The Ashes: Call for Warne’s return as the pressure grows on Ponting
The Sydney Morning Herald led the media backlash against Australia's Ashes flops — with columnist Peter Fitzsimons calling for Ricky Ponting to be axed as captain and Shane Warne brought out of retirement in his stead.
The hosts crashed to an innings-and-71-run defeat in the second Test in Adelaide as England went 1-0 up in the series — just one win away from retaining the urn, possibly before Christmas.
The return of Warne had been floated as an outside chance — albeit as short as 6-1 with British bookmaker William Hill — and exercised Fitzsimons' mind as he penned his column.
“I am told from a reliable source that while Warne would be honoured to be asked, he wouldn't even consider it unless he was made captain, and even then he would be unlikely,” he wrote.
“I say, OK.
“Ricky Ponting, we love you and thanks, but it just isn't working. You're on course for setting a record by captaining Australia to three Ashes series defeats, and we need to make a change. No hard feelings.
“I say Shane Warne — who guided the Rajasthan Royals to a stunning triumph in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League — should be offered the captaincy of the Australian cricket team he has so long coveted, if he will just make a three-Test comeback.”
His colleagues at the newspaper were just as damning, with Richard Hinds noting — under the headline “The Ashes? Forget it — this side would be lucky to beat Bangladesh” — that “Australia has a snowball's hope at the 2022 [football] World Cup of regaining the Ashes” and Peter Roebuck noting simply that “The gap between these sides has become a chasm”.
The prevailing mood, though, was perhaps best captured by a headline on the homepage of the Adelaide Advertiser's website.
“POMS GO ONE UP — Aussies humiliated in defeat”.