Walloped and whipped

 

Battered, bashed, beaten, lashed, lathered, leathered, pelted, pummelled, thrashed, trashed, walloped and whipped. Abject, despicable, worthless, contemptible, pitiable, futile. Take your pick of any one. No, go on. It's Christmas, be greedy. Take two or three.

Each one could have been pinned on the baggage of the England team as they hauled themselves out of Hobart last night to join up with their nearest and dearest in Melbourne for the festive season.

In the most humiliating day of a tour that has not been bereft of such experiences, England's bowling was subjected to perhaps the most withering assault suffered by them and their predecessors in modern touring times.

The Australian XI were set to make 376 to win in a minimum of 78 overs thanks to Mike Atherton's declaration half an hour into the final day, a target viewed by the England hierarchy as coming from a charity shop and by the opposition as straight from the offices of Scrooge.

They duly lost Matthew Elliott for eight with the score on 31. That was an act of extreme carelessness, for over the next 31/2 hours of batting pyrotechnics they failed to lose another wicket.

Greg Blewett made sure he was on the field for the entire match, scoring an unbeaten 213 from 180 deliveries. That went with his 169 not out in the first innings and the 35 overs he bowled, and he still looked fresher than a lobster on a Hobart fishmonger's slab.

And there was an unbeaten 138 from Corey Richards, who had a second-ball nought in the first innings, that on any other day would have shone like a beacon but which was overshadowed. The pair compiled an unbroken partnership of 345 at 6.8 runs an over.

There were almost 25 overs remaining when Blewett angled the winning single to third man; 1,337 runs had been scored in the match for 14 wickets, 95.5 runs per wicket, the second-highest ratio in the history of Australian first-class cricket. The Australians could, said the England manager Graham Gooch, probably have chased 500 and got them.

"It was," said Blewett, "one of those days. A really on-day. We thought they might have pulled out a bit earlier, but said, what the hell, let's give it a go, and if we go down swinging then so what. As it turned out almost every shot paid off, and when it didn't it missed the fielders."

Gooch carried the can for his side's performance, and it hurt him to do so. Never less than lugubrious anyway, even his hangdog expression had hangdog written on it. As he spoke, he glanced over his shoulder at the scoreboard, just to make sure the numbers were not still rotating like lemons on a fruit machine. He was embarrassed for himself and the team.

Tour Match (in Hobart)

Overnight: Australia XI 293-4 dec (G Blewett 169 no, M Elliott 81). England 469-6 dec (M Atherton 210 no, G Hick 125, M Ramprakash 65) and 166-2 (M Butcher 85 no, J Crawley 63).

England second innings M Butcher no - 103 D Cork run out - 10 W Hegg not out - 5 Extras (nb1) - 1 - Total 3 wkts dec (46.5 overs)

Bowling: Julian 11-2-43-0, Law 8-1-36-0, Lehmann 7.5-1-48-1, Bevan 15-1-57-0, Elliott 5-0-151.

Australia XI second innings G Blewett no - 213 M Elliott b Tudor - 8 C Richards no - 138 Extras (b5 lb4 w3 nb5) - 17 - Total 1 wkt (55.2 overs)