England face Ashes washout

After promising a serious contest against Australia, England's cricketers face fears the Ashes series could turn into a 5-0 whitewash to the tourists.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:54 IST
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After promising a serious contest against Australia, England's cricketers face fears the Ashes series could turn into a 5-0 whitewash to the tourists. Despite all the pre-match hype suggesting a new and improved England could topple an aging opponent, Australia's 239-run victory inside four days at Lord's on Sunday showed the home side is a long way from closing the gap on the world's best team. Skilful play "What we pride ourselves on is matching all our opponents in pure skill and we did that in this test match," said Australia batsman Justin Langer. "If we can continue to do that throughout the series and not get carried away with the fickle and shallow game of words, and play good, tough cricket, then England are going to have a really hard time this summer." Langer received a nasty blow above his right elbow in England paceman Steve Harmison's fiery opening spell on Thursday but went on to topscore in the first innings with 40. "The first day reflected that great hype and expectation and the incredible adrenaline that was going on," Langer said. "England played some very good cricket, particularly in that first session. I felt as much pressure in that first session as I did in my first test match against one of the great West Indian attacks." Ponting hit Australia captain Ricky Ponting also was struck by Harmison on the cheek, which drew blood. "On the first morning when Ricky got cut under the eye, we went to a drinks break and I said to a number of their players 'This isn't a war, this is a game,'" Langer said. "I know we're all playing tough but to me, you've still got to have the courtesy to say to the Australian captain 'Are you all right mate?'" But, after Australia's first innings, the match looked set to become a familiar, easy win for the tourists. Record target England capitulated for 155 in reply, while Australia went on to set a record target of 420 to win. Glenn McGrath took nine wickets for the match and Shane Warne six as England fell desperately short of the competition. "The gap in this match has been quite vast for us to win as comprehensively as we have," Ponting said. "It was all on from early on and the Ashes battle was everything it had been built up to be. But from that moment on, it really alerted us to the fact we have to be at our best to win the game." Work at hand England captain Michael Vaughan recognized his side had plenty of work to do. "There are a lot of positives to take out of the game at Lord's, but there are also a lot of areas we need to work hard on," Vaughan said. "To get bowled out twice for less than 200 on that kind of wicket was disappointing. "Yes, it did a bit and they are world-class performers, but we should really be posting better totals, and a number of players need to go away and work hard and make sure they go to Edgbaston with a fresh mind and a lot of hard work behind them." The second test starts at Edgbaston on August 4. (AP)