The Ashes 2013-14 January 5, 2014

England's road to hell

At the end, as their coach vowed to get more intense and controlling, England's players drifted round the SCG like broken machines
77

Andy Flower stood in the SCG giving a sermon. He was surrounded by the entire England set-up. A proper crowd. Most of them big men, some seemingly twice his size. They stood around and virtually on top of this one small, intense man as he preached the good word. Unlike the sort of speeches coaches make in films, this didn't look like it was uplifting, or would even teach the players a moral lesson. This was a professional coach laying down his law with a solid monologue.

Alastair Cook stood beside him, but just far enough away for it not to be a message he was directly involved in. The older players had steely looks on their face; it was hard to tell if they were genuinely listening, or just a bit over it all. The younger players looked on earnestly. As if they were afraid not to be showing enough attention. Afraid they would be judged.

The words kept coming from Flower. They were delivered at what seemed the same pace. Never exploding into yell or rant, never worrying too much about cadence or drama. Just a steady flow of information from the coach who guided England to No. 1. His hands often moving, sometimes instructional, sometimes to really emphasise one of his many prepared remarks.

The key to great oratory is to keep people listening. You either need to be brilliant, or brief. After a quite a few minutes you could see the fidgeting. The lecture had gone on too long. The England players almost all had their hands behind their backs. Fiddling with balls, or shirts, or just their fingers.

Flower's line-in-the-sand address had turned into a soliloquy that seemed to have no end.

---

Before the Gabba, Alastair Cook hurt his back, Matt Prior suffered a calf injury, Kevin Pietersen had a knee injection and it rained. England's idyllic warm up was drowned and sore even before they got to Brisbane.

Once in Brisbane they faced what they hadn't faced as a modern England team, a howling Australian press. Pietersen was involved in a never-ending battle with a city that had one newspaper and endless insults. Stuart Broad became a villain, despite doing what Australian cricketers have done since they had legs. And the crowd were angry and loud.

On the field, they picked Chris Tremlett based on unimpressive county returns and what happened three years earlier. But they were about to find out that almost nothing was like three years ago. Tremlett bowled smart, with admirable control, but slower than an elderly couple deciding on a rental car. It was like watching a really boring press conference where a scientist explains that an animal is actually no longer venomous.

What made Tremlett even slower was that Mitchell Johnson was quicker. Way quicker. And more confident. And fitter. And scarier. He'd changed from a plush toy shark into a great white. Jonathan Trott jumped around his crease trying to show how it wasn't bothering him. He did everything he could to get in behind the ball, and at times almost ended up at point. Johnson only took four wickets, but it felt like ten, or twenty, or maybe even a hundred.

Australia's second innings mocked their bowlers; England's second innings was cadaverous. They lost by 381 runs. It could have been infinity.

Trott left the tour on what should have been day five of the Test. At the SCG, England tried their third No. 3 of the series.

---

The senior England players moped around the SCG. It has been a long, depressing tour and their body language showed every part of it. The new players were anxious and unsure. No one seemed to be smiling. The few conversations seem hushed.

As they stretched and warmed up, they looked like video game characters who hadn't been engaged by the game play. Trying to look natural, but no one seemed to be looking at anyone. Everyone was facing a different direction and all looked out of tune with each other.

It was much different to how they looked in the previous Ashes, only a few months ago. The professional machine looked broken, it was still going through the motions, but nothing was right.

England had shown a lot of arrogance - and earned the right to - while getting to the top of world cricket. On the days before Tests they would walk around like they owned the ground, and everything in it. They were players who'd had many ups and downs personally but, as a team, they had done well enough to have what the uncool pop stars call 'swag'. As they were largely made up of players who grew up during the West Indies and Australia years, they knew how the walk went. You had to show people you were the business.

The only arrogant walk any England players have now is on YouTube, when Michael Carberry imitates Viv Richards. Carberry certainly didn't walk off that way after he played a shocker to the second ball after tea to start the final collapse.

---

Alice Springs should have been a time to regroup, to tick the unticked boxes, to re-strategise, improve the KPIs and focus a results-based plan that could win England the series. Instead their batsmen did little and their backup bowlers bowled lifeless short-pitched spells and were cracked around by a random group of fringe state players with first-class batting averages in their 20s. Tim Bresnan did well, as he wasn't there, but bowling in an emerging players team with virtually no one watching.

England didn't rush in with Bresnan, but instead chose Monty Panesar on the largely untested Adelaide Oval Test pitch. Being that England rarely gamble with two spinners outside the subcontinent, this was the second time they had done it in three Tests - after the failed Simon Kerrigan experiment at home. Monty was marginally quicker than Tremlett but he wasn't as accurate. It was a gamble that didn't pay off.

In Adelaide, England chose to pay homage to Panesar in the field. They dropped, or didn't even go for, all chance of beating Australia. And they did it on a peach of a batting wicket

England also chose Panesar's return to pay homage to him in the field. They dropped, or didn't even go for, all chance of beating Australia. And they did it on a peach of a batting wicket. Mitchell Johnson could be blamed for their batting. Brad Haddin could be blamed for their bowling. Surely they had run out of excuses when it came to fielding. They were just rubbish. Prior's wicketkeeping was now as bad as his batting. They were defeated and, after being smeared around the field by Haddin, Michael Clarke, and Ryan Harris (who made a king pair the last time in Adelaide) they had to go out and face Johnson.

The pitch might not have been evil, but Johnson was. If they were mortally wounded in Brisbane, England were buried in Adelaide. The most assured they looked against Johnson was when Ian Bell was playing against him, or when Broad was waiting for a shiny knob on the sightscreen to be fixed. At no other time did they look like they could handle him. They were called cowards and worse. It was bomb-a-Pom time, on and off the field.

They responded by hooking. Cook, the man who didn't sweat once in the Adelaide heat three years earlier, now tried to show how not afraid he was by hooking. It is the most macho shot you can play, and England played it often, and went out to it almost as often. It was far worse than going out on a flat pitch, because this was the first sign that not only were England no good, they had decided their whole game plan was no good.

By the SCG, they seemed to have no actual game plan but still felt the need to execute it, or themselves, as quickly as possible.

---

During slips practice, an enterprising assistant coach didn't throw the ball at the bat for an edge, but threw it miles back over the slips' head to replicate a skied pull shot. It was Cook who raced back to get it. It started well, he ran hard, and clearly wanted to take it, but then it swirled on him, he suddenly didn't seem to care as much and then he barely tried to take the catch as the ball hit the ground. Instead of being annoyed at himself, he looked back at the coach and held his arms out.

