Sportsdesk Comment: Broad heroics add to Aussie batting woe

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England wrapped up a series win in the Ashes on Monday evening at Chester-le-Street, but despite a fine bowling display it was another alarming collapse by the Aussies which saw them fall 3-0 behind in the Ashes.

With only the fifth and final Test at The Oval remaining, Michael Clarke’s ailing Antipodeans will be eager to break their duck.

England Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann celebrate victory over Australia during day four of the Fourth Investec Ashes test match at the Emirates Durham ICG, Durham. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday August 12, 2013. See PA story CRICKET England. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. No Book sales without prior written permission. No transmission of moving images. Official sponsor logos only. Call 44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.

England Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann celebrate victory over Australia during day four of the Fourth Investec Ashes test match at the Emirates Durham ICG, Durham. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday August 12, 2013. See PA story CRICKET England. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only. No commercial use. No Book sales without prior written permission. No transmission of moving images. Official sponsor logos only. Call 44 (0)1158 447447 for further information.

They will be especially keen as they have had several opportunities to gain a stranglehold of three of the Tests (they never turned up for the Lord’s clash), but have let them slip through their hands - much as Steve Smith did with his comical fumble to a high, swirling chance offered by Graeme Swann on the fourth and final morning.

Paceman Stuart Broad was on sparkling form with six wickets for 20 runs in 45 deliveries, but the failures of the visiting batsmen - yet again - must be worrying their coach Darren Lehmann.

The latter, who was a superb batsman for Yorkshire and his country, when asked if the batsmen’s careers were in jeopardy, said: “Yep, there’s nothing wrong with that. The blokes have to learn. If they don’t, we’ll find blokes that will.”

Many home fans feared the worst on Monday when openers Chris Rogers and David Warner shared a century stand, but Usman Khawaja, Clarke, Steven Smith, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin mustered just 50 runs between them as the tourists folded.

The cold hard facts are that the Australians have only passed 300 once in the eight innings in the Ashes series and Michael Clarke and Rogers are the only specialist batsmen to score tons for them in 2013.

It seems the latter duo are the only ones who can consider themselves clear of any cull in the batting ranks, although Warner’s form was impressive in the Test at Durham.

Shane Watson seems to be settling in better in his return to the middle order, but there are still doubts concerning his susceptibility to the LBW.

Usman Khawaja has often showed glimpses of his talent, but lacks consistency, which is also the case with Steve Smith, who initially broke into the Aussie ranks as a spinner who could bat a bit but has now been shunted up the order and seems to be more valued for his batting.

Veteran Brad Haddin is still capable of hitting a few handy runs, so I can see him keeping his spot ahead of the luckless Matthew Wade, who seems unable to avoid injuries.

The one positive note for the tourists is the way that their bowlers have performed, with pacemen Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle both excelling, especially the former with his explosive seven-wicket haul in the second innings at Durham, while Nathan Lyon has also chipped in with a few handy wickets since his recall in place of teen Ashton Agar.