Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 2nd day

Battle-weary England slide again

England look jaded, joyless and over-reliant on tired players who have too many miles on the clock; it is hard to avoid the sense that their time has passed

George Dobell at Adelaide Oval

December 6, 2013

Comments: 124 | Text size: A | A
'Bowlers stuck to task' - Stokes

As surely as day ebbs into night, so England's grasp on the Ashes urn is loosening by the session.

Yes, England are only one down with three-and-a-half Tests to play and, yes, they have earned through their achievements the respect not to be written off just yet.

But it is increasingly hard to escape the feeling that an era is ending in English cricket. The issues that have been masked by individual excellence for some time can be hidden no more: England look jaded, joyless and over-reliant on tired players who have too many miles on the clock. It's not dark yet, but it's getting there.

It is hard to pinpoint the moment the music died for this team. Was it during the batting debacle of Brisbane? Was it when Jonathan Trott became the most obvious manifestation of burnout and left the tour? Was it here, when Michael Carberry summed up a wretched fielding effort by putting down a simple chance off Brad Haddin, or when Australia's No. 10 swung the finest spinner England have produced for decades for successive sixes?

It says much about England's performance in the field that the finest catch of the second day - an excellent, jumping one-handed effort plucked out of the sky - came from a member of the media beyond the midwicket boundary and not from any of the team. No bowling attack had ever conceded so many sixes in an Ashes innings and it is very hard to recall an innings where England squandered seven chances in the field.

So it was all those moments and more. Certainly the wonderful batting of Michael Clarke on the second morning here and the vast improvement in the performance of an Australia team that looked hapless only months ago is relevant. The manner in which they snatched this game from England's grasp was deeply impressive; the positive cricket they played backed up much of the bold talk they have made in recent months. They deserve all the praise they will receive.

While in 2010-11, the tone was set by the run-out of Simon Katich in Adelaide, this time England made basic mistakes. If fielding is the window to the soul of a team, England are in trouble

But it was also the scheduling that saw England obliged to go straight from a Champions Trophy final into an Ashes series; it was the seeping weariness of asking them to play back-to-back Ashes series with all the attendant hype and hyperbole; and it was the relentless demands of a treadmill that sees them regularly play more Tests than any other side in the world, alongside an increased priority in limited-overs cricket. The ECB, desperate to feed a business model that may well not be sustainable, has asked too much of its most precious assets.

England have been running on empty for some time. They looked jaded going into the 2011 World Cup, as they did when touring New Zealand at the start of 2013 and throughout the Ashes in England. Perhaps partly as a result of the somewhat intense environment in which the England team operate, there appears to be a lack of levity to relieve the tension. All those night in hotels - anything up to 260 a year - all those big games, all those media conferences and public appearances, have taken their toll. The ECB has been to the well too often.

There are other factors that have weakened English cricket. The decision to rid the domestic scene of non-England-qualified players and offer young player incentives saw a generation of experienced professionals replaced by kids who should have been forced to work harder for a career in the game. The turgid pitches that proliferate in England bear little relation to those found in the international game and the introduction of Lions games during the English season have further diluted the standard of domestic cricket. The gap between the county and international games has grown dangerously large.

Alastair Cook on his knees in the field, Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 2nd day, December 6, 2013
Alastair Cook is one of a number of experienced England players whose performances have dipped © Getty Images

The bowlers will attract criticism after conceding such a vast total. It is true, certainly, that there is a worrying theme among them to lose pace the longer they are exposed to the England set-up. Certainly the inability to exploit the vast potential of fast bowlers like Steven Finn reflects poorly on the coaching staff. He has regressed since his elevation to the Test team.

But the England bowlers also suffered from a pathetic level of support from their fielders. While some of the missed opportunities were tough, there was a general sloppiness to England's fielding - including Ben Stokes taking a wicket with a no-ball - that was unrecognisable from the side that won here in 2010-11.