That moment ended the slips drill and Cook wandered off to take a look at the pitch. He stood at the Randwick End and played a few shadow strokes and leaves to balls around off stump.

He didn't get much alone time, soon Prior was with him and Prior clearly wanted to talk. It seemed like they were talking about wicketkeeping technique, perhaps Jonny Bairstow's. Prior was very animated, Cook looked bored and occasionally nodded.

Cook continued to play shadow shots as the roller came at him and Prior talked - at one stage the groundsman operating the roller had to stop, Cook had barely seen it coming. It was perhaps the nicest treatment he received in Australia. And all it did was delay the inevitable.

Two days later standing in the exact same spot at the Randwick End, Cook absent-mindedly left a ball and was rolled.

---

England were supposed to do two things in Perth, unleash their battalion of tall bowlers, and lose. They got part of that right. Their six-plus metres of height were not unpacked. Tremlett was already seen as too slow. Boyd Rankin as too raw. And Steven Finn as comically out of form. They instead went back to their Clydesdale draught horse Bresnan. Shorter, and without much match fitness, but reliable and safe. The perfect England selection. Unfortunately, whether they gambled or played it safe, nothing worked. Bresnan was not the secret ingredient to happiness.

England were backing the players who had got them to No. 1, even with the overwhelming evidence that they weren't the same.

After Haddin saved Australia for the third time, England now had to conquer the world's most dangerous bowler on the world's deadliest pitch. England put on an 85-run opening stand, Johnson only took two wickets, but somehow England still ended well short of Australia's total. And Broad had his foot all but taken off by Johnson.

Australia's second innings was perhaps the worst of it for England. Broad was getting examined in a hospital. Bresnan tried. Stokes tried. Graeme Swann tried. James Anderson was tired. The Australia top order batsmen essentially played the role of the guys who only come in and fight when the other bloke is near unconscious on the ground. Warner was mean. Watson repeatedly kicked Swann. Bailey went world record on Anderson.

Despite there being 26,000 Test runs between Cook, Prior, Bell and Pietersen, it was Ben Stokes, playing in his second Test, who made the hundred. In Sydney, Stokes left a ball that pitched on the stumps, and hit the stumps.

---

After his chat with Cook, Prior took Bairstow aside for some coaching. It was on the rubber mat that replicates keeping from a spinner. Bairstow took to it like a duck taking to architecture. Balls hit his hands and rebounded in random directions. Some went through his legs; even the ones he took often hit only one glove.

Prior's demise was slow. It was clear that he needed a break but it felt like England had no back up. Where was the future proofing?

Every time he didn't take one cleanly he smashed the rubber training stump in anger with his gloves. Prior remained kneeling, calmly feeding balls when Bairstow wasn't chasing ones he missed, or taking a short anger management walk. Eventually, after one too many misses, Bairstow just booted the training stump about 20 metres away. Bairstow then moved on to the ball machine, which fired fast deliveries at him. He dropped one of those as well.

All that was still better than this three ball duck to a defensive prod.

---

Graeme Swann took the pressure off his team-mates by putting it all on himself. It was the worst-timed retirement in history, or the best-timed depending on how you saw it. Selfish or selfless. Maybe it was both. But his bowling certainly wasn't helping England. His batting hadn't helped much either. Only his fielding would be missed in his current form.

Trott had run scared they said. Swann had retired bruised they said. England were selfish loser cowards they said. With the series over, they said a lot.

Now, even the English practice sessions became unruly and tired. Instead of the professionalism and precision of before, it was like a bunch of blokes who'd been blackmailed into training in the nets.

England had finally decided to end Prior's bad run. A big call considering his position as vice-captain, the right call considering how his game had fallen apart piece by piece over the last 10 or so Tests. But their back-up was the batsman they didn't think was good enough during the last Ashes. A batsman who keeps a bit. Really more of an athlete who can fill in. The sort of guy you give the gloves to if your main guy gets injured on the day. Bairstow is the sort of wicketkeeper who can race after a leg bye with amazing speed and throw with a good arm. But he's not a keeper keeper, or even a keeper batsman, he's a batsman with keeping gloves on.

Prior's demise was slow. It was clear that, despite his previous few years' good form, he needed to have a break - but it felt like England had no back up. Where was the future proofing?

Clarke gave England their first real break of the series when he decided to bowl first in Melbourne. England took it, stumbled, but as their openers batted in the second innings, they were 100 runs in front and had 10 wicket still to lose. The dead rubber was their oyster. Somehow they managed to collapse twice in the one innings, end with a moderate lead and a nasty, new-ball evening session to play with.

They took no wickets that night. Missed two easy chances the next morning (one from their new keeper not moving, the other from their captain's broken mind). And Australia cruised to a total that should never have been that easy only two wickets down.

Had it been in the first Test, it would have been one of the best comebacks in years. Instead it was in the fourth Test, and incredibly inevitable. Although, not as inevitable as what happened in Sydney.

---

England don't take chances with selections. Darren Pattinson's selection in 2008 seemed to scare them all straight. Second spinners aren't thrown in on a whim. Raw quicks aren't tested for fun. Young batsmen are groomed slowly. There are plans, plans and plans about plans.

And yet, the XI at the SCG had only five centrally contracted players in it. Of the 11 who do have contracts, three had been dropped, one had retired, one had gone home and one never played. The current team instead had a bloke who was playing club cricket in Sydney a few weeks back. On this tour 20 players have been in the squad, 18 have played. James Tredwell was added for this Test and didn't play. Finn (centrally contracted) has been on the entire hell tour and hasn't played.

Finn is 24. Finn is six foot seven. Finn has 90 Test wickets. Finn has a strike rate of 48. Finn bowls at 90mph. And Finn has not played in one Test as his team stumbled from disaster to shambolic, tripped-over farce and then fell face first into a steaming pile of 5-0.

Instead Boyd Rankin played and might end up being remembered most often at pub cricket trivia nights as the last wicket of the 2013-14 series.

---

The dictaphones were all on the desk. Andy Flower sat behind it. He was talking to a journalist and said "If anything I have relaxed a little in certain ways…" While he said it, he rearranged the Dictaphones in front of him. "If anything, I could bring more intensity and a closer control on certain things."

