Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 2nd day January 4, 2014

Back to the days of boom and bust

England's chief executive David Collier has guaranteed Andy Flower a job until 2015 - and the debrief on England's Ashes humiliation has not begun. Can that be right?
106

#politeenquiries: Do England fans deserve a refund?

Had Mark Lathwell emerged from the pavilion, blinking in surprise at the large crowd, England could not have looked more out of place in Sydney.

As their top-order was brushed aside with embarrassing haste, it was as if the last decade or so hadn't happened. This could have been 1993. Or 1989. Or 2006. Or 2002. This was a day as ignominious as any in England's recent history. And the competition for that title is starting to hot up.

It will not do to defend England with reminders of their success in recent years. And it will not do to claim that England's army of coaches, selectors and support staff are well-intentioned and hard working. Such qualities must be taken for granted at this level. It is not enough.

Nor is it enough to claim that such reverses are part and parcel of the cyclical nature of professional sport. Only a few weeks ago, Hugh Morris claimed - in an act of hubris reminiscent of Gordon Brown's speech about ending boom and bust economics - that England had put the foundations in place to secure continuity and lasting success. The ECB cannot have it both ways.

Now, despite all the millions invested in academies and tours and coaches and facilities, England are on the brink of a 5-0 defeat against a decent but far from great Australian team. England are as low as they have been for a long time.

Question No. 1: How is it, before Paul Downton has begun any series debrief, that the ECB's chief executive is guaranteeing that Flower will be team director in 2015? Has the England team became as cosy and unmeritocratic as that?

Certainly, the evidence of recent times raises searching questions that Paul Downton, the new MD of England Cricket, and Andy Flower, the Team Director, need to answered before any decisions are made about the future of captains, coaches or selectors.

For example:

How is it, before Downton has begun any series debrief, that the ECB's chief executive, David Collier, is guaranteeing that Flower will be team director in 2015? Has the England team became as cosy and unmeritocratic as that?

How does Boyd Rankin, an experienced fast bowler good enough to justify selection for Test cricket, good enough to have been praised by Marcus Trescothick as the most hostile he faced one season, turn up for a game unable to get through 10 overs in the first innings or hit a barn door in the second? And how is that, like debutant Simon Kerrigan before him, he has failed to do himself justice by such a large margin?

How does a record-breaking batsman like Alastair Cook - the youngest man to 8,000 Test runs in history - lose form to such an extent that he was dismissed when leaving a routine, straight delivery for the second time in the series?

How do batsmen as good as Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell fall to basic technical errors, pushing at deliveries without foot movement, appearing, despite all their success over recent years, utterly devoid of confidence?

How is it that England's batting, despite a line-up boasting several players who may be recalled as some of the best to represent the country, has been so atrocious that it is now 25 Test innings since England scored 400? And how is it that they have been dismissed for under 200 five times in this series?

How is it that ECB coaches, at Lions level at least, exist below the radar for years without any track record of success other than not rocking the boat?

And how is it that, for all the specialist spin bowling coaches, all the investment in facilities and spin-camps in Asia, that England are not able to find a young spinner who can reliably land the ball on the cut strip?

The answer to all these questions may well be the team environment. While individual players must all, ultimately, take responsibility for their performances, there have to be questions asked about an environment where so many players have lost form at the same time. There have to be questions raised about an environment where coaches seem incapable of lifting players and where an entire squad seems so bereft of confidence and enjoyment.

Every one of these England players is better than this. With one or two exceptions, the squad that left England was the best available and bore more than passing resemblance to the squads that won in Australia in 2010-11 and in England in 2013.

But over recent weeks it has become clear that this England team is playing as a unit worth far less than the sum of its parts. One way or another, the environment requires changing.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jb633 on January 4, 2014, 12:25 GMT

    @dunger.bob. whilst I agree with you that Aus have been very good, we can't ignore and nor should we ever forget just how bad we have been this series. I have felt standards slipping for a while and IMO it has a lot to do with batting run rates. If you look at the last 5 years, the run rates have been dropping year on year. I remember getting barracked for stating this during the home ashes series that we were batting too slowly at Durham and was told by fellow fans to go and watch T20. Now I realise you can't go out slogging but we need guys who will punish anything slightly loose, rather than pat them for one's. I remember watching Jonson's first spell in the series and it was all over the place. However instead of punishing him he was still going at 3 an over rather than the 6/7 he should have been going for. From that point he gained confidence because he knew however badly he bowled there would not be too much damage to his figures. He never looked back after this.

  • Thegimp on January 8, 2014, 0:51 GMT

    Is the obvious answer too obvious even the experts cant see it?

    If you constantly prepare dry slow, low turning pitches batsmen will suffer on fast bouncy wickets. India have done it for decades. Brilliant at home, terrible away. You can always adjust back to slow wickets however it is much more difficult the other way.

    England have got away with some home series and an Indian series on the back of Swann spinning batsmen out and very good bowling with the Duke cricket ball (Which is very different to other balls used throughout the world) from Anderson, who in my mind is the best old ball, slow wicket, reverse swing, LBW exponant in the game, and Broad who is a genuine tall, hit the deck fast bowler.

    They haven't needed to score 400 as they roll sides for less than 250.

    Until they stop doctoring the pitches and use a similar ball as the rest of the world they will continue this "Champions one day and chumps the next" roundabout they are on.

  • on January 7, 2014, 21:39 GMT

    England need a better batting coach , they should change there few coaching staff , spain coach , batting coach , fielding coach.

  • BlightyTragic on January 7, 2014, 1:46 GMT

    I know its hard to digest as the results and statistics speak for themselves. However, I can't fathom the present England setup being as whimsical as the previous century's. This team possesses the nucleus of the team that got to number one. In three formats. But it would be extremely stupid to lay blame at coaching staff, managers, physios, hairdressers, dry cleaners and the like. The players are tired. exhausted. Out of gas.

    Any cricket fan who has played the game and have spent a season in a team that were cellar dwellers realise the dynamic and the mental strain it is to even turn up to a game. Yes, I know, professionals, getting paid for it all the rest, but that doesn't negate being exhausted.

    England cricket will recover, and probably faster than most would expect. Australia partially has. The West Indies never did. South Africa could if needed to. And India are not far away from the team that held Number 1 considering the mass changes that occurred.

  • lardster on January 6, 2014, 21:37 GMT

    And it'll all look worse after South Africa have given the overrated Australians a hiding.

  • couchpundit on January 6, 2014, 20:37 GMT

    IPL is the root cause of this poor show by england players...oh no wait...none of them played IPL...LOL

  • gdalvi on January 6, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    I strongly urge Eng fans to read one the best articles on cricket ever (also read comments from your own compatriots) http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/578383.html

    Flowers handling of KP saga and him rallying Swann, Broad and others on commenting how Eng will be better off without KP - really tells the story about Eng locker room. Its my way or the high way for Flowers. In such a rigid atmosphere - when things go wrong - they crumble all around you.

    Eng illusion of great team was built upon defeating a rebuilding and shaky Aus and then defeating weak bowling teams like India and SL. As soon as they met competitive bowling units in Pak (how I envy them as an Indian) and SA - they LOST. Something that was papered over by media - by just focusing on and gloating over Ashes victories. Now that they have been humiliated in Ashes by arguably a still weak Aus team - suddenly the inadequacies of the system and team are hitting Eng fans and media right in face Please publish

  • PutMarshyOn on January 6, 2014, 16:18 GMT

    @zoot364. There is no way anyone involved should have a guaranteed job after such a catastrophic performance. Imagine that happening in the banking sector! Ahh.

  • on January 6, 2014, 14:09 GMT

    The whole attitude and mentality has to be questioned. Playing slow long innings appears to be the approach...and hasnt worked. Australia have shown positive batting puts teams on the back foot and we need to follow suit.

    I think for the Sri Lanka series, get some new blood and bats who score at good rates in, the aussies rotated strike and punished bad ball so well. We need to be more positive. Takes pressure off bowlers. Cook, Bell, Root and KP need to be scoring at good rates, and should be surrounded by other bats who do this. Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales(needs short version form but has the ability) could all be part of a stunning England batting unit again.

    Root appears at his best at 4/5 position. Lets give him one of those roles for the year and get the best out of him.

  • on January 6, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    Its one of the humiliating defeat for the England. It is more significant defeat than all other defeat because of simple reason England were favorites at the start of the series. England have lot to think about. Its rather than sacking the players or coaches, they should think about how to encourage them to do well. Its really a challenge. Anyway, 5-0 loss is never acceptable for any team.

