Ageing Aussies under pressure

England captain Alastair Cook (right) makes a stunning catch to take the wicket of Australia's Brad Haddin during the fourth day of the opening Ashes cricket Test. The hosts' emphatic 169-run win laid bare the problems with the visitors' batting and
England captain Alastair Cook (right) makes a stunning catch to take the wicket of Australia's Brad Haddin during the fourth day of the opening Ashes cricket Test. The hosts' emphatic 169-run win laid bare the problems with the visitors' batting and pace bowling.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Critics want veterans Watson and Haddin out as confident hosts name unchanged side

SYDNEY • The futures of team elders Shane Watson and Brad Haddin were under scrutiny yesterday, as critics homed in on Australia's first Ashes Test thumping by England at Cardiff.

The mood in the hosts' camp, however, could not be in greater contrast as they named an unchanged 13-man cricket squad for the second Ashes Test, which starts on Thursday.

Captain Alastair Cook's successful XI will be joined again by Steven Finn and Adil Rashid as extra bowling options for the second match of five at Lord's.

Stuart Broad led England to a 169-run victory in the first Test, as Australia collapsed either side of lunch on the fourth day at Sophia Gardens on Saturday.

In Cardiff, the visitors, well-placed at 97 for one, slumped to 106 for five as four wickets fell for just nine runs in 36 balls.

Chasing a record-breaking 412 for victory, the Ashes holders were dismissed for 242 after tea.

Fast-medium bowler Broad took three for 39 in 14 overs, as England enjoyed an emphatic win in their first match under new Australian coach Trevor Bayliss.

Joe Root, named man of the match for his first-innings 134 after coming in with England struggling at 43 for three, had the last word in the game by catching Josh Hazlewood in the deep off spinner Moeen Ali.

The last time Australia won an Ashes series after losing the first Test was on their 1997 tour of England and Australian media called for team changes yesterday.

"There will have to be changes for the second Test with Mitchell Starc injured, Shane Watson out of chances to prove himself and plenty of team-mates out of sorts," The Australian's Peter Lalor said.

The Sunday Telegraph's Ben Horne said: "Batting woes and question marks over the credentials of some of Australia's ageing stars have only been compounded by a potential fast-bowling conundrum brought on by concerns over the seriousness of Mitchell Starc's ankle injury."

The Sunday Age's Greg Baum said he believed age was catching up with the "greybeard" team.

"Older players and their foibles and frailties didn't lose Australia this match, but they did stand in marked contrast to the youth, verve and intent of England," he wrote.

"Cricket is a game for specialists and so does not lend itself to wholesale changes. But for Australia to make no changes would be to harden the idea of a team in a stasis of their own making."

Critics singled out Watson and Haddin as the players under the most pressure to keep their places.

"Watson wasn't the cause this day. This first Ashes Test probably was lost by the time he came in, but he was a symptom," Baum said.

"In sport, to do the same thing over and over and expect a more favourable result is not necessarily the definition of insanity.

"But there is a difference between training your habits and being set in your ways. There is a difference between just in time and too late."

Geoff Lemon, writing on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation sports website, said: "You sense that Watson's time is up: not because of his critics but because of himself. His confidence is shot... He doesn't look like he's enjoying himself."

Wicket-keeper Haddin's position is also under threat, according to pundits, after his significant dropped catch when Root had yet to get off the mark in England's first innings that set up the early momentum. "The orthodoxy that for an ageing 'keeper is that a decline with the bat shortly precedes one with the gloves," the ABC said.

"That view was furthered this week too following Haddin's first morning drop of Joe Root, the pivotal moment of this match to date."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2015, with the headline 'AGEING AUSSIES UNDER PRESSURE'. Print Edition | Subscribe