Less than three days later the Test was over. It had lasted marginally longer than his soliloquy.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hifni on January 6, 2014, 4:14 GMT

    I was hugely disappointed in England who showed no signs of recovery nor dominance at all. A lackluster performance indeed. A score less than 200 will always lands you in hell. For Australia, thrashing 5-0 of England without the likes of greats Mcgrath, Warne, Ponting was great indeed. Mitch Johnson was exceptional and was above anyone. That fiery intent was great! Thats what made Ashes an interesting one and it would have been more interesting had England played some good cricket. Good Luck to both teams for their future endeavors.

  • on January 7, 2014, 23:25 GMT

    Brilliant article this; one of the best I've read on this series. If I wasn't so depressed by the state of England this piece would have made me smile too...

  • StaalBurgher on January 7, 2014, 14:54 GMT

    One thing I noticed since the start of the Ashes is the continual reference to England being no.1. They haven't been no.1 since Aug 2012 when SA took it from them in England. They were not no.1 when they beat Oz in England. They were not no.1 when they beat India in India. They were no.1 for less than a year and only that long because two of the three NZ vs SA Tests during March 2012 rained out. That series was heading for 0-3 and would've made SA no.1 then already.

    Given all that, why were they walking around all arrogant like? We saw the same thing with India when they drubbed Oz in India; "legacy this, legacy that". SA have been by far the quietest of the top 4 regarding ranking and future prospects. Even Oz have already penciled in their name as the new no.1. Don't get me wrong, at some point SA will lose their top spot, all teams do, but maybe we should all do without the overt arrogance. It is a tight tussle at the top.

  • on January 7, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding - good cover up of the real stats. Australia has a better win/loss ratio against ALL countries by quite some margin so while series might be close, there is a substantial difference in the number of individual test wins.. In the Ashes, since Bradma's team regained the urn in England in 1934, England have only held the Ashes for a total of 23.5 years out of a total of 80 years so it's not just the 90s....

  • subroc on January 7, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    That's really interesting about Bairstow. I wonder how much Cook's treatment of the spin bowlers had to do with how little faith he had in the keeper to take those deliveries.

  • luvindia on January 7, 2014, 1:19 GMT

    Biggest surprise for me was 5th Test. Till 4th test England was improving their performance. There was big dip in 5th test performance.

  • njr1330 on January 7, 2014, 0:58 GMT

    Things won't get any better for England, for this reason: In my local league, each club has to field 3 (adult) teams each weekend, and some field 4 or even 5. Until 2 or 3 years ago, the occasional 4th team game would be cancelled, as clubs struggled to find 44 players on the same day. This season, one 1st team game was cancelled; half a dozen 2nd team games, and endless 3rd team matches. One club was fined because they used the same 11 players for a 1st team game on a Saturday, and a 3rd team game on a Sunday. My club now has more rugby and hockey players than cricket. Unless we address this problem, we are finished, absolutely finished!! {and not much cricket is being played in schools).

  • mike_b on January 6, 2014, 23:33 GMT

    A great article with some funny one liners. @yorkshirepudding-those points you raise about the closeness of the series overall are fully justified.It's what makes the Ashes continually interesting & worth fighting for. However,there is an issue that you have happily glossed over. I would suggest that when England lose they can have a tendency to do it in a grand manner.They have been whitewashed 5-0 three times now (twice in seven years) & this hasn't happened to Aust once (as yet!). Also, Aust has won 22 more tests overall than England which is a significant number. In Aust we like to think that it comes down to a subtle difference in attitude.We play to win from the start & only consider a draw once a win isn't possible.We perceive Eng as playing not to lose, & going for a win once they know they are in a position where they can't lose. "Attritional cricket" seems to be the modern term for it. Of course, you view it differently but that won't alter how we will continue to see it.

  • JFAB on January 6, 2014, 22:58 GMT

    Hi Jarrod, apart from all the interesting content I just wanted to tell you that I find this to be a really nice piece of writing - a really engaging style and a different but flowing structure. Thanks

  • trigga315 on January 6, 2014, 22:43 GMT

    @ Michael Whyte, totally over-reacting to the state of affairs and not taking into any context who is there to replace the 11 players that you wish to remove from the squad. If England were to get rid of everyone bar Carberry, Stokes and Broad there wouldn't be 11 players in England that could do a better job. (you would probably drop them in a year to). Anderson will go back to England and continue to get wickets and Cook and Root will be in the England side for the next 6+ and 13+ years respectively.There is also not an English keeper better than Prior and Trott will be back in a few months. Also Carberry can't hold his head high as he made one 50 in the series and averaged less than 30. As well as that all to important catch he dropped.

  • Hifni on January 6, 2014, 4:14 GMT

    I was hugely disappointed in England who showed no signs of recovery nor dominance at all. A lackluster performance indeed. A score less than 200 will always lands you in hell. For Australia, thrashing 5-0 of England without the likes of greats Mcgrath, Warne, Ponting was great indeed. Mitch Johnson was exceptional and was above anyone. That fiery intent was great! Thats what made Ashes an interesting one and it would have been more interesting had England played some good cricket. Good Luck to both teams for their future endeavors.

  • on January 7, 2014, 23:25 GMT

    Brilliant article this; one of the best I've read on this series. If I wasn't so depressed by the state of England this piece would have made me smile too...

  • StaalBurgher on January 7, 2014, 14:54 GMT

    One thing I noticed since the start of the Ashes is the continual reference to England being no.1. They haven't been no.1 since Aug 2012 when SA took it from them in England. They were not no.1 when they beat Oz in England. They were not no.1 when they beat India in India. They were no.1 for less than a year and only that long because two of the three NZ vs SA Tests during March 2012 rained out. That series was heading for 0-3 and would've made SA no.1 then already.

    Given all that, why were they walking around all arrogant like? We saw the same thing with India when they drubbed Oz in India; "legacy this, legacy that". SA have been by far the quietest of the top 4 regarding ranking and future prospects. Even Oz have already penciled in their name as the new no.1. Don't get me wrong, at some point SA will lose their top spot, all teams do, but maybe we should all do without the overt arrogance. It is a tight tussle at the top.

  • on January 7, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding - good cover up of the real stats. Australia has a better win/loss ratio against ALL countries by quite some margin so while series might be close, there is a substantial difference in the number of individual test wins.. In the Ashes, since Bradma's team regained the urn in England in 1934, England have only held the Ashes for a total of 23.5 years out of a total of 80 years so it's not just the 90s....

  • subroc on January 7, 2014, 5:56 GMT

    That's really interesting about Bairstow. I wonder how much Cook's treatment of the spin bowlers had to do with how little faith he had in the keeper to take those deliveries.

