January 23, 2014

Not just Cook's cross to bear

England need to look for the maturity, honesty and lightness of being Australia have demonstrated, and they must all step up to the task
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It is not so long ago that England chose the captain first and the team second. The consequence of this method is a long list of England caps awarded to cricketers who did not deserve them. The result of the method was a catalogue of fine leaders who brought out the best from those around them and who saw the team through tricky expeditions far and wide.

Leadership is not just the responsibility of one man. There was a revealing comment about George Bailey from Michael Clarke the other day. It said, "I can't tell you the benefit of having him around the group, his leadership on and off the field, his attitude. And that takes more courage and character than when you are making hundreds and taking five-fors. To give so much back to the team when you are not performing personally is an underrated thing in sport and why he is a great example. The whole team feels for him that he is not coming to South Africa with us." This is a remarkable endorsement and a reminder that the best generals are not threatened by strong lieutenants.

One cannot help but ponder Alastair Cook at this moment. He has said he will reconsider his future when the tour is over. It seems likely that he will stand down from the one-day game and continue as captain in Test cricket. Assuming, that is, he is given the choice. The noises made by England's hierarchy - chairman, chief executive, and managing director of cricket - who, to a man, scoffed at the notion of his removal from the job, must have withered him just as they have withered many a football manager before him. It really is best that everyone shuts up until the dust has settled. As the saying goes, "when in doubt do nowt".

While Clarke clearly felt the strong arm of support during the recent Ashes, so Cook must have felt desertion. Apparently Kevin Pietersen became a handful again. What a boring record that is. Cook rescued the Pietersen situation after Andrew Strauss stood down 17 months ago and if Pietersen has made life difficult for the man who offered and arranged forgiveness with a fresh start, he should be ashamed of himself. If not, he must quickly go cap in hand to his captain and while doing so admit that some of his dismissals in Australia were ridiculous. Pietersen should not be dropped by England for goodness' sake - imagine trying to explain why for a start - but the collateral damage must be limited by humility and common sense on both sides.

None of us on the outside know the extent of Jonathan Trott's illness. It seems inconceivable that a cricketer can make a hundred for England one week - as Trott did in Perth in the opening match of the tour - and then three weeks later suffer a depression so deep and so painful that a flight home was its only respite. Trott needed space and he needed his family - a residue from touring that is too easily underestimated - but first he needed to escape the confines of a single room in a hotel life. All of which suggests that he did not arrive in Australia with his mind strong enough to cope with the gunfire that overwhelmed him at the Gabba. Somebody made a mistake there. Trott himself perhaps, or the selectors, or the captain and coach. And it was a big mistake. This, and the overt aggression shown to the tourists by the Australian media and players, suddenly threatened to derail the tour. Two matches later, it was off the tracks.

On occasions it would be better if the holding company told us more. The ECB, and the tour management particularly, keep these things so close to their chest that rumour and conjecture take over. We don't actually know about Pietersen or Trott so we feed from morsels that drift into the ether.

Alone in his room in Perth, trying to make sense of the speed and ease with which England had handed back the Ashes to Australia, Cook cannot possibly have imagined the next grenade. If anything summed up the self-absorption of England's cricketers and the shambles of which they were a part, it was Graeme Swann's decision to retire mid-series. This was a desertion of unparalleled lack of concern for those around him. Probably the injuries had taken their toll. Perhaps Swann could take no more of Pietersen - their disaffection for one another has no bounds - or of the beatings given to him by Australian batsmen he had once locked up. But nothing can excuse his unwillingness to finish the job he had agreed to start, even if only in the wings.

Captaincy is a number of things and canny man-management is amongst them. Another is leadership by example, leadership that brings inspiration and sets standards through runs scored or wickets taken

The surprise was that the tour management let him leave so lightly, with platitudes about a great career and the right of any man to choose the moment of his own retirement. They should have said, go Graeme go - and a wonderful, important and warm-hearted cricketer you have been - but you do not do so with our blessing, not at this time of our need.

It is because of these events, along with the bizarrely ineffective cricket played by bankers such as Matt Prior and James Anderson, that it is almost impossible to judge Cook's capacity as captain. Remember, he had won famously in India and at home against Australia, extracting the best from his bowling attack and much of the best from Pietersen.

England's maturity in victory over India was as evident as was the their immaturity in defeat in Australia. How Cook must have hated that and how Andy Flower must have seethed at the clarity of its illustration. Flower left the land of his birth in a protest against the atrocities instructed by its leader, which is about as brave a thing as a sportsman can do. In Australia, he saw the team for which he now takes responsibility unravel without a fight.

