Australia’s 2-1 series failure against England has resulted in the team losing its 14-year hold on the No.1 Test ranking. Ricky Ponting’s captaincy has been called into question, as he becomes the first Australian skipper in more than a century to lose two series to England.

As the blame game begins, here’s what the world’s media is saying about the Ashes:

Ponting strives, but fails. If there are to be calls for Ponting’s head, they should be ignored. He remains the best man to lead the Australian team. From the moment Ricky Ponting marked centre  on Sunday, all present at The Oval realised this innings — his 50th against England — held a significance beyond all others. — Alex Brown, Cricinfo

English defeatists rejoice. So there were Australia, asked to make the highest fourth-innings score not only in Test matches but in all first-class cricket, and still every English person in the ground feared the worst. So the question at the ground right from the beginning was not “how long will it take to finish these people off?” but “in what way are we going to make a mess of this?” — Simon Barnes, The Times

Australia’s mediocrity. England’s own talent won them the 2005 Ashes. This time the victory stemmed at least equally from Australia’s relative mediocrity. If people say this series lacked the supreme artistry of four years ago, or Australia’s 5-0 whitewash in 2006-07, it will largely be because Cardiff was a false dawn for Ponting’s clan, who tried to fill, with talk and tenacity, the void where individual talent used to be. — Paul Hayward, The Guardian

England aim for No.1 ranking. Now we must become world No.1. But I now hope England can build a team capable of beating Australia in Australia in two years’ time and become the best side in the world. We did not manage that in 2005. A variety of circumstances worked against us and the opportunity was missed. — Michael Vaughan, The Telegraph

Super Fred. At Lord’s, on the eve of his most inspirational performance in four years, Andrew Flintoff announced he would retire from Test cricket at the end of the series. He always had a sense of theatre. In celebration of England’s greatest current star this is Flintoff’s story as told by the archives of The Wisden Cricketer and Wisden Cricket Monthly. — The Wisden Cricketer

Ponting did his best in a flawed campaign. Australia suffered two grievous blows in the space of a few balls as the final Test match at the Oval erupted into life. In a few minutes fond hopes of securing a miraculous victory were dashed as the backbone of the batting was broken. In this painful period the Australians lost their captain and vice-captain to wasteful run outs. — Peter Roebuck, The Age

Australian selectors in firing line. Former Test opener Michael Slater and former captain Ian Chappell have led the chorus calling for the selection panel, chaired by Andrew Hilditch, to be made accountable for Ashes failures. Slater claims selectors got it wrong from the start of the series and problems have snowballed ever since. — Ben Dorries, The Australian

Stats can lie. As great comedians know, it is all a matter of timing, and Australia’s Ashes campaign certainly came to a somewhat comical end last night when it was shellacked by England by 197 runs. In this series, Australian bowlers have taken more wickets, the batsman have scored more centuries — if pure statistics decided the contest, last rites would have been read, bails cremated, and the remnants handed to Ponting by a white-clad woman with modestly rouge lips and a well-practised understanding in her eyes. — SBS

Peter Fray

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