Darren Gough: Why I want Australia to improve for the Ashes

AUSTRALIA have just suffered their first Test series loss to India at home in history and they are becoming an embarrassment now.

Australia's Matthew Wade: Ignored.

Just what has happened to Australia? Surely a ball-tampering saga cannot turn them into one of the worst teams around?

I played against an Australian side in a ridiculous era from 1994 onwards. They were the best team in the world in every series. I would swap half of my Test wickets for one Ashes series win.

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I cannot get my head around it in terms of how they have become so bad.

What is going on? This is Australian cricket. They have now lost against Pakistan in the UAE and to India on home soil where it is usually a home banker.

I know I am an Englishman, but I want them to improve. I obviously want them to lose to us in the Ashes here this summer, but I do not want it to be a disgrace.

It’s a special year for English cricket. We’ve got the World Cup on home soil – our one-day team is No 1 in the world – and then it’s Australia at home.

Cricketers do not often have the chance to win the Sports Personality of the Year. It has to be in an Ashes or a World Cup year so we have a double chance this year.

Joe Root of Sydney Thunder warms up during the Big Bash League match between the Melbourne Stars and the Sydney Thunder. (Picture: Jono Searle/Getty Images)

Australia’s recruitment policy is all over the shop.

They left out one of their best players in the domestic game there at the minute in Matthew Wade – who has scored more runs than anyone else – for the Sri Lanka series when all their batsmen were failing.

They brought in Joe Burns, Matthew Renshaw and the young lad, Will Pucovski. He got 243 in early season, but has only played eight first-class games.

Pucovski previously had mental illness problems and took time out of the game, which is the right thing to do.

After two games back, he has been brought straight into the Test squad and it is a weird selection.

With their selection, there just seems to be no set plan and they seem to pick random players.

There are still some good players in Australia. You cannot suddenly go from a team that is ultra-competitive and good to one which is absolute rubbish.

Still in Australia and it was a massive series for Joe Root in the Big Bash and it has not really been to his benefit. In seven matches, he only got 90-odd runs, which is not what he would have wanted.

Joe obviously wants to play in the IPL, but his short Big Bash stint has not done him any favours. Now people will be saying that he probably should have rested instead. It has not been a success and I feel for him.

Onto football and lots has been made of Manchester City’s 9-0 win over Burton, with people saying they should have taken the foot off the pedal. For me, that is a ridiculous thing to say.

It is the semi-final of a cup. City players are all trying to impress Pep Guardiola and get in that first team. Just passing it around against Burton for 20 minutes at the end would have been more disrespectful than winning 10-0.

If you are playing cricket and have a team at 0-5, you carry on and want to get them out for six.

What would be disrespectful is if City played their youth team in the second leg and lost 3-0, as there is no way that Burton should beat City.

You want to play against the top teams.

When I played against Australia, I obviously wanted to beat them, but they were the best. One satisfaction I do have in my career is that I played against the best Australian team that has ever lived.

As much as it bugged me and I’ve not got initials after my name as we did not win an Ashes series, I can go to bed at night and think: ‘You know what, I am gutted we did not beat them, but we played against the very best.’ Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, two of the greatest cricketers ever. Steve Waugh and others, too.

As a Burton player, I would not have wanted to turn up at City and play against their third team.

No-one is slagging off Burton. It was still a proud night for them and all their players who played will be desperate to play in the return leg. They have nothing to be embarrassed about, City had just beaten Rotherham 7-0.

Speak to the Rotherham players and they will learn from that game, having played against one of the best teams that the Premier League has ever had.