Brisbane:Dump the captain, fire the coach, demanded the detractors. And make the selectors pay for obvious bad choices.
Australia's Ashes loss to England in the fifth cricket test Monday wore heavily on the psyche of many Australians, as it will for the next 18 months until the teams meet again Down Under.
As it was, most Australians were sleeping overnight Sunday when the end came. It was 2:48 a.m. local time Monday on the east coast when Michael Hussey was finally out to complete a 197-run defeat at The Oval in London, sealing England's 2-1 win in the five-match series.
Ricky Ponting now has the dubious distinction of being only the second Australian captain _ and the first since Billy Murdoch more than a century ago (1884 and 1890) _ to lose the Ashes twice in England.
It didn't help that his runout _ and that of his vice-captain Michael Clarke within the space of six balls _ was the beginning of the end of any chance Australia had of achieving a record fourth-innings chase of 546 runs or batting through to force a draw at The Oval.
After a comprehensive victory in the fourth test to square the series at 1-1, after wasting the chance to open with a victory at Cardiff in the first test, Australia was favored to win or least hold on for a draw in the last match to retain the Ashes. In two overcast sessions, the entire series turned, and England had the upper hand from the second of five days.
Peter Roebuck, a veteran cricket writer for the Sydney Morning Herald and a strident Ponting critic in the past, supported the Australian skipper.
"Ponting will not be evicted, nor is he likely to step aside," Roebuck wrote. "Although the inside edges are a worry, he confirmed his batting skills in Cardiff and Headingley. And it is rare for an Australian captain to be allowed to keep playing once he has stood down."
Former Australia opening batsman Michael Slater wasn't so sure, criticizing Ponting and the selectors for allowing Australia to slip to No. 4 in the world rankings after defending the No. 1 ranking against the odds and against a better team in South Africa earlier this year.
"The fact of the matter is that we have gone over to England with the wrong squad," Slater said.
Malcolm Conn, writing in The Australian newspaper, suggested the entire selection panel needed to be reviewed.
"Is Andrew Hilditch too conservative a chairman? How many hats should selector, tour group leader and commentator Merv Hughes be able to wear?" Conn wrote.
Former Australia test allrounder Tom Moody also criticized the selectors, saying their decision to leave out spinner Nathan Hauritz in the deciding test was "horribly wrong."
"To not pick a genuine spinner in that situation is inexcusable," said Moody, who is coach of Western Australia state and a former Sri Lanka national team coach.
Hilditch said Monday he has no intention of giving up the post he has held since mid-2006.
"The side will be doing a review of their own performances, coaching staff will be doing the same, selectors will be doing the same and we'll all sit back and see what we could've done better," Hilditch said.
"Hank," of the Sydney suburb of Freshwater, wrote on the Daily Telegraph's Web site that coach Tim Nielsen should be fired.
"Ever since he took the reins this side has gone from unbeatable to laughable," he said. "Also Ponting to stand down as captain is something that must be considered. The burden of the captaincy is affecting his game."
The 34-year-old Ponting is among the leading batsmen of all time, with 38 test centuries and 11,345 runs at an average of 55.88. But his success rate has plummeted as captain in the wake of the retirements of some of the game's modern greats, including legspinner Shane Warne and paceman Glenn McGrath.
Ponting's record in 61 matches as captain is 39 victories, 11 losses and 11 draws.
He responded to the 2005 Ashes loss with a sharp focus on his batting and was voted the International Cricket Council's player of the year in 2006 and 2007, when Australia won back the Ashes 5-0. Australian selectors are now hoping he rebounds from this in similar fashion, dragging a relatively inexperienced lineup back up the test cricket pecking order with him.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said calls for Ponting's sacking were unfair, and defended the lack of a spinner in the final match.
"Ricky's had a very, very good series," Sutherland said. "He's been under incredible pressure ... I thought the dignity and poise that he showed in defeat was something that all Australians should be very proud of.
"We've lost the game by 200 runs which is a pretty significant defeat and having a spinner in the side wouldn't have helped us in the first innings when we were bowled out for 160 and effectively lost the game."
He said he felt Australia's inexperience contributed to the loss.
"I don't think we're under any illusions as to where this team's at, we're definitely in a rebuilding phase after losing some of the best players to ever play cricket for Australia," he said.