  • luvindia on January 7, 2014, 1:19 GMT

    Biggest surprise for me was 5th Test. Till 4th test England was improving their performance. There was big dip in 5th test performance.

  • njr1330 on January 7, 2014, 0:58 GMT

    Things won't get any better for England, for this reason: In my local league, each club has to field 3 (adult) teams each weekend, and some field 4 or even 5. Until 2 or 3 years ago, the occasional 4th team game would be cancelled, as clubs struggled to find 44 players on the same day. This season, one 1st team game was cancelled; half a dozen 2nd team games, and endless 3rd team matches. One club was fined because they used the same 11 players for a 1st team game on a Saturday, and a 3rd team game on a Sunday. My club now has more rugby and hockey players than cricket. Unless we address this problem, we are finished, absolutely finished!! {and not much cricket is being played in schools).

  • mike_b on January 6, 2014, 23:33 GMT

    A great article with some funny one liners. @yorkshirepudding-those points you raise about the closeness of the series overall are fully justified.It's what makes the Ashes continually interesting & worth fighting for. However,there is an issue that you have happily glossed over. I would suggest that when England lose they can have a tendency to do it in a grand manner.They have been whitewashed 5-0 three times now (twice in seven years) & this hasn't happened to Aust once (as yet!). Also, Aust has won 22 more tests overall than England which is a significant number. In Aust we like to think that it comes down to a subtle difference in attitude.We play to win from the start & only consider a draw once a win isn't possible.We perceive Eng as playing not to lose, & going for a win once they know they are in a position where they can't lose. "Attritional cricket" seems to be the modern term for it. Of course, you view it differently but that won't alter how we will continue to see it.

  • JFAB on January 6, 2014, 22:58 GMT

    Hi Jarrod, apart from all the interesting content I just wanted to tell you that I find this to be a really nice piece of writing - a really engaging style and a different but flowing structure. Thanks

  • trigga315 on January 6, 2014, 22:43 GMT

    @ Michael Whyte, totally over-reacting to the state of affairs and not taking into any context who is there to replace the 11 players that you wish to remove from the squad. If England were to get rid of everyone bar Carberry, Stokes and Broad there wouldn't be 11 players in England that could do a better job. (you would probably drop them in a year to). Anderson will go back to England and continue to get wickets and Cook and Root will be in the England side for the next 6+ and 13+ years respectively.There is also not an English keeper better than Prior and Trott will be back in a few months. Also Carberry can't hold his head high as he made one 50 in the series and averaged less than 30. As well as that all to important catch he dropped.

  • analyseabhishek on January 6, 2014, 16:46 GMT

    The major trick missed was not playing Ian Bell at No 3. As Ian Chappell also suggested, Bell was the most assured of all English batsmen and a century from him at the top of the order early in the series might just have made this Ashes a bit more competitive. Later on, even he fell away. Not playing Steven Finn is also inexplicable. When in rhythm, he is one of the better bowlers in the world, pitching the ball up, moving it both ways while bowling around 90mph. Whatever happened to Nick Compton, BTW?

  • YorkshirePudding on January 6, 2014, 15:07 GMT

    I'm not sure why people are so frustrated. In the grand scheme of things the Ashes series wins is only just in favour of Australia, out of 68 series, Australia have won 32, england 31, and 5 series have been drawn. In the main the Series tend to go with home advantage with Australia winning 18 at home and 14 away and england winnings 17 at home and 14 away. If it hadnt been for the dominance of Australia in the 90's then England it wouldnt be quite so cut and dried.

    We also need to remember that since Flower took over in 2009 england have only lost 4 series in 19, compare that to Aus who have lost 7 series in 19 during the same period.

  • andrew-schulz on January 6, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    Jonesy., those players you mention are the only ones to lose 5-0 twice in an ashes series. There are plenty of others: India lost 5-0 in England in 1959 and in the West Indies in 1961/62. But England are certainly the champions of it. Plenty of them played in both the 1984 home loss and the 1985/86 away loss to the West Indies, both 5-0. Hammond, that is a whitewash.

    I want to repeat my unpublished point that England were never number one, and this and many other writers are completely incorrect to take this ratings system seriously. It is a pimple on the game that England and India have both been 'officially'rated number one in the last five years, and that India are rated number 2 now. Check the results and you will share my view that this is an absolute joke. Are cricket writers instructed to not criticize this system, because if not, Kimber, your comments on Saturday about lazy journalists are coming back to bite you.

  • OneEyedAussie on January 6, 2014, 11:13 GMT

    @ disco_bob on (January 6, 2014, 10:52 GMT) : thanks for your very insightful and ever so valuable comment! Maybe I am getting forgetful, but I am sure that Tremlett and Rankin played one test each.

  • disco_bob on January 6, 2014, 10:52 GMT

    @ OneEyedAussie re your third reason, you cannot say that England failed to 'execute' their 'bean pole' plan because they did not even implement it. I suppose that the reason they did not implement it is because they knew that they would be unable to execute.

  • on January 6, 2014, 10:35 GMT

    Monty was marginally quicker than Tremlett - Jarrod comes up with another belter of a one liner.

    Australia were supremely intent on winning back the Ashes, England's intent seemed to be on ending the Tour as soon as possible.

  • AidanFX on January 6, 2014, 10:26 GMT

    Hmm - Broad mostly bowled beautifully but apart from say his last innings just hitting out for fun he was terrible. Any chance the crowd played just a small role in his uncertainty?

    Australians need to always remember a certain Andrew Symmonds who refused to walk. But gee the English fans started this trash stuff with having the audacity to boo an Australian captian (on his last tour, which they knew was likely) and then the Johnson ripping.

  • Vishnu27 on January 6, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    Hi Chris: fair play mate. I was at the WACA for a few days & I think it had definitely toned down by then. Either that, or it was too hot...

  • ygkd on January 6, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    "Prior's demise was slow. It was clear that he needed a break but it felt like England had no back up. Where was the future proofing?" I think the future of English keeping began with Alec Stewart. Now Stewart was not the worst gloveman you could have seen, although he was nowhere as good with the gloves as he was as an opening bat, but the style that has since developed in modern times is not the gold-standard style of Knott, Taylor and Russell. It is a style which is easily recognised. Bairstow, Prior and Kieswetter have it. Most English keepers do - some bring it to grade cricket Down Under and some have even coached it here. At its best it is serviceable. At its worst it is rooted to a spot, in a half-crouch, unable to go down easily or to go sideways without diving. Future proofing England's keeping should perhaps involve going back to the future and having a look at how things used to be before the half-crouch became a full-on obsession.