If the clock were wound back 30 years and Bailey was an Englishman, he would now be touted for the captaincy. This is just the sort of crisis that old-fashioned officers were supposed to be able to sort out. Mike Brearley was a master of such moments, arriving with clear thinking and an insight into the minds of his players that allowed him to encourage a positive and unilateral approach. Brearley befriended Geoffrey Boycott, his talented problem child, as Cook did Pietersen, but this was in the days before extraneous distractions and massive potential earnings. Brearley encouraged Ian Botham to greater excess, thus ensuring the world did not close in around him. Rather than monitor Botham's diet, Brearley monitored his appetite for challenge and made sure the bar was set imperceptibly higher by the day. Botham would not let Brearley down.

Captaincy is a number of things and canny man-management is amongst them. Another is leadership by example, leadership that brings inspiration and sets standards through runs scored or wickets taken. Then there is the tactical thing. Numbers and plans or instinct? This incorporates the ability to anticipate the play and to occupy the mind of the opponent.

Cook was short of runs. Clarke made runs that mattered in the first two Tests of the series, a key time for putting out markers. Clarke has an imagination that is beyond Cook. Cook had previously inspired a loyalty that was quickly compromised by outrageous margins of defeat.

From a precarious hold on the job, Clarke has established supremacy. The reverse applies to Cook. He knows this but passionately believes the chance to regenerate England's Test cricket should be his. The options are not obvious, which is in Cook's favour. Eoin Morgan would be a good choice for the one-day team because he plays the game with unique flair and a cold-eyed understanding. Also, he seems more of a man than some, as if the rest of life has not passed him by.

It is dangerous to be seduced by one-day cricket; Bailey is testament to that. But Morgan's sense of adventure has a place in Test cricket if the straighter bat we have seen in Australia is an overall measure of improvement. Maturity, honesty and a lightness of being should be the holy grail for which England now search. For the moment at least, Australia have found it. England can take heart from the suddenness with which it happened but the players must realise that the captain cannot achieve this alone. They have a responsibility too. Ask Boycott and Botham.

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

  • BradmanBestEver on January 24, 2014, 2:27 GMT

    One more thing... If there ever was a case for panic then this is it because this test series was such an unexpected spiflication. They were totally obliterated by a team not expected to do so. It was a complete massacre

  • BradmanBestEver on January 24, 2014, 2:23 GMT

    The targeting of KP is on the right track. Not because such targeting singles out one player but because it highlights the fundamental problems of (1) lack of strong team spirit (2) putting your team before yourself and (3) never say die attitude. KP scores lowly on all 3 of these factors. Because KP has high profile he cops more than his share of the flak. Nothing new there with high profile players.

    There are too many others in the English team that also score lowly on these factors and they should also be shown the door. The first guy I would select would be Stokes because he seems to score well on these 3 factors and he has ability.

  • Greatest_Game on January 24, 2014, 0:14 GMT

    Boring boring boring. Blame KP for everything. That should sort it all out. Find a Saffa scapegoat and all will be fine. Basically, if the Saffas - Trott, KP, Prior - stop scoring, Eng tanks. So, blame the Saffas. It is their job to score Eng's runs, right? Poms are not supposed to score runs. They are supposed to sit around and be the 'Officers.' The Saffa troops do the dirty work.

    Yeah - and Welcome to Fortress England, too.

  • balajik2505 on January 24, 2014, 0:05 GMT

    Another attempt to malign Pietersen. There are a number of things the England management has to answer. Trott, Swann, Prior, Finn, Panesar all fell apart. Surely you can't blame KP for all this. Even if KP was a disruptive influence, England had sufficient experience to counterbalance that. Again England can't keep blaming the schedule, Australia has played far more cricket. Like flickspin said, you win some, you lose some, so the defeat is not so big. What is big is the way events have unfolded, and to blame it on one player is not on, just not on. If after all this, KP is made a scapegoat, you have to seriously question Flower's management skills.

  • mtfb on January 23, 2014, 23:39 GMT

    Overall, an excellent article. "It is not so long ago that England chose the captain first and the team second." That hasn't changed, but it's time it did. Cook is too young and too immature. He is frightened of innovation, has little imagination and captains by numbers - probably dictated by Flower and Gooch, at whos door I lay much of the blame for the destruction of current England batsmen's talent. These are two mediocre teams and South Africa would wipe the floor with either of them.

  • SixFourOut on January 23, 2014, 23:26 GMT

    I honestly don't believe the English players are enjoying their cricket. They simply aren't having fun and it's showing.

  • 2.14istherunrate on January 23, 2014, 23:22 GMT

    The 'Nadir' tour result is the collective responsibility of all who participated. certain observations arise because of it. Trott is so valuable to the team. KP certainly did not play the only silly shots by miles. Root is not really ready for Tests. Players who are injured should not hurry back from recovery. Men are better than boys at this level-the 'just play youth'advocates need to belt up. Players of over 30 should be allowed to play on as they have a good few years left in them. If I were Graeme Swann I would leave no stone uncovered to get my arm functioning properly however attractive rock and roll may seem. The only way is not Essex by any stretch of the imagination. people should smile more. Life just ain't that bad.

  • v_giri on January 23, 2014, 17:10 GMT

    I love these articles. Keep blaming KP for the debacle so making him scapegoat looks like a popular choice. The only way Aussies can be beaten is by playing attacking cricket (unless Aussies self-implode as it happened in earlier series). I am amazed Bell hardly gets blamed and even Cook (Oh I forgot that England captain performing is supposed to be an added bonus). I would keenly look forward to Eng-SL series - Each team would score about 100 runs a day and lose may be a couple of wickets. What an advert for test cricket!

  • Akhter786 on January 23, 2014, 16:58 GMT

    To be pretty honest, oz as a team didn't play any miraculous cricket. Yes johnson did, to some extent Haddin also, but It was England that played the mediocrist of the cricket. I am damn sure that SA wont give any team any chance to recover from five down something more than once/twice. They go for the kill more ruthlessly and sedately than Aussies did. But of all, This is Australia's day, this is Clarke's moment and this is Johnson's time.

  • on January 23, 2014, 16:33 GMT

    Rob Key as an interim leader for 18 months/2 years

  • BradmanBestEver on January 24, 2014, 2:27 GMT

    One more thing... If there ever was a case for panic then this is it because this test series was such an unexpected spiflication. They were totally obliterated by a team not expected to do so. It was a complete massacre

  • BradmanBestEver on January 24, 2014, 2:23 GMT

    The targeting of KP is on the right track. Not because such targeting singles out one player but because it highlights the fundamental problems of (1) lack of strong team spirit (2) putting your team before yourself and (3) never say die attitude. KP scores lowly on all 3 of these factors. Because KP has high profile he cops more than his share of the flak. Nothing new there with high profile players.

    There are too many others in the English team that also score lowly on these factors and they should also be shown the door. The first guy I would select would be Stokes because he seems to score well on these 3 factors and he has ability.

  • Greatest_Game on January 24, 2014, 0:14 GMT

    Boring boring boring. Blame KP for everything. That should sort it all out. Find a Saffa scapegoat and all will be fine. Basically, if the Saffas - Trott, KP, Prior - stop scoring, Eng tanks. So, blame the Saffas. It is their job to score Eng's runs, right? Poms are not supposed to score runs. They are supposed to sit around and be the 'Officers.' The Saffa troops do the dirty work.

    Yeah - and Welcome to Fortress England, too.

  • balajik2505 on January 24, 2014, 0:05 GMT

    Another attempt to malign Pietersen. There are a number of things the England management has to answer. Trott, Swann, Prior, Finn, Panesar all fell apart. Surely you can't blame KP for all this. Even if KP was a disruptive influence, England had sufficient experience to counterbalance that. Again England can't keep blaming the schedule, Australia has played far more cricket. Like flickspin said, you win some, you lose some, so the defeat is not so big. What is big is the way events have unfolded, and to blame it on one player is not on, just not on. If after all this, KP is made a scapegoat, you have to seriously question Flower's management skills.

  • mtfb on January 23, 2014, 23:39 GMT

    Overall, an excellent article. "It is not so long ago that England chose the captain first and the team second." That hasn't changed, but it's time it did. Cook is too young and too immature. He is frightened of innovation, has little imagination and captains by numbers - probably dictated by Flower and Gooch, at whos door I lay much of the blame for the destruction of current England batsmen's talent. These are two mediocre teams and South Africa would wipe the floor with either of them.

  • SixFourOut on January 23, 2014, 23:26 GMT

    I honestly don't believe the English players are enjoying their cricket. They simply aren't having fun and it's showing.

  • 2.14istherunrate on January 23, 2014, 23:22 GMT

    The 'Nadir' tour result is the collective responsibility of all who participated. certain observations arise because of it. Trott is so valuable to the team. KP certainly did not play the only silly shots by miles. Root is not really ready for Tests. Players who are injured should not hurry back from recovery. Men are better than boys at this level-the 'just play youth'advocates need to belt up. Players of over 30 should be allowed to play on as they have a good few years left in them. If I were Graeme Swann I would leave no stone uncovered to get my arm functioning properly however attractive rock and roll may seem. The only way is not Essex by any stretch of the imagination. people should smile more. Life just ain't that bad.

  • v_giri on January 23, 2014, 17:10 GMT

    I love these articles. Keep blaming KP for the debacle so making him scapegoat looks like a popular choice. The only way Aussies can be beaten is by playing attacking cricket (unless Aussies self-implode as it happened in earlier series). I am amazed Bell hardly gets blamed and even Cook (Oh I forgot that England captain performing is supposed to be an added bonus). I would keenly look forward to Eng-SL series - Each team would score about 100 runs a day and lose may be a couple of wickets. What an advert for test cricket!

  • Akhter786 on January 23, 2014, 16:58 GMT

    To be pretty honest, oz as a team didn't play any miraculous cricket. Yes johnson did, to some extent Haddin also, but It was England that played the mediocrist of the cricket. I am damn sure that SA wont give any team any chance to recover from five down something more than once/twice. They go for the kill more ruthlessly and sedately than Aussies did. But of all, This is Australia's day, this is Clarke's moment and this is Johnson's time.

  • on January 23, 2014, 16:33 GMT

    Rob Key as an interim leader for 18 months/2 years

  • on January 23, 2014, 15:22 GMT

    England only test team . they can't play odi and twenty20 matches

  • Iddo555 on January 23, 2014, 14:38 GMT

    The problem I have is I don't even think this OZ team is that good, Their batting weak and has been five down for not many on a few occasions. They have a good bowling unit and Haddin seems to have got them out of a few tricky situations with the bat but are they a great team? Are they a team that should be beating England 5-0? Not for my money. England need to move forward with a core group of 6 players and fill the rest with the best of the youth that is coming through.

  • sreni on January 23, 2014, 14:23 GMT

    Another English man supporting a unfit captain and a over-rated batsman and downplaying the heavy defeats. English ppl will never accept they are behind the clock. So many week points like , Comparison betn bailey and morgan is non-existent, bailey is actually one (India) series wonder whereas Morgan is a proven product, also taking pride about 2 fifties made by cook in first two tests is laughable to say the least.

  • flickspin on January 23, 2014, 13:24 GMT

    england shouldnt panic.

    you win some you lose some its sport, too many teams compare themselves to the great australian team and the great west indian that dominated for 15 years, england dominated australia for 5 years, australia might dominate for 5 years who knows.

    darren lehmann has made the australia team more united with humor and made them fall in love with cricket all again, and has taken hyper-stress out of professional sport .

    i think the days of teams dominating for 15 years are over, i think in the future if a team dominates for 5 years it has down well, world cricket is as even as it has been, south africa have been the most dominant,

    cook is only young and has 7-8 years of test cricket left in him, i think he learnt a lesson about what aggression can do, clive lloyd wanted revenge on australia in the mid 70's after facing lillee and thompson, and searched the west indies for meanest angriest fast bowling line up for next time he played australia.

    cook will learn

  • on January 23, 2014, 12:48 GMT

    I think we have the new Christopher Martin-Jenkins. Take a bow Mr Nicholas.

  • TheCricketEmpireStrikesBack on January 23, 2014, 11:07 GMT

    Excellent article. "Leadership is not just the responsibility of one man". Clarke had the backup of Haddin, Bailey and Lehmann. When all Clarke had was a micro-managing coach as backup in the 0-4 loss in India the Aus leadership also failed.

    Where was the backup for Cook during the Ashes? One or two media appearances from Gooch and the only time we heard from Flower was to shore up his own position. Cook is to be admired for his honesty and his character in refusing to complain or make up excuses.

    I suspect that leadership, along with everything else, is stifled under a micro-managing coach.

  • Rahim_A on January 23, 2014, 10:48 GMT

    It always amuses me to hear that England almost won the home series 4-0 and were only denied this due to the archaic laws of bad light. The only reason England got close to winning was because M.Clarke is an aggressive captain and declared providing England a carrot to chase the runs down. There was no chance of a positive result until Clarke intervened and decided to make a game of it. And, it also showed in the approach of the two sides as England were constantly wasting time and slowing the game down on the previous days. However, it does take a lot of skill and aggressive batting to get so close to chasing down that target so England did something right. But commentators need to remember that it was down to Clarke's captaincy that there was a positive result available.

  • blaggard on January 23, 2014, 9:55 GMT

    Pretty much agree except for KP, how much should we put up with before dropping him for good. . .it should have happened years ago. Let him play ODI, that's how he plays even in Test Matches, if he's upsetting other players too what on Earth is to be gained from keeping him? the odd (and getting rarer) big innings?

  • on January 23, 2014, 9:42 GMT

    i disagreed. i guess the 2006/7 series australia have the liked of mcgrath, warne and hayden. i didn't see the series personally because of oversea. u can't blame kp for this. maybe there is another explamation.

  • Chris_P on January 23, 2014, 9:31 GMT

    @Paul Robson. We must have seen 2 different series. In England, Lords apart, Australia put up solid resistance taking 2 of the losses to close margins. Down here, all England put up were their toes & were comprehensively flogged, and I mean totally flogged. No difference in the teams? Best cut down on the gin, old boy.

  • liz1558 on January 23, 2014, 9:15 GMT

    Sounds like little support for Cook, but the one chink of light may be Morgan in both Tests and Odious Internationals? You're forgetting that the Aus shambles was figured out, not on the field but off it, when Mickey Arthur was replaced by Lehman. Maybe Cook has a future as captain, but, if the rumours of Flower's overbearing influence are true, it's hard to see a future until he's gone. Very few coaches get it back after losing it, and his tactics have been failing for the last two years.

  • on January 23, 2014, 8:55 GMT

    Oh, please. Two ordinary teams ; one that had been over-rated, the other had a series where everything went their way, and the opposition played at their absolute worst.

    It wasn't that long ago that Australia wanted to execute their entire team, they were picking people who'd played park cricket for 20 minutes etc etc, at one point I thought I might get a game for Australia for my village cricket leggies and having cousins who emigrated to Australia.

    Cook isn't suddenly abysmal, nor is Clarke a genius. Sometimes things go for you, sometimes they don't.

    I do agree about Swann. I never thought this was brave, this was cowardice, running away when it got tough and a hammering was coming, dumping onto one Cricketer with personal issues and confidence issues (Panesar) and a rookie (Borthwick) both of whom were thrown into no win situations

    Is there as much difference between the sides as the 3-0 (almost 4-0) in England or the 5-0 in Australia might show ; of course there isn't.

  • bren19 on January 23, 2014, 8:52 GMT

    Cook had a tough series - no doubt. He was in poor form, the players around him were in poor form and the team did not function. Cook may have made lots of mistakes. Maybe he is not the captain they are looking for but can I say one thing - from an aussie - Cook, I admire the dignity with which you have handled yourself in the wake of this debacle. Dignity is a much overlooked quality these days but you have it in spades mate.

  • Amit_13 on January 23, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    Its time to break the mould and not make another one. I cannot work out the difference in England's play under Strauss and Cook. They are equally boring. If I had to choose a colour for them, I would choose 'November Grey'. The structure and mico management has led to a team out of touch with any flair and something quite so simple as a smile. I don't recall any English player, bar Swann, smiling on the field. Its the best job in the world to play for your country and they will be rememberd long after their time. Its upto them to write what they want to be remembered for. Andy Flower has done loads for English cricket except one thing - taught them how to enjoy. Defying a world leader was his fight. English cricket surely isn't the same battleground. Its time to unwind and enjoy the game. Its perhaps time for Andy Flower to go and not KP. If we asked England what type of team they want to be, I imagine the answer to be between confusion and military unit. Neither has ever been popular.

  • leeham_69 on January 23, 2014, 8:06 GMT

    " If not, he must quickly go cap in hand to his captain and while doing so admit that some of his dismissals in Australia were ridiculous. "

    I am a big fan of your writing, Mark, but this is an outrageous claim: if we expect KP to do this we must also expect Bell, Carberry, Bairstow, Stokes, Broad, Prior and the rest to the same after which Cook himself must apologise to his squad for slapping the ball to point and leaving straight deliveries. KP is the rock around which the much-discussed period of transition must be built over the next 2-3 years, if he is let go then it is an absolute disgrace. He is either forgiven or he is not, he should not be expected to have to apologise to anyone after ending a tour as leading run scorer in a badly beaten team.

  • Nutcutlet on January 23, 2014, 7:56 GMT

    It's been a wretched tour & the reasons for its abject failure are indeed complex - which, in turn, suggests that putting things right is also something more than a change of captain is likely to achieve. First, there is a collective responsibility. All concerned must look honestly in the mirror & admit their own shortcomings. In common with all failed campaigns (sporting & others) the planning of it came first & there was some messy writing on the wall - the team selected for the 5th Test: Kerrigan & Woakes - outrageous punts. Tremlett shd have played on his home pitch. If he had, he'd have been given the winter at home & Onions/Jordan wd have gone. Were Trott & Swann genuinely fit? Or were their difficulties discounted/ignored? Then the team needed more warm-up time in Aust. That must be prioritised in future. Next, the scheduling: more matches between Tests. And Cook's captaincy... Clarke won the captaincy battle in a lost campaign. Cook's form dipped. Warnings ignored & paid for.

  • shanks1967 on January 23, 2014, 7:12 GMT

    Cricket is just a game. It should be enjoyed by the players who play it. There is too much scrutiny on each and every time a team goes out into the field. The same English team won a lot...now they are losing some...so what. Today all things being equal, all teams are very strong in their home ground and pretty weak when playing away. This fact is borne by statistics across cricket playing countries. So just leave them be...I think each and every individual is hurting at the loss more than their respective supporters. Let us not things so seriously, write columns just to fill in time. Enjoy.

  • Insult_2_Injury on January 23, 2014, 6:48 GMT

    Your comment,"It really is best that everyone shuts up until the dust has settled." is followed by a break down of the series and players with - '....almost impossible to judge Cook's capacity as captain". Who has to shut up then? Those who don't support Cook?

    The Australian media and players are no more culpable for Trott's mental state, than the English media, players and supporters are for their treatment of Johnson over the years. If Pietersens idea of teamwork is to publicly lambast 7-11 in the order, then of course he should go. If he's too busy tweeting inanities instead of assisting teammates in the nets to hold up an end while he 'does a Botham' then he is past his used by date! The Poms need to look at their schedule, get Cook a sit down with the most attacking captain they can find and then surround him with players who will play for the team. Get rid of the new age 'process' rubbish and understand sport is about passion.

  • dunger.bob on January 23, 2014, 6:42 GMT

    Captaincy seems to be a funny old thing. When the team wins the captain is hailed as a genius and when they lose he's suddenly a twit. In most cases neither of those perceptions is actually true.

    Nicko is right. The captain can't beat the opposition on his own. He's got 10 players around him who have to pull their weight so he can execute his plans and tactics. It's no secret that England base their game on scoring mega runs in the 1st innings at a steady rate in order to tire the opposition bowlers and put scoreboard pressure on the enemies batsmen. .. Getting consistently bowled out in about 4 sessions does not help that strategy at all.

    I'm not sure about Cook as a L.O player, let alone captain, but to sack him from the test captaincy because of this debacle just doesn't seem like the way to go.

  • MarinManiac on January 23, 2014, 6:40 GMT

    2006/7. Trescothick. Depression. Leaves tour. Throws team into disarray. Flintoff captaincy too much for him to do. Ashley Giles. Leaves tour two games in (to care for sick wife, fair enough). Panesar thrown in. Weak bowling. Zim Coach on downturn (Fletcher) Australia mad for revenge. Result - 5-0. 2012/13. Trott. Depression. Leaves tour. Throws team into disarray. Cook captaincy probably too much for him -- batting affected. Graeme Swann. Leaves tour because he can't bowl any more. Panesar thrown in. Weak bowling. Zim Coach on downturn (Flower) Australia mad for revenge. Result - 5-0. Lightning has this strange tendency to strike twice. Which means that after this, the team should regroup just fine....but it'll take a couple of years. England media need to remember that. (Oh, and who is the next Strauss...? Sam Robson? Another Middlesex opener?)

  • Gabbagod on January 23, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    Mark, with respect you must know more about the Swann "retirement" as everyone loosely involved with the team does. Is it not true that after Perth, each member of the team was sat down by Cook/Flower and asked if they were in for the long haul. Swann's reply was not what they wanted so gave him the opportunity to retire effective immediately. They could not allow a personality as large as Swann's to circulate through the group if he wasn't 100% committed. It was Swann's honesty that made the "management ask for his immediate retirement".

  • Nuxxy on January 23, 2014, 6:23 GMT

    A team shows their character in defeat far more than in victory. There have been times when England has lost, or after fielding lapses, that you could see the bowlers (Swann in particular) mouthing off. Whereas when an Australian fielder lapses, whi;e there might be frustration, the general response is "bad luck mate".

    Here's a question: When KP (or anyone) goes out to bat, are his team mates thinking "Go on Kevin, score a 100, you carry our hopes" or "Good riddance! I hope Mitch scones him!" For all their talk of team culture over the last few years I think it has only been success that has kept England from falling apart, not any genuine kinship.

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

    As an Indian, I love watching KP. India need someone like him in the middle overs. Give him to Dhoni and see how many chances he gets. He will be better giving chances to him rather than some Rohits, Rainas & Ashwins.:-)

  • Srivathsan_Sridharan on January 23, 2014, 5:48 GMT

    Don't know why the author seems to point out KP's manner of dismissals as ridiculous. He is the one who took the attack to the opposition. If KP is at fault, so is Bell who i think dismissed in the same manner in the same test. Kevin Pietersen is a genuine match-winner. I think he is down in confidence now. Its the responsibility of the team management to grow his confidence and back him at all levels. It is very wrong to rest him in the ODI series. It will be better for him to play some limited overs cricket which suits his style of playing and get back to his form rather than sitting somewhere and thinking about how to gain form and confidence. Clearly, No thinking from the England Team Management.

  • xtrafalgarx on January 23, 2014, 4:45 GMT

    @ODI_BestFormOfCricket: As a captain or batsman? I think Clarke trumps AB on both in terms of construction of an innings and skill against spin.

    AB doesn't score hundreds at a rate that Cook and Clarke do. They both had 25 at 100 tests, AB would be lucky to get anywhere near there by 100 tests.

  • on January 23, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    Honestly, I think the problem is more with man management that with any cricketing ability. How on earth could English have dropped down so fast, and that has nothing to do with playing conditions or batting and bowling capabilities. Flower has vividly shown his weaker side, that of man management when in a difficult situation. Prior to the series the English press, the ECB and some players were guilty of bringing small issues out of the cupboard and making mountain out of mole hill. That effected the internal psyche of players. There was lots of Kevin bashing going on in the media and in social media clearly signifying that what transpired in the house was given to neighbors and thus began the mode of team destruction. Under normal circumstances England would have fared very well. THe Aussies are not the invincible of yesterday but bunch or good cricketers. What England now need is a person who can talk to them as individuals ans as a team and not someone who will browbeat the lot.

  • ThinkingCricket on January 23, 2014, 4:38 GMT

    This "Pietersen apology" nonsense has to stop. No his dismissals weren't ridiculous unless the idea of playing any attacking shot at all is now taboo in England. Sometimes attacking shots will work and sometimes they won't. Ian Bell played in the exact same manner, as did Stokes in the match where most of the criticism has come. No one said a word. What is more, him playing naturally is not selfish, it's better for the team, because on balance he will do better by playing attackingly then by trying to transform himself into Cook. If anyone should apologize it should be the English management for their puritanical obsession with caution and negativity, that is likely now to cost them a 13-0 whitewash.

  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on January 23, 2014, 3:57 GMT

    i am neutral fan, clarke is better than cook and AB is far better than both.

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  • ODI_BestFormOfCricket on January 23, 2014, 3:57 GMT

    i am neutral fan, clarke is better than cook and AB is far better than both.

  • ThinkingCricket on January 23, 2014, 4:38 GMT

    This "Pietersen apology" nonsense has to stop. No his dismissals weren't ridiculous unless the idea of playing any attacking shot at all is now taboo in England. Sometimes attacking shots will work and sometimes they won't. Ian Bell played in the exact same manner, as did Stokes in the match where most of the criticism has come. No one said a word. What is more, him playing naturally is not selfish, it's better for the team, because on balance he will do better by playing attackingly then by trying to transform himself into Cook. If anyone should apologize it should be the English management for their puritanical obsession with caution and negativity, that is likely now to cost them a 13-0 whitewash.

  • on January 23, 2014, 4:44 GMT

    Honestly, I think the problem is more with man management that with any cricketing ability. How on earth could English have dropped down so fast, and that has nothing to do with playing conditions or batting and bowling capabilities. Flower has vividly shown his weaker side, that of man management when in a difficult situation. Prior to the series the English press, the ECB and some players were guilty of bringing small issues out of the cupboard and making mountain out of mole hill. That effected the internal psyche of players. There was lots of Kevin bashing going on in the media and in social media clearly signifying that what transpired in the house was given to neighbors and thus began the mode of team destruction. Under normal circumstances England would have fared very well. THe Aussies are not the invincible of yesterday but bunch or good cricketers. What England now need is a person who can talk to them as individuals ans as a team and not someone who will browbeat the lot.

  • xtrafalgarx on January 23, 2014, 4:45 GMT

    @ODI_BestFormOfCricket: As a captain or batsman? I think Clarke trumps AB on both in terms of construction of an innings and skill against spin.

    AB doesn't score hundreds at a rate that Cook and Clarke do. They both had 25 at 100 tests, AB would be lucky to get anywhere near there by 100 tests.

  • Srivathsan_Sridharan on January 23, 2014, 5:48 GMT

    Don't know why the author seems to point out KP's manner of dismissals as ridiculous. He is the one who took the attack to the opposition. If KP is at fault, so is Bell who i think dismissed in the same manner in the same test. Kevin Pietersen is a genuine match-winner. I think he is down in confidence now. Its the responsibility of the team management to grow his confidence and back him at all levels. It is very wrong to rest him in the ODI series. It will be better for him to play some limited overs cricket which suits his style of playing and get back to his form rather than sitting somewhere and thinking about how to gain form and confidence. Clearly, No thinking from the England Team Management.

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

    As an Indian, I love watching KP. India need someone like him in the middle overs. Give him to Dhoni and see how many chances he gets. He will be better giving chances to him rather than some Rohits, Rainas & Ashwins.:-)

  • Nuxxy on January 23, 2014, 6:23 GMT

    A team shows their character in defeat far more than in victory. There have been times when England has lost, or after fielding lapses, that you could see the bowlers (Swann in particular) mouthing off. Whereas when an Australian fielder lapses, whi;e there might be frustration, the general response is "bad luck mate".

    Here's a question: When KP (or anyone) goes out to bat, are his team mates thinking "Go on Kevin, score a 100, you carry our hopes" or "Good riddance! I hope Mitch scones him!" For all their talk of team culture over the last few years I think it has only been success that has kept England from falling apart, not any genuine kinship.

  • Gabbagod on January 23, 2014, 6:25 GMT

    Mark, with respect you must know more about the Swann "retirement" as everyone loosely involved with the team does. Is it not true that after Perth, each member of the team was sat down by Cook/Flower and asked if they were in for the long haul. Swann's reply was not what they wanted so gave him the opportunity to retire effective immediately. They could not allow a personality as large as Swann's to circulate through the group if he wasn't 100% committed. It was Swann's honesty that made the "management ask for his immediate retirement".

  • MarinManiac on January 23, 2014, 6:40 GMT

    2006/7. Trescothick. Depression. Leaves tour. Throws team into disarray. Flintoff captaincy too much for him to do. Ashley Giles. Leaves tour two games in (to care for sick wife, fair enough). Panesar thrown in. Weak bowling. Zim Coach on downturn (Fletcher) Australia mad for revenge. Result - 5-0. 2012/13. Trott. Depression. Leaves tour. Throws team into disarray. Cook captaincy probably too much for him -- batting affected. Graeme Swann. Leaves tour because he can't bowl any more. Panesar thrown in. Weak bowling. Zim Coach on downturn (Flower) Australia mad for revenge. Result - 5-0. Lightning has this strange tendency to strike twice. Which means that after this, the team should regroup just fine....but it'll take a couple of years. England media need to remember that. (Oh, and who is the next Strauss...? Sam Robson? Another Middlesex opener?)

  • dunger.bob on January 23, 2014, 6:42 GMT

    Captaincy seems to be a funny old thing. When the team wins the captain is hailed as a genius and when they lose he's suddenly a twit. In most cases neither of those perceptions is actually true.

    Nicko is right. The captain can't beat the opposition on his own. He's got 10 players around him who have to pull their weight so he can execute his plans and tactics. It's no secret that England base their game on scoring mega runs in the 1st innings at a steady rate in order to tire the opposition bowlers and put scoreboard pressure on the enemies batsmen. .. Getting consistently bowled out in about 4 sessions does not help that strategy at all.

    I'm not sure about Cook as a L.O player, let alone captain, but to sack him from the test captaincy because of this debacle just doesn't seem like the way to go.