LONDON – Joe Root's England team are simply not good enough to beat Australia in their own backyard and lack fast bowlers who can scare the opposition.
That's the harsh verdict from the British press after the tourists slumped to a 3-0 Ashes deficit following a painful innings defeat in Perth, leaving them staring at a 5-0 whitewash for the third time in four series Down Under.
Australia have outbatted and outbowled their visitors in all three Tests and on Monday regained the famous Ashes urn with two games of the five-match series left to play.
“Many reviews could be conducted into the state of English cricket and the lack of incentive for young outright fast bowlers, the state of pitches -- nothing like the WACA in Perth -- and the questionable coaching methods,” wrote Daily Telegraph cricket correspondent Scyld Berry.
“But the fundamental fact is that Root's squad does not contain enough good players to beat Australia here.”
“For an Ashes series in England, half of Root's team would be in contention for a place in a composite XI,” he added. “In Australia, on the basis of the first three Tests, only Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow would get into a composite XI.”
Former England batsmen Geoffrey Boycott said not even the missing Ben Stokes -- banned from international duties over an alleged fracas outside an English nightclub -- would have made the difference.
“Nothing we have in English cricket would have changed the result. I can't think of any player at home who could have made so much difference,” he was quoted as saying on the BBC website.
“Ben Stokes would have helped the batting and I would be surprised if he didn't score runs at some point over here because he's a good player but we've been outplayed.”
Former England Test all-rounder Vic Marks, writing in the Guardian, agreed that England's troubles did not start with the Stokes incident, highlighting the batting of captain Steve Smith, averaging 142 in the series, as a key strength.
“At the head of the Australian team is the best batsman in the series and probably the best in the world,” he wrote. “Steve Smith has been superb, rescuing his side in Brisbane and forging the match-winning partnership in Perth.”
Former England captain and Times chief cricket correspondent Michael Atherton said England's bowlers have paled beside their Australian counterparts.
“While England have relied on two ageing bowlers who spearheaded their last whitewash here -- (James) Anderson has done himself justice, (Stuart) Broad has not -- Australia have revamped their pace attack completely, through the compelling combination of Josh Hazlewood, five wickets to the good in the second innings, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc -- all younger, hungry, vital and fast,” he said.
Anderson has taken 12 wickets in the series so far but his fellow frontline partner Broad has managed just five scalps.
By contrast, Australia's top four bowlers -- Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins plus off-spinner Nathan Lyon -- have taken 59 wickets between them.
Former Ashes-winning fast bowler John Snow said England are having trouble unearthing fast bowlers to shake up opposition batsmen.
“Fast bowlers don't grow on trees,” the 76-year-old told the Press Association. “The wickets used to be better, they've got slower here in England for years and years. They've been messed about by directives rather than just focusing on producing good, true wickets.
“Fast bowling is about physical ability, physique, the mentality, the coordination. But you've got to want to learn how to bowl quick and for it all to slot into place.
“You've got to learn how to do it yourself, the coaches don't bowl the damn thing, the bowler has to bowl it.”