  • Chris_P on January 6, 2014, 8:20 GMT

    @Vishnu27. I was at the Gabba the first 3 days & let me tell you, the crowd was brutal, I mean really brutal. I now have an idea why we lose State of Origin matches up there. The other grounds are not in the same league collectively.

  • AltafPatel on January 6, 2014, 6:56 GMT

    it's too early to judge so. Remember the way they came back after 0-5 defeat in 2006, 51 all-out against WI and 0-3 defeat against Pak in UAE.

  • Vishnu27 on January 6, 2014, 6:36 GMT

    RodStark: what about a big whatever? Just for the sake of it...

  • Vishnu27 on January 6, 2014, 6:35 GMT

    Turn it up, browners76!!! This was a flogging unlike any other flogging I have ever seen in my 30+ years of following cricket. England, like you, completely underestimated Australia. Look at the result. Keep it up, browners76: there's plenty more pain in store for you yet. Clearly. Denial & a superiority complex isn't going to cut it.

  • jonesy2 on January 6, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    I would like to sincerely congratulate alastair cook, ian bell, monty panesar, james anderson and kevin peitersen on being the only players in the history of the game to be thumped 5-0 on more than one occasion.

  • shanks1967 on January 6, 2014, 5:45 GMT

    Andy Flower was not a great batsman to watch. His was a slow plodder of runs. Simply put he was just boring to watch. So how boring he must be as a coach. Cricket is to be played and one should enjoy playing it. Having watched a good part of the series, the English team body language said it all. Tired, bored, not willing to move. They just did not enjoy it anymore. So there was not even a semblance of a fight. They just caved in.

    I honestly think Flower and company should go if England have to rebuild.

  • Rahul_78 on January 6, 2014, 5:44 GMT

    If this was a boxing match..not only the boxer but his coach and entire support staff would be hospitalized for the treatment of shock, trauma and mantle healing. This was a destruction of apocalyptic proportion. Found it very baffling that within 24 hours of the beating Cook was saying that he has got support of the ECB and Flower stating that he is not giving up. If anything major chunk of the blame lies with these two. The staggering fact is that England managed to loose all their 100 wickets in the 5 matches while many of the matches did not go into 4th and 5th day. Add to that Trott going home, Swann retiring, Prior and Root dropped and the fiasco's of Rankin and Monty. Well this campaign resembles a car wreck. England definitely need some fresh legs and fresh perspectives in the playing XI and Support staff.

  • on January 6, 2014, 5:09 GMT

    Fantastic read Jarrod. Some great insights to the tour.

  • striker_force on January 6, 2014, 4:49 GMT

    what an honest article. total respect. England have been annihilated by johnson and co. finally, he showed what a brute of a bowler he is!

  • CoverDrive88 on January 6, 2014, 4:49 GMT

    There seems to be a striking similarity between Australia under Arthur and England under Flower. The only difference is that Flower had a decent team to start with and Arthur did not. In my opinion, England has managed to have 11 good players all playing at or near the top of their game and while things have gone well, Flower's style has been ok. However the continuous pressure has strained things and as soon as cracks have appeared, there seems to be no plan B. Cook seems unable to make a decision, at least in part because Flower and the coaching team give him a list of instructions for the next two hours. When Anderson or Broad or Swann have gotten a wicket or two in each session (which they have done regularly for a couple of years) all is good. When they don't, it becomes a disaster very quickly. The captain should have control, the coach should support and facilitate. Flower (and Arthur) seem to think they are the stars and the players are ventriloquist dolls.

  • on January 6, 2014, 4:19 GMT

    I for one do not believe what the writer says, that England sank to the bottom just because of few issues like knee problem of Kevin or a few other minor injuries or for that matter Trott leaving is not the real and main cause. It has all to do with the mindset of English Players. The reason, lack of understanding of each and every player by the coach. The mind set down slide started in England with press give too much exposure to minor things in England Dressing Room, personalizing too much each and every event trying to pick a culprit. While this was happening Lehman was hardening his squad for the oncoming series. What England now need is not a cricket coach, but one who can coach on the mind, talk to them tell them how mind works and make believe in themselves. Clearly the present coaches have failed miserably to make players believe in them selves as shown by Flower match end

  • sidh78 on January 6, 2014, 4:11 GMT

    every one always pointed out ins's 4-0 loss in aus & eng.that time india was very tired(after wc&ipl) & had very aging team.so they lost in alien conditions.ind also whitewashed aus 4-0.but now look at eng, whitewashed 5-0 in almost similar conditions of there own& not alien for engl.butu heared any time that ind whitewashed in subcontinante which has similar condn. like india but india always dominated in sc and played very well beside thay two eng - aus tour

  • on January 6, 2014, 3:46 GMT

    England have been showing signs of this sort of thrashing for over 2 years now. Look back to the embarrassing defeat they suffered at the hands of Pakistan in Jan/Feb 2012. Lost a 3 test series 3-0 and had team scores of 192, 160, 327, 72, 141 and 252, and this was when they were ranked the number 1 team in the world. Their main problem is they have too many prima donnas. Drop Cook, Bell, Peiterson, Anderson, Prior and Trott for lack of commitment, and then drop Root, Bairstow, Ballance, Borthwick and Rankin for a lack of talent and then rebuild the team around the only 3 players who can go home with any pride left - Carberry, Stokes and Broad. I am sure with these 3 players and a world wide recruitment drive they can find 11 players to call themselves poms and give them a reasonable team for the future.

  • crktcrzy on January 6, 2014, 3:46 GMT

    Brilliant post-mortem. Spot-on

  • screamingeagle on January 6, 2014, 3:39 GMT

    Point that comes across is..they are doing thinks like on a job, a routine 9 to 5. Gets to you after a while. That is what the dressing room is for, having people who puts the fun back in things you do as a team. England is like a machine and now it shows. Keep Flower and Cook in place, hope they keep the team same way during the India series :)

  • on January 6, 2014, 3:38 GMT

    The key to great story writing is to keep people reading. You either need to be brilliant, or brief. The story has gone on too long.

  • jackiethepen on January 6, 2014, 3:25 GMT

    The description of the soliloquy has captured Flower perfectly. He did the same thing at Dubai, it had the same negative effect. The relationship between Flower and Cook exemplifies the problem at its worst. Cook is the minion of Flower not the captain of the side. If Flower stays he will surely throttle the side to death, if it isn't in its death throes already. As for Cook he has paid the price of being Flower's favourite.

