England won by 374 (three hundred and seventy four) runs
[Editor’s note: we know that wasn’t actually the winning margin, we just didn’t have the heart to tell James after he got so excited]
“Awwwwwwwwwww no” was once little more than the disappointed exclamation of an opening batsman out, once again, between 50 and 100. In the two and a half years since its first utterance it has come to encapsulate Australian cricket in a nutshell. This wasn’t just any defeat, it was a slapstick tragicomic defeat in which everything that could go wrong managed to do so spectacularly. If we didn’t know any better, we’d suggest it couldn’t possibly get any worse from here.
In cricket, collapses happen; the problem for Australia is that collapses happen every week. Actually, that should say “one of the problems”; at the moment having just one is a mere pipe dream for the tourists. If the first innings effort was hilarious and pathetic in equal measure, this one was gutless, albeit with the now traditional measure of hilarity thrown in. Darren Lehmann spent most of the day sporting the look of a man upon whom it is slowly dawning that the ‘sprawling mansion’ he was told he’d inherited is, in fact, an enormous sewage dump. There is little doubt that he could pick himself and substantially improve the team.
Joe Root is comprehensively out-bowling Ashton Agar, who remains Australia’s leading run-scorer in the series, while Root and Ian Bell scored more runs between them at Lord’s than all 20 Australian wickets could muster, but perhaps the most damning indictment of all is simply that England aren’t even playing that well. Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen have contributed one half-century apiece, Matt Prior appears to be on a mission to amass minus runs in the series, they were 30/3 twice in the match and the slip cordon is dropping so many catches it looked Australia’s best chance of making the game last ’til Monday. Yet despite all that, they won by 347 runs. 347! Australia managed 363 runs in two innings in the match, it’s doubtful that even given two more they’d have managed to avoid defeat. The only thing we can take from this game with absolute certainty is that we have been party to a truly remarkable display of ineptitude.
Given that reviewing Australian performances is becoming more and more like just ruthlessly pummeling the fat, spotty kid at break time, we’ve racked our brains in an attempt to find something positive for them to take from all this. To be honest, we’ve got nothing. If anyone can think of a reason for Australia to be cheerful, let us know either on the comments, on Twitter or email email@example.com with “FAO Aussie Matt” in the subject line. The best ones might even be read out on the podcast, if we remember.