London: Batting great Geoffrey Boycott labelled England “false” for attempting to play down the gulf in class with Australia as a post-mortem began following their chastening 4-0 Ashes defeat.
The home side ruthlessly finished off England in Sydney on Monday to record their fourth comprehensive win of a one-sided series — including two innings victories and a 10-wicket win.
Several England players and coaches have repeatedly stressed in recent weeks that the main difference between the sides is that Australia have seized the crucial moments across the series.
But Boycott told BBC Radio 5 Live that the series result was a fair reflection of the gap between the two teams, with most of the standout performances coming from the home side.
“I think it’s a little false by a number of the England players to say at times they were quite close and that there were moments here and there. Quite honestly they were far better than us in nearly every department.”
Boycott compared Test cricket to chess and believes England, and in particular the batsmen, were at times guilty of possessing a Twenty20 mindset.
He added: “I think a lot of people over the last 10 years, since the IPL (started) in India, are saturated and have got it in their head about scoring rates. Test cricket is not that, it’s like 11 people in whites playing chess.”
The Daily Mail’s cricket correspondent Paul Newman said the tour had been blighted from the start.
“From the moment Ben Stokes cast a giant cloud over the series by becoming embroiled in an incident outside a Bristol bar to off-field drinking controversies, a ‘head-butt’, allegations of unacceptable sledging and even suggestions of match-fixing and ball-tampering, this Ashes had just about every ‘scandal’ going.
“What it did not have was much hard-fought nor memorable cricket as Australia’s superiority in their own conditions proved every bit as decisive as those of us who feared the worst from the start imagined.”
Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan, who lifted the urn in 2005, agreed that England had been second best throughout but took solace from their fighting spirit, which he believes was lacking when the side were whitewashed 5-0 in 2013/14.
“The England side four years ago, you felt as though the white towel came out very early on the tour. You didn’t feel that this time around,” he told BBC’s Test Match Special.
“I’ve never felt that England have given up. They’ve just not been good enough.”
Former England captain Michael Atherton, writing in the Times newspaper, described the series as “one-sided” but said the mood did not feel as desperate as in 2013/14.
– ‘Battered, bruised’ –
“England have been battered, bruised, badly beaten but not, in my estimation, completely broken,” he wrote.
“There was no sense at the end that England had hoisted the white flag as they had four years earlier, when a three-day defeat and subsequent recriminations brought a swift end to a bright era of English cricket.
“It was hard to recall a more stomach-churning capitulation than that, but here England hung in for a while, grimly, trying their hardest until the end but just beaten by a better side in the conditions.”
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew said Australia set the tone for the series in the first Test in Brisbane, bemoaning England’s lack of preparation.
He tweeted: “I hope this series ends the practice of providing too little, poor quality preparation. England as guilty as anyone. No chance for out of form players, so series become one-sided and predictable. Not in interests of Test cricket.
“Too many teams are strong at home, but lose away partly because they can’t restore form and confidence with such little time between Tests.”