While in 2010-11, the tone was set by Trott's run-out of Simon Katich in the first over of the Adelaide Test, this time England made basic mistakes. So Carberry fumbled a simple run-out and Monty Panesar, ridiculously, found himself at long leg as England attempted a hook trap. If fielding is the window to the soul of a team - and it very often is - England are in trouble.

Whatever happens in the future, it should not detract from the achievements of the past. This team have, by England's standards, enjoyed levels of success not matched for decades. Several of them, and their coach, Andy Flower, will surely be remembered as among the best to have represented England.

But all things must pass. And the increasing sense of recent months is of a team, well past its best, desperately trying to cling to the past. The performances of experienced players - the likes of Matt Prior, Alastair Cook, James Anderson and Graeme Swann - have all dipped by a small degree and there is little evidence that all the millions invested in academies and youth teams and coaching structures have created the requisite competition for places.

And that is England's real problem. For these are, give or take a player or two, the best England have and they are capable of much better. But they are weary and spent with ingrained exhaustion and institutional weariness. Against a resurgent Australia team, they are struggling to summon the strength for another fight. It may be a battle too far.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by BowlersHoldingBatsmansWilley on (December 7, 2013, 8:06 GMT)

I have seen this mentioned before, about the lack of international professionals for young players to compete against, but I have also seen that the young professionals were never thrown the ball in key moments, so could never learn to bowl a good 'death ball' or the international player would be the one to hit the winning runs so the young English player never got to deal with pressure situations. Not sure what the answer is.

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (December 7, 2013, 7:49 GMT)

Excellent article George Dobell. While it might look like the 1990s has returned for England. Shouldn't forget that changes were made in English cricket in the late 1990s and early 2000s which led to players coming through the improved system in the last 10 years to better success than they had in the 1990s. Four ashes wins in the last 10 years proves that. I think scheduling and Player burnout of senior players many now past their peaks has to be considered. As in J.Trott leaving the tour. The next ashes is in 3 1/2 years time. I am sure Ashes watchers will keep tabs how the England and Australian teams perform home and away in the next 3 1/2 years. By then no doubt many Eng senior players would have left the seen a new generation will come through. It remains to be seen if the 1990s have returned for England and Australia that a sustained period of England struggle and Aussie dominance, ie like in 1990s at home England play well away on winter tours they really struggle as in 1990s

Posted by dizza on (December 7, 2013, 7:30 GMT)

I wont complain. Looking at the busy schedule by the time sri Lanka come in the summer england will be exhausted and sri lanka can pouch a another win or two

Posted by kingcobra85 on (December 7, 2013, 7:21 GMT)

Era? I don't even remember them winning an ICC tournament of any sort apart from T20 world. Era must surely stretch atleast a decade. Windies was an era, then the Aussies but nothing else.

Posted by Chris_P on (December 7, 2013, 7:21 GMT)

@Dravid_Sachin_Gravitas_Atheist. Stokes was 12 yo when his parents decided to move to England. How is this anything like the ECB poaching players from other countries? Stokes had the choice to either play for NZ or England & decided for England, where he now lives. Do some proper research next time.

Posted by Rufus_Fuddleduck on (December 7, 2013, 6:54 GMT)

Maybe the Era is referring to the long wait ahead of England for new glory. England always has had sporadic successes - Wimbledon, the football World Cup, Olympics - so when it happens it is something to mark on the calendar. And let everyone know. Before it happens, when it happens and after it happens. No one will die wondering.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 6:42 GMT)

I think people are being a bit harsh in criticising the England 'era.' Maybe they aren't an all-conquering superpower like the Windies in the 80s or Australia in the 90s/2000s, but they've still had a 4-5 year stretch as a genuinely top class team. Basically the same squad has been together since 2009, and in that time they've won three Ashes series and beaten India home and away, not to mention winning series against Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Windies at home. They've only actually lost two series, the one against Pakistan in the UAE, and against SA at home (which was a wee bit closer than people remember - yes, they were thrashed in the first test, but they ran them pretty close in the next two).

