The Ashes 2013-14

'Spineless ... a weak and feeble effort'

A selection of former England players had their say in the media about the team's woeful performance in Australia

ESPNcricinfo staff

January 6, 2014

Comments: 11 | Text size: A | A

Kevin Pietersen leaves the SCG with his Test future in doubt, Australia v England, 5th Test, Sydney, 3rd day, January 5, 2014
Kevin Pietersen walks off during England's abysmal second innings in Sydney. Time to promote him to vice-captain? © PA Photos
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The ECB review into England's 5-0 Ashes defeat will give every player and member of the support staff the opportunity for their say. ESPNcricinfo has rounded up a few views from outside the dressing room to help them on their way.

"The surprise was the lack of resilience and competitive heart, whose beating got more faint with every passing game and finally stopped once and for all on the final afternoon in Sydney. Maybe those players were not quite as good as they believed themselves to be, maybe not quite as tough, either."
Former England captain Michael Atherton in the Times

"The management group needs fewer 'yes' men telling them what they want to hear. It starts with the vice-captaincy… For me the vice-captain should be Kevin Pietersen. There are two reasons why: first, it will prolong his Test career and England still desperately need him in the middle order until the end of the 2015 Ashes… The second reason is he possesses the contrasting personality this management group is crying out for."
Former England captain Michael Vaughan in the Telegraph

"Over recent years England have employed more backroom staff, believing it makes them more professional. In fact, they have over-complicated professionalism... It is time they got into the real world and stopped wasting money on frivolous luxuries that do not make any difference when Mitchell Johnson is whistling it around your earhole. The players have stopped thinking for themselves."
Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott in the Telegraph

"It has been a spineless performance that has left me angry and deflated. I can accept watching an England team being beaten by a better side when they have gone toe-to-toe and thrown a few punches of their own, but this series has not even been contested. It has been a weak and feeble effort from a group of players who should understand what the bare minimum requirements are for a Test cricketer."
Former England allrounder Ian Botham in the Daily Mirror

"Before this last innings I thought we'd been outplayed, outclassed and out-captained, outgunned and outfought in four matches. I really thought England had done their best but that last innings will gnaw away at me … It was an absolute disgrace to not last 32 overs. That's when I'd question every player on their hunger in a tough situation and ask them 'Have you thrown the towel in?' From a management viewpoint, I've never seen a team capitulate like that."
Former England player and coach David Lloyd on Sky Sports

"We keep hearing Alastair Cook he is a good learner. He has been out-captained. He has not learnt one iota from first game to last. Go with your gut instinct and if he does not have one then go with someone else."
Former England captain Nasser Hussain on Sky Sports

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by NY-NY on (January 8, 2014, 19:56 GMT)

KP is not mature enough to be a VC. Its amazing how wonderful things look through the rear-view mirror. We all seems to forget how childish he acted when placed with the burden of being a Captain. If you want to rock the boat then go ahead with KP as Vice Captain. But as far as I can tell as an non-English and non-Aussie observer the boat is upside down.

Posted by DaisonGarvasis on (January 8, 2014, 9:30 GMT)

It is good to see some ex-players are supporting KP. If Flower and co had their way, they would lay all the blame on KP and drop KP. What a load of crap

Posted by melmotte on (January 7, 2014, 20:50 GMT)

I just don't want to hear yet another interview with Alistair Cook forlornly calling for yet more 'hard work'. No-one doubts this England side were very disciplined about practice (it could scarcely be otherwise under the Flower regime) and, until the final day humiliation at Sydney, they did their very best to put those disciplines into effect on the pitch. What we didn't see from England was any of the sheer joy and verve of playing and competing in high level sport. Yes, cricket is a job to those guys out in the middle, but at some stage of their careers they actually relished going out on the field to do battle for the team. It's how you get good at doing what you do. That enthusiasm and motivation has been disciplined out of them. This is above all a failure of leadership and that's why Cook (but only as captain) and Flower have to go. It was not so long ago that Cook was able to dominate good test bowlers by playing a natural game. Let him free.

