Mike Atherton writing in The Times.
‘Paceman Mitchell Johnson was heavily criticised by past England captains. Mike Atherton led the charge by saying the left-armer had become Australia’s shy-away-from rather than go-to man. Johnsons contribution was 0-170, a duck and dropping Andrew Strauss on 69 before the England captain made 110. “After he put down a fairly straightforward opportunity at mid-off when Strauss had scored 69, the famous line about England in 1986-87 sprang to mind,” Atherton said. “There’s only three things wrong with Johnson – he can’t bat, bowl or field.”

Andrew Webster from the same paper agrees.
‘Johnson is bearing the brunt of the criticism. During his humiliation yesterday it was hard not to think he should concern himself less with Movember moustaches and the next tattoo and more with taking a wicket. There is a growing belief that the fickle determination of Generation Y is to blame for the 1st XI’s decline. There’s a longing for the glory days of Generation Y-front that played hard, sledged hard, won hard.’

For Peter Roebuck in The Age there is a reality bight brewing.
‘Australia’s worst fears and England’s highest hopes have been confirmed. On the evidence presented, Ricky Ponting’s team is not going to reclaim the Ashes. It’s not the captain’s fault. He juggled his resources and placed his fieldsmen to the best of his ability. Just that the bowling lacks penetration and the fielding is merely serviceable.’

Byron Vale of the Courier Mail managed to find some Aussie cheer.
‘A flying 50 from Australian captain Ricky Ponting has signalled the home side’s intentions ahead of the second Test.’
And the comments on the Ashes Supersite managed to look at the game through only one eye.
‘Luckyal of hard at work: ‘Too gutless to declare and make a game of it…”
‘Rusty of Perth: ‘Pom’s don’t walk, very much like the Indians, will do anything to win, anything.”

With the lack of Pom bashing to be done, Malcolm Conn had to concentrate on the real winner – cricket – in The Australian
‘It is not the cricket setting this critical first Ashes Test apart, but the character shown by those in adversity. This has reinforced the notion that at such a rarefied level it is not so much a player’s talent but his fortitude that makes the difference when it matters.’

And finally, for Andrew Webster in the Herald Sun, hell does seem to have frozen over.
‘Has anyone stepped back to consider the remote possibility that our cricket side … ahem … isn’t particularly good? Australian players scoffed when they were told earlier this year they were the fifth-ranked Test side in the world following their 2-0 series defeat to India. Maybe it’s closer to the truth than they care to believe.’

‘Sledger’ writes a regular media column in The Wisden Cricketer each month

Mitchell Johnson speaks about The Ashes – TWC exclusive
See the Test in pictures in TWC’s gallery
Sam Collins session-by-session guide for the entire Test
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Lawrence Booth: 10 Ashes things to look forward to

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