  • jb633 on January 4, 2014, 12:25 GMT

    @dunger.bob. whilst I agree with you that Aus have been very good, we can't ignore and nor should we ever forget just how bad we have been this series. I have felt standards slipping for a while and IMO it has a lot to do with batting run rates. If you look at the last 5 years, the run rates have been dropping year on year. I remember getting barracked for stating this during the home ashes series that we were batting too slowly at Durham and was told by fellow fans to go and watch T20. Now I realise you can't go out slogging but we need guys who will punish anything slightly loose, rather than pat them for one's. I remember watching Jonson's first spell in the series and it was all over the place. However instead of punishing him he was still going at 3 an over rather than the 6/7 he should have been going for. From that point he gained confidence because he knew however badly he bowled there would not be too much damage to his figures. He never looked back after this.

  • Thegimp on January 8, 2014, 0:51 GMT

    Is the obvious answer too obvious even the experts cant see it?

    If you constantly prepare dry slow, low turning pitches batsmen will suffer on fast bouncy wickets. India have done it for decades. Brilliant at home, terrible away. You can always adjust back to slow wickets however it is much more difficult the other way.

    England have got away with some home series and an Indian series on the back of Swann spinning batsmen out and very good bowling with the Duke cricket ball (Which is very different to other balls used throughout the world) from Anderson, who in my mind is the best old ball, slow wicket, reverse swing, LBW exponant in the game, and Broad who is a genuine tall, hit the deck fast bowler.

    They haven't needed to score 400 as they roll sides for less than 250.

    Until they stop doctoring the pitches and use a similar ball as the rest of the world they will continue this "Champions one day and chumps the next" roundabout they are on.

  • on January 7, 2014, 21:39 GMT

    England need a better batting coach , they should change there few coaching staff , spain coach , batting coach , fielding coach.

  • BlightyTragic on January 7, 2014, 1:46 GMT

    I know its hard to digest as the results and statistics speak for themselves. However, I can't fathom the present England setup being as whimsical as the previous century's. This team possesses the nucleus of the team that got to number one. In three formats. But it would be extremely stupid to lay blame at coaching staff, managers, physios, hairdressers, dry cleaners and the like. The players are tired. exhausted. Out of gas.

    Any cricket fan who has played the game and have spent a season in a team that were cellar dwellers realise the dynamic and the mental strain it is to even turn up to a game. Yes, I know, professionals, getting paid for it all the rest, but that doesn't negate being exhausted.

    England cricket will recover, and probably faster than most would expect. Australia partially has. The West Indies never did. South Africa could if needed to. And India are not far away from the team that held Number 1 considering the mass changes that occurred.

  • lardster on January 6, 2014, 21:37 GMT

    And it'll all look worse after South Africa have given the overrated Australians a hiding.

  • couchpundit on January 6, 2014, 20:37 GMT

    IPL is the root cause of this poor show by england players...oh no wait...none of them played IPL...LOL

  • gdalvi on January 6, 2014, 19:59 GMT

    I strongly urge Eng fans to read one the best articles on cricket ever (also read comments from your own compatriots) http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/578383.html

    Flowers handling of KP saga and him rallying Swann, Broad and others on commenting how Eng will be better off without KP - really tells the story about Eng locker room. Its my way or the high way for Flowers. In such a rigid atmosphere - when things go wrong - they crumble all around you.

    Eng illusion of great team was built upon defeating a rebuilding and shaky Aus and then defeating weak bowling teams like India and SL. As soon as they met competitive bowling units in Pak (how I envy them as an Indian) and SA - they LOST. Something that was papered over by media - by just focusing on and gloating over Ashes victories. Now that they have been humiliated in Ashes by arguably a still weak Aus team - suddenly the inadequacies of the system and team are hitting Eng fans and media right in face Please publish

  • PutMarshyOn on January 6, 2014, 16:18 GMT

    @zoot364. There is no way anyone involved should have a guaranteed job after such a catastrophic performance. Imagine that happening in the banking sector! Ahh.

  • on January 6, 2014, 14:09 GMT

    The whole attitude and mentality has to be questioned. Playing slow long innings appears to be the approach...and hasnt worked. Australia have shown positive batting puts teams on the back foot and we need to follow suit.

    I think for the Sri Lanka series, get some new blood and bats who score at good rates in, the aussies rotated strike and punished bad ball so well. We need to be more positive. Takes pressure off bowlers. Cook, Bell, Root and KP need to be scoring at good rates, and should be surrounded by other bats who do this. Moeen Ali, Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales(needs short version form but has the ability) could all be part of a stunning England batting unit again.

    Root appears at his best at 4/5 position. Lets give him one of those roles for the year and get the best out of him.

  • on January 6, 2014, 13:25 GMT

    Its one of the humiliating defeat for the England. It is more significant defeat than all other defeat because of simple reason England were favorites at the start of the series. England have lot to think about. Its rather than sacking the players or coaches, they should think about how to encourage them to do well. Its really a challenge. Anyway, 5-0 loss is never acceptable for any team.

  • on January 6, 2014, 9:47 GMT

    Another question worth asking is what has happened to the most promising young fast bowlers in England. In particular, Steven Finn has the height and pace to trouble the best batsmen, and he is the only member of the squad not to have played a test. Given the "success" of those who have, you have to wonder what has happened to him. More generally, most young English quicks seem to have gone sideways at best. Also: Why were 3 tall fast bowlers selected specifically with Perth in mind, and none of them played in Perth? Why does the best county bowler in England (Onions) never get a game? Why did none of England's experienced and talented top 5 score a century? Why do England insist on playing achingly dull cricket? Is there any joy in the England camp at doing a job many of us would kill for?

  • on January 6, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    All the four top teams should not be playing in their home grounds. For a change why not chose an alternate venue away from their home grounds? If they perform well, then it should be the yard stick for them to be No. 1, 2, 3 and so on so forth. Playing in home venues gives the home team an added advantage. Every body say that India are home ground champions and when they play away they perform badly. India is not an exceptuion, even Australia, England and South Africa perform well in home grounds. So my suggestion is that they all play in other venues, let it be in Ireland, Dubai or Abu Dhabi. If they win then judge them based on their victories. So if Australia beat SA in South Africa, they will be number one. One performance alone should not be the yard stick to judge the team.

  • ygkd on January 6, 2014, 8:13 GMT

    Competition from other sports is relevant, even to Aus after a 5-0 win. Here there seems to be a tendency to try and win back talented youth from football to the point where all-rounders (which young footballers often are as they usually haven't put the work in cricket-wise to specialise) are perhaps given too many opportunities. I rather think that those who have gravitated towards cricket as a first preference are more inclined to have specialist skills. The question that I think would probably be just as relevant in Eng as in Aus, is whether or not boards are doing enough to help those who are most committed & specialised? England's idea of widening the talent pool seems to be through imports and while all players should be able to cross borders or codes to further their career if needs be & not just a lucky few, boards still must attempt to look after all of the own all of the time. I'm not sure this currently happens in either Eng or Aus to the extent that it should.

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on January 6, 2014, 5:20 GMT

    Baby-and-bathwater syndrome aside, telling all and sundry that there is no accountability will hurt England cricket. Look at India refusing to change their captain after proven disasters overseas in 2011-12. That has cost them so much in two years - the ability to take the game by the scruff of the neck, as well as confidence to grind it out in difficult times. Cook and/or Pieterson may see their game and confidence both getting eroded like in case of Dhoni. It is only the emergence of new batting talent that is keeping India afloat. The England cupboard is bare. Any tomfoolery in the area of strategy, and the English supporters can look forward to perhaps a decade of horror before they can start competing with the top-rung teams.

  • Chris_P on January 6, 2014, 4:47 GMT

    Last time here, they seemed to have the perfect preparation, this time all they had between tests was a 2 day game in Alice Springs against fringe state players. How could the ECB have approved something like this. How can members of the squad push their cause & not go into tests "cold"? The 3-0 scoreline in England certainly did not reflect the closeness of the series (Lords apart) & Bell continually resurrected the team time and time again (a-la-Haddin). The problem was there for all to see, yet it was swept under the carpet. The warning signs were actually there in NZ earlier this year, that was totally ignored. Someone (not the players) needs to be held accountable.

  • Jeeves_ on January 5, 2014, 15:10 GMT

    A club side would beat this English team. Who deserves to retain their places? Broad, Stokes and perhaps Cook. Drop the rest and find some decent players...I am thinking Onions, Trott and Finn need to start; and build the team around Broad and Stokes.

  • zoot364 on January 5, 2014, 14:18 GMT

    This really is a slightly hysterical article. All these questions are worth asking and there certainly will be changes, but what we absolutely do not need now is a witch hunt. That really would be a return to the days of boom and bust when change for changes sake often disguised very poor decision making. Andy Flower is an honourable man and will resign if he feels that's in the team's best interest - whether he's been guaranteed a job until 2015 (or even 2025) or not.

  • anton1234 on January 5, 2014, 11:51 GMT

    SA vs. Aus will be superb series. The winner will effectively be the no.1 team. So a lot to play for. The conditions are so alien in India that I never really rate India's wins in their backyard. Although overseas teams have, in recent years at least, been prepared much better to deal with those conditions.

    Right now SA are the best, Aus second, India third. If Aus win then they will be new no.1.