Posted by njr1330 on (January 7, 2014, 12:34 GMT)

Faf du Plessis is not half the batsman Kevin Pietersen is; I doubt he's as good as Bell or Trott; yet he has twice, yes twice, batted for 8 hours to save a Test. This England side can't bat for 8 hours between them! Forget the backroom staff, just get a lecture from Du Plessis on how to 'front up' in adversity. Similarly, the Aussies hated Paul Collingwood, because he was like them... The harder it got, the more he liked it. When under the cosh in Adelaide, what did he do? Batted all day with his limited talent and big heart, and got 200. Will any of the current mob do that? No, they simply don't have the heart. Maybe the current motto is: 'When the going gets tough, the tough do video analysis!!

Posted by   on (January 7, 2014, 12:12 GMT)

One comment stands out for me: Watson's remark that Lehmann has "made playing for Australia fun again". No England player looks like they're having fun (now that Swanny's retired). Now getting your butt kicked shouldn't be fun, but England's cricket over the last 2-3 years has been turgid. They grind the opposition down, rather than trying to take a match by the scruff of the neck (there are a couple of KP innings which belie this, but these are the exception). It's dull to watch and the players don't seem to know what to do in the middle any more. No amount of coaching or 82 page diet books will sort this out. And what has happened to the younger fast bowlers? Gone backwards. I think Flower has to go before the 2015 Ashes, and someone else has to start the rebuilding process.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (January 7, 2014, 11:11 GMT)

It's very difficult to review any Ashes series without comparing it with others. There are, for the sake of argument, three proper categories: the extremely closely contested (2005, 1951, 1902, as examples) - the nail-biters. Next are the good arm- wrestles: genuine contests - even if the final score suggests a relatively easy win (1930,1932-33, 1974-75) Then there are the series when England failed to win a match, but competed for sustained periods (1946,1964). Finally, there are those whitewashes. Of the three (1920-21, 2009 & 2013-14), no series was as one- sided as 2013, although 1920-21 was fairly dire, but even then, England managed to score four100s, besides 18 other scores of 50+. That puts this last 'effort' into its proper perspective. It was the biggest trouncing of all time. Many people have made neat selections from their adjectival bank. I know what mine is. Shameful. Now I'll underscore that. Utterly shameful.

Posted by   on (January 7, 2014, 1:22 GMT)

Am not an english man and probably not the best to understand english psychology or sentiments on an ashes series. But as an outsider or a 3rd party, I always felt english cricketers and their big shot past cricketers, all were bit too arrogant and over confident about their chances. People predicting 10-0, no matter how much ever poor the opponents are, is bit too much. If seniors are being so outspoken and appraising about any good performance, where would the newers learn from. Such arrogance probably suit worl beating teams like the west indians of 70's and australians of 90's but not this england team. Just by being the bolwer with highest no. of balls bowled from 2011 damns down the spirit to fight an ashes series for Anderson, then its sad. Cannot understand the gap of 2.5 months was not enough for someone to feel rejuvenated and fight one last fight. Amazing. Regarding Cook and his captaincy Shane Warne and Nasser Hussain are absolutely right.

Posted by   on (January 6, 2014, 20:32 GMT)

As usual, Michael Atherton has got it right and Michael Vaughan has got it wrong. England players showed a lack of inner strength. Bolstering the ramparts doesn't change the nature if the king. KP as VC? Look what happened when he was captain. Evidence would suggest that move will only take England lower. Botham and Boycott might be modern day anachronisms but they're probably closer to the mark. England need people up for the fight.

Posted by   on (January 6, 2014, 16:16 GMT)

Yes, KP as vice captain would be a good move - but will they? Too many senior people seem to stuck in their own - erm - mud; mesmerised, apparently by Johnson and Harris. Personally, I'd bring in Foster as captain and w/k batsman, but it won't happen..... We have had older players come in (as Rogers did).

Let's hope the one-dayers bring some light. Different team, of course, although I doubt the Australians will change much. Time for Finn to live up to his enormaous promise.

Posted by CricketMaan on (January 6, 2014, 15:20 GMT)

@Ian Botham - Your prediction was as bad as Glenn Mcgrath's. 5-0 was right although you ended up on the wrong side. So much so for being a yesteryear great and a top notch commentator.

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