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Inquisition continues for Australia 'in crisis'

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Cricket - Australia v South Africa - Second Test cricket match - Bellerive Oval, Hobart, Australia - 15/11/16. Australia's team coach Darren Lehmann shakes hands with members of the South African team after the match. REUTERS/David Gray
Cricket - Australia v South Africa - Second Test cricket match - Bellerive Oval, Hobart, Australia - 15/11/16. Australia's team coach Darren Lehmann shakes hands with members of the South African team after the match. REUTERS/David Gray

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia's hapless performances in the 2-0 series loss to South Africa came in for huge criticism from the country's local media on Wednesday, with demands for heads to roll in both the dressing room and the corridors of power at Cricket Australia.

"Disgrace to the baggy green," was the headline lament of The Australian newspaper in its coverage of the test team's innings and 80-run defeat in Hobart on Tuesday.

"Australia's endemic problems, demand a long-term approach but in the short term changes must be made for Adelaide," the paper's cricket writer Andrew Faulkner wrote.

Australia, who lost the opener against South Africa by 177 runs in Perth, head into the series finale at Adelaide Oval riding a five-match losing streak, with confidence at rock bottom.

"Worst XI - Australian cricket in crisis after record capitulation," read a headline in the Courier Mail.

"Australia's players are overpaid and mollycoddled to the point where the priceless quality that separates the great from the good -- resilience -- is almost invisible," Robert Craddock wrote in the paper.

Former captain Allan Border, who like current skipper Steven Smith had to carry the team through a low point in the mid-1980s, put the blame squarely on the players.

"Tuesday was a terrible day at the office for every member of the Australian cricket team -- and every supporter, too," he wrote in Sydney's Daily Telegraph.

"Nothing has changed in regards to team managers, staffing and high-performance.

"And that's why the players have to take responsibility."

Ricky Ponting, another former captain, was scathing of the team's batting, which produced a paltry first innings total of 85 in Hobart and another collapse when they lost eight wickets and scored just 40 runs in the session before lunch on day four.

"The Aussie batters, they just didn't know where to go, what to do," Ponting said on BT Sport.

"They got very defensive minded and when they do that -- it's been shown through this test series -- their techniques aren't good enough to stand up."

News Ltd newspapers put pressure on chairman of selectors Rod Marsh to step down now, rather than in mid-2017 as he had previously announced.

Embattled Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland defended his board from accusations that its pursuit of commercial gains had come at the cost of on-field performance.

After South Africa, Australia start a three-test series against Pakistan next month and play four tests against India in February and March.

But CA have scheduled one-day international matches with New Zealand immediately before both of the test series, fuelling complaints the players' preparations for the longer format, regarded the peak of the game in Australia, will suffer.

"We find the balance," Sutherland told reporters in Hobart on Wednesday.

"We have significant obligations to our fans, to our venues, to our state associations, to our commercial partners to deliver content to cricket grounds and cricket venues all over the country.

"But the team's performance is always uppermost in our mind."

(Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)


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