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The differing frames of mind of the England and Australian sides after the tourists copped another Ashes flogging, this time in front of record crowds at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in the fourth Test, are plain to see.

On one hand, the English, now down 4-0 and facing the most likely whitewash since the graffiti on the wall of a pub said "free beer", are scrambling to justify their positions. 

Alastair Cook has said he's the man to stay on as England captain. "I 100 per cent want to carry on," he said. "In a strange way I'm enjoying the job."

Technical director Andy Flower reckons he should keep picking up a pay packet for whatever he's doing to prepare the team off the field. "The prospect of building a new successful England side would excite any coach. I'm motivated."

He was asked if Cook should lead his side, and said: "Yes, he is."

England legend Geoff Boycott doesn't agree though, saying Cook is too nice and doesn't have the "right personality or tactical awareness for captaincy."

Veteran Kevin Pietersen has said the pressure of playing two Ashes series in two months is why his side is "mentally fragile".

Meanwhile, Australia, the other team to have played in the same Tests on the same grounds in the same Ashes Tests, is looking towards the limited overs series and the tour of South Africa, likely to be significantly more challenging affair, from February. 

With the series well and truly done and dusted, Australia is considering resting some of the team's big guns.

Shane Watson and Ryan Harris are most likely to have a blow - the all-rounder nursed a groin strain through Melbourne after going off mid-way through an over in the first innings - and Harris, the opening bowler, is arguably the side's most important player and has a dicky knee. 

Young batsman Alex Doolan appears set to make his Test debut after being brought into the Australia squad - he would likely step into the top order in Watson's place, although the big all-rounder wasn't bothered by injury as he picked off 83 not out alongside Chris Rogers' . 

While Harris will be mad-keen to be part of an Ashes whitewash to replicate 2006-07, he'll be needed to be fit in South Africa against a far more accomplished line-up. 

A benefit is the extra day the Aussies have after finishing England off 45 minutes ahead of the tea break on day four, but having put out the same 11 for every Test it'll be a surprise to see Darren Lehmann put out the same personnel in Sydney. 

Doug Bollinger and Nathan Coulter-Nile are the front-runners to fill the void in the pace attack, but don't call it rotation - that's a dirty word after Mickey Arthur's reign. 

For the first time in the series, England had a good day in the fourth Test, on day two when they had a lead of 100-plus runs and looked to have the hosts on the ropes. 

But they let Brad Haddin and Nathan Lyon put on an extra 40 for the last wicket - then, worst of all, lost their own last five wickets for six runs.

Then Australia romped home to get the 231-run target set - a record chase they made look simple.  

This England team isn't much different to the one who took the mickey on the field three years ago having retained the Ashes by doing a sprinkler dance on the MCG outfield.

The man who led that dance, Graham Swann, got smashed around in the first three Tests this time around and retired before a ball was bowled on Boxing Day. 

This time they were clearly on water restrictions, barely a drip of the brown gunk that drips out the tap of an empty tank in a drought. 


Paul Newman, The Daily Mail

This was the worst yet. A wretched, gruesome numbing defeat that not only leaves an Australian Ashes whitewash very much on but also signals, more than the other three emphatic thrashings, the end of a great era for this England team. 

Dean Wilson , The Daily Mirror

A game that England should have been confident of winning when they had a second innings lead of more than 100 and with all 10 wickets in hand became yet another massacre on Australian soil.

Geoffrey Dean, The Times

England’s gutless collapse the day before was put in true perspective by Australia, who showed how well this drop-in pitch was still playing.

Simon Hughes, The Telegraph

Cook let the situation get out of control with some odd bowling changes. He seemed a lonely man. There was no one rushing forward with ideas or eager to bowl. 

John Etheridge, The Sun

Rubbish was strewn all over the Melbourne Cricket Ground - and there were some burger wrappers flying around, too.

Jonathan Agnew, BBC Test Match Special

If you had put together a composite of the two teams at the end of the English summer you would not have found many Australians in it but if you were to do the same now you would probably only include Stuart Broad and Kevin Pietersen from the England ranks.

Images via Getty


A bunch of drips: England left justifying their positions while Australia look to rest key players for more challenging times
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