  • on January 6, 2014, 3:25 GMT

    I think the biggest indictment is that not even KP is playing his natural game. I've never seen him caught between two minds like this before and yet here he is, one of the most senior players, probably with more self belief than half the team put together and he looks like he has folded into the whole Flower mantra instead of playing with the freedom he should to go out and win matches. I reckon cricket for some blokes is more about confidence and self belief yet it seems under Flower's regime that everyone has been boxed into playing out the one percenters.

  • Clyde on January 6, 2014, 2:26 GMT

    The poms were so brainwashed that they did not say to themselves, individually, the ship is going down anyway and it is every man for himself and I am going to score a ton. They were lemmings.

  • on January 6, 2014, 2:11 GMT

    whats this annoying in cricinfo to have video in almost every article on ashes?

  • on January 6, 2014, 2:08 GMT

    This was something which was inevitable right from the begining of the series. There was one team who had been brainwashed in believing that they were true # 1's and the other team with all the hunger to proove that they will soon again be the number 1's.

  • NAP73 on January 6, 2014, 1:42 GMT

    It's a pity Stokes cannot play for NZ. It would make their side much stronger in the Test arena. P.S. I am amazed that their has not been more active work in trying to lure prospect players from other jurisdictions, although this would just hasten the gap between the top 4-5 and the rest.

  • mjcoxx on January 6, 2014, 1:37 GMT

    Brilliant article Jarrod. Sums up England's tour perfectly. Very funny too

  • kepler22b on January 6, 2014, 1:31 GMT

    browners76

    That would be Peter Siddle with 183 test wickets at 28.6, a test hat-trick, 6/54 as his best, 11 dismissals of Prior and 10 of Pietersen. He is very good at getting top order batsmen out and rarely gets the 'cheap' tailenders. Underestimate him at your peril.

  • OneEyedAussie on January 6, 2014, 1:16 GMT

    Here is why they lost (in no particular order):

    1) Alistair Cook is a terrible captain. People say that a captain is only as good as his players - well, you can have the best ship in the world but if you've got someone incompetent steering it will be useless. 2) The English players clearly had fitness issues with the heat. 3) While there was a contingency plan in place if the ball did not swing (i.e. the beanpoles) England failed to execute. 4) They selected players who weren't all in (Swann and Trott). 5) England did not prepare to play fast bowling. They did not attack Lyon or bat long to tire the fast bowlers. 6) England did not fix technical issues with their batsmen from the prev. series (i.e. KP and Cook) and allowed Australia to exploit them again. 7) England overestimated their own skill and underestimated the skill of the Australian players. 8) England picked an out-of-form wicket keeper and an inadequate back-up. 9) Nobody likes working for a control freak i.e. Flower.

  • Vishnu27 on January 6, 2014, 1:01 GMT

    I really don't think the crowds or the media were as hostile as the article makes out. Definitely not in the same league as some of the stuff I've experienced at English Ashes series, or the crowds in India. It was more pantomime stuff towards Broad (who, it must be said, dealt with things extremely well).

    From an Australian perspective, Flower & Cook must go. Cook back to doing what he does best & simply batting. He is a hopeless tactician & Clarke highlighted how deficient he is tactically in this series. Clarke was all over England with his field placements & bowling changes. Cook was reactive & completely defensive throughout the series. Time for a change, regardless of the noise Cook & Flower are putting out. If I was an England supporter, I would want nothing less. That was thoroughly embarrassing

  • Robster1 on January 6, 2014, 0:12 GMT

    Flower and Cook should be sacked forthwith. For the past year England have become a dour, turgid, uninspired outfit who are desperately in need of new leadership. Cook should retain his place, but that's it. Cheerio Andy and Alistair. The handling of Finn and Onions has been laughable. Please the ECB for once take some decisive action.

  • Chris_Howard on January 5, 2014, 23:56 GMT

    The cracks were there in England. Several games followed a similar script. But there Australia couldn't quite eke out the wins.

    The writing was on the wall for England. The press said it would be different down under, with Aussie bowlers on their own turf (instead of the dead pommie pitches).

    The press were nervous - even without anyone considering Johnson might play. The press knew Australia had the bowling stocks to really threaten England if their batting didn't improve markedly.

    It didn't. Nor did Australia's mind you. But the Australian bowling did live up to expectations, and with are born Mitch, then some!

    The Poms mighta thought they could handle Harris, Siddle, Starc/Bird/Faulkner etc. But Johnson they had no answer for.

    And their own bowlers? For too many years they've been reliant on Anderson, Broad and Swann. Always a bowler short. Lose any of those three and England would be in trouble.

    Anderson and Swann took 14 and 7 wickets. Game over. Series over.

  • Viva98 on January 5, 2014, 23:52 GMT

    England need not despair. One way to get back on track to winning ways is to invite India for a 3 or 4 test series and whip them 3 to 1 or 4 nothing. England will get back their confidence and will do just fine until they tour overseas again. The Indians have not won an away test in years. I think that's one way for England to go about rebuilding their confidence.

  • MOHDsarfaraz on January 5, 2014, 23:51 GMT

    this is just one series,why r they making it so big, Aus also lost series in India by 4-0,,,they realy come up with bang but when u lose something than u knows your weakness,,, next test of Eng will show bang... jai HIND

  • GermanPlayer on January 5, 2014, 23:46 GMT

    The last year clearly showed what a positive style of play can do. Australia were positive throughout the 10 games. The brand of cricket that England play can be successful 5 out of 10 times. But to adopt it as a strategy in a way that you are just not able to get out of that style of play is damaging. That is what happened. England could not mould their style into a more aggressive one. They had no answer for the aggression that the Aussies threw at them.

  • SkyCutter on January 5, 2014, 23:24 GMT

    It reminds me of the PAK Test whitewash of ENG in UAE a few years back when ENG were No. 1. Who will fill in these big gaps.

  • bren19 on January 5, 2014, 23:06 GMT

    Massive Aussie supporter but feel for England. Don't forget, Anderson and broad are 1 and 2 in the world in terms of wickets this year. Bell, Cook and KP are world class. Young players discovered like Stokes. Finn has 90 test wickets and a great strike rate. Just write it off to a bad series, have a break and come back all guns firing. All this looking for answers and subsequent blood that follows is not going to help English cricket. You have world class players - underperformed this time, yes - but show some faith that they can come back. They took Eng to number 1 - they deserve it.