  • becham100 on January 5, 2014, 11:00 GMT

    How in the hell did Finn not get a Single game in the series?

  • ExciledWorcesterWolf on January 5, 2014, 8:26 GMT

    England have not been consistent & this must not be written off as a poor series. From a Test Match point of view only, we were terrible in the UAE against Pakistan, poor in New Zealand & The Ashes part 1 could have been 2-2 not 3-0. Jobs for the boys until the last 2 Tests when a cap for anyone who puts their hand up. No one is entitled to have their place guaranteed & there must be competition. The players in Aus were not good enough, the coaches & back office staff also need to be held responsible

  • Dafffid on January 5, 2014, 7:21 GMT

    The endless focus on the batting is tiresome and only half the story. Australia have a very good bowling line up, but their batting is paper thin yet England allowed them to build several massive scores, automatically putting their own fragile batting under extreme pressure.

    When you look at appalling selections, both for the tour and individual matches - look first to Tremlett, Rankin and Swann. Ask why selectors pathologically stuck with a four-man-attack mindset have burned out Anderson and Bresnan before their time, discarded Onions without reason, and how the coaches have seemingly managed to utterly destroy Finn's career. Anyone who saw Finn bowl in 2010 imagined he'd be leading the attack with Broad by now, with Anderson a wiley, fresh first change. The emergence of Stokes has come at a time that will flatter Flower if he stays on, but the seeds of this defeat were sown long, long ago.

  • Clavers on January 5, 2014, 7:15 GMT

    Why does England need "a young spinner?"

    When Swann retired his obvious successor was right there in the squad already. Monty Panesar is a proven Test performer with 167 test wickets at 34.7. He had teamed up with Swann to beat India in India, something which not many teams have done. He gets plenty of turn, bowls with good control, and has a better economy rate than Swann.

    Dropping Panesar for the fifth Test in favour of Borthwick, whose county doesn't even play him as a specialist spinner, was ridiculous. In his last six county first-class matches, Borthwick has taken nine wickets, and only three of those were top-six batsmen. In six innings of the twelve innings of those matches, his captain didn't even bowl him. He may one day earn a test cap as a batsman and part-time spinner, but he is not a replacement for Swann or Panesar.

  • on January 5, 2014, 7:07 GMT

    Perhaps Manboman is forgetting that India beat the same Australian team 4-0. Yes it is was India and the pitches did not suit the Australian fast bowlers. The main reason England failed is that they have very poor batting. Even a Ranji team in India can wallop England today. England needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with a system that produces high quality spinners and batsmen. Till then they will not even draw a test with India, let alone win.

  • Chris_P on January 5, 2014, 6:59 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster. Not wanting to go over the past, but only 5 playersof this team played 3 tests or more & the names might be the same, but the total team dynamics has changed. That was evident in England, and no doubt thanks to Darren "Boof" Lehmann. I have no illusions we are well short of where we should be, there are plenty of boxes to be ticked, but pace bowling isn't one of them, there is incredible depth, the keeping stocks are very good, Lyons is improving with SOK as a backup, batting it the biggest scope for improvement, but when you got an awesome pace attack, you can make do while you rebuild.But, that said, I would rather be in our shoes than England's in this endeavour to improve ourselves.

  • MarinManiac on January 5, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    Maybe Broad for captain... take the pressure off Cook.

    How's this for the "too much cricket" cricket argument? Play it like the World Series in baseball. Once the series is decided -- stop with the games... it would work for both 1-day and Test cricket....

    (dodging invective)

  • MarinManiac on January 5, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    The first signs of this England team's loss of killer instinct was when Tino Best hammered 95 from number 11. (Forget Pakistan in the UAE... there, the bowlers did fine.) Fast forward a few series, to when Ashton Agar did the same (98). This time the tail, with the excellent Brad Haddin, consistently put Australia in a much stronger position than they might have been. With # 11 Lyon not even being dismissed in the whole series. What will be highly instructive will be how Australia handles South Africa next month (albeit absent Kallis -- did he quit just in time not to face Mitch Johnson...?) Now, George, I think you have some good insights, perhaps it should be summarized thus: a fish rots from the head on down. Identify the head, and get rid of it before the whole thing disintegrates. Cook can't captain, he is not an effective leader of men like Strauss was. Maybe, instead of looking at Clarke or other "dynamic" types, England should look at the example of Misbah-ul-Haq?

  • Gowers_Great_Tiger_Moth_Flyby on January 5, 2014, 6:40 GMT

    Thus team is blighted by central contracts and an environment where failure is rewarded. Make their salaries 100% performance based and you'll soon see a dramatic turnaround.

    How on earth can any team be obliterated by such a margin, and in such a pathetic way and then be rewarded? It's a disgrace that the main protagonists Flower and Cook should be saying they'll carry on. This arrogance is typical of the underlying problems. Cooks on field tactics are just plain awful. He's clueless. And the trio of Flower, Gooch and Saker has destroyed a bunch of talented players.

    England can't simply bury it 's head in the sand as they have been doing for the last 2 years. Heads simply must roll.

  • Biggus on January 5, 2014, 6:32 GMT

    Great thinking England. "We're going to have a really big think about what went wrong, leaving no stone unturned, except for the coach's job, we'll guarantee him another two years so we won't be looking there". Sir Humphrey would be proud of that approach.

  • dunger.bob on January 5, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    @ IndianInnerEdge: While your sentiment is just about perfect, I believe your motivation to be twisted. You used honeyed, tolerance preaching words to take a nasty little pot shot at Australia. .. Peace brother.

  • on January 5, 2014, 6:16 GMT

    Flower should be ruthlessly given the sack, just like he ruthlessly dealt with Nick Compton a few months back.

    Carberry and Root have been utter failures as openers. Root's century at Lord's looks more and more like a fluke, and Carberry managed just one fifty in 10 innings. Both Root and Carberry have fared worse as openers than Compton did. Compton had 2 back to back centuries, and was unfairly handled.

    I think it's time somebody in the England set up apologized to him and begged Nick Compton to return.

  • browners76 on January 5, 2014, 6:10 GMT

    Quite possibly the worst performance by any touring side in the history of cricket. All that talent and pedigree up against a dragged together shambles that were stuffed by this same team and India a matter of months ago. Completely inexplicable performance, a total lack of pride in the jersey and as for cricketing intelligence, well you'd find more in an U-13 schools match. In any other walk of life heads would roll. Flower, Gooch, Saker, Peitersen should all get the axe. Anderson should take 6 months off cricket or retire. They need to concentrate on the few positives. Stokes looks a class player in the making, Broad led the attack strongly so a spine of Cook, Bell, Stokes and Broad is a start. Add the likes of Chopra, Ballance, Davies, Onions and perhaps Mills or Overton. Borthwick may as well go on as the spin option with no one knocking down the door. Crazy as it sounds I still think we will regain the ashes in 2015. Australia really aren't that good.

  • PhillieFanatic on January 5, 2014, 6:07 GMT

    It may well be, as some here suggest, that Australia is not as good as they appeared in this series and that England are not as bad. However, this series is about as one-sided as one could imagine, and it is England's performance that needs evaluating. While there are undoubtedly personnel issues to be addressed, the lack of leadership for this team has been distressing. The captain and coaches have been unable to instill any resistance into this group. Australia started regrouping in England after a change in coach who brought a sense of purpose and toughness to the team--a desire to not take defeat lying down and a thirst for "revenge." There was a steely resolve from the Australians and a clear plan to target the weaknesses of England's batsmen that worked well. The England team is broken mentally and it is hard to see much of the present core can be retained. It is also hard to see the England team recovering confidence and purpose for the upcoming series against India.

  • bobbo2 on January 5, 2014, 5:25 GMT

    England have been awful. All the talent in the world but they appear to be lacking any fight. Maybe the players are just knackered from too much cricket? And I do wonder whether KP has to go. It is ok to put up with the ego when he performs but in current form I do wonder whether they should let him go. The whole Strauss issue was appalling and he should have gone then. Lots of talent for England and I feel they would bounce back but maybe new leadership is needed in the coach.

  • csr11 on January 5, 2014, 5:18 GMT

    What about captaincy, I wonder what the thinking in the english establishment is regarding captaincy. Cook seemed remarkably insipid and getting worse in the last 2 tests. And the burden of captaincy is effecting his batting - but who else if not Cook. I know it will be anathema to a lot of english fans but to me KP could be the only alternative. His free spirited and aggressive style is perhaps what england need and apart from other factors that could be the only way to eke out another couple of years of test cricket from him.

  • Alexk400 on January 5, 2014, 5:16 GMT

    I will fire whole england management team. Simple. Losing 5-0 acceptable if you lose by fighting. At present they are surrendering meekly.