Posted by humdrum on (December 7, 2013, 6:15 GMT)

Actually England is hardly poaching on the weak cricketing nations seeing that it is a weak one itself.Any cricket lover who has watched this series will agree that they have been unable to compete and look out of depth.Nothing new, it has happened before and will happen again. hence the 'weak' tag.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (December 7, 2013, 5:48 GMT)

And BTW, that Kiwi Ben Stokes bowled well. It's about time England fields their own citizens rather than poaching players from vulnerable nations. Poaching players from other nations is the single most evil thing that ECB takes pride in implementing as a tradition. This poaching does no good to the weaker nations.

Posted by RJHB on (December 7, 2013, 5:48 GMT)

Oh look I reckon the decline started well before Brisbane or even the series in England. I reckon you could go back to the Pakistan series and then a narrowly salvaged draw in SL. In fact England haven't really played as a team maybe even as far back as the last time in Australia. There's been a lot of individual brilliance that's brought results for the poms, like Cook in India and Bell last Ashes. Take those guys out and maybe the series would've been reversed. And you know when the good players get older and start going and the young guys coming up don't really come on, it makes it hard to keep going. Witness the Aussie performance in recent years.

Posted by yuvi_gladiator on (December 7, 2013, 5:44 GMT)

agreed, but Australia playing better has a big role in this. Also burnout point is debatable as its effecting every top ranked team these days.

Posted by the_blue_android on (December 7, 2013, 5:43 GMT)

Era? Really? Era? Another exercise in hyperbole! This 'era' fits right into the English lexicon which describes Flintoff's 'legacy'! Since when is a 1.5 year stretch being considered an era?

Posted by Rufus_Fuddleduck on (December 7, 2013, 5:42 GMT)

@cloudmess the decline is true but unfortunately you can't afford to talk big, hard, nasty and then decline same time. There's no law preventing England from doing so, but then in the field and the press there will be a response. The obvious comparison is the decline of talented players in India, however with a minor difference. India enjoyed time at the top beyond expectations but at least didn't need to depend on other teams for their rankings. England have had a concatenation of circumstances overall in the opposition to buttress their limited reign. They didn't do much in the first half of the previous decade against full-strength Aussie sides.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (December 7, 2013, 5:32 GMT)

If there was ever any doubt....there isn't now.

Posted by Rufus_Fuddleduck on (December 7, 2013, 5:24 GMT)

Regarding the Era - if one may dispassionately analyse, 2005 was tooth and nail riveting stuff on home soil. That result was put in perspective by 2007. By end of 2008, the Aussies were in decline - Sydneygate was a leading symptom of that. 2009 and 2011 Ashes were admissibly memorable if only as a good English team and an opposition on the downcurve. Ditto for the Indian home and away tours where team rebuilding was being done and God alone knows what the dressing room was all about. Any memories of Pakistan wiping the floor may be conveniently discarded? As also that the No 1 reign was practically ended, and extended by one marker only because of the brave show of Williamson against South Africa. That counts as an era? Wonder what Bradman, Lloyd and Waugh would say once they pick themselves up after rolling on the floor.

Posted by Rufus_Fuddleduck on (December 7, 2013, 4:55 GMT)

England have always invented games and systems but never been able to tweak them. And even when no longer an Empire for the better part of a century, their Test teams need to import talent. Bit thick considering the White Roses couldn't stand even their neighbouring county players in their teams. All that is piffle anyways. Now the world's greatest fast bowler and the world's greatest spinner have the stage for their talents. Once they bundle out Australia, let no one say that they could only operate when the opposition is down.

Posted by Rufus_Fuddleduck on (December 7, 2013, 4:52 GMT)

Well analysed - but frankly these were traditional weaknesses. Frankly last time Australia were completing the downcycle and were without their derring-do while England had a bit of luck and the scoreline was flattering. @humdrum that part is true - the scoreline may yet be right with a change in the team.

Posted by applethief on (December 7, 2013, 4:51 GMT)

George, your mistake, which you keep making, is trying to convince yourself that England ever had a golden period. This England team's achievements amount to precisely one away Ashes win. Everything else has been wins against mediocre sides - they've crumbled against every challenging opponent. Recall how you described England's 2012, their year of abject and embarrassing failure, as "golden"? That was a remarkably jingoistic assessment in your article at the end of 2012. A grossly overrated side, suddenly confronting us with the bare truth that they were never any good - why can't you see this?