  • InsideHedge on January 5, 2014, 22:52 GMT

    Rarely have I seen so much written about a Test series between two teams. It should come as no surprise that one of the teams is England whose fans seem to think the cricketing world revolves around them. The performance in this Test series is damning when you consider the arrogant, elitist attitude of these know-alls, their mistaken belief that only the Test format is of importance, the rest "hit and giggle" as they call it.

  • dunger.bob on January 5, 2014, 22:51 GMT

    A long article but it was a long tour. I've never seen such a clinical dismantling of a side, ever. .. complete and utter devastation of the English cricket landscape in my opinion.

    They came here confident of winning. It was supposed to be part holiday, part celebration of English cricketing superiority. They brought the whole cast with them because every cog in the machine was supposed to be important and they wanted them to share in the glory of the record breaking 4th Ashes series win. It was to be the crowning glory of this magnificent Eng. team.

    That's why it probably looks even more abject than it is. A cast of thousands and they still got massacred. Suddenly the team manicurist looked a little, well, over the top. .. All in all it was a beautiful thing to watch unfold. If any team deserves it, it's England.

    @ browners76: Delusional till the very end I see.

  • voyrison on January 5, 2014, 22:29 GMT

    Flower was good of course but now he must go. Fletcher was good too but after a while had to go. Look how the Aussies have benefitted from a new coach when they were at a low point.

  • ClaudiaSL on January 5, 2014, 22:07 GMT

    English team looks in a complete disarray and demoralised. Some of them will be axed and some will retire.

  • polo69 on January 5, 2014, 22:07 GMT

    Losing all their South African players ultimately cost them. Time for more imports lads. Reminds me of when South Africa toured England, one Englishmen said to the other in the stands ... "Their South Africans are better than our South Africans!"

  • Mervo on January 5, 2014, 21:00 GMT

    I think the Flower is the real problem. Not that he is a poor coach, he is an excellent coach. However, he over plans, over complicates and over coaches players to the point where they have restrict their natural instincts and actually limit their performance though trying to follow the coaches' directions. Stokes is an example of a player who is not - yet - under Flower's mantra. He still has his natural game and makes judgements on the field. I watched a frightened group of English players stumble and move between stubborn defence and occasionally attack, all the time anxious, stressed and clearly not enjoying their cricket.

    Darren Lehman is in stark contrast to Flower. He affects a relaxed demeanour (he isn't ..) encourages simplicity and enjoyment. Cricketers are not always the "sharpest tools in the shed" and need to be coached, supported and to enjoy the game as much as possible. Flower has to go first.

  • on January 5, 2014, 20:17 GMT

    This reads like the Lord of the Flies - pretty cool! Who will get the Conch?

  • Rexton87 on January 5, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    England did achieve number one test ranking but they never looked convincing at best and never captured the public imagination and affection like other teams do who have fans outside their own country, On top of this sports journalist went on a oft repeated rant of number ONE team in the world and they always indicated that this was achieved by intense discipline, fitness , 'work ethos' whatever that is and micromanagement down to last detail. Those who were watching from outside were both irritated and annoyed as they knew this false inflation has no real worth and so it proved. England's fortune were built on players who were not even English. From Now on England should only prop up players who are locally bred even at the expense of loosing and not look towards Ireland , Zimbabwe SA and Australian born players to provide support. I know these are harsh words but well intentioned and will lead to improvement in future , please publish.

  • on January 5, 2014, 20:09 GMT

    England Team needs a big purging in all departments.

  • on January 5, 2014, 20:06 GMT

    So maybe Shane Warne was right after all at the beginning of this series. And Mcgrath predicted a whitewash last time in 2010. It seems he was right, but his timing was wrong. LOL

  • on January 5, 2014, 20:05 GMT

    The batsmen had a really bad day at the office; sh1t happens, we just have to accept it. Form is temporary, it will be regained. The next 2 series are at home and english pacemen do very well on home pitches. The questions need to be asked of the people who run the show. why did we taken someone who was known to have a 'brain injury'? the man was ill and should never have travelled on a tour that is known to be stressful. (unless of course they truly believed that this tour was a walkover before it started!) why did we take someone who had decided his career was ending, and who didn't give his team/country the courtesy of waiting for the end of the tour? why did we spend thousands of pounds on hiring a nutritionist to accompany the team. what earthly purpose did that serve. this is cronyism at it worst! the whole setup is built to support the ones that toe the line. nice gravy train. corruption/nepotism at its best! shameful!

  • browners76 on January 5, 2014, 19:16 GMT

    Good article. If Flower continues it will be a huge mistake. He seems to have lost the dressing room and the players just look disinterested and clearly didn't want to be there. How else can you explain losing so heavily to an inferior team. The whole coaching set up including back room staff needs ditching and a new fresh approach needs to be implemented. Bring back the joy of playing, seeing guys like peitersen afraid to play shots was ridiculous. These guys should be going out and dominating the likes of Siddle. The whole selection of this team was deeply flawed, picking a guy with no form (Tremlett) a keeper who can't keep or bat as reserve! What's wrong with Davies? The non selection of the best bowler in county cricket (Onions) and the failure to develop such natural talents as Finn and Eoin Morgan just points to a system that's deeply flawed. Luckily for us we still have talented players who can turn this ship around and hopefully make up for this shambles in 2015.

  • cricketmad on January 5, 2014, 19:00 GMT

    Brilliant Jarrod! I have enjoyed your columns here all through the Ashes. You have only written what a lot of the ex Eng players are probably thinking but not saying out loud for fear of a backlash. I do agree with Swann's parting comments about the game coming back to bite some people down the line. I would like to ask Swann, why the game has come back bite England so dramatically this series? Perhaps its payback for some of the Eng players' behaviour during their good times in the last couple of years. The behaviour of the players, media and ex players was so derogatory to their opponents in the English summer during their 2011 ascent to the No 1 position in tests. I do hope Clarke and his team are a bit more humble during their good times.

  • RodStark on January 5, 2014, 18:54 GMT

    A couple of what ifs just for the sake of it. First, if all of Australia's young quicks had not got injured, Johnson might never have played. Without him England's batsmen might not have been so completely terrorized. Second, the two-leg Ashes series was always going to favour the team playing at home in the second leg. If the first leg had been played in Australia last winter, things might have been very different. Of course, the reverse is also true. If this had been the first leg, and the second leg was due to take place in England this summer, it's hard to imagine just how awful things might have been. Finally, it has been ppinted out that although England were favourites because so many of their team were so experienced and proven, Australia actually had a slightly older team. The point is that players like Rogers, Haddin, Johnson, and Harris had never really been able to fulfill their potential up till now. They had a lot more to prove, and prove it they did.