  • Hoady on January 5, 2014, 5:01 GMT

    Good article, and untrue to describe it as knee-jerk. The same questions were raised nearly a year ago when England was lucky to return from lowly ranked NZ with any credibility intact; and shortly after when they conceded first innings leads to an obviously fledgling Australian team. I maintain that this is as talented and well balanced an England team as I have seen (Swann included), that has been totally smashed by what I see as weak leadership and poor management, and dare I say it, too many mercenaries in the ranks. The All Blacks went through the same thing when they loaded their side with Pacific Islanders, and lost a lot of World Cups. Mercenaries are great when loot is on offer, but nowhere to be found when the castle walls are being threatened. I think that quote can be attributed to Marcus Aurelius, but doesn't matter. It seems to be true.

  • Jeeves_ on January 5, 2014, 4:54 GMT

    Cook has to go as captain. There's no question. Peterson should be made the stand-in captain until a replacement can be found. Unless Ian Bell is the man?

  • IndianInnerEdge on January 5, 2014, 4:33 GMT

    When they are winning, everything tapers over the cracks, when they loose, even the smallest thing is magnified....end of the day-words like himulation, anhillated, destroyed, disaster etc take a back seat when u realise, its just a game, if two teams play, chances are one team will be in the place that England is in, currently. This is the best oppurtunity for the Aussies and The ozzie media to show some mangnamity, some goodwill, stop the crowing, the one-upman ship, the gloating etc. Sport is a celebration of life, its an escape frm the realities of life, lets treat it as it is - a sport. I know as a neutral my comments will not be taken in the right spirit by some bloggers, but end of the day, lets just appreciate the skills, hunger, motiviation shown by oz, lets leave the pot shots, the one-upmanship, the bad words behind, lets celebrate the game that very few on the planet have the priviledge to play and follow....i doubt if these comments will be published by cricinfo...peace:)

  • humdrum on January 5, 2014, 3:53 GMT

    Talk of Nero fiddling even as Rome burned down.The backroom boys and the admin guys in Blighty are no different,they seem to live in a cuckooland all their own.Even now,they would be re-assuring themselves that these things do happen--it's not the first time and it won't be the last.So lets not be hasty,etc etc.The glaring issue is that this team has lost pride in the national colours and is behaving like a bunch of Zombies,with no one capable to take charge.Can't see any changes happening,let alone drastic ones.Que cera cera.

  • on January 5, 2014, 3:45 GMT

    Dobell is an obvious proponent of the knee-jerk method of sports management. A few months ago Andy Flower was a hero now he is a zero ...Ridiculous. England's situation is largely the product of bad luck, poor form,injury and some gutless players. Andy Flower is not responsible for this. The NZ All Blacks resisted the customary hatchet job on the coaches after a rugby world cup disaster. That team has since fashioned a level of success unparalleled in the history of the game.. Look at some new players.

  • mamboman on January 5, 2014, 1:33 GMT

    England is nowhere near as bad a side as this series would suggest, which makes Australia's win all the more meritorious, and yet Australia is nowhere near as good as their margin of victory suggests, which makes hubris and triumphalism from Australia ridiculous. The captain needs changing, for sure but I will be so bold as to predict that england will bounce back from this series and trounce India handily and that Australia will falter somewhat in its progression and come to earth with a bang in South Africa

  • Robster1 on January 5, 2014, 1:29 GMT

    Flower has undoubtedly passed his sell by date and Cook is undeniably not a captain. The army of coaches has only succeeded in turning England into a dour, turgid outfit. Wholesale change is urgently needed - and at county level too - but of course being England nothing will change. Passion, courage and leadership is desperately needed.

  • on January 5, 2014, 1:24 GMT

    It's not just spin bowlers ... or indeed, it's not as bad with spin bowlers. The England caps given out to spinners since 2010 were to Borthwick, Kerrigan, Patel and Tredwell: all English players.

    In this series Stokes (NZ) was a major contributor, with Rankin (Ire) and Ballance (Zim) receiving debuts this test. Add in Morgan and Compton and only 11 of the 16 debutants since 2010 were born in England. The millions spent have arguably been more successful in pulling in players from overseas than in nuturing talent.

  • heathrf1974 on January 5, 2014, 0:56 GMT

    Regarding the lack of confidence; it appears there are no natural leaders in the English side who can perform when times are tough. The exceptions are Stokes and to a lesser extent Broad. Maybe England could do with a selection of a captain who may not be a fine cricketer but a fine leader, such as a Brearley type. England's major problem is mental.

  • Ms.Cricket on January 5, 2014, 0:49 GMT

    What about accountability of the English selectors? First dropping Test class opener Nock Comptom unjustifably then destroying Root by promoting him to No 2 and 3. Picking Carberry and Panesar when they are clearly not Test class in current form and Baristow as reserve wicketkeeper for a long tour?

  • balajik2505 on January 5, 2014, 0:40 GMT

    It may be that this England team is being over-coached. Looking at the squad, I don't believe that they could have performed so badly. These are guys who have been seasoned over years of tough cricket. To have such a collective meltdown means there is something wrong at the top.

  • on January 5, 2014, 0:10 GMT

    There was enough in the last series in England to give me hope that we could give the poms a decent fight here in Oz. I was expecting a drawn series or maybe 2-1 either way. Flower could have gotten away with a 2-1 loss and put it down to an improving Australia but how does he respond to a 4-0 possibly 5-0 debacle because that is what it is. It is the coach's responsibility to come up with tactics and to motivate his players and Flower appears to have lost this.

  • on January 4, 2014, 23:57 GMT

    Unthinkable that any team could lose 5-0 to this Australian lineup. Only Steve Smith has gotten any first class runs apart from one Pup century (to be expected) and Brad Haddin's saving the day every match.

    There's a few things to consider. Firstly, how would Australia have done in England if they'd just played five tests against England in Australia? I think fatigue has set in after a premature celebration in England. Ridiculous scheduling in my opinion. Hindsight's 20/20 but I think we could have predicted a hangover performance here.

    Secondly, Australia's bowling has been spectacular and Brad Haddin has been too. Nuff said there.

    Thirdly, Graeme Onions got 70 wickets at 18 this summer and wasn't picked. Nick Compton averaged 50 in Division One, and they chose Michael Carberry who averaged 42 in Division Two.

    Lastly, what effect did Jonothan Trott going home have on the side's self confidence? Hard to appear to be a full strength team when your first drop batsmen's gone home ill.

  • dunger.bob on January 4, 2014, 23:49 GMT

    @ jb633: I have to agree re the run rate. .. Not so long ago I too was bagged heavily when I said something along those lines. I was told that run rates are largely irrelevant in Test cricket. I responded by saying that getting your runs quickly is the best insurance policy you can have against the weather and time. To win a Test you generally have to take 20 wickets and that takes time. If you spend too much getting your own runs you are shutting a lot of your own options down. .. It's the very definition of a no-brainer imo but so many Poms don't see it that way.

    I think @ Dark-Haelequin has it right. The English look terrified to attack with the bat. It's painful to watch actually, even as an Aussie. It's just so inevitable. Block, block, block - nick. .. There's been almost NO attempt to unsettle our bowlers by having a real crack at them. .. I don't care how good you are, if you're getting smacked around, it has to affect you to some degree.

  • Harmony111 on January 4, 2014, 23:32 GMT

    Wow, after a long long time, really long time, the quality of comments in a cricinfo article is of a very high order. Otherwise the mud-slinging has become so routine here that one just doesn't get to see any serious comments anymore. Fans of all sides are busy in talking down the other side and in taking down them with themselves. Action & reaction & re-reaction keep happening, preventing us from seeing the core of all this - the game itself.

    Comment of jb633 is wholly lovely. A few Eng fans did say this even during the last Ashes that Eng's levels were dipping.

    Sigismund is on a literary high when he says, inter alia, "---being cut down like puppies by a rampant opponent---" although I don't agree with what he says for Cook. Truly defeat has no fathers while victory has a dozen.

    AngryAngry: Yes, Aus too should be jaded but at least Mitch 2.0 is not jaded at all. Like the ice-picker he has gone straight through Eng this time. Winning itself can be jading for some.

  • on January 4, 2014, 23:31 GMT

    It all has to do with the years that follow the domicile of Rodney Marsh. All fledgling cricket nations should bid for Rod to move to their country.

  • vik56in on January 4, 2014, 23:18 GMT

    England have contributed to their own downfall by their staid planning and approach. While their attrition style of play has paid them rich dividends against teams like India,the same cannot be said when the opponents are S.Africa and Australia.Perhaps a different approach was needed. Also Mitchell Johnson is a confidence bowler.One English batsman was needed in every innings to go after him and dismantle him at the beginning of the Ashes.But Gooch's advocation of the long innings has made English batsmen too defensive and allowed Mitch Johnson to be comfortable and settle down.

  • voyrison on January 4, 2014, 22:48 GMT

    Can't be best all the time but it has come as a big shock to them - Aussie combination of aggression and skill has been too much. The worst example of mental disintegration I have seen. Yet Australia have been very poor since their big guns retired and it has taken a few years to rebuild a new team.

  • on January 4, 2014, 22:46 GMT

    The Poms aren't jaded, they're shell shocked. Johnson and Harris have rattled them to the extent they don't want to be there really. The batsmen might say they're up for it, but when the guns start firing they go to water. Even Stokes left a straight one that hit the inside of off stump.

  • EdwinD on January 4, 2014, 22:19 GMT

    With all the points made above, one thing sticks out for me - Cook, Pieterson, Bell and Anderson were part of the Ashes team that created 'history' in 2006-07 by being the first team to have lost all Tests in a 5 Test series. Surely the memory of that experience would serve as more than a motivating factor to knuckle down and ensure it wouldn't be repeated?

  • pbbundy on January 4, 2014, 22:01 GMT

    The old adage of pride before a fall is true. So also, I believe, is the wrath of the Gods of cricket. The desecration of the Oval pitch reflected an arrogance beyond capability, drunken hedonism blind to human frailty. When mortals became bigger than the game, it was time for the game to strike back. And how! The game gave Kallis, the selfless performer, a rollercoaster send of and Tendulkar, nearly one. The later showed his respect to the 22 yards that shaped his destiny, England cricketers did not. The first thing they have to learn is to respect the game and its ethos and spirit.

  • inthebag on January 4, 2014, 21:49 GMT

    They had such lofty opinions of themselves that they had a very long way to fall. Years of pampering, fancy menus, doctored pitches, inadequate opposition have left them devoid of any resilience. Only the young red-headed Kiwi has any fight about him, will they powder-puff that out of him too?

  • Harlequin. on January 4, 2014, 21:44 GMT

    England are just unable to attack anymore. The batsmen don't play shots, and would rather eke along at ultra-low strike rates, allowing the bowlers to get into a rythmn. The bowlers don't bowl quick anymore, and we know they can - in the 4th test Broad was hitting >90 in some spells consistently, but then would come back after lunch/tea and be bowling <85. And as for the field placements, if a batsmen resists being bored to death then Cook/England gave no answer.

    Why won't they attack? Fear, over-analysis, orders from the management, lack of confidence? Only those involved in the England set-up could answer that, but all we can say for sure from the outside is that unless they find a way to attack then it will keep going downhill.

  • mikeyp147 on January 4, 2014, 21:25 GMT

    What this does go to show is the impact/importance of a coach on the team. Look at the difference between Australia now and this time last year. And England, for that matter.

    Lehmann has had an astonishing effect on the Aussies - all we can do is learn from this. For one reason or another, the Flower era is at an end. I don't know why, and I suspect he doesn't either, but it's clear we need a breath of fresh air, which is exactly what Lehmann has been.

    Even he, in his wildest dreams, can't have expected to have this much impact so quickly. A 5-0 Ashes win with the same 11 players?! The stuff of a madman's dreams a few months ago!!

  • on January 4, 2014, 21:24 GMT

    Ashes hangover. Such a high would last for quite some time, and to have to go through it all again, and so soon, and on foreign soil, well it looks so obvious with hindsight, England's flatness is clearly due to an absolute not wishing to be here and play, its as simple as that. You can see the enthusiasm and desire only in one or two players - the newer ones - and that says everything in my book. The rest - the 'older' brigade - might as well go home. Right now, that is. There is no point continuing.

  • Derek_Haines on January 4, 2014, 21:20 GMT

    In my view, the writing started to be written on the wall during the last few tests in England in 2013. Once the Australian team started to recover from their silly off field dramas and on rare occasions, began to threaten England on the field, Cook captained his team into immediate defensive modes including reducing over rates to a crawl, stalling for rain and setting ultra defensive fields instead of counter-attacking. When batting, the English run rate began to slow to less than three an over, and that reduced any impact their bowlers had worked for. On the 'roads' that were prepared as excuses for test wickets in England, and the usual weather conditions, Cook got away with being unimaginative and ultra-defensive. Anyone with an ounce of knowledge about playing test cricket in Australia would have seen what I saw coming. A train wreck on the horizon. Cook has to be one of the weakest and least creative test captains I have seen in test cricket. Such a pity.

  • on January 4, 2014, 21:12 GMT

    not to mention they're being beaten by possibly the worst australian batting side since 1986-87

  • flowersintherain on January 4, 2014, 20:33 GMT

    There have been other teams that have been beaten handily in test series, but they do seem to try when they are on the field. With one or two exceptions, this England team looks as though it would rather be anywhere but at the SCG. This has also been one of the most one sided series in recent memory when non-minnows were playing. The 4 defeats (and impending 5th) have been by very big margins. So we have poor performance and attitude and yet, the leadership - the captain, the coach and selectors are being given a pass by the ECB. This suggests that in the ECB what matters is preserving the organization, rather than achieving and maintaining excellence. Going along to get along is valued more than performing. People who will "fit in" - e.g. Root - are picked, instead of "outsiders" like Compton. The present crowd did their job once, but they are now too entrenched and comfortable. It's time to clean house.

  • WilliamMcLanachan on January 4, 2014, 20:22 GMT

    England's biggest problem - Gooch

  • disco_bob on January 4, 2014, 20:17 GMT

    The writing was writ large on the wall in the first Test of this b2b series when our no. 11 teenage bowler flailed the England attack to every part of the ground and instead of waking up and bowling proper balls at him they just kept on with the same tactics as if it was their divine right to bowl out tail enders with bouncers. In hindsight this stubborn hubristic attitude of entitlement has been the hallmark of this deserved whitewash.

    They had the same attitude to MJ, where it was clear that they were surprised by his accuracy and seemed to believe it was a flash in the pan and all they needed to do was wait it out a bit and he would resume spraying it around again and all would be well.

    Again with their disrespectful field settings for Clark to get him on strike so that Broad could bounce him into oblivion as if that was all they needed to do. All the England plans were based on their own delusional belief that they luck they have had in the past was all their own skill.

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 4, 2014, 19:51 GMT

    @Chris_P: Yep you are right. England did well to beat India. But this same Aussie side, albeit a couple players were humiliated 4-0 in India following England's trip. What does that tell me ? It tells me.. England have either underperformed and are making Australia look good when they are not, OR, India simply didn't play them well at home. Anyway, I still think this Aussie team are not that good. In fact, I think they will lose in SA next month. England need to only blame themselves for this abysmal situation. They were in decent positions in every test and let AUS off the hook or rather they let Brad Haddin off the hook. Still, losing 5-0 has got to hurt. I foresee wholesale changes before the summer series against India. Andy Flower and Cook may retain their positions, but the rest will be axed or shifted to other roles.

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on January 4, 2014, 19:37 GMT

    Love Australia's pace attack , if they could somehow find two reliable long term batsman in the top 6 they have all the ingredients to be the best in the world again , amazing stock of fast bowlers - harris , johnson , siddle , pattinson , starc , cummins..infact even better than the over rated English and steyn dependent SA attack ! only pakistan has that much talent in pace department

  • Sleepingfreddyb on January 4, 2014, 19:36 GMT

    Sometimes you just need a test series to end and from England's point of view the end can't come soon enough! Once a downward spiral of confidence has been set it motion it is difficult to break. There is no belief and with no belief there can be no victory. If England played a 10 match series they would well have lost them all, just as India would have done in England a few years ago and Australia may well have done in India as little as 12 months ago. Lets not pretend England have a divine right to win every series. The fact is when Cook plays poorly the confidence of the top and then middle order crumbles. For as excellent as Cook has been he is now the problem, they are too reliant on his runs. I still think there are enough high quality young players coming through from a batting point of view. They need a new series, clean slate and have to find some momentum. At the moment it is a vicious circle, no confidence because of no runs and no runs because of no confidence.

  • on January 4, 2014, 19:18 GMT

    it has been really a pitiful series for england ,trott going back home and swann retiring just add to a miserable series.but the main concern for england should be the lack of form of cook.when you are playing well it also adds confidence to your captaincy.but poor run of games has affected his captaincy as well has made england suffer.may be the comments made by kevin petersen about cook breaking sachins record of highest number of test hundreds was a too much to ask even from man of cooks caliber.since those comments there hasnt been a single hundred from cook.

  • on January 4, 2014, 18:45 GMT

    I think its time to get moeen buttler and willey involved. 3 talents who are better than carberry bairstow and bresnan. all 3 are aggressive game changers

  • Chris_P on January 4, 2014, 18:42 GMT

    I am not going to offer excuses or bag the Poms, I'll save that for their supporters, but let's not forget, the bulk of this side had an outstanding tour of India 12 months ago beating them at home. You don't lose that quality, it may go missing, obviously it has this tour, but it will return.

  • Sigismund on January 4, 2014, 18:36 GMT

    I don't think anyone should expect much from England in this Test match. Their morale is utterly broken, they are running for the boats, and like any routed force, no matter how strong, are being cut down like puppies by a rampant opponent. RE the slow scoring rates: another facet of this is that it has made the Australian bowlers look like they are bowling better than they are (although they are bowling well). The bad balls have been treated as danger ones, and left well alone. Where does that leave England with any scoring opportunities? It doesn't, and England get more nervous while Australia can get away with all their mistakes unpunished. All this is, clearly, down to Cook's leadership. Such an attitude may work to make a success of a talentless batsman, but it is disastrous as a team ethic. And it all started in Ahmedabad, where his 'inspiring' grind towards defeat became the team's blueprint.

  • on January 4, 2014, 18:30 GMT

    @jb633 I think you're spot on. Go back all that way to 2005 and Trescothick in particular gave some of this stuff we are leaving a right pasting and it got us going. Maybe this Aussie attack is even better than that one - the Saffers will prove this right or wrong - but by the time the ball has softened we have no choice but to try to push on with abandon as we are so far behind where we should be. Easier said than done, I suppose, but with no threat to the bowlers they are finding they don't need to mess around with length or line as they know bowling a length or just back of outside off-stump is not going to cost them. Alex Hales or Craig Kieswetter can't do any worse at the top of the order than what we've had in recent times!

  • CricketChat on January 4, 2014, 17:45 GMT

    I expected Flower to voluntarily step down after a confirmed 4-0 (5-0 looks as certain as Sun raising in the East tomorrow) barring weather intervention). If he couldn't get his most accomplished players to raise, what can he do with a completely new set of players in just one year?. Eng authorities must get out of their muddled thinking and take a firm course of action for future. England's hey days are over. Mr. consistency Trott is out indefinitely, Swann retired prematurely, Cook and Pietersen are suffering from prolonged loss of form, next most experienced spinner Panesar's career seems to be over, etc. Time for rebuilding. Start with a fresh team!

  • on January 4, 2014, 17:33 GMT

    I have questions. - if England knew Trott had the same mental condition as Trescothick why was he taken on the tour? - did England know that Swann intended to retire at the end of this tour? - why was the inexperienced Root given the prime no 3 spot instead of moving a senior player like Bell to the position? - how does Prior's batting failure make Bairstow the "obvious" successor when he's already proven he doesn't have what it takes? - what was the point of playing Kerrigan and Woakes at the Oval, and then not taking them on the tour? - how can 5 of England's top 6 pace bowlers all lose form at the same time, leaving Broad to carry the attack alone? - how can ALL of Englands established batsman all lose form together yet again, just as they did against Pakistan in the UAE last year?

    The only common denominators are the coaches and manager.

  • AngryAngy on January 4, 2014, 16:52 GMT

    As with Australia in 2010-11, it's not a talent issue. It's about preparation, tactics and mental conditioning. The side that lost at Sydney 3 years ago is not worlds away from the current one; in fact seven of the current side played in the earlier victory at Perth. To a very big extent, Australia's problem was under-performance of key, experienced players. To that, you can't simply say "oh well, throw more players at it". That's why it's important to take a good honest look at the support staff structure. It's about getting the most out of top players, not scrapping them when you have squandered resources.

    The most remarkable thing I find is the excuse of England being affected by all the touring and the back-to-back Ashes. Australia played those Ashes too; and not particularly well. They endured a long away game losing streak. Instead of asking if England are simply jaded, we should consider why Australia aren't.

  • Nutcutlet on January 4, 2014, 16:12 GMT

    I can't wait for Graeme Swann to have his say! Now he's removed himself from the inner sanctum that seems more interested in some mutual self-protection than making the necessary moves to restore England's pride, fortunes and sense of enjoyment in playing Test cricket than addressing the major defects that are glaringly apparent to everyone else, I'd expect GS to air his views as soon as the tour's done. He's never been shy of expressing an opinion before. Wasn't it the late PM, Jim Callaghan, who returned from a Caribbean holiday in early 1979 to a nation in dire straits after the Winter of Discontent with the dismissive remark: 'Crisis? What crisis?' Well, in cricketing terms David Collier's guarantee that Andy Flower will remain as team director to 2015 is on a par! Like the doomed PM of those years ago, he seems not to inhabit the same world as the rest of us. Collier's totally out of touch -- and it's more than breath-taking! Let's hope he's smart enough to change his mind.

  • pvwadekar on January 4, 2014, 15:56 GMT

    It seems that this English team is overconfident in their abilities and arrogant to think that Australians would be pushovers. Granted that Australia have bowled very well, one didn't expect England to loose 5-0. The only difference is in the dressing rooms. Australia's is happy and enjoying each other's success, while England's is not and are drifting apart. In the end, the team that was hungry won. Now we don't know what is exactly going on cause you cannot just loose talent like that. We don't know if this is Andy's or Cook's or someone else fault but definitely someone is accountable. So why is no one being punished ? It seems that they want to brush the things under the carpet and wait for Australia to go to UK in 2015 and prepare slow, seaming wickets and play their form of attritional, boring cricket.

  • on January 4, 2014, 15:25 GMT

    @Mitty2 Sensible and mature comment. One point though: despite having a much larger population, England actually only has half the number of people as Australia participating in cricket at some level.

    Football(soccer) probably offers more rivalry than you'd imagine, now stretching out to about ten months of the year, but I suspect the main rival is the increasing trend towards having no participation in sport at all.

    Just a side-point, though. No relevance to this series in particular, as you say.

  • jackiethepen on January 4, 2014, 15:20 GMT

    George Dobell seems to be the only cricket pundit prepared to ask the question everyone else is avoiding - namely why are so many fine cricketers all failing at the same time, even to the extent where 3 careers have either been curtailed or ended already. His answer is the team environment, the responsibility of the coach Flower, who is also Director of Cricket. No buck appears to be stopping with him. No reckoning, no accountability. Instead the ECB appear to want to continue with the same losing formula. How can this be happening? The answer may lie in the silence of the other media, who are too close/cosy/chummy as ex-players with the coach and staff and have pinned their blame on the players alone, although one fall guy, the batting coach Gooch has been suggested. How can the batting coach have more responsibility than the coach? The ECB should have the courage of CA when they replaced Arthur in a similar situation. Dobell is to be congratulated for his analysis and integrity.

  • ballsintherightareas on January 4, 2014, 14:32 GMT

    Another good article, Mr Dobell - avoiding the oversimplified 'sack person X' advice given my most pundits. The England camp does have appear to me that is has a malady, but it seems more like it's got a hormonal imbalance, a mental illness, a microbial infection or an addition to some kind of unhealthy diet, rather than a single defective organ needing a transplant. Might be a combination of lifestyle changes needed.

  • RIZLER on January 4, 2014, 14:28 GMT

    Why have our boys felt so jaded? What's with the back to back Ashes series excuse? Would they rather have gone to India or S Africa, or to Bangladesh without Cook as captain for a winter off? I hoped that Tremlett and Rankin would get their chances and they did, and did disappoint. Tremlett should have been fit and fast in the first Test, Rankin should have been ready and unaffected by the gloom in the last. How are their speeds monitored back home? It is so embarrassing to have relatively impotent bowlers just placing the ball rather than hitting it on the spot. I wish they could have been more "violent" as the in-word now seems to be. You can't bring Finn on just to develop on the tour, that's for the Lions. Broady hold your head up high and be the next leader of the attack. Onions, take over from Jimmy. Harris Mills Topley Shahzad, be quick clever and violent. And why not Moeen Ali instead of Scott Borthwick?????

  • on January 4, 2014, 14:10 GMT

    It comes down to bad tactics and bad captaincy. The management is trying to impose a strategy on the team which doesn't suit the personnel. You have to model your tactics around your 11 best players... Pieterson, Bell, Carberry, Prior etc. have been destroyed by Gooch's batting coaching, focusing on 'long innings'. It's psychologically unhealthy. Bowling wise, Broad, Finn & Swann are attacking players. In this series - just bowl at the stumps! And use attacking fields. Show some faith in the players - that's why their confidence is shot.

    StaalBurgher, the players you mention have all come through the English domestic scene, so there's no problem there. It's the tactical make-up which is all wrong, and IMO the leadership. A sheep is leading the lions, and the Aussies have rightly bullied him out.

    So firstly, coaching staff and tactics, and secondly, it's the captain who's at fault. Flower and Cook have let their ego's go too far and become too proud of their respective pasts.

  • on January 4, 2014, 13:49 GMT

    Boyd Rankin faced up to Big Mitch rather well for a few deliveries. He's England's no.11 and averages 8 in first class cricket. Why, if he is able to block out a few of Mitch's 91 - 93mph thunderbolts are the entire England top order (Stokes aside) unable to do it? You HAVE to blame the backroom. There must be something going on behind the scenes that is causing all this. The losses of Trott and Swann, Prior's terrible form and yet the continue assurance that Cook and Flower are safe in their jobs suggests something is seriously amiss.

  • ruester on January 4, 2014, 13:42 GMT

    I think this is a good thing for English cricket in the long term. Humiliating yes at present but the tour of 2006 was also a shambles and the team came back stronger than ever. I feel that losing trott was huge and I was very disappointed about swan! he has served his country admirably but to retire immediately the ashes where lost tells you something about his ego and team ethos. He should of stayed out the tour to the end or retire before the trip. I want us to stick with these young players and let them develop as a team, I would like to see Sam robson get the other opening slot instead of Root or Carberry. Cook does not inspire me as a captain, I would give it to Broad and let our three top gun batters of Cook, Bell and KP concentrate on scoring runs and helping the young guys find their feet. It may be a little soon for them to give us series wins but we have a lot of talent that with experience can bring us back to the top.

  • on January 4, 2014, 13:31 GMT

    With comments like those from Collier - he also has to go. Talk about 'heads in the sand'..... Losing is no disgrace - however getting obliterated is. Flower has come to the end of his cycle. Time for him to go - a fresh approach and ideas are needed. England have become stale. Also, whenever has Cook shown any aptitude for captaincy? Nice guy & a fantastic batsmen - but not a captain!

  • din7 on January 4, 2014, 13:11 GMT

    All eng need is andy flower to step down..he has done great job for the team..but his time has come..its not that eng wont if win andy remains coach..but they need some fresh approach..its happen lot of times in cricket.evry team change its coach..apprx 4 yrs..flower has continued for too long....this eng side is lookin lost, they just seem aimless, playin test after test..they may still go back and start winnin again as all teams are doin at home..winnin in india was the greatest achivement of flower but he needs to understand that eng team needs a new coach and new approach..ECB has to ask flower to go if they want their team to improve further and win even on foreign soil..they have in them its just they need new approach now!

  • Mitty2 on January 4, 2014, 12:31 GMT

    @staalburgher, of course, the issue of competitive sports rivalling cricket is inevitably brought up when a team is losing. When we were getting hammered by India and England every one started mentioning that all the young players were going to the AFL instead, but now that we're winning... No mention. Cricket is a summer sport virtually unrivalled in England and Aus, and England has almost 3 times the population of Aus, the players most definitely will be there. It's just, as mentioned by Dobell, that the pathway systems and the County systems are simply failing in providing the players anymore. As soon as Eng start winning again every one will start complimenting the County again and everyone will start mentioning the popularity of cricket again. Dobell, surely the fact that we were 0-7 with the worst Australian side 'ever' and are now being dubbed the 'unstoppables'/unchangeables shows how cyclical sport is. Eng will rise again, in no time.

  • boredkumar on January 4, 2014, 12:17 GMT

    I was going to point out the dressing room environment as a reason but you have put it down to that already. That reason aside, it happens to the best of teams, for instance to India in England and Australia. It is often difficult to pin point one reason. Sometimes its just lack of belief in ability. The hostile bowling in brisbane test could have dented the confidence of many. Reassuring the core team players and making them accountable will go a long way in 'rebuilding' this side. Somebody like pady upton may well be the answer. Each and every member of the WC winning indian team put down their success not only to Kirsten but ppl like Upton and sessions with Mike horn. Something england could do well with.

  • CodandChips on January 4, 2014, 12:08 GMT

    @StaalBurgher agree that KP and Trott have been very important for us. Bot hdon't forget both have an English parent. Also KP came to England as a bowler, who got transformed into a batsman.

    Looking at the new people born outside of England, I think picking Rankin is unfair. He is Irish (although may have been born with a British passport considering he's northern Irish), but don't forget has benefitted from playing county cricket. But Gary Ballance went to Harrow school, which would have influenced some of his culture. Ben Stokes, born in Chrsitchurch yes (same place as the other promising all rounder in world cricket, Corey Anderson) but grew up in Durham, which is reflected in his accent and his feistyness

  • Bodders70 on January 4, 2014, 12:05 GMT

    I don't buy it, I'm afraid. This is the same system that led to the win in 2010/11, in India, getting to no.1 etc. Saying 'can't live on past glories' is all well and good but better to look at what's changed since then. The batting line-up is clearly not in the form of the good years and hasn't been for some time so that's perhaps one area where I buy the system needs looking at. Beyond that, England have run into an unstoppable Australian outfit, executing plans perfectly. I think the success of debutants is more down to the plans against them not being so well defined rather than anything deeper within the English system. Always tempting to look at things we can change rather than things we can't, even if those we can't are the cause! For once, I'm with the ECB on this, completely changing the system won't help.

    Increasing participation at younger ages is the only long-term solution for England and in this country where football rules I'm not sure it's possible.

  • 64blip on January 4, 2014, 12:01 GMT

    There's been a feel of 'the perfect storm' about this series which makes it difficult to see the wood for the trees. Australia have bowled magnificently in their own back yard so kudos to them. Haddin has had the series of his life with the bat. The crowds have turned out and backed their team. A new coach has freed the players up and got them playing with fire and confidence. So perhaps this series would have been Australia's whatever. Trott's implosion to me was the tipping point to the disaster this has become, because not only did we lose a rock at 3, but it opened up the lid on the unhappiness in the squad, and the lack of spirit has been there for all to see since Unfortunately we don't have a Darren Lehman in the wings as far as I know.

  • hhillbumper on January 4, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    This team has reached its natural end as has flower. To make this Aussie team look this good is shameful. They are not that good but England have played that bad. It is a complete shambles

  • StaalBurgher on January 4, 2014, 11:37 GMT

    One has to remember that during the period of success England enjoy the previous 6-8 years 50% of their batting firepower had been imported from SA; Trott and KP. Where would England have been if those players had opted to stick it out in SA instead of emigrating? It would be foolish to suggest that their success would not have been impacted. Obviously their bowling would've been the same.

    If such an impact was made by importing players it stands to reason that the success cannot continue unless they keep on importing. Unless of course they fix their domestic scene. I am not sure that is possible. The physiques best suited for batting are competing in soccer and rugby (backline) as well both sport codes with a lot more money.

    SA has the same "problem" in that they can't produce black players because the most athletically gifted black players will gravitate to soccer.

    Sport is influenced by your social conditions. England does well to compete at least.

  • on January 4, 2014, 11:33 GMT

    I think the English team is a team suffocating under support staff - I read somewhere that around 50 staff accompany the team around Australia. And that micromanagement had reached a ridiculous level - the menu leaked at the start of the tour - players instructed not to read newspapers, and limited opportunities to relax and be a tourist sometimes. Have a look at the change in the Australian team as a result of their new coach and compare his style the Flower's approach

    Couple that with the quality of the Australian bowlers and the disinterested appearanc eof Anderson and Swan, and the failure of their support bowlers, with only Broad showing real determination and skills. And even he loses it at times when all around him are floundering.

  • dunger.bob on January 4, 2014, 11:21 GMT

    @ Quip: It could just be that this Australian attack has been murderously good. You mentioned Johnson but he's had brilliant support from all the bowlers. Siddle is a bit of a master these days but prefers to lay low so you don't hear or read that much about him. Harris is as good a line and length swing bowler, at pace, as we've had for years. Lyon is perennially under-rated but his figures stack up with some of the very best offies we've ever had. Admittedly though, there's been precious few of them because the place is a graveyard for finger spinners.

    Obviously there are some problems but I think you've just wandered into the path of a runaway train. A wrong place, wrong time sort of deal. .. So buck up mate, it's probably not as bad as it seems.

  • CodandChips on January 4, 2014, 11:19 GMT

    Agree that the coaches need out. But I think so do Bell and Pietersen. Pietersen should be left for white ball cricket, with focus on WT20 and ODI world cup. Bell was great in the home ashes, but not before then, and this series has been mainly poor except once or twice.

    1.Cook (c) 2.Root 3.Ali 4.Taylor 5.Ballance 6.Stokes 7.Davies (wk) 8.Broad 9.Anderson 10.Finn 11.Kerrigan

    I know radical. Cook should stay to captain and because we don't have many decent openers. Kerrigan is a risk, but a good spinner, and Moeen Ali could back him up. Also early test wickets in England usually help seamers so he shouldn't be required to play too important a role. Davies is a better keeper than Bairstow in my opinion and averaged more than him in the championship. Bairstow should be allowed a full season or 2 with Yorkshire.

    Yes itd be tough at first.

    Id have Borthwick and Jordan as back up. Borthwick as reserve all rounder. If Kerrigan gets injured, Jordan for Kerrigan, and Borthwick for Stokes.

  • thejesusofcool on January 4, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    We have become robots. Any act of unexpected flair against us completely throws the computer tapes and programs & there is no back-up system. And as for a Plan b.....................!

    Aus were this bad last year in India, all resulting from one outstanding bit of flair-Dhoni's 200 in the 1st Test. And that's because Aus had become robots, too, under Arthur.

    We wouldn't recognise true individual talent if we fell over it, in batting or bowling. Johnson, Warne or Haddin are just 3 examples of Aus players who would never have played Test cricket at all if they were English-we just don't trust individuality.

  • on January 4, 2014, 11:03 GMT

    its shameful what flower and cook said, cant deny the fact they were battered and bruised by hostile bowling theyca nt match, batting techniques were exposed and the batting and bowling strength too. ridiculous selections after being 2-0, 3-0 down, very defensive typical of england, they cant go fwd if they will keep defending it.

  • tinysteelorchestra on January 4, 2014, 11:02 GMT

    There is no question that Australia have collectively been magnificent this winter, it is not purely down to the near-miraculous form of Haddin and Johnson. They deserve all the plaudits that come their way. But they have not suddenly become as good as, say, Waugh's Australia or Ponting's 2006/7 side. Consequently the likes of C.Gull are missing the point - this article is specifically looking at the English perspective and how the English have failed so spectacularly. Regardless of how well Australia have played - and they have been brilliant - the complete collective loss of form and confidence of this England side is worrying and unacceptable.

    No matter what past successes he has had, it is ridiculous for Collier to confirm the safety of Flower's position before any post-mortem has even started...

  • Mitty2 on January 4, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    Again, spot on. The 25 innings in a row without 400 runs is the most pertinent stat for me. How is it (at the start of the series) with a batting line up that all but Carberry averaged over 40 in test cricket in the top 7 that they can't make it past 400? We've made it past 400, off the top of my head, just three/four times in 10 tests but England have not once - this with a batting line up that has been described as the "worst ever" not 5 months ago. Your answer of "environment" seemingly is probable, as yes it's not a coincidence that all have had a drop in form, but maybe an extremely talented, yet disciplined attack with immense and individual planning has been able to do that. Bowl at a good/full length at off stump to Cook; bowl outside off to Trott with bumpers; target Bell's defence and bowl straight; bowl dry to KP; bowl full, at off stump to Root and of course just target the stumps with Bairstow. It's worked every time. No coincidence that a debutant is the only centurion.

  • Quip on January 4, 2014, 10:45 GMT

    On the available evidence, it is difficult to disagree. Given its proven capabilities, this must be the worst performed of all English touring teams. Indeed, in 43 years of watching cricket, I doubt I have seen a team more abject. So poor has been the performance, so sharply have players declined from their own established standards, as to beg questions. How has this come about? How can such a spectacular loss of form and confidence afflict so many good players at once?

    Since some indications of this decline were already apparent earlier in the year, it would be a mistake to attribute it to the sustained ferocity of Johnson's bowling, spectacular though this has been. Regardless of the quality of Australia's bowling, most of England's woes have been self inflicted.

    Clearly, the team is ailing. Given the multiitude of variables involved, determining why is not easy. However, a decline so conspicuous would seem likely to have similarly conspicuous causes.

  • tinysteelorchestra on January 4, 2014, 10:36 GMT

    A sobering article with some telling points George - but did nobody proof-read it first? Some rather obvious typos. What about the opening line? Isn't this Test being played in Sydney, not Melbourne? :)

  • dunger.bob on January 4, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    12 months ago most people were asking the same thing about us. When you win everything looks rosy and when you lose it all looks putrid. .. Get a few wins under your belt and the fans will probably heave a sigh of relieve and say it was only a blip.

  • C.Gull on January 4, 2014, 10:02 GMT

    Yet another English point of view which staunchly refuses to acknowledge just how good Australia has been this series, particularly bowling-wise. I put far greater stock in Glenn McGrath's view on why England's batsmen have collectively failed.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on January 4, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    George I have to agree, reading that the new ECB director is keen to carry on with a Flower is nonsense. There must be changes, this team has been in decline for some time now. Time for a new captain too. There's no point in looking at former glories as an assessment for the present or future. A absolutely crushing 5-0 defeat should really get someone's attention.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on January 4, 2014, 9:59 GMT

    George I have to agree, reading that the new ECB director is keen to carry on with a Flower is nonsense. There must be changes, this team has been in decline for some time now. Time for a new captain too. There's no point in looking at former glories as an assessment for the present or future. A absolutely crushing 5-0 defeat should really get someone's attention.

  • C.Gull on January 4, 2014, 10:02 GMT

    Yet another English point of view which staunchly refuses to acknowledge just how good Australia has been this series, particularly bowling-wise. I put far greater stock in Glenn McGrath's view on why England's batsmen have collectively failed.

  • dunger.bob on January 4, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    12 months ago most people were asking the same thing about us. When you win everything looks rosy and when you lose it all looks putrid. .. Get a few wins under your belt and the fans will probably heave a sigh of relieve and say it was only a blip.

  • tinysteelorchestra on January 4, 2014, 10:36 GMT

    A sobering article with some telling points George - but did nobody proof-read it first? Some rather obvious typos. What about the opening line? Isn't this Test being played in Sydney, not Melbourne? :)

  • Quip on January 4, 2014, 10:45 GMT

    On the available evidence, it is difficult to disagree. Given its proven capabilities, this must be the worst performed of all English touring teams. Indeed, in 43 years of watching cricket, I doubt I have seen a team more abject. So poor has been the performance, so sharply have players declined from their own established standards, as to beg questions. How has this come about? How can such a spectacular loss of form and confidence afflict so many good players at once?

    Since some indications of this decline were already apparent earlier in the year, it would be a mistake to attribute it to the sustained ferocity of Johnson's bowling, spectacular though this has been. Regardless of the quality of Australia's bowling, most of England's woes have been self inflicted.

    Clearly, the team is ailing. Given the multiitude of variables involved, determining why is not easy. However, a decline so conspicuous would seem likely to have similarly conspicuous causes.

  • Mitty2 on January 4, 2014, 10:54 GMT

    Again, spot on. The 25 innings in a row without 400 runs is the most pertinent stat for me. How is it (at the start of the series) with a batting line up that all but Carberry averaged over 40 in test cricket in the top 7 that they can't make it past 400? We've made it past 400, off the top of my head, just three/four times in 10 tests but England have not once - this with a batting line up that has been described as the "worst ever" not 5 months ago. Your answer of "environment" seemingly is probable, as yes it's not a coincidence that all have had a drop in form, but maybe an extremely talented, yet disciplined attack with immense and individual planning has been able to do that. Bowl at a good/full length at off stump to Cook; bowl outside off to Trott with bumpers; target Bell's defence and bowl straight; bowl dry to KP; bowl full, at off stump to Root and of course just target the stumps with Bairstow. It's worked every time. No coincidence that a debutant is the only centurion.

  • tinysteelorchestra on January 4, 2014, 11:02 GMT

    There is no question that Australia have collectively been magnificent this winter, it is not purely down to the near-miraculous form of Haddin and Johnson. They deserve all the plaudits that come their way. But they have not suddenly become as good as, say, Waugh's Australia or Ponting's 2006/7 side. Consequently the likes of C.Gull are missing the point - this article is specifically looking at the English perspective and how the English have failed so spectacularly. Regardless of how well Australia have played - and they have been brilliant - the complete collective loss of form and confidence of this England side is worrying and unacceptable.

    No matter what past successes he has had, it is ridiculous for Collier to confirm the safety of Flower's position before any post-mortem has even started...

  • on January 4, 2014, 11:03 GMT

    its shameful what flower and cook said, cant deny the fact they were battered and bruised by hostile bowling theyca nt match, batting techniques were exposed and the batting and bowling strength too. ridiculous selections after being 2-0, 3-0 down, very defensive typical of england, they cant go fwd if they will keep defending it.

  • thejesusofcool on January 4, 2014, 11:16 GMT

    We have become robots. Any act of unexpected flair against us completely throws the computer tapes and programs & there is no back-up system. And as for a Plan b.....................!

    Aus were this bad last year in India, all resulting from one outstanding bit of flair-Dhoni's 200 in the 1st Test. And that's because Aus had become robots, too, under Arthur.

    We wouldn't recognise true individual talent if we fell over it, in batting or bowling. Johnson, Warne or Haddin are just 3 examples of Aus players who would never have played Test cricket at all if they were English-we just don't trust individuality.

  • CodandChips on January 4, 2014, 11:19 GMT

    Agree that the coaches need out. But I think so do Bell and Pietersen. Pietersen should be left for white ball cricket, with focus on WT20 and ODI world cup. Bell was great in the home ashes, but not before then, and this series has been mainly poor except once or twice.

    1.Cook (c) 2.Root 3.Ali 4.Taylor 5.Ballance 6.Stokes 7.Davies (wk) 8.Broad 9.Anderson 10.Finn 11.Kerrigan

    I know radical. Cook should stay to captain and because we don't have many decent openers. Kerrigan is a risk, but a good spinner, and Moeen Ali could back him up. Also early test wickets in England usually help seamers so he shouldn't be required to play too important a role. Davies is a better keeper than Bairstow in my opinion and averaged more than him in the championship. Bairstow should be allowed a full season or 2 with Yorkshire.

    Yes itd be tough at first.

    Id have Borthwick and Jordan as back up. Borthwick as reserve all rounder. If Kerrigan gets injured, Jordan for Kerrigan, and Borthwick for Stokes.