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 4:49 GMT)

The English team is supposed to have the finest opening batsman (Cook), most flamboyant no 4 (KP), greatest off spinner going round (Swann), world's premier swing merchant (Anderson) and the most fiesty all rounder (Broad). How come such a bunch of greats like ice cream exposed to sun.

Fact is England had the rub of the green in their home ashes and lorded over mediocre opposition at home. They were never great like the West Indies of the 80s or the Aussies of the 90s.

Maybe, time has come for the ECB folks to start tapping deep into SA cricket system to identify fresh imports.

Posted by Sir_Ivor on (December 7, 2013, 4:44 GMT)

Actualy I am inclined to agree with Dravid_Sachin_Gravitas_Atheist. I think what the author meant was the" Ashes era" because they have seldom had the pleasure of winning three Ashes encounters both home and away.the last of which they just were lucky to win by the camouflaging score line of 3-0. In English conditions Anderson is excellent but nothing elsewhere. Swann is not the bowler he is capable of being for whatever reason. The batting was made to look Bradmanesque because of the scores in the last Ashes series in Australia. What you see today is reality. Ian Bell is probably the best batsman that England has. Cook is a doughty Englishman but not poised for the greatness that Pietersen had marked him to be. There will be many such analyses after their latest humiliation. And we must remember that the game is being played in Adelaide. And that Australia scored 570 for 9 dec. So then there you are. Truly the end of an era that never was.

Posted by humdrum on (December 7, 2013, 4:04 GMT)

Any bets on who will be the next player to take the flight to old blighty ? Why is it that these things happen only to English players, is it because they are softies ?I suppose the english fans got it right when they said 5-0, only they got the team wrong.What a drubbing is being dished out.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (December 7, 2013, 3:22 GMT)

End of an era? What era? Which era? Was there one in the first place? It was a mirage wished by none other than Beefy on SKYSPORTS when England beat a jaded Team India in England. Hate to break it down for our English friends here.

Posted by Rooboy on (December 7, 2013, 2:54 GMT)

Had to laugh at 'This team have, by England's standards, enjoyed levels of success not matched for decades' ... not much of an achievement given they'd be hard pressed to enjoy less success than the teams of the 90s. And I think 'end of an era' applies more to the decline of great teams like Windies 70/80s and Aus 90s/00s, rather than a group of players who had a coupla good years no longer playing above themselves.

Posted by wayno1971 on (December 7, 2013, 2:40 GMT)

Oh boo hoo George, these guys get paid vast sums of money to do what they do, a lot of people would love to even have the opportunity to do and play a sport for a living, cricketers these days hardly have to lift a finger except at training and I'm sure there's plenty of support staff running around doing most of the little things there also, everything paid for by the administration, meals flights accom etc etc, ifiit's too hard maybe they should get out in the real world and see what most have to deal with and they'd appreciate how easy they have it, tired and jaded please

Posted by Thegimp on (December 7, 2013, 2:35 GMT)

That's the funniest I've read in a long time!!! A system that 6 months ago was the best in the world, one that had Aust consulting consultants and attempting to emulate is all of a sudden defunct??? No no no, it's not your system Dobbers it's something I've been on about for some years. First against India and this year against England. They doctor pitches to suit their strength and nullify the oposition's. England were out of this series, and I'm not suggesting they are without hope, but their soul took a beating at Brisbane when for the first time in years they had to play on a fast bouncy wicket. Yesterday Cook, for the first time I have ever known him, looked scared. Stop the doctoring, let your teams play on all types of wickets, stop being scared of losing, believe in your ability to win anywhere, anytime and on any surface (Send this memo to India as well). I am not surprised Anderson and co have given up, you would too if you constantly had to bowl on featherbeds made for Swann

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 2:17 GMT)

If England are having problems, it is not that much better for Australia either. Australia has an (on average) older team in this series, so it won't be long till the likes of Rogers, Watson, Clarke, Haddin, Johnson and Harris are all retired.

Posted by dunger.bob on (December 7, 2013, 1:03 GMT)

@ Clarence2020: " Travelling away from home is never easy but having to do it so soon after a Ashes series could well be having a far greater impact than any improved performance in the Australians". Huh. I don't get that. I've looked and thought and studied it but I just can't see what you mean. .. Australia travelled to England via India where we were flogged. We duly got flogged again by your lot. Nobody, I mean nobody, blamed the travel arrangements for our defeats. We were outplayed both times, simple as that.

I usually don't like to generalise, but the English come across as so very easy to upset. They tend to look for excuses and are quick to blame outside influences that 'robbed' them of the chance to perform at their best rather than just man up and say 'we stunk'. .. I realise your're not all like that and it's stupid to stereotype people according to their nationality, but it is something I've noticed over 30 years or so of watching the game.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 0:43 GMT)

There's too many tests period. Draw more money short term, burn the game out. Tests need to come rarely and after a first class season where players play to get in the Test side, not concurrently, same thing with ODI's. There should always be financial incentives for every first class side to play the best side they can possibly afford to play, no limitations on age. I tend to think England should have more restrictions on international players though, always have, even though it's great experience for young bowlers to get to bowl to Chris Rogers and Simon Katich, they're just taking up space that could go to English Test aspirants.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2013, 0:26 GMT)

Could be that you're correct, Mr Dobell. Certainly the points about the gap between the CC and Test cricket are valid and really, centrally contracted players not being available during the season only serves to exacerbate the gap. But there is another aspect - England may be too formulaic and even if Andy Flower has brought England fantastic success, it was only a matter of time before someone "sussed them" and together with a collective dip in (batting) form, that's all it takes. But where England really suffer is being without a stellar all-rounder, a Botham or Flintoff able to turn a match around either with bat or ball.

Posted by Puffin on (December 7, 2013, 0:05 GMT)

I did wonder if something like this was in store. Australia seemed to be rebuilding (especially the bowling) and pushed hard at times in England, although the scoreline looked bad, some games were a lot tighter than innings defeats. Australia have 5 matches already this year to get to know the England team, work them out, etc, and now they have home advantage on their side too.

England have goofed up before and then hit back spectacularly. But it doesn't happen every time. Although they did become no1, they were never as good as Australia. But this series isn't lost yet.

Posted by dunger.bob on (December 6, 2013, 23:59 GMT)

I'll agree that England looks tired. Why, they were just so damned weary none of them could find the energy for a gentle clap to acknowledge the centuries by either Clarke or Haddin. So very, very tired all they could do was look peeved.

I think what's actually happened here is that Eng. are appalled by the level of fight coming from the Aussies. It's taken them aback and they don't want to know about it. .. It seems simple to me. The challenge is there so you either meet it full on or you don't meet it at all. Up to this point England have tried to dance around it but this series isn't over yet. Hell, this test isn't even over yet so there's still time for the Poms to gather themselves and push back hard. The question is whether they're up for it. If the prospect of losing the Ashes isn't enough motivation for them then they are truly shot-ducks.

Posted by Deanwsmith on (December 6, 2013, 23:35 GMT)

This English team are full of enigmas that the English press have pumped up. Aside from Broad, and Swann on his day, this bowling attack is toothless. There has never been a more overrated cricketer than James Anderson. He will get nothing out of this tour and his average and strike rate will continue to rise. He wouldn't even get a spot in Australias unsettled attack! I think Root shows some potential, but will not break through in this series. I honestly think Carberry has what it takes to make it at Test level, but we will see in this test match. Too much of this team is dependant on KP and Broad.

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (December 6, 2013, 23:29 GMT)

Excuses, excuses. Most of the core English players were rested for their home ODI series. Australia has to play a test series in India and then an ODI series prior to the Ashes in England - and I don't recall anyone making excuses for their performance.

Posted by Go_Saints on (December 6, 2013, 23:21 GMT)

Though I feel it is too early to predict the end, it just goes to show how the greatness of the WI team of 1980's and Australian team in 2000's that dominated the game for a decade or more in all forms of the game. The current English and South African teams are very good. But they can never be compared to the best teams of the past.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 23:18 GMT)

If this is the end of an era, what era is it and when was the start? In the last 10 years or so England have, in general, performed better than the 10-15 before that, but there have still been dips - they've never had a sufficiently prolonged spell of domination to be glorified by that term. The clobbering in UAE, home defeat to SA and barely managing to hold on for a draw in NZ were the low points in the last couple of years, but in between those they've won from behind in India, and comfortably beaten NZ and Australia at home - overall, not a bad record.

Search for whatever reasons you like, the fact is that Australia have been extremely impressive over the first six days of the series and England have been very poor - but is that a sign of terminal decline? I doubt it - they've lost series before, and bounced back to win the next one; there's no particular reason why they shouldn't do so again.

Posted by chicko1983 on (December 6, 2013, 23:16 GMT)

End of an era? 12 months at world number 1 is not an era! Try 1995 to 2009 with only 9 months not at no. 1. That's an era!

Posted by disco_bob on (December 6, 2013, 23:13 GMT)

End of an era? Damn, I blinked and missed it.

Posted by __PK on (December 6, 2013, 23:05 GMT)

I can only disagree with one point in this article - the rather generous description of three years as an "era". It's not even a full short Ashes cycle, because it didn't start until mid-Gabba 2010 and the end was approaching well before the end of the Ashes series in England this year - but the team was too full of hubris to recognise it, a lot like the false dawn of 2005.

Posted by poms_have_short_memories on (December 6, 2013, 22:44 GMT)

Whilst I am very impressed with Australia's dominance in this series so far, I am still quite wary of England. Australia seems to have Cooks' measure, but the poms are still a world class unit so I won't be counting my chickens just yet. I remember 1997 when England won the 1st test and they escaped in the 2nd test because of rain only for Australia to obliterate them in the next 3 tests. A win or draw here for Australia and good Mitch and Harris should clean up at the WACA, 2-1 Australia.

Posted by JethroTell on (December 6, 2013, 22:42 GMT)

England have a good team but they were never a great team, and their time near the top is over. Like CA did with the great Aussie team of the 90/00's the ECB have milked it to make money and made the team play too much, the selectors and management have not nurtured the upcoming talent (e.g. Finn) and the dumbing down of English pitches have all contributed. Anderson at 125km on Adelaide does not strike fear, it only increases the strike rate of the Australian batsmen. Keep the only 2 who have a go, Broad and Root, drop the rest, and rebuild for the next ashes.

Posted by heathrf1974 on (December 6, 2013, 22:40 GMT)

Too early to call that. If England don't post over 300 after today then maybe this article will carry more weight. Pietersen will need to lift, he gets a lot of accolades but is too inconsistent to be considered great.

Posted by BlueyCollar on (December 6, 2013, 22:32 GMT)

Judging by the comments coming from the English supporters and the tone of the stories penned by the English media one would think that the world is coming to an end. In the short term remember the Aussies have to win the series to take the earn whereas the English only need a draw, therefore with this test likely to be a draw and Australia being 1 nil up there is still hope. In the medium term there needs to be some intergenerational change. So what, a couple of great cricketers are close to retiring. The English should be excited about the next gen. Super impressed with Root, apparently there is a young keeper/ batsman in the wings, give a couple of young quicks a go in Perth. If the Priors, Andersons, Swanns, Pietersons etc are struggling with the workload make the young blokes the constants and rotate the older blokes so when they do play they are hungry and fresh and are still there to pass on the knowledge and culture to the youth.

Posted by Clarence2020 on (December 6, 2013, 22:29 GMT)

Once again, early days. If England had held their catches we'd probably be facing a much more even game. I see nothing to suggest the lapses in England's fielding is more of a one off rather than a permanent feature and while there was an