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Hilditch defends Australia selectors despite Ashes loss

Australian players at the fifth Test presentatins
Australian heads bowed at the Sydney presentations. The only way is up

Australia's chairman of selectors has defended their player choices despite a humiliating Ashes home defeat but he admitted England had been "superb".

Andrew Hilditch said: "I think we've done a good job. The reality is we were totally outplayed.

"Certain issues have nothing to do with selection. I said at the start if we didn't play our best we wouldn't win."

England's 3-1 series win is their first Down Under for 24 years with critics suggesting the hosts are in crisis.

Andrew Strauss's team wrapped up the final Ashes Test in Sydney on Friday by an innings and 83 runs to cap off a crushing series triumph with the only blemish coming in the third Test in Perth.

"We put a side on the paddock that we expected to compete really well and England gained momentum probably at the start of the Adelaide Test match," added Hilditch, who insisted he would not quit his post.

606: DEBATE
Sspx London Lefebvre

"We regained it a little bit in Perth but I'd say only a little bit, and then we lost it again in Melbourne.

"That's the way the games went, England took their chances and I've got to say I thought they were superb."

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland described the series as "bad" and said his organisation would undergo a thorough review to find out "how we can get better and how we can get back on top".

Australian bowling legend Shane Warne, who was rumoured to be set for a dramatic career return to help resurrect his team's ailing fortunes during the series, said: "To lose by an innings three times is a massive, heavy defeat and that's what has hurt."

The statistics do not make good reading for Hilditch, Sutherland and the thousands of Australian fans left bemused at the failings over the last few months by the players of a country that has slipped to fifth in the world Test rankings.

We need to get back to the drawing board and work our backsides off

Australia captain Michael Clarke

At the crease, England's batsmen were dominant, combining to notch nine centuries in the series with five of the top seven averaging above 50. Alastair Cook amassed 766 runs with an average of 127.66 and his three centuries was as many as the Australians scored in total.

Without Mike Hussey, the hosts would have been in greater trouble, with the left-hander scoring two of their three tons - wicketkeeper Brad Haddin was the other - and was their only batsman to average above 50.

The Australians also struggled with the ball.

Nathan Hauritz had been described as the country's best spinner in the Ashes build-up but was replaced by Xavier Doherty before the series had even started. Doherty lasted just two matches and was dropped as Michael Beer stepped into the squad.

Beer only got a chance to exhibit his talent at the SCG in the last Test and went for 112 runs for the single wicket.

The seamers fared a little better with Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ryan Harris and Doug Bollinger all inflicting occasional damage on the English batsmen, but critics suggest they suffered from indecision by the selectors.

Johnson and Hilfenhaus were brought back one match after being dropped, while Bollinger was recalled and subsequently discarded after the second Test defeat.

Ryan Harris's match in Adelaide may have been his first for nine months because of a knee injury but still managed to top the country's bowling statistics before suffering a broken ankle during the fourth Test in Melbourne.

ASHES RECORDS
1st Test in Brisbane - Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott's unbeaten partnership of 329 runs was England's best for any wicket in Australia
2nd Test in Adelaide - England's 620-5 was the first time in Ashes history they passed 500 runs in successive innings
4th Test in Melbourne - Australia's first innings total of 98 was their lowest completed first-innings score in a home Ashes Test since 1888
5th Test in Sydney - England's total of 644 was their highest team total ever in Australia
Overall - Cook's 766 runs is the second highest by an England batsman in any Ashes series, behind Walter Hammond's 905 in Australia in 1928/29

The Queenslander finished with 11 scalps at an average of 25.54, while Siddle can also hold his head up reasonably high after his hat-trick in the opening Test and a 14-wicket haul in the series.

Much was expected of Johnson but he was too inconsistent despite his occasional brilliance - his series average was 36.93 for his 15 wickets.

England's bowlers, on the other hand, performed consistently and as a group throughout. Jimmy Anderson took 24 wickets at an average of 26 apiece with Tim Bresnan (11 wickets), Chris Tremlett (17), Steve Finn (14) and spinner Graeme Swann (15) all supporting brilliantly.

Australia will now hope for a rejuvenation in the style of previous teams led by Allan Border in the late 1980s and then with the likes of bowlers Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne demolishing opponents up until 2005.

Michael Clarke, who suffered a miserable defeat in Sydney when playing his first match as captain in place of the injured Ricky Ponting, is desperate for an improvement by himself and his team-mates.

"We need to get back to the drawing board and work our backsides off," said Clarke who averaged a disappointing 21.44 with the bat.

"It's important as a player to look at your own game. I have to get better, I have to start now. Every individual in the team needs to do the same thing."


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see also
England seal Ashes series triumph
07 Jan 11 |  England
England yet to peak, says Strauss
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Clarke quits Aussie Twenty20 side
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Fifth Ashes Test in photos
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Anderson to miss ODI series start
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Friday's Ashes gossip column
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Collingwood ends his Test career
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England close on Ashes series win
06 Jan 11 |  England
Cook and Bell make Aussies suffer
05 Jan 11 |  England
Cook builds England reply at SCG
04 Jan 11 |  England
England on top in rain-hit Sydney
03 Jan 11 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in Australia 2010-11
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