So five Test matches ago, Australia would have considered themselves in with a more than average chance to regain the Ashes back from England. Five matches on, they have lost four of those, the confidence is at an all-time low, the selection policies have all gone haywire and the side has a captain and a vice-captain who have a body language that can, at best, be described as lost.
Australia are trailing 0-1 at the end of the second Test match and will know that not only have they to win two of the remaining three games to get back the urn, but also need to ensure that they cannot afford to allow England to win another game. Another Aussie loss would mean that the Ricky Ponting would have become the first ever Australian captain to lose them three times in his career.
It isn’t a surprise actually. Some really strange decisions taken by the selectors coupled with a shaky bowling line-up have made things really difficult for the side. On what grounds is Marcus North still in the squad is beyond fathomable. But what was even more difficult to understand was the decision to play Simon Katich in the second Test match despite the injury. Bravery never won any accolades unless backed by results. And to be coming back from a thumb fracture and getting an Achilles Heel would have always put Katich on the backfoot with respect to the lack of preparation.
He needed to be replaced. Instead, the selectors’ habit of persisting with above-average players seems to have caused many issues.
Ponting scares me. Here is a captain who has won nothing in a long time and what has been most unfortunate is that he has rarely looked like winning anything. Gone are the days when an arrogant, pompous Ponting would show the opposition his tantrums and get them out with the words than with the deeds. This is a total extreme. The confidence is zilch. Nada.
One gets the sense that Ponting has got a sense that his time is up. Unless he can conjure up a great escape in the remaining games, things do not look like they will be getting any better for him and that could be an issue that the side will have to address.
For now, a win in the Tests looks like a distant dream.