Australian captain Michael Clarke retired from one-day cricket after the World Cup final in the hope that he could extend his injury-battered Test career. But, in the wake of his poor form in the 2015 Ashes, his Test spot and captaincy also have come under a cloud. In six innings on the tour so far, he has failed to make any sort of impact, and that is too many knocks when one considers that this is the battle for the Ashes. While it would be too hard to judge Clarke's captaincy in the series since the entire batting unit has been a failure, his individual form or the lack of it, has only made matters worse for him.
After a forgettable first day at Edgbaston, Australia had a chance to make amends on day two. But, what they put up was a mirror image of their performance on day one. And now, they are staring at a defeat inside two and a half days. If that happens it would be a hugely demotivating factor for the side. And, even though there are still two Tests left after the game at Edgbaston, history says that it is impossible to make a comeback after being 1-2 down in the series. Only one time has that lead been reversed in Ashes history, and who else but Don Bradman made the impossible possible.
Australia's woes in the series have definitely been more because of their batting failures more than anything else. If you take away the effort at Lord's, it has been a completely forgettable exhibition. What will worry the Aussies most is that both their big names and the inexperienced players are failing, making it difficult for them to get into any sort of position to dominate. If you take away the massive partnership between Chris Rogers and Steven Smith at Lord's, Australia have had nothing else to offer in terms of runs. David Warner batted well on Thursday, but the rest crumbled. That has pretty much been the story of the series for Australia thus far.
Smith had an excellent time at Lord's, where he shone in both the innings, first with a magnificent double hundred and then with a quick fifty. But, if you look at his other four innings on the tour, he has not done much of note. Without sounding too harsh on Smith, it must be said that the visitors were expecting more from him that a double hundred and a fifty. Six consecutive failures for Adam Voges means his spot in the team will also come in the firing line. After a solid century in West Indies, he has been a walking wicket in the Ashes.
The lower order batting is certainly something that would further worry the Aussies. In the past, they have managed to recover from tense situations, but the likes of Voges and Mitchell Marsh seem too raw in international cricket to come up with the renowned Aussie rearguard action. Even among the bowlers, apart from Mitchell Johnson, no one has the ability to get decent scores. This is in contrast to the past when the likes of Shane Warne and Jason Gillespie were frequent contributors. Going back to Shane Watson and Brad Haddin wouldn't serve any purpose. Australia can only hope that their batsmen rise in the Ashes rather than from the Ashes.
-- By A Cricket Analyst