Crocodile Dundee could not even save the Aussies

ROLF HARRIS, Dame Edna Everage, Kylie Minogue, Mrs Mangel, Crocodile Dundee... your boys took one hell of a beating.

Okay, perhaps we should not gloat too much following England's victory in the Adelaide Test, but, what the hell, English successes Down Under are rarer than hens' teeth.

One-nil up with three Tests to play, it would be a major surprise if England do not retain the Ashes.

Such is the nature of Australia's plight, they could do worse than ask Rolf Harris to open the batting, Dame Edna to open the bowling and Crocodile Dundee to strengthen the tail.

Joking aside, only the most one-eyed England fan could have predicted the way Andrew Strauss's side have dominated their hosts.

Although by no means unusual for an Ashes series to be all but over before the third Test, it is practically unheard of for Australia to be the ones who look out for the count.

As Ashes holders, England would guarantee their first series triumph in Australia for 24 years if they win the next match in Perth, starting tomorrow week.

Already it seems inconceivable that Australia – who must win at least two of the last three Tests and deny England victory in the other – can reclaim the urn.

The extent of Australia's failings have been extraordinary to behold.

Prior to the first Test in Brisbane, there seemed barely a cigarette paper to choose between the sides.

This correspondent predicted a 2-1 Australia triumph or a 2-2 draw – results that could yet materialise, but which now seem wildly optimistic on the home team's behalf.

Indeed, barring Shane Warne coming out of retirement at the age of 41, which is only marginally more likely than Crocodile Dundee strapping on his pads, it is difficult to see Australia winning a single Test – let alone winning or drawing the series.

The biggest difference so far has been in the bowling.

James Anderson and Steven Finn have provided pace and penetration, while Graeme Swann has lived up to his billing as the world's best spinner.

Australia, in contrast, are in major disarray.

Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus were jettisoned after just one match, while the selection of left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty looks arguably the zaniest choice since Darren Pattinson was called up for the Headingley Test against South Africa in 2008.

Not even the news that England pace bowler Stuart Broad will miss the rest of the tour through injury is more than a minor inconvenience to England's plans.

Although the loss of the Nottinghamshire man is clearly a blow, Anderson and Finn look the likeliest wicket-takers in any case, while the Yorkshire duo of Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad, along with Surrey's Chris Tremlett, are more than capable replacements.

Tremlett's ability to extract bounce could sway the selectors for the game at the WACA, but I would opt for Shahzad to replace Broad.

Shahzad bowled as well as I have seen him bowl during the match against Australia A in Hobart, and he is a better long-term prospect than Tremlett or Bresnan.

The one thing England are not short of is options.

There is competition for places in every department – particularly with the England Performance Programme also touring Australia.

The home side, on the other hand, do not know where to turn next. Why, there is even talk of Johnson being recalled for Perth, which would be a desperate move.

Phil Hughes is likely to come in for the injured Simon Katich, while Marcus North is another who could fall by the wayside.

England, of course, have no such issues.

The top four of Andrew Strauss, Alistair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen have all posted three-figure scores during the first two Tests, Cook and Pietersen going on to record double centuries.

Ian Bell is in the form of his life, which means England can afford to carry Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior, both of whom have yet to excel.

Arguably the only change England should consider to

their batting order is to promote Bell to No 5 and drop Collingwood to No 6, for Bell needs as many opportunities as possible.

It was Yorkshire's Len Hutton who famously said that to win in Australia you need to be at least 25 per cent better than the opposition.

At present, England look at least 50 per cent superior.

Indeed, arguably the only way back for Australia is to prepare green-tops and back their under-performing seam bowlers to out-manoeuvre the England attack.

The alternative – the preparation of flat pitches that reduce the likelihood of taking 20 wickets and which are more liable to play into the hands of England off-spinner Graeme Swann – is just not feasible.


Australia v England

Adelaide: England beat Australia by an innings and 71 runs.

Overnight: Australia 245 and 238-4, England 620-5 dec.

Australia first innings

S R Watson c Pietersen b Anderson 51

S M Katich run out 0

R T Ponting c Swann b Anderson 0

M J Clarke c Swann b Anderson 2

M E K Hussey c Collingwood b Swann 93

M J North c Prior b Finn 26

B J Haddin c Finn b Broad 56

R J Harris lbw b Swann 0

X J Doherty run out 6

P M Siddle c Cook b Anderson 3

D E Bollinger not out 0

Extras lb6 w1 nb1 8

Total (85.5 overs) 245

Fall: 1-0 2-0 3-2 4-96 5-156 6-207 7-207 8-226 9-243

Bowling O-M-R-W

Anderson 19-4-51-4

Broad 18.5-6-39-1

Finn 16-1-71-1

Swann 29-2-70-2

Collingwood 3-0-8-0

England first innings

A J Strauss b Bollinger 1

A N Cook c Haddin b Harris 148

K P Pietersen c Katich b Doherty 227

P D Collingwood lbw b Watson 42

I R Bell not out 68

M J Prior not out 27

Extras b8 lb13 w8 29

Total 5 wkts dec (152 overs) 620

Fall: 1-3 2-176 3-351 4-452 5-568

Did not bat: S C J Broad, G P Swann, J M Anderson, S T Finn.

Bowling O-M-R-W

Harris 29-5-84-2

Bollinger 29-1-130-1

Siddle 30-3-121-0

Watson 19-7-44-1

Doherty 27-3-158-1

North 18-0-62-0

Australia second innings

S R Watson c Strauss b Finn 57

S M Katich c Prior b Swann 43

R T Ponting c Collingwood b Swann 9

M J Clarke c Cook b Pietersen 80

M E K Hussey c Anderson b Finn 52

M J North lbw b Swann 22

B J Haddin c Prior b Anderson 12

R J Harris lbw b Anderson 0

X J Doherty b Swann 5

P M Siddle b Swann 6

D E Bollinger not out 7

Extras b5 lb1 w5 11

Total (99.1 overs) 304

Fall: 1-84 2-98 3-134 4-238 5-261 6-286 7-286 8-286 9-295

Bowling O-M-R-W

Anderson 22-4-92-2

Broad 11-3-32-0

Swann 41.1-12-91-5

Finn 18-2-60-2

Collingwood 4-0-13-0

Pietersen 3-0-10-1

Man of the match: KP Pietersen (England).

Umpires: M Erasmus (South Africa) and AL Hill (New Zealand).

Remaining Tests

3rd Test – Australia v England, Western Australia Cricket Association Ground (WACA), Perth, Thursday, December 16-20.

4th Test – Australia v England

Melbourne Cricket Ground, Sunday, December 26-30

5th Test – Australia v England

Sydney Cricket Ground, Monday, January 3-7