  • on January 5, 2014, 18:54 GMT

    Flower should take responsibility and resign. It is the lowest point I have ever seen in Cricket. The only exception is when India visited Australia and South Africa.

  • shillingsworth on January 5, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    Knee jerk rubbish. The coach who, according to the pundits, masterminded an Ashes win in Australia 3 years ago now becomes a sermonising micro managing control freak. In 60 years, England have won just 4 proper Ashes series in Australia. The surprise was that they won so convincingly in 2011. The fact that Australia, with their best bowlers all available at last, triumphed this time was not.

  • on January 5, 2014, 17:49 GMT

    Very good article, best of the summer.

  • on January 5, 2014, 17:16 GMT

    Considering Borthwick as test player ahead of Tredwell ; Swanny suggested this. I think England did not learn from what happened to Australia last summer (Playing White, Smith, Maxwell as spinner and loosing it.

  • VenkyN on January 5, 2014, 17:16 GMT

    I think that it is almost mandatory for teams touring Australia to really turn up for the first match which is usually at the Gabba. If tourists lose that, a combination of the relentless Aussie media, the snide comments from their former players, a touring team's own insecurities etc. pretty much seal the deal for them.

  • SurlyCynic on January 5, 2014, 17:05 GMT

    Brilliant article. Really sums up the current state of the Flower reign. England need to do what Aus did and freshen up the whole environment.

    How Bairstow could fill the role of reserve keeper on tour is beyond me. England missed a trick by not recruiting De Kock from SA.

  • on January 5, 2014, 16:23 GMT

    all the planning, preparation, intensity is overdone. Sport has turned into war. Winning and losing have become so important, that humanity has been lost. People are so keen on 'winning' at any cost, they would sell their mothers. No wonder players are going home or retiring - one after the other. It is sad and for neutral viewers, it takes the pleasure out of watching the sport - no sportsperson should be put under such pressure and 'humiliation' by everybody around them. Ex-players are going around saying how England have been humiliated. No, 'England' hasn't been humiliated. No country ever is humiliated by a silly sporting loss.

  • evilcorp on January 5, 2014, 15:55 GMT

    Great article mate, as usual. It was funny watching this last test - despite being an Aussie, I found it uncomfortable viewing. England were so completely dispirited that even I wished someone would just let them get on a plane home. It was like watching Santa kicking puppies - morbidly fascinating perhaps, but ultimately no fun to watch.

  • DC75 on January 5, 2014, 15:33 GMT

    The question is why? You cannot fell a tree in one stroke, this ashes results is the culmination of the things that Eng have done wrong over the past few series, knew that things were going wrong, and which they failed to correct because of few positive results. AF was micro managing from the beginning, they allowed that to continue, Cook is unimaginative, they allowed that to continue as well, there are many reasons that have culminated in to this result, they should go back and look at it;

  • on January 5, 2014, 14:36 GMT

    Just dont understand all the this paranoia.. After all, this is just a game.. Yes, we try to attach significant importance to Test Cricket and so forth, but the truth is Sport, at the end of the day, is a trivial pursuit.. Play like a game and enjoy.. Results are bound to come.

  • d_ban on January 5, 2014, 14:21 GMT

    Sums up prfectly...hs really bn a hell of a tour for england.there wre sme individual prfrmnces in 06-07 to talk abt,almst nthng ths tm.

  • d_ban on January 5, 2014, 14:21 GMT

    Sums up prfectly...hs really bn a hell of a tour for england.there wre sme individual prfrmnces in 06-07 to talk abt,almst nthng ths tm.

  • on January 5, 2014, 14:36 GMT

    Just dont understand all the this paranoia.. After all, this is just a game.. Yes, we try to attach significant importance to Test Cricket and so forth, but the truth is Sport, at the end of the day, is a trivial pursuit.. Play like a game and enjoy.. Results are bound to come.

  • DC75 on January 5, 2014, 15:33 GMT

    The question is why? You cannot fell a tree in one stroke, this ashes results is the culmination of the things that Eng have done wrong over the past few series, knew that things were going wrong, and which they failed to correct because of few positive results. AF was micro managing from the beginning, they allowed that to continue, Cook is unimaginative, they allowed that to continue as well, there are many reasons that have culminated in to this result, they should go back and look at it;

  • evilcorp on January 5, 2014, 15:55 GMT

    Great article mate, as usual. It was funny watching this last test - despite being an Aussie, I found it uncomfortable viewing. England were so completely dispirited that even I wished someone would just let them get on a plane home. It was like watching Santa kicking puppies - morbidly fascinating perhaps, but ultimately no fun to watch.

  • on January 5, 2014, 16:23 GMT

    all the planning, preparation, intensity is overdone. Sport has turned into war. Winning and losing have become so important, that humanity has been lost. People are so keen on 'winning' at any cost, they would sell their mothers. No wonder players are going home or retiring - one after the other. It is sad and for neutral viewers, it takes the pleasure out of watching the sport - no sportsperson should be put under such pressure and 'humiliation' by everybody around them. Ex-players are going around saying how England have been humiliated. No, 'England' hasn't been humiliated. No country ever is humiliated by a silly sporting loss.

  • SurlyCynic on January 5, 2014, 17:05 GMT

    Brilliant article. Really sums up the current state of the Flower reign. England need to do what Aus did and freshen up the whole environment.

    How Bairstow could fill the role of reserve keeper on tour is beyond me. England missed a trick by not recruiting De Kock from SA.

  • VenkyN on January 5, 2014, 17:16 GMT

    I think that it is almost mandatory for teams touring Australia to really turn up for the first match which is usually at the Gabba. If tourists lose that, a combination of the relentless Aussie media, the snide comments from their former players, a touring team's own insecurities etc. pretty much seal the deal for them.

  • on January 5, 2014, 17:16 GMT

    Considering Borthwick as test player ahead of Tredwell ; Swanny suggested this. I think England did not learn from what happened to Australia last summer (Playing White, Smith, Maxwell as spinner and loosing it.

  • on January 5, 2014, 17:49 GMT

    Very good article, best of the summer.

  • shillingsworth on January 5, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    Knee jerk rubbish. The coach who, according to the pundits, masterminded an Ashes win in Australia 3 years ago now becomes a sermonising micro managing control freak. In 60 years, England have won just 4 proper Ashes series in Australia. The surprise was that they won so convincingly in 2011. The fact that Australia, with their best bowlers all available at last, triumphed this time was not.