LONDON - England's Ashes whitewash triggered a scathing attack from former players on Sunday with Ian Botham lashing out at the team's "spineless" display in Australia. Having won the home series 3-0 last year, captain Alastair Cook and his men landed in Australia in October as the overwhelming favourite to retain the famous urn.
Instead, they were ruthlessly brushed aside by a rampant Australia side, failing to get close to victory in any of the five matches as pace bowler Mitchell Johnson's express speed and Brad Haddin's never-say-die batting, exposed their limitations. What proved to be the final day of the series was synonymous of England's feeble showing as they were bowled out for 166 inside 35 overs, chasing an improbable 448 for victory, as Australia completed the clean sweep with two days to spare.
"I'm pretty depressed and embarrassed - I use that word, embarrassed, and I mean it," former captain Botham told Sky Sports. "I am not allowed to use the words that are flashing through my head at the moment. I just think it was spineless," added the former all-rounder. Australia never took their foot off England's throat registering comprehensive victories at Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and finally in Sydney to avenge last year's series defeat in England.
"England have been steamrollered. If it had been a boxing match it would have been stopped weeks ago," Botham said. Former skipper Michael Vaughan echoed his sentiment, saying the senior players had let the team down. "I've lost words to describe how England played. That was pathetic - it was always going to happen but there's a way to lose," Vaughan told BBC Sport.
"I have never seen an England team throw in the towel, but they did this afternoon. Our senior core of players have not been able to get into any sort of form," said Vaughan, who in 2005 became the first England captain to win an Ashes series since Mike Gatting in 1986-87. "The Australian wagon got into motion at Brisbane and England have not been able to cope since. That last innings there showed how frazzled the team is," Vaughan added.
In many ways, the final test in Sydney test mirrored England's shambolic campaign as they were shot out for 155 and 166 on a green-tinged wicket. "It's pathetic - there is no other word. It's humiliation," former opener Geoff Boycott told BBC's Test Match Special. "This is a worse loss than when we lost before 5-0 because they had great players like (Glenn) McGrath, (Shane) Warne and (Adam) Gilchrist last time. England have just disintegrated."