Press pound Aussies
Australian newspapers Saturday accused Ricky Ponting's men of embarrassing, hapless and woeful play against Sri Lanka after the visitors scored their first-ever series success down under.
Just weeks out from the start of the keenly-awaited Ashes series against England and without a win in any format since July, the Australians lost the second of three one day matches against Sri Lanka on Friday night.
"Just embarrassing," read the headline in Sydney's Daily Telegraph in an article which described the Australians as "woeful".
"Everything that could go wrong did go wrong in a comprehensive 29-run defeat," it said in its coverage of the shortened, rain-marred game at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
"Australia's bowlers were dismantled by Sri Lanka with frightening ease and now injured pace bowler Doug Bollinger is in doubt for a key Ashes warm-up as his absence stretches into a fifth week."
It said the team's woes were summed up in one "cringe-worthy" episode -- vice-captain Michael Clarke rocketing the ball towards the stumps to cause a run out but hitting teammate Shane Watson in the leg instead.
"No run out. No kidding. No excuse," the tabloid said.
As The Australian noted in its headline over a photograph of a grimacing Watson: "Now the hapless Aussies can't even get out of their own way".
The Australian defeat earned Sri Lanka -- who scored 213 for three off 41.4 overs and then bowled the home side out for 210 off 37.4 overs -- their first series success in Australia.
It follows a stunning one-wicket victory in the opening match on Wednesday.
Commentators said not even Ricky Ponting's returning to captain the team, after missing the opening match in Melbourne to attend his grandmother's funeral, appeared to help the Australians in the field.
"Australia played desultory cricket," Sydney Morning Herald commentator Peter Roebuck wrote.
"The hosts looked lacklustre as the visiting openers stroked the ball around, and toothless as the middle order cut loose."
Australia and Sri Lanka will play the third one day match in Brisbane on Sunday without Ponting who will join his home state team of Tasmania for Sheffield Shield matches against Queensland and New South Wales.
National Selection Panel member Greg Chappell said given that the Sri Lanka series had now been decided, the Sheffield Shield was "an ideal opportunity to provide Ricky with two solid weeks of red-ball cricket".
"This allows him what we believe to be the best preparation to lead the Australian Test match team in Brisbane for the first Vodafone Ashes Test match," Chappell said.
Australia, who have lost seven straight international games -- the longest stretch since the 1996-97 season -- begin their Ashes campaign against England in Brisbane on November 25.