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Australia's Ashes collapse: It was difficult to imagine anything worse

Michael Clarke and Steve Smith react after failing to catch England's Alastair Cook Credit: Reuters

You could smell the fear just listening to Michael Clarke's press conference yesterday.

He may not have meant to show his vulnerability but it was there.

"If we get beat, we get beat," he said.

Australian cricket captains never contemplate defeat, let alone talk about it publicly.

And boy was that fear exposed in ruthless, pitiless fashion in the most one sided hour of Ashes cricket ever.

England's Stuart Broad is now public enemy number one down under Credit: Reuters

Stuart Broad, public enemy number one down under, set about dismantling Australian pride from his very first over.

Less than two hours later the home town hero was walking off, ball in hand, with eight Aussie scalps to his name.

Trent Bridge could not quite believe what it had just seen.

Yes, Broad bowled beautifully, yes the conditions favoured England and yes the catching was immaculate but Australia were there for the taking.

None of them showed the application, desire or patience to stop the embarrassing trudge of defeated batsmen back to the dressing room.

It was like watching a school team capitulate to a team of older and meaner boys. It was like Brazil's humiliation in the World Cup semi-final and some.

The best Ashes test matches are close, competitive affairs Credit: Reuters

If it had been a boxing match the umpires would have stepped in long before Nathan Lyon became Broad's last victim.

Australia have been bowled out more cheaply before but watching this it was difficult to imagine anything worse.

The best Ashes test matches are close, competitive affairs, won in the margins thanks to a little piece of genius.

For that reason while this morning was exhilarating to watch, was memorable in every way, a genuine "I was there when..." moment, as a contest it was disappointing.

But then I’m not really complaining.

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