SYDNEY (AFP) - Australia's media revelled in their team's humbling of hapless England on Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013, writing off the tourists ahead of the third Test in Perth where the Ashes could be decided.
Australia took a 2-0 lead in the five-Test series with a 218-run trouncing of England in the Adelaide Test on Monday and will retrieve the urn they lost to their arch rivals in 2009 if they win in Perth.
The Sydney Morning Herald splashed a picture of a gravestone on its back page, looking ahead to the game that begins on Friday and suggesting that England are dead and buried.
"In Affectionate Remembrance of English Cricket, which died at the WACA on 17th December, 2013. RIP," the inscription read, referring to the Perth ground and the date the third Test is due to end.
The newspaper's chief sports writer Andrew Webster said England's dismal performance in the Ashes so far was surprising.
"Notwithstanding the very fact that Australia might have regained the urn by this time next week, what astonishes most about this Ashes series is how meekly England seem prepared to hand it back," he wrote.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph rubbed salt into English wounds, running a picture of a laughing Michael Clarke jokingly asking Shane Watson: "Hey Watto, did you hear the one about the Englishmen who have to face Mitch Johnson at the WACA?" "It's about to get a whole lot worse for the struggling Poms," the tabloid said.
"Down 2-0 in the Ashes series after yesterday's capitulation in Adelaide, they must now face Aussie firebrand Mitchell Johnson on his blisteringly fast home track in Perth." The paceman was named man-of-the-match in the first Test in Brisbane and in Adelaide after he destroyed the English batting line-up. So far he has taken 17 wickets at an average of just 12.50.
After England convincingly won the Ashes series 3-0 on home soil earlier this year, Telegraph columnist Richard Hinds said hubris is the only explanation for the side's catastrophic decline.
"The hard work and pursuit of excellence that had created a mini golden age was lost in transit, while arrogance and entitlement clearly made it through customs," he said.
The Australian broadsheet had some advice for England captain Alastair Cook: "Get your scrambled head together." "Before he can even begin to rally his troops, he must get his own scrambled head together," cricket writer Wayne Smith said.
"The reckless hoik he played to hole out on the boundary in Mitchell Johnson's opening over (in the second innings in Adelaide) was the shot of a man who loses his nerve in the middle of a minefield and makes a mad dash for safe ground." He added that "Cook's hope, and it's starting to border on desperate hope, is that his ageing greats still have three great games in them", referring to the final Tests in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney.