December 10, 2013

Raise courage and commitment, England

The ability to respond to challenges that are beyond the daily call is diminished by overkill, but that is precisely the task ahead of Cook and Co
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England must get back on the horse. It is not an easy thing to do for it requires courage and commitment. Neither attribute has been on show. Perhaps it is a blip but more likely the ravages of time have taken their toll. In the first Australian innings of the Adelaide Test, James Anderson bowled at medium pace and England dropped catches. In the first England innings, Kevin Pietersen drove meekly to one of two short-midwicket fielders posted specifically for the purpose, to catch him out. This is not to witch-hunt culprits but to illustrate a malaise.

In the days of three-day county cricket and three one-day competitions, great swathes of English first-class cricketers became increasingly unmotivated as the summer wore on. Those who were out of the hunt - i.e. languishing in the bottom half of the championship and/or Sunday League, and knocked out of the NatWest Trophy and Benson and Hedges Cup - played lazily and dragged others with them. Many a county cricketer lost his job because the great and the good had switched off.

The immense workload placed upon the current England team has worn it thin for much the same reason. International matches cease to be special, they are the norm. The precise moment when this happens is not obvious - nor can it ever be, because individuals are variously struck by indifference - but the ability to respond to challenges that are beyond the daily call is diminished by overkill. It is exaggerated by a voracious opponent. In short, the flesh may be willing but the spirit has turned weak. It is why sportsmen retire.

In the aftermath of defeat, Alastair Cook appeared exasperated. His spirit is more than willing because he took time on the farm at home to recharge. Others are less able to become detached - not just from cricket but from the rhythm of high-profile life. Assumptions are made about both form and opponents and assumptions are the mother of cock-ups. England assumed they would beat Australia. Fair enough, given what they saw in England. Most of us agreed.

But Australia were fired by the humiliation they have suffered and came out ugly and fighting. Michael Clarke wore an unshaven and unsavoury face. Mitchell Johnson, having grown a 1970s moustache, found the pace given to him by the gods and rejoiced in enforcing it upon the old enemy. England's gloating in Durham last August came back to haunt them in Brisbane in late November. The shock was overwhelming, as was the impact of Jonathan Trott's reaction to it. He had nothing left: the treadmill claimed its victim. The loss of Trott is not to be underestimated.

In Adelaide this past week, the mojo has deserted England so utterly that the captain seemed to stare into space as he talked, beaten and bemused. He admitted that the question asked by the media about teams' "will" was a good one. He thought the will to win the third Test in Perth was there, certainly on the surface anyway, but he admitted he didn't know what lay within the soul of his players.

It is not that the players cannot do it. It is that they will do it less often when it gets difficult. They are as jaded as the county cricketers who once endlessly travelled the motorways of Britain in search of their crust

Cook is an immensely proud man. In an interview prior to the series he agreed it was "cool" that this tour would forever be remembered as the one undertaken by "Alastair Cook's side". The legacy was important and the history satisfying. But he never figured it would go like this. Two-zero down and drowning. So he said he hoped the "will" was there, but he sort of admitted he could not vouch for it. Doubtless, he means collective will.

Anderson and Pietersen are England's most skilful cricketers. England's catching has been very good, until now. In the second innings, with the match pretty much gone, Anderson bowled some spiteful outswingers at 140kph, a couple of catches were held, and Pietersen batted as if he meant it for 50-odd. It is not that the players cannot do it. It is that they will do it less often when it gets difficult. They are as jaded as the county cricketers who once endlessly travelled the motorways of Britain in search of their crust.

It is courage and commitment that England must raise if Perth is to be conquered. Cook's first job is to throw a party and see everyone arrive for practice with a hangover. Somehow he must encourage his men to relax their bodies and minds. There is nothing that will improve the cricket they play more than respite. And as they relax, he can begin to remind them how good they are. He can talk of runs made, wickets taken, catches held and battles won. He should ask the Sky television team for a thorough highlights reel from last summer in England. And another from the last tour to Australia, when England were winning by the same margins, and greater, than those they are losing by now. And they should all sit back and wallow in it.

And then he should make a call to arms. The WACA ground in Perth has provided many a surprise, usually in Australia's favour: but nothing is given, these things must be earned. It is England who must go out and earn.

Courage is needed to face both fast bowling and failure. Commitment is needed to overcome it. Having talked of past glories, Cook must then pick a past team, one that includes Tim Bresnan and Jonny Bairstow. Ben Stokes was a nice idea but misguided, Monty Panesar a good choice if the toss had been won. Perhaps fewer hook strokes should be attempted, at least of the variety that go up to the fielders set to catch them.

None of this is easy but nor is it impossible. England are playing a team they beat 3-0 the other day, so clearly that team is flawed. Locate where and expose it, England. Thousands have flown across the world to see you at first hand. Reward them, and your captain's faith, with your effort.

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Insult_2_Injury on December 12, 2013, 3:16 GMT

    "The ability to respond to challenges that are beyond the daily call is diminished by overkill, but that is precisely the task ahead of Cook and Co". Come off it Mark, this series has been on the books for how long? I'm sure the players aren't claiming burnout and I'm surprised an ex County cricketer is throwing it up. Poor form makes any competitor mentally wearier, but the challenges in front of England are the same for every match and can in no way be construed to be beyond the daily call. Hindsight's a wonderful thing and I'm sure the ECB can dissect the 2013 schedule in a couple of weeks, but right now the players have the same challenge in front of them as they did on January 1, 2013. Cook may be struggling for form, but he's right it's Alistair Cooks' side playing, therefore it's Alistair Cooks' job to reinvigorate the 'collective will'!

  • on December 11, 2013, 22:26 GMT

    They have the skill I agree. But Perth is tough place to make a turnaround! England should look to compete and a draw would be satisfying I think in the current circumstances. Thy should've stuck with Bairstrow and definitely Bresnan should play if he's fit. Would like to see Finn get a go on a fast bouncy WACA wicket!!

  • slatsmj on December 11, 2013, 21:25 GMT

    "jaded as the county cricketers who once endlessly travelled the motorways of Britain in search of their crust" - Hard to buy that, this is the Ashes, even a jaded touring pro should need little motivation to fire up for this contest. Perhaps this is a matter of being outplayed by an underestimated Australian team who to date in the series have done a lot of the basics right in terms of taking catches, batting & bowling in partnerships, and even on day 1 at Brisbane when 6/132 not dropping their heads.

  • on December 11, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    Yep...England have used up every ounce of good luck going and of course utilized no small amount of skill with the ball in the past couple of years. Good luck to them but it's all up now and several changes have to be made to the whole setup at the conclusion of this series. They need a fresh injection of pace as well as a change of coach and especially batting coach. I don't know what Graham Gooch is doing but it's clearly not working. How about replacing him with Andrew Hilditch??

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on December 11, 2013, 13:17 GMT

    "Too much cricket". Funniest excuse ever. I know plenty of people who would be happy to be paid 10x their current wage to travel around the world playing a game. If your players can't get it together mentally, kick them out. Simple. It's modern professional sport, they all play a lot and most of them aren't home regularly. Then again neither are people who are working 50+ hours a week. Sure, you sleep in your own bed, but quality family time is a bit of a stretch. At least a pro cricketer gets some lengthy time off at home here and there. Maybe English cricketers need to grow up a bit? 162 games in a regular season of baseball, excluding pre-season and playoffs, just to name one other sport. They seem to be mentally there when it comes playoff time, no? Maybe if being a professional sport is too hard for the English their players can quite and get a real job. I'm sure they would find that much easier.

  • Thegimp on December 11, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    @ ScottStevo.....I agree mate and love your summary saying " One of us is aware our team is flawed, the other is still in serious denial and has believed for some time they're much, much better than they actually are."..............but for one thing, Australian teams will always come out fighting, punching above their weight and no team in the world no matter at what stage in their development or where they are playing takes them lightly. Given the current climate of both camps and if he were still alive Churchill would be calling himself Australian!!!!!

  • Thegimp on December 11, 2013, 10:17 GMT

    Gawd Mark, can you get the trumpets to stop and come down from your soap box please? LOL

    You tend to forget that England played a home Ashes series on featherbed pitches made to order for Swann and to a certain extent Cook (he had no fear of someone taking his head off with decent bounce) They played against a team ranked probably 5th or 6th who just got drubbed in India, dumped their disfunctional coach, changed their side more often than a tossed 20cent piece and were clearly second rate and yet......and yet.... only scaped by in a couple of test, were clearly under the pump in two others and had a day out in another. Given where both teams were and given pitch conditions. team conditions etc anything below 5-0 would be unacceptable and yet.......and yet Australia fought. Now Aust has conditions in its favour, where curators are producing real Test Match cricket wickets England are all but gone.

    So Mark, the question should be asked. Did England ever really have it?

  • ScottStevo on December 11, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    Loads of excuses to hide the painfully obvious truth: that this English side are a bog average test team who have hidden their flaws well, run on fumes for around the last 2 years using up as much luck as will to draw/win series. During this period their batting has been close to woeful and their tail has prospered and it's generally their bowling keeping them in the hunt. Australia haven't been much better for around 4 years and have stolen one of Eng's previously more favoured batting tactic - the horrid collapse! Either side have enough talent to beat the other, but let's not kid oursevles into believing our sides are any better than they currently are. One of us is aware our team is flawed, the other is still in serious denial and has believed for some time they're much, much better than they actually are. Complacency was their word of choice; but just how long does complacency run before it's acknowledged that the level being played is actually the norm?

  • kepler22b on December 11, 2013, 8:57 GMT

    Sujeet Raj Srivastav on (December 11, 2013, 5:28 GMT)

    You realise that Johnson bowled 3 and 1 LBW in the first innings and only took one wicket in the second innings. You, like many, miss the point that Australia is playing well and England badly; Johnson is only one factor, the other 4 bowlers chip in at different times, usually to dry up the runs (think Watson) or to nag out batsman (think Siddle). To underestimate Harris is the highest order of folly. He would make every test team in the world including SA. The insipid bowling of Anderson and the flaying of Swann are equally if not more important. Australia has 4 centuries, England none. Carberry, Root, Bell and Broad have all had good games but the others have been woeful. England desperately need Cook and KP to fire and for Anderson to find some zing. If they expose the tail in Perth again, they are likely to be toast.

  • on December 11, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    Everyone is bashing India for playing poorly in 2 one dayers (which they started playing 2 and half days after landing), and I guess Indians don't play less cricket than England. Nice that at least England is getting some support despite similar performance, even though they did get much better opportunity to prepare. keep is up guys!

  • Insult_2_Injury on December 12, 2013, 3:16 GMT

    "The ability to respond to challenges that are beyond the daily call is diminished by overkill, but that is precisely the task ahead of Cook and Co". Come off it Mark, this series has been on the books for how long? I'm sure the players aren't claiming burnout and I'm surprised an ex County cricketer is throwing it up. Poor form makes any competitor mentally wearier, but the challenges in front of England are the same for every match and can in no way be construed to be beyond the daily call. Hindsight's a wonderful thing and I'm sure the ECB can dissect the 2013 schedule in a couple of weeks, but right now the players have the same challenge in front of them as they did on January 1, 2013. Cook may be struggling for form, but he's right it's Alistair Cooks' side playing, therefore it's Alistair Cooks' job to reinvigorate the 'collective will'!

  • on December 11, 2013, 22:26 GMT

    They have the skill I agree. But Perth is tough place to make a turnaround! England should look to compete and a draw would be satisfying I think in the current circumstances. Thy should've stuck with Bairstrow and definitely Bresnan should play if he's fit. Would like to see Finn get a go on a fast bouncy WACA wicket!!

  • slatsmj on December 11, 2013, 21:25 GMT

    "jaded as the county cricketers who once endlessly travelled the motorways of Britain in search of their crust" - Hard to buy that, this is the Ashes, even a jaded touring pro should need little motivation to fire up for this contest. Perhaps this is a matter of being outplayed by an underestimated Australian team who to date in the series have done a lot of the basics right in terms of taking catches, batting & bowling in partnerships, and even on day 1 at Brisbane when 6/132 not dropping their heads.

  • on December 11, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    Yep...England have used up every ounce of good luck going and of course utilized no small amount of skill with the ball in the past couple of years. Good luck to them but it's all up now and several changes have to be made to the whole setup at the conclusion of this series. They need a fresh injection of pace as well as a change of coach and especially batting coach. I don't know what Graham Gooch is doing but it's clearly not working. How about replacing him with Andrew Hilditch??

  • ModernUmpiresPlz on December 11, 2013, 13:17 GMT

    "Too much cricket". Funniest excuse ever. I know plenty of people who would be happy to be paid 10x their current wage to travel around the world playing a game. If your players can't get it together mentally, kick them out. Simple. It's modern professional sport, they all play a lot and most of them aren't home regularly. Then again neither are people who are working 50+ hours a week. Sure, you sleep in your own bed, but quality family time is a bit of a stretch. At least a pro cricketer gets some lengthy time off at home here and there. Maybe English cricketers need to grow up a bit? 162 games in a regular season of baseball, excluding pre-season and playoffs, just to name one other sport. They seem to be mentally there when it comes playoff time, no? Maybe if being a professional sport is too hard for the English their players can quite and get a real job. I'm sure they would find that much easier.

  • Thegimp on December 11, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    @ ScottStevo.....I agree mate and love your summary saying " One of us is aware our team is flawed, the other is still in serious denial and has believed for some time they're much, much better than they actually are."..............but for one thing, Australian teams will always come out fighting, punching above their weight and no team in the world no matter at what stage in their development or where they are playing takes them lightly. Given the current climate of both camps and if he were still alive Churchill would be calling himself Australian!!!!!

  • Thegimp on December 11, 2013, 10:17 GMT

    Gawd Mark, can you get the trumpets to stop and come down from your soap box please? LOL

    You tend to forget that England played a home Ashes series on featherbed pitches made to order for Swann and to a certain extent Cook (he had no fear of someone taking his head off with decent bounce) They played against a team ranked probably 5th or 6th who just got drubbed in India, dumped their disfunctional coach, changed their side more often than a tossed 20cent piece and were clearly second rate and yet......and yet.... only scaped by in a couple of test, were clearly under the pump in two others and had a day out in another. Given where both teams were and given pitch conditions. team conditions etc anything below 5-0 would be unacceptable and yet.......and yet Australia fought. Now Aust has conditions in its favour, where curators are producing real Test Match cricket wickets England are all but gone.

    So Mark, the question should be asked. Did England ever really have it?

  • ScottStevo on December 11, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    Loads of excuses to hide the painfully obvious truth: that this English side are a bog average test team who have hidden their flaws well, run on fumes for around the last 2 years using up as much luck as will to draw/win series. During this period their batting has been close to woeful and their tail has prospered and it's generally their bowling keeping them in the hunt. Australia haven't been much better for around 4 years and have stolen one of Eng's previously more favoured batting tactic - the horrid collapse! Either side have enough talent to beat the other, but let's not kid oursevles into believing our sides are any better than they currently are. One of us is aware our team is flawed, the other is still in serious denial and has believed for some time they're much, much better than they actually are. Complacency was their word of choice; but just how long does complacency run before it's acknowledged that the level being played is actually the norm?

  • kepler22b on December 11, 2013, 8:57 GMT

    Sujeet Raj Srivastav on (December 11, 2013, 5:28 GMT)

    You realise that Johnson bowled 3 and 1 LBW in the first innings and only took one wicket in the second innings. You, like many, miss the point that Australia is playing well and England badly; Johnson is only one factor, the other 4 bowlers chip in at different times, usually to dry up the runs (think Watson) or to nag out batsman (think Siddle). To underestimate Harris is the highest order of folly. He would make every test team in the world including SA. The insipid bowling of Anderson and the flaying of Swann are equally if not more important. Australia has 4 centuries, England none. Carberry, Root, Bell and Broad have all had good games but the others have been woeful. England desperately need Cook and KP to fire and for Anderson to find some zing. If they expose the tail in Perth again, they are likely to be toast.

  • on December 11, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    Everyone is bashing India for playing poorly in 2 one dayers (which they started playing 2 and half days after landing), and I guess Indians don't play less cricket than England. Nice that at least England is getting some support despite similar performance, even though they did get much better opportunity to prepare. keep is up guys!

  • on December 11, 2013, 5:28 GMT

    Excellent written article Mr. Mark Nicholas. I enjoyed it throughly. The only way England can win at Perth is if They Drop Swann and Carberry. They must bring in Finn who has the pace and would trouble Oz's. Most of Australian batsmen are not in form Watson , Smith, Rogers and Bailey haven't scored big yet. Using Finn for just 3-4 overs and keep him fresh throughout the day, if not win can at least keep english in the Hunt. My England 11 for Perth: Cook , Root , Bell, Pieterson, Ballace, Prior, Stokes, Bresnan, Broad, Finn, Anderson. England team needs to play with straight bat and try to get Johnson tired. They can play bouncers once he is tired and less effective till then avoid it boys.

  • on December 11, 2013, 3:38 GMT

    Ok, so it is too much cricket that is the reason behind England's defeat! I thought it was just a way better Australian team. Stop whining England. Had this been a series they were losing kn the subcontinent the reasons would have been doctored pitches, bad practice facilities, food etc etc...Had they been leading in the series, they would have trumpeted about how they are ghe only ones playing so much test cricket and are its only saviours... You are losing to a better team.. period

  • on December 10, 2013, 23:47 GMT

    Drastic measures have to be taken...right now.Emulate the class of 2005..Harmy,Hogg,Flintoff,Jones and Giles replaced by Finn,Anderson,Stokes,Broad and Swann (or Monty).Cook,Carburry,Root,Pietersen,Bell,Stokes,Prior,Broad,Swann,Anderson,Finn should have enough fire power to give the Aussies headaches...maybe even Rankin for Anderson considering how Jimmys been bowling although that might upset the team too much.So just one definite change for Perth..Finn for Panesar and a toss up between Swann and Panesar. Another option might be to leave out a spinner and play another specialist batsman like Bairstow. Just dont bring in another medium pace bowler!

  • Steve58 on December 10, 2013, 22:47 GMT

    When discussing imaginative captaincy, no-one has mentioned Aliatair Coook's use of only 5 bowlers in both innings. Surely Peitersen (10 test wickets) or Root (3 test wickets) should have been used at some stage. How often do we see a part timer break a partnership as Doug Walters was ale to do so ofteh. When a plan is not working it is time to try something else.

  • Matth on December 10, 2013, 22:46 GMT

    Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't the Australian side also play in the last Ashes in England? And didn;t they also play in the Chamions Trophy? And didn;t they squeeze in an ODI tournament in India between the two Ashes? And weren;t they in India for a test series before that? How on earth can you sit there with a straight face and say poor England are burnt out by their schedule when Australia have had the same workload and have lost a bunch of those games as well? Sounds to me like you are looking for an excuse to allow England to fail.

  • Herbet on December 10, 2013, 22:32 GMT

    "International matches cease to be special, they are the norm. The precise moment when this happens is not obvious - nor can it ever be"

    Maybe its when you cease to play any club/county/state cricket and only represent your country week in week out, except for the odd domestic outing to build fitness. That is exactly where Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Prior, Broad, Swann and Anderson are at, and why they can't be bothered anymore.

  • timmyw on December 10, 2013, 21:47 GMT

    I dunno. England before Adelaide were lambasted in the media for relaxing and going out too much. I saw a bit of fight in Adelaide. Ian Bell looked the goods, it's easy to criticise him for bad stroke making in the second innings but the game was already 90% gone and he made a mistake. I can imagine in Perth KP will do well, Prior might find form especially if the deck is fast and not spongey like it has been the last few years and the ball comes on a bit more. I think England can come back, the Melbourne and Sydney pitches favour them. Perhaps if they can salvage a draw or get a win in Perth all is not lost for retaining the Ashes. I think England are no.2 in the world and they just to me look a bit ambushed. We'll see if they can come back they are a quality side. Mind you if Mitchell Johnson keeps that mo..... Look out. I expect Finn to play in Perth too. He is properly quick so we'll see. I don't think us Aussies should fall into the same gloating trap England did, it will bite us.

  • LETSCOMPLICATEIT on December 10, 2013, 19:24 GMT

    Dear Mr. MN, Greetings. I am die hard English Cricket believer and follower. I will share with you earnestly, the following: The England team has more internal challenges (self belief and belief in each other), than any external challenge (i.e. Mitchell Johnson). The Aussies can be beaten. IF, AF, GG, AC and other members of the leadership will follow this path daily for the remainder of the tour: HAPPEN (Humility, Aggressive Adaptation, Mental calmness and alertness, Patience, Persistence, Engage ferociously, and Neutralize - find English weapons that would be a major headache for the Aussies). This English Cricket Team has tremendous potential, but is presently distracted with self destructive distractions. Mitchell Johnson is hardly the problem. We have the talent and the capability to give the Aussies a whipping, if we can make the inner adjustment! Thanks PC

  • on December 10, 2013, 19:05 GMT

    yes england is playing a team they beat 3-0 the other day...but that aussie team did not have mitch johnson...that mitch johnson is bowling fast is not the issue...he`s bowling fast accurately...trot`s fallen a victim to mitch`s fury...even that is not the main issue...the main issue is trot`s departure has been a huge psychological blow to the rest of the england team...someone from the england team needs to bowl like johnson...at the moment the aussie batsmen are facing a very docile and lifeless bowling attack.

  • RohanMarkJay on December 10, 2013, 16:58 GMT

    Excellent cricket writing as usual Mr Mark Nicholas. I too suspected regarding England's underpar performance. It could have something to do with a packed cricket schedule and the fact they are playing back to back ashes series with England winning the first leg but were pushed hard in the last 3 matches and England had to fight really hard to keep Australia out. They were probably shot at the end of the last series in ensuring they won it and they had to then travel to repeat the performance in tough conditions of Oz. Like you said Mark the desire had vanished in Oz. I will be attending the Ashes test at the MCG. Last time I attended an Ashes Test at the MCG was back in 1994/95. I remember that England team containing Gough, Malcolm, 40 year old Gooch and Atherton. I remember they tried their best but they were up against an awesome Aussie team. That Eng team though derided, managed to push Oz in Sydney and Win in Adelaide against a very very good Aussie side unlike the current Ozzies

  • on December 10, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    England's both mentally and physically shot. They've been under-performing for a long period of time and has been found out against a team that's just playing better and harder. As for how much that is... it's nothing major. Mitchell has bowled quick, Clarke's feasted on home grounds (as he had done last season as well) and Warner's clicked as well. Harris has been good, Siddle and Lyon supportive but Australia's not really playing 'world-class' cricket. Half of the side are nobodies and it wouldn't make a difference if they were replaced by mid-tier Bangladeshi players.

  • on December 10, 2013, 15:08 GMT

    England will definitely bounce back in Perth If they can get MC cheaply then pressure will be on aus coz aus batting revolves around him and anderson have to come good at fast waca pitch

  • 2.14istherunrate on December 10, 2013, 14:42 GMT

    Talk of leaving legacies is symptomatic of modern pomposity. Legacies are really what dying people leave their nearest and dearest. yet this concept is bandied around in so many directions implying that peole in general suffer from a surfeit of self importance. At the start of the County season Graeme Smith was quoted as wanting through his captaincy of Surrey to leave a lasting legacy. He limped off after the 3rd game,never having really arrived. People need to do the deed first and then discuss what they are leaving as they depart.We are treated to an overdose of double speak and grandiose pomposity these days and really people such as cricket captains need to get real and talk straight about what they are doing and what they will do.I would say 'Cut the gaff' and just play. Leave the double speak to the marketing men. They have nothing else to do but be pompous and incomprehensible.

  • 2.14istherunrate on December 10, 2013, 14:34 GMT

    I think the term 'overkill' just about sums it up. I would add the word 'Drastic' before the 'overkill.' and add that this particularly applies to the contest between these two sides. It is also unimaginative. There are 10 international sides and just playing a different side after the Ashes is a tonic-the perameters and demands change. The Ashes is a huge 'cauldron'. Keeping it special should be a primary concern. Therefore back-to back goes against the whole spirit of the contest. Obviously after the summer the England side cannot get themselves up for this one. It is not just these series where back to back is a total pain.Too much of one thing dampens the enthusiasm. I know this was done for the World Cup, which is also part of an over proliferation of world events.There were other ways of doing this though. I despair of present scheduling because they try to fit too much in without concentrating on necessities such as 4/5 Test series. This series is a warning about oiverkill.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on December 10, 2013, 14:31 GMT

    @Little Bear on (December 10, 2013, 13:16 GMT) - The NSP seem to be making sensible selections with Lehmann in charge - no disrespect to Micky (well, just a little). Hughes has been scoring heavily in Shield cricket and is probably batsman-in- waiting.

    I enjoy the hype and drama of the Ashes, but for hard, no holds barred, no whingeing, great cricket I prefer SA-Oz and will be looking forward to next Feb. Hope that Jacques can make it, even if it is with a walking frame - there are not too many playing legends left now.

  • on December 10, 2013, 14:30 GMT

    Why not give Finn a chance to prove himself.He can be more destructive than Johnson.Common England V can do it.

  • electric_loco_WAP4 on December 10, 2013, 14:28 GMT

    Well, Eng are just not good enough to compete with top teams of Aus/SA . They can concentrate on playing minnows -WI,NZ etc. Is the only way we can see competitive matches from them. Also the only chance mediocre t20 sloggers like KP and trundlers like Broad/Anderson score some runs/get some wkts.

  • on December 10, 2013, 14:27 GMT

    I think that the current England Team has the abilities to come back now also,its not too late.Root shoud open with cook once again and let Bell come at 3:i think it will be ryt.The top order need to re-organised itself.If Broad can come at 3 ,it will be more than enough.He is a capable batsmen and a good bowler.If wickets dnt fall quickly at the top,we all know what K.P can do single handedly afterwards... Best Wishes from My side My dear Favorite Team

  • LETSCOMPLICATEIT on December 10, 2013, 14:11 GMT

    Dear MN, Greetings. You don't get to be among the very best English Test team overnight, neither does a team lose it overnight (i.e. over a couple of defeats). The events in the last 2 tests are really very good for English Cricket, ANC and his team. We have been getting away with mediocre performances lately, and it sure helps to be knocked out with a jab to the chin. Let it hurt and bleed, and let the humiliation sting. It will do a world of a good for English Cricket, and for the professional lives of each member in this team. We have to and we will stand up, and be counted for. Alastair and team will COOK up a storm, and as outlandish a prediction as it may sound for most, I am confident that this English team will square the series and retain the ashes! Thank You, Prahaan

  • chitti_cricket on December 10, 2013, 13:53 GMT

    Mark that all looks optimism. You are asking a polite and humble deer to hunt and crack down a wild tiger. Is that possible? now I don't mean to say England is unskillful team, it certainly is skillful but their skills have not been horned to perfection before this series started it seems, Look at how Swan and Anderson bowled, they don't even seem to me 70% of what they were at the start of 2010-start of this series, KP, cook and Trot (who no more there) are in the same zone. So half England side is in totters. At the same time Aussies have notched up their cricket to 2 o3 times they played at the beginning of this year. I have a tremendous respect and listen to what Mark N says and believe in him, but this time even he sound pure optimism out of desperation.

  • SurlyCynic on December 10, 2013, 13:45 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha: I remember when Aus would win close games in the 90s, where from nowhere the never say die attitude of the players would get a win from a losing position. Other fans (including SA) would moan about what could have been, Aussies would say 'look in the record books - Aus win'. How times have changed.

    Having said that, I'm nervous about the return clash against the Aussies in a couple of months. That will be a real battle which could go either way, we need 'bad Mitch' back, but 'Good Mitch' seems to like breaking arms in SA!

    Back to the Ashes, can't wait for Perth. Great fast bowling on a quick pitch - I'll be getting up at 2am to watch.

  • ParamIyer on December 10, 2013, 13:27 GMT

    Nice article. What England could draw from is that Australia went into Perth in the 2007-2008 cock a hoop after their victory in Sydney. They prepared what they said was the fastest wicket - but it was courage and conviction from India that left a egg on Australia's face. The folks who were woefully out of touch like Dravid came to the party. Kumble & RP Singh bowled superbly and Australia's selection of Shaun Tait backfired massively. What England needs is some one to stand up against the Aussies - meet fire with fire, with passions ignited I am sure there is more than one individual who wlll stand up. I am banking on Anderson and Broad - both of them bowled superbly in the 2nd innings. Swann is the key as well with his chirpiness.

    Go England GO

  • Beertjie on December 10, 2013, 13:16 GMT

    Agree @Front-Foot-Takes-A-Walk on (December 10, 2013, 10:38 GMT) about counting chickens and Oz finding a couple more batsmen before really starting to hit the heights. Phil Hughes scored OK on his previous tours to South Africa, so that's one (btw, I'm no fan of his but if you score well in Shield, you're bound to become consistent in tests if you've already got a few test centuries). This tour is perhaps a tad too early, but Kallis will soon call it quits and may even now be over the hill. Aus needs to make strategic decisions concerning replacements and avoid bad ones such as the axing of Kato and picking Cowen over Rogers. Also don't look for an all-rounder until some years down the line someone like Mitchell Marsh emerges as a viable prospect. If the NSP can make good choices, the rest will fall into place.

  • latecut_04 on December 10, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    @rajatmehra--You are wrong on multiple counts.If the Eng side tries to emulate Tendulkar's 248 in Sydney they will be buried without a trace.That innings was a pain to watch and also one of the reasons India couldn't complete a historic series victory in Aus.(main reason ofcourse being galdiatorial Steve Waugh's final rear guard action.)NOW they can definitely reflect on Sachin's tons in Aus in 99 where he scored 2 centuries playing for an utterly poor side.He was the Man Of the Series and is still wrongly cruicified for not winning matches back then.He was a glorious execption to a line of batsmen who were listless,clueless and demoralised against Mcgrath,Lee etc.He drove,pulled and left deliviries convincingly.Eng batsmen need to emulate that effort.They have a certain Peterson who can do it to an extent and unlike India back then they have the bowling to win them matches if they put runs on the board.Looking for a good series decider!!!from India..

  • shillingsworth on December 10, 2013, 12:53 GMT

    It's not great if international matches 'cease to be special' and even worse if a series with the history and resonance of the Ashes suffers from overkill. Back to back series was a bad idea. Playing yet another one in 2015 is lunacy.

  • brusselslion on December 10, 2013, 12:29 GMT

    Might as well just go for it now. For the WACA, bring in Bres and one of Finn/ Rankin for Swann and Monty and just tell the 5 bowlers to let it rip.

    Unless we win the next test, the little urn is gone (0-2 or 0-3 going to Melbourne; it doesn't really matter).

  • TheBigBoodha on December 10, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    SurlyCynic even you know those SA injuries did not cost SA any win (just as Watson's injury in the first game didn't change that game. - although it cost Aus in the 2nd game). Pattinson's injury after just nine overs clearly cost Australia the 2nd game in a series they were dominating till three days from the end of the last test. Any team that gets smashed for 481 runs on a shortened day is getting thrashed by any standards. Wonder how SA would have gone with four new bowlers for the final game? Like I said, SA did nothing to cause the Pattinson mishap. It was pure chance.

  • Haleos on December 10, 2013, 12:23 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Takes-A-Walk - very well said. Also they should stop the meaningless 2 test series. I still can not believe they had 2 ashes series so close to each other. FTP from ICC is a joke and no one acres about it. SA are good but it would be nice to see them play a 5 match rubber in OZ. Would be interesting.

  • on December 10, 2013, 11:15 GMT

    England need Captain Cook to lead from the front, his batting at the top of the order is critical if England have any hopes of revival, they need their big players like Bell and Pietersen to step up.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx on December 10, 2013, 10:38 GMT

    Good to see Saffers posting here. Oz is yet to win this series and needs to find a couple more batsmen before really starting to hit the heights. If it provides some competition for SA at the top, I won't mind - India and England do not seem to have the necessary ticker at the moment.

    I think what cricket needs, is for politics to be forgotten and series involving top sides (SAvIndia and SAvOz) to be 5 match series, although two sequential Ashes series is definitely overkill.

  • venkatesh018 on December 10, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    I can agree any theory for England's demise but this "overkill". They were much the fresher side before the start of this series.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on December 10, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    Almost Churchillian from Mark on this occasion. I suspect that this can mean one of two things.

    On many an occasion, in cricket and life, England has been at its best with backs against the wall fighting seemingly lost causes. Achieving some dogged and unexpected draws over the years epitomises this spiriit. Alternatively, if all an intelligent and deep-thinking individual like Mark can come up with is a bunch of cliches, perhaps England are well and truly shot.

    Time will tell. Roll on Perth.

  • SurlyCynic on December 10, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha : Still sticking to the 'SA were lucky in Aus' theory are we? SA thumped Aus at the WACA, and bringing in Johnson and Starc for Perth is hardly throwing the test away is it? Why not give some credit to the opposition for a dominant performance.

    As for injuries, I note that you mention Pattinson but conveniently forget injuries to Duminy and Kallis? Lastly, if you think the pitches at the Wanderers, CT and Durban are all the same you need to pay more attention next time.

  • SurlyCynic on December 10, 2013, 9:33 GMT

    Good article, but my favourite by Mr Nicholas is still the 'Fortress England' piece. Please can we have another like that soon.

  • Yevghenny on December 10, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    Australia could have, and perhaps should have won all the tests in the summer === this comical revision of history by australians is wearing pretty thin. This australian side is pretty average, and showed that in England with their total in ability to compete for 5 days in a test match - the second they got themselves into a decen position their knees started knocking and England managed to blow them away. Unfortunately England seem to have completely forgotten how to bat on the flight over and are getting a well deserved hammering for their troubles.

  • dunger.bob on December 10, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    That's a heartfelt plea from Mark. Understandable though, given he's British.

    I think he's hit it on the head when he say's England have been taken aback by the ferocity of the Aussie assault.

    All I can say is there's a place in the history books for them if they're good enough but I think they've partially dug their own grave by seriously under-estimating just how fed up our guys are with losing against England. .. Completely and utterly under-estimated our hunger .. The truth is Australia have been picking away at England for a while now, looking for little weaknesses here and there, but England refused to pay it any attention. .. It's a long way back now England. Lets see if you've really got what it takes to be the best England side ever.

  • on December 10, 2013, 9:07 GMT

    It makes me laugh when so called pundits like Botham and others talk about a 5-0 whitewash and leaving a legacy. It shows they dont really understand the demands of the modern game and actually ability of the Eng side. Its true that Eng look worn out but they have also been hammered by SA and Pak in recent years ie two best bowling attacks in the World. They are again being exposed by a good bowling side. For sure they got lucky in the Summer and only Warne was highlighting this and predicting an Aussie resurgence, no wonder he is the best player never to captain Australia and one that is still a mentor for Clarke. Perhaps Mr. Cook should stop listening to Botham and co. who think Eng will dominate for a decade and get Piers Morgan as his mentor;)

  • TheBigBoodha on December 10, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    Ian_SA, given how good fortune rather than performance was the only reason for SA's last test series win vs AUS (unless you call Pattinson breaking down and having to replace the entire fast bowling lineup something to do with SA skill), and the fact that SA haven't won a test series in SA against Australia for decades, I wouldn't be so full of hubris if I were you. At least we offer visiting teams a variety of tracks here. The fact that the current two top-ranking teams are the worst offenders at manipulating conditions has not been lost on some.

  • rajatmehra on December 10, 2013, 8:36 GMT

    The England team should take insipiration from the great Sachin Tendulkar. In the 2003-04 series he was repeatedly getting out while playing the cover drive. He totally eliminated it in the last match of the series and went on to score a worthy double century. Perhaps they need to do the same as far as the hook shot is concerned. They still have a chance at retaining the urn and also the talent to accomplish it. They just need to apply themselves. Just give it their all like a long-distance runner does in the last quarter of the mile. Knowing that once they pass this, there are greener pastures ahead. Having said that, I am personally happy to see a resurgent Australia. Now waiting to see a match turning performance from Siddle.

  • on December 10, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    again, another pundit is duped by the 3-0 summer scoreline. lads, Australia could have, and perhaps should have won all the tests in the summer (except for the Lords 2nd test). until you wise up to this, you will forever be in denial.

  • on December 10, 2013, 7:18 GMT

    Ian_SA, obviously you are an SA supporter and I am not surprised about your comments. But Aus and Eng are playing back to back series for the first time and you can't say it's affecting the rest of the Test calendar. What did India and SA do when they had a chance to play an important series? They couldn't even manage 3 Tests!!! And as an Indian I don't agree that India abroad is better than either Eng or Aus.....as for SA, let's see when Aus play against them in March. Remember, SA haven't beaten Aus in SA since their re-entry to international cricket in 1991 !!!

  • WalkingWicket11 on December 10, 2013, 7:05 GMT

    I wish the Poms do even worse, and lose the next 3 Tests inside 3 days. Time to relive the fond whitewash memories of 2007.

  • MaruthuDelft on December 10, 2013, 7:04 GMT

    When you say Anderson is skilful you have no chance of putting up a good team Nick because that shows you are not able to identify the better ones. First he doesn't tick a basic rule for bowlers; a bowler must not drop his head when delivering. Consequences of inadequacies manifest when going gets tough. Second he doesn't have the heart to respond and turn it around during a given match like Hadlee, Lilly.....Mat Hayden correct Anderson is just a second rate bowler.

  • Ian_SA on December 10, 2013, 6:43 GMT

    As neither an English nor an Australian supporter I can fully understand how sheer listlessness can be at least a factor in England's current malaise. Australia are more motivated because of their recent humiliations and they are enjoying some rejuvenation playing at home. Mitchell Johnson's radar is working (at the moment). Goodness knows the rest of the world are probably sick of catching all the blather of these two teams meeting (againnnnn). I know I am. A recent article hypothesizing that this over-indulgence is hurting the general test calendar is spot on. There are better teams than both of these about to get it on in South Africa (for only 2 tests, which would only have been 3 if they hadn't squabbled, anyway). Nice for the Aussie ego, but ultimately sound and fury in a bubble.

  • on December 10, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    I'd suggest a lot of England's problems are centred around the mindset of Cook himself. When your captain timidly throws up the white flag and fails to place any prize on his wicket, then what hope is there for the rest of the side? England should also drop Swann who looks unfit and not up for the fight this series and bring in another batsman (Compton). Maybe bring in Bresnan for Stokes as well.

  • roadhouseblues on December 10, 2013, 6:31 GMT

    I like this article purely because of the love, support and confidence that a fan has shown in his team. Its a very positive article which believes in the ability of the team and its players.

    I am a huge fan of our Indian Cricket team. Every time when the team fails, all I see from the editors of Cricinfo is downright criticism and its very disappointing. Why do even the 'level headed' folks at Cricinfo feel that when the Indian team plays well and wins, its because the other team under performed? And when we lose, its because of our outright lack of ability !

    Being a Cricinfo regular, I am beginning to feel that this is very disappointing !

  • Bonehead_maz on December 10, 2013, 6:23 GMT

    RIP Peter May - by far the best English (batman) captain to fail in achieving 4 in a row ! PS that one was 4-0, and this time we didn't need anyone throwing from 16 yards.

  • humdrum on December 10, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    None of this is easy but nor is it impossible. England are playing a team they beat 3-0 the other day, so clearly that team is flawed. Locate where and expose it, England.' Well Mark, maybe the Aus team in the UK and the present one are drastically different---the bowling,batting and fielding are steets ahead of the Englishmen. Also Aus had their moments against Eng in UK but here they have steamrolled them. Eng have never looked in the game at all.The sad truth is that your faults are glossed over when you win,and then,they tumble out of the closet,as is happening now,and you stand exposed.

  • paapam on December 10, 2013, 5:41 GMT

    Sorry Mr Nicholas. Things do not change dramaticlly in less than six months. England were made to look better than they are by an Aussie side beset with internal strife due to Clarke's poor man management. Lehman has changed the dressing room atmosphere and made Clarke realize his mistake. England additionally have encountered a side playing above itself. The Aussie players love the baggy green Swann is not half as good a bowler as the English would have us believe. Broad's batting has diminished. Petersen is showing all his old symptoms the most grave being no love for Englad. England need 1) one geniune quick 2)to get over their Swannophilia 3) more home grown players-even mediocre county players- who would rather die than let their country down 4)to get over their obsession with 'tall' bowlers 5) rein in their 'good time boys' viz: Broad, Swann, Anderson...

  • mani_narayan on December 10, 2013, 4:55 GMT

    This tour shows that when the opposition is playing well, this England team does not fare very well. If you look at England's results, they performed well against teams that were either rebuilding or out of form. When they played India (both in England and in India), the Indian openers (Shewag/Gambhir) and the older players were on the wane, and they were rebuilding their side some with new players. Same goes with Australia - they were rebuilding and struggling which enabled England to beat them with ease. But SA with a settled team was able to beat England in England 2-0. It is hard to see England coming back in this series. They are out of form and they are mentally in a difficult spot right now.

  • natarsx on December 10, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    Its high time that we all need to accept that the world cricket moving towards one sided competitions. You cannot beat England in England, Australia in Australia, South Africa in South Afrcia, India in India (England series was a blip). This tread is highly unhealthy. England cannot bat or bowl unless its overcast conditions, Australia / South Africa cannot bat or bowl unless its bouncy track and same is the case with India cannot bowl or bat unless its spinning track. Every major cricket playing country is doctring the pitches to suit their home conditions. This is highly unhealthy. ICC should take over the pitch management of all countries if you want to see real fight between bat and ball. Cook dont have to worry - next home series against India, England would win for sure.

  • on December 10, 2013, 4:30 GMT

    Why should England resort to the same tactics as Aus? They won the last three series without a 150+ bowler, they bowled tight good line and lengths and most importantly they didnt get bowled for less than 200. This doesnt help the bowling side, especially teh spinners and being poor in the field. Aus have a very good bowling attack but not unplayable. Their batting is still brittle but the most importantly the 3-4 guys are consistently scoring runs. If Eng batted anyway near to what they are "capable" of , this would have been a very evenly contested series. England need to compete in Perth, got to show some ticker, even if they surrender the ashes. I believe they will not fold like Eng sides of the 90's and 06. For neutrals this is what I am hoping , so that we actually seeing a contest, not just poor performances.

  • on December 10, 2013, 4:30 GMT

    Mark, nothing can be done.. Home advantage is growing for all teams. Eng beat Aus 3-0 in England. You really need to have a good team to beat team at home conditions. Like Eng spinners in India won them the series. With Avg team like Aus, Eng India, SA at the moment hope to win in Home conditions only. yeah some limited over matches will be won here and there !!!!

  • DRS_Flawed_NeedsImprovement on December 10, 2013, 4:23 GMT

    it is going to be very difficult for eng at WACA. As a indian fan, i am looking forward 10-0. let me explain, firstly against pak 3-0 IN UAE, 2-0 IN ENG (BY SA), 5-0 (2-0 now, hoping further 3-0). well done OZ.

  • Rufus_Fuddleduck on December 10, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    As it happened in 2008, post Sydneygate, Australia were snarling and snapping at India and Shaun Tait was supposed to take 40 wickets in the next match at Perth. It didn't quite happen that way, so far as memory goes. Australia lost by some 70 runs. The same Mitchell was around then and he probably saved some blushes, else the margin would have been twice as much. That might be the video that would interest Mark Nicholas and Cook. Oh .... unless they think all that was the handiwork of the BCCI.

  • C.Gull on December 10, 2013, 4:12 GMT

    I almost felt sorry for Cook for a moment, but then I remembered the gloating when Ricky went through something similar, so I swiftly squashed that feeling.

    If it's a matter of will, then either the English don't care enough about the Ashes - obviously not the case - or if the schedule really has resulted in exhaustion then England need to start separating their short and long form teams more intelligently.

    In reality, which many English commentators and fans seem determined to ignore, they haven't given it away: they've had it taken from them by an Australian team which is performing superbly.

  • CustomKid on December 10, 2013, 4:07 GMT

    @robert1612 I was at Adelaide the first 4 days and it was exactly the same. The eruption on day two when Mitch castled Cook at 150km+ was unbelievable. I think that noise frightened Cook more than the pace. After his first 3 deliveries at 150+ the crowd knew something was about to happen. Then day three mitch's destruction post lunch I will never forget it.

    My first full five days of test cricket live was the test we lost by one run to the windies in 1992, still the best game I've seen but for pure blood curling emotion from the crowd this test was it. PS 2006 I did not attend due to work commitments overseas but that may have rivalled this test in some way. The difference being the crowd was empty on that last day until we started the run chase. This test we had 34k watching the carnage.

  • El_Awrens on December 10, 2013, 3:57 GMT

    Those who propose England fight fire with fire are falling into precisely the trap Clarke and Lehman have set for them. England cannot match Australia for pace bowling, nor can they (with the possible exception of KP, on his day) match Warner etc for explosive batting. As for sledging, no matter the venom or the wit, when you've just lost 2 Tests by 600 runs you're kinda snookered.

    England need to remember the foundations of our (relatively modest) success over the last 3-4 years. Bowl tight, build pressure, take the chances when they come and above all, don't give wickets away cheaply. All of the top 6 should set out with the aim of batting for a day or more.

    Bring in Bresnan for Panesar and Ballance for Stokes at 6. Don't bother with Finn, Tremlett or Rankin - and heed the advice of WACA legend Justin Langer about pitching it up and not getting carried away with the extra bounce.

  • Insult_2_Injury on December 10, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    Pietersen has swatted at the bowling for 101 Tests, it's a bit late now to ask for team oriented innings rather than the cameo he produced in Inn 2. Cook has captained the same his whole career, a change now will be from desperation. The rest is a combination of a bowling attack pressing a home ground advantage ( Just as Eng did) and Australia returning to the mental assault that Arthur & Sutherland tried to drive out. That approach is working. England have always shown an inability to cope with an unpredictable opponent and so it is being displayed here. Imagine if Arthur had been gone earlier; maybe Johnson & Warner may have been employed more in England and this discussion would have been held months ago. Hopefully the Aussies don't fall for the short pitched trick in Perth. Use the wicket by all means, but continued short pitched stuff is the type of predictability England need to regroup. Congratulations Cook & Clarke on your pending 100th Tests.

  • RodStark on December 10, 2013, 3:36 GMT

    I don't know if Mark really gets to the heart of it. Several people have pointed out that in fact the Australian side is older than England. The difference is in experience. England's four primary bowlers in the second test have played a collective 261 tests. This must be almost unprecedented. A player like Harris has played less than 20, and although he's older than any of England's bowlers except Swann, he still has a lot more to prove. It seems like many England players have been in the team so long and have had (by England's standards) so much success that they just don't have that motivation anymore. I'm not saying we should replace them all with a bunch of inexperienced youngsters, but I don't think England are getting the value from experience they should be. I don't know what the answer is. Maybe losing these first two games so badly will put a spark back into them. I hope so.

  • ShutTheGate on December 10, 2013, 3:30 GMT

    The Australian team was flawed when they had a coach that wasn't good for them and they weren't getting along as well as they could. That's passed, we're no longer flawed but inspired.

    If England loose the WACA test (which I think they will) then I wouldn't be surprised if they bounce back and play more like themselves in Melbourne and Sydney. I think they are under too much pressure to perform and they'll play much different in a dead rubber.

    It's also worth noting that the Aussie team has 5 players who are now in the side who weren't in the team at Trent Bridge.

  • on December 10, 2013, 3:23 GMT

    Against writer's wish, it is Australia who eventually found that the team who defeated them 3-0 the other day is clearly flawed. They located those flaws which were plentiful(inability to play real fast bowling, absence of a real threatening fast bowler,set of batsmen who clearly lacks charisma and flamboyance and finally a captain who cannot innovate at all) and exposed them brilliantly. And thousands of Aussie fans are flocking to Stadiums to see their team first hand and they are getting rewarded handsomely by their courageous, adventurous and determined to win team which is making all the possible efforts.

  • Robert1612 on December 10, 2013, 3:09 GMT

    Nice piece but maybe Nicko is clutching at straws like a lot of English press and commentators. Unless they can find a bowler who can regularly hit 145+ kph let alone 150+ like MJ they will have no chance in Perth at the WACA! Harris seems to bowl really well there as does Sidds so our attack looks good to go. I would have liked Bollinger in the actual squad as he appears to be bowling fast swinging left arm deliveries that would confound England. Australia need to make sure that the batting is solid .. a 300+ score in the 1st innings should do it, time for Watto and Smith to earn their keep as batters!! Seems the return to captain grumpy (ala AB in 1989) by Clarke and some old fashioned ideas from Boof have the boys plaing aggressive (and winning!) cricket ... the good old Aussie way. I was at the Gabba for all 4 days play and haven't felt that sort of atmosphere from the crowd esp. days 3 &4 for as log as I can remember (35+ yrs of live cricket). Hope the Perth crowd does the same!!

  • Vishnu27 on December 10, 2013, 3:06 GMT

    3-nil by Sunday. Merry Christmas Australia

  • on December 10, 2013, 2:48 GMT

    England need to replicate the intensity and firepower of the Aussie pace attack. Refrain from 'tradition' and try something more innovative and invigorating. I'm personally not worried about the batting side of things as much as the bowling. If we can bowl better and skittle the Aussies for under 300 each innings, the confidence will transfer to the batsmen.

    Take out both spinners (Swann and Panesar), replace them with both Finn and Rankin/Tremlett. Yes, each of these 3 can be slightly uneconomical, but if they take wickets, then the runs will be surely compensated for.

    Only other change would be potentially Stokes. I liked how he played in Adelaide, and I'm willing to keep him in my XI for Perth, but if it had to change, I'd be inclined to replace with Bresnan. That way, we obtain a 5-man pace attack, and keep some solidity with the bat, swapping Swann for Bresnan, whom is a better batsman by far.

    All in all, these changes would also add much needed experience to young team.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on December 10, 2013, 2:48 GMT

    England need to replicate the intensity and firepower of the Aussie pace attack. Refrain from 'tradition' and try something more innovative and invigorating. I'm personally not worried about the batting side of things as much as the bowling. If we can bowl better and skittle the Aussies for under 300 each innings, the confidence will transfer to the batsmen.

    Take out both spinners (Swann and Panesar), replace them with both Finn and Rankin/Tremlett. Yes, each of these 3 can be slightly uneconomical, but if they take wickets, then the runs will be surely compensated for.

    Only other change would be potentially Stokes. I liked how he played in Adelaide, and I'm willing to keep him in my XI for Perth, but if it had to change, I'd be inclined to replace with Bresnan. That way, we obtain a 5-man pace attack, and keep some solidity with the bat, swapping Swann for Bresnan, whom is a better batsman by far.

    All in all, these changes would also add much needed experience to young team.

  • Vishnu27 on December 10, 2013, 3:06 GMT

    3-nil by Sunday. Merry Christmas Australia

  • Robert1612 on December 10, 2013, 3:09 GMT

    Nice piece but maybe Nicko is clutching at straws like a lot of English press and commentators. Unless they can find a bowler who can regularly hit 145+ kph let alone 150+ like MJ they will have no chance in Perth at the WACA! Harris seems to bowl really well there as does Sidds so our attack looks good to go. I would have liked Bollinger in the actual squad as he appears to be bowling fast swinging left arm deliveries that would confound England. Australia need to make sure that the batting is solid .. a 300+ score in the 1st innings should do it, time for Watto and Smith to earn their keep as batters!! Seems the return to captain grumpy (ala AB in 1989) by Clarke and some old fashioned ideas from Boof have the boys plaing aggressive (and winning!) cricket ... the good old Aussie way. I was at the Gabba for all 4 days play and haven't felt that sort of atmosphere from the crowd esp. days 3 &4 for as log as I can remember (35+ yrs of live cricket). Hope the Perth crowd does the same!!

  • on December 10, 2013, 3:23 GMT

    Against writer's wish, it is Australia who eventually found that the team who defeated them 3-0 the other day is clearly flawed. They located those flaws which were plentiful(inability to play real fast bowling, absence of a real threatening fast bowler,set of batsmen who clearly lacks charisma and flamboyance and finally a captain who cannot innovate at all) and exposed them brilliantly. And thousands of Aussie fans are flocking to Stadiums to see their team first hand and they are getting rewarded handsomely by their courageous, adventurous and determined to win team which is making all the possible efforts.

  • ShutTheGate on December 10, 2013, 3:30 GMT

    The Australian team was flawed when they had a coach that wasn't good for them and they weren't getting along as well as they could. That's passed, we're no longer flawed but inspired.

    If England loose the WACA test (which I think they will) then I wouldn't be surprised if they bounce back and play more like themselves in Melbourne and Sydney. I think they are under too much pressure to perform and they'll play much different in a dead rubber.

    It's also worth noting that the Aussie team has 5 players who are now in the side who weren't in the team at Trent Bridge.

  • RodStark on December 10, 2013, 3:36 GMT

    I don't know if Mark really gets to the heart of it. Several people have pointed out that in fact the Australian side is older than England. The difference is in experience. England's four primary bowlers in the second test have played a collective 261 tests. This must be almost unprecedented. A player like Harris has played less than 20, and although he's older than any of England's bowlers except Swann, he still has a lot more to prove. It seems like many England players have been in the team so long and have had (by England's standards) so much success that they just don't have that motivation anymore. I'm not saying we should replace them all with a bunch of inexperienced youngsters, but I don't think England are getting the value from experience they should be. I don't know what the answer is. Maybe losing these first two games so badly will put a spark back into them. I hope so.

  • Insult_2_Injury on December 10, 2013, 3:45 GMT

    Pietersen has swatted at the bowling for 101 Tests, it's a bit late now to ask for team oriented innings rather than the cameo he produced in Inn 2. Cook has captained the same his whole career, a change now will be from desperation. The rest is a combination of a bowling attack pressing a home ground advantage ( Just as Eng did) and Australia returning to the mental assault that Arthur & Sutherland tried to drive out. That approach is working. England have always shown an inability to cope with an unpredictable opponent and so it is being displayed here. Imagine if Arthur had been gone earlier; maybe Johnson & Warner may have been employed more in England and this discussion would have been held months ago. Hopefully the Aussies don't fall for the short pitched trick in Perth. Use the wicket by all means, but continued short pitched stuff is the type of predictability England need to regroup. Congratulations Cook & Clarke on your pending 100th Tests.

  • El_Awrens on December 10, 2013, 3:57 GMT

    Those who propose England fight fire with fire are falling into precisely the trap Clarke and Lehman have set for them. England cannot match Australia for pace bowling, nor can they (with the possible exception of KP, on his day) match Warner etc for explosive batting. As for sledging, no matter the venom or the wit, when you've just lost 2 Tests by 600 runs you're kinda snookered.

    England need to remember the foundations of our (relatively modest) success over the last 3-4 years. Bowl tight, build pressure, take the chances when they come and above all, don't give wickets away cheaply. All of the top 6 should set out with the aim of batting for a day or more.

    Bring in Bresnan for Panesar and Ballance for Stokes at 6. Don't bother with Finn, Tremlett or Rankin - and heed the advice of WACA legend Justin Langer about pitching it up and not getting carried away with the extra bounce.

  • CustomKid on December 10, 2013, 4:07 GMT

    @robert1612 I was at Adelaide the first 4 days and it was exactly the same. The eruption on day two when Mitch castled Cook at 150km+ was unbelievable. I think that noise frightened Cook more than the pace. After his first 3 deliveries at 150+ the crowd knew something was about to happen. Then day three mitch's destruction post lunch I will never forget it.

    My first full five days of test cricket live was the test we lost by one run to the windies in 1992, still the best game I've seen but for pure blood curling emotion from the crowd this test was it. PS 2006 I did not attend due to work commitments overseas but that may have rivalled this test in some way. The difference being the crowd was empty on that last day until we started the run chase. This test we had 34k watching the carnage.

  • C.Gull on December 10, 2013, 4:12 GMT

    I almost felt sorry for Cook for a moment, but then I remembered the gloating when Ricky went through something similar, so I swiftly squashed that feeling.

    If it's a matter of will, then either the English don't care enough about the Ashes - obviously not the case - or if the schedule really has resulted in exhaustion then England need to start separating their short and long form teams more intelligently.

    In reality, which many English commentators and fans seem determined to ignore, they haven't given it away: they've had it taken from them by an Australian team which is performing superbly.