Thu, Jan 02, 2014 - Page 20 News List

England in disarray, Aussie vice captain says

AFP, SYDNEY

England are in disarray and their ragged fielding indicates the team is breaking apart heading into this week’s final Ashes Test, Australia wicketkeeper Brad Haddin said yesterday.

England are struggling to avoid a 5-0 Ashes series whitewash after heavy defeats in all four Tests, but they passed up the chance of a nets session at the Sydney Cricket Ground two days before the start of the fifth Test.

“I don’t think they’re in a great place, to be perfectly honest,” Australia vice captain Haddin told reporters. “I think you could probably tell a bit of that in their fielding the other day [in the Melbourne Test]. I think that’s the first thing to go when you’re struggling a bit. The batting and bowling, it’s an individual thing, but I think the team stuff looked like it was breaking a bit the other day.”

England, who led by 116 with 10 wickets in hand after lunch on the third day in Melbourne, contributed to their own demise with a second-innings batting collapse followed by two dropped catches by skipper Alastair Cook.

Despite their eight-wicket capitulation, the tourists sprang a surprise by not using their scheduled morning nets session yesterday.

For half their innings in this series England have failed to post a total greater than 200 and they have yet to pass 400 in the past two Ashes series.

Rookie all-rounder Ben Stokes is the only England batsman to have scored a century in the series and their bowling arsenal has been lackluster, with star spinner Graeme Swann retiring mid-series.

Young England leg-spinner Scott Borthwick said the tourists were comfortable with their final preparations.

“No reason whatsoever [for not having a net],” Borthwick told reporters. “We just had a nice run around, a bit of catching ... we’ll do our skills tomorrow.”

Borthwick could replace Monty Panesar in the England bowling attack, while Zimbabwe-born left-hander Gary Ballance appears set to make his Test debut somewhere in the top order — in all likelihood at the expense of opener Michael Carberry.

Haddin said he was confident Australia can create history by fielding the same team for five consecutive Tests.

Should the selectors stick with the same XI, it will be the first time an Australia team has remained unchanged for a five-Test series.

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