Questions aplenty after Ashes angst

Horrific. Woeful. Shambolic.

Describe the day-one debacle whichever way you like, Australia’s first-innings total of 60 in the fourth Ashes Test is likely to have serious ramifications.

It will almost certainly start with a loss at Trent Bridge, a result that would ensure the urn changes hand in Nottingham.

Where it ends will be a matter for Cricket Australia bigwigs.

Shot selection, selectors’ selections, selection of selectors, captain’s calls and coach’s calls – all of it will be fiercely debated in Australia after one of the nation’s worst sessions of cricket.

Australia have been bowled out for less, but rarely when the stakes are so high.

Michael Clarke was one of many players to liken the game to their ‘grand final’ this week.

Down 2-1, the tourists needed to avoid defeat to stay alive in the five-Test series.

Within 93 minutes of play starting, that looked as good as impossible.

Clarke will rightly cop the brunt of the scrutiny.

He scored 10, a relative mountain of runs in a sea of failures.

But his mode of dismissal, unconvincingly chasing a wide ball from Stuart Broad, was among the worst on Thursday.

He is a captain short of runs, a passenger in the XI by his own admission.

When Clarke was out for two in a total of 47 against South Africa in 2011, he’d scored a century in the first innings.

Clarke was at the peak of his powers then, a triple-century against India the highlight of a sizzling 2011-12.

He looks a completely different batsman now.

The 34-year-old remains defiant this is not the end, while coach Darren Lehmann vowed to give Clarke “as long as he needs” after the third Test.

The conversation may move on quickly.

Clarke, of course, was not alone.

Australia’s total of 136 at Edgbaston was bad, another reminder of their tendency to collapse under pressure.

Not even managing half of that against an attack missing Jimmy Anderson was very bad, confirming there were embedded issues.

Working out the short-term answers to those problems will largely fall to Clarke, Lehmann and chairman of selectors Rod Marsh.

The long-term solution will be hatched by those leaders plus chief executive James Sutherland, performance manager Pat Howard and incoming chairman David Peever.

The problem for all these men is that there’s a sense of deja vu about it all.

When Lehmann was installed on the eve of the 2013 series, little was expected.

The team returned to England this year as favourites.

Ryan Harris, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin were expected to lead the charge but didn’t, for a range of reasons.

The 17-man squad will leave embarrassed – since federation Australia have never lost four consecutive UK Ashes series.

The faces in the XI may have changed, but Broad made the batting order look just as brittle.

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