Former England opener David Lloyd says Pat Cummins was “almost fearful” with his “very negative” declaration on day four of the fourth Ashes Test at the SCG.
The match finished in a draw with England nine wickets down, putting an end to Australia’s hopes of a 5-0 series whitewash.
Cummins waited until late on the fourth evening to declare the home side’s second innings, leaving the tourists with an unlikely target of 388 for victory.
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The Australian captain said after the match he wanted to set England a target of around three and a half runs per over, noting the pitch was still playing well.
“I thought if they batted really well 350 was pretty achievable out there,” he said after the match.
“I thought 110 overs was enough time.”
It’s the second year in a row that Australia has failed to bowl a side out on the final day in Sydney, after India held on for a draw in 2021.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Lloyd said Cummins showed too much respect for the tourists, who have struggled all series.
“England stopped the Ashes bleeding and put a plaster on their wounds but the fact is they were never in the game at any stage,” he wrote.
“Certainly they were never in with a chance of winning it. But it was a fighting effort and it was much better from England after being absolutely spannered in the first three Tests.
“But that was a very negative declaration on the fourth evening from Australia. Pat Cummins could easily have dangled a carrot in front of England. It was almost fearful! But they have dominated almost every session throughout the series.”
Writing in the Times, former England captain Mike Atherton said the prospect of avoiding a 5-0 hammering wouldn’t erase the memories of what’s been a disastrous series.
“So the whitewash will be avoided, which is a small mercy to take from a horrible tour,” he said.
“Few observers who have followed the England cricket team over the past two years expected anything other than defeat, for sure … Yet it was hoped that England might throw a few punches, metaphorically speaking, that they could play with spirit and courage and find a way of taking the game to Australia from time to time.
“Only in Sydney, four matches into the series, has that happened, which is the real indictment of this team and its leadership: they have made a good Australia team look much better than they are.”
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