Well, Australia are only six wickets away from being dismissed, and given that they’re still 300 runs behind, I think it’s safe to say that the Ashes will once again remain in the motherland. I’d love to say that Australia fought hard and just came up short, or that they were robbed, but the reality is that none of the above were the case. Australia were in almost every way completely and utterly outclassed at almost every point (excluding day one in Brisbane and a few days in Perth). Take as some examples, the following events that have occurred in the test series thus far:

In fact, you could almost relate Australia’s demise thus far to the similar fate experienced by England in the 2006-07 series that they lost 5-0. Our bowling has been completely ineffective, our batting woefully weak, and our fielding rather poor by our usual high standards. Worse yet, when things were going against us, and when we really needed at least someone to stand up, that was when the most catastrophic of failures occurred.

Scene One: Brisbane, Day Four. Starting the day 202 runs ahead and needing only to restrict England to a chaseable target, our bowlers failed. They took just one wicket for the entire day, and turned the test from being well within Australia’s grasp to being a guaranteed draw. Dropped catches also cost the side dearly.

Scene Two: Adelaide, Day Two. Another catastrophic failure by our bowlers and fielders. This time the tally of wickets taken during the entire day was all double that of Day Four in Brisbane, yet almost just as poor. Admittedly, the task had been made difficult by our batsmen not doing that well the day before, yet the bowling here made our batting performance look positively brilliant in comparison.

Scene Three: Adelaide, Day Five. This time our batsmen get a dishonourable mention. To be fair, the scene actually started just before the end of Day Four, where Michael Clarke lost his wicket just minutes before stumps was to be called. Having said that, Australia arrived at the ground on the morning of Day Five with six wickets still in hand, and having seen the weather forecast showing a massive storm on its way to Adelaide that was sure to end any chance of play not long after lunch. Despite knowing that they only had two hours between them and a very lucky draw, they failed miserably, losing 6 for 66 (ooh, spooky) and the match all before the lunch break could be called. Sure enough, not an hour or two later, Adelaide Oval was pissed on from a great height, leaving the surface resembling more of a lake than a cricket field.

Scene Four: Melbourne, Day One. I can describe this in just two characters: 98. All out for less than a hundred runs before tea on Day One. Knowing that a loss in this test match would hand The Ashes back to England, not one of the eleven Australian batsmen scored more than 20 runs in their first innings. And if that pathetic batting display was not enough, England managed to accumulate 157 runs in just one session without losing a single wicket! If you wanted to summarise how bad a summer Australia have had as a cricket team, that one day of play would probably explain it all.

You’ve got to give full credit to England – their bowling has been excellent, both their quicks and spinner Graeme Swann. Their batting has been resilient and shown no mercy to the Australian bowling attack, and remained solid on almost every occasion it was required. They will return to England full of pride and confidence, and full deserving winners of this series.

For Australia, you’ve got to start looking at the future. This is something we have failed at for some time now, and the results of clinging onto an ageing team for too long are now painfully evident. At age 36, Ricky Ponting’s future as both captain and a batsman in the Australian team will come into question. Having only broken 50 once this series, with that being in the dead rubber innings in Brisbane, his form as a player is certainly off. His captaincy both in terms of his field placings and use of bowlers throughout both this series and his entire captaincy career have long been questioned by many. He certainly has been the victim of a lot of bad luck this series, but even so the onus is on him to prove himself worthy of retaining his spot in the team.

Having said that, if Ponting were to no longer remain captain, an even tougher question would be who should replace him. The vice-captain Michael Clarke would be the logical choice, having been groomed for the role since his appointment in the test side. However, his form has been little better than Ponting’s this series, and the last thing the Australian team would want is to appoint a captain who is a dud with the bat.

If Clarke is not also an option for captain, then the cupboard certainly starts to look bare. Mike Hussey is getting on in age too (he turns 36 mid next year), and while he has struck some form this series, coming into this series his place in the side was also under scrutiny. Appointing Hussey would be a short-term move only, knowing that you’d need another captain in a few years time.

However, there may be some merit in that move. Hussey is definitely experienced enough to be able to do the job, and in the time he is captain you could regenerate the team and perhaps train up the next future captain. There are some candidates waiting in the ranks, but they would all need time in the test side to gain the necessary experience. In addition to Clarke, the names I’m thinking are Cameron White, Shaun Marsh or even a Steve Smith or Phil Hughes (given the appropriate time).

I sincerely hope that the Australian selectors and the Cricket Board learn a lot from this hammering England have inflicted upon us. It’s not the first time this has happened to Australian cricket, and last time it happened the end product was a team that went on to become world beaters for the best part of twenty years. Handled well, the next Australian “dynasty” can commence being formed, and soon enough the Australian team can become a strong, successful team once again.

Not that any of that helps with the pain we Australian fans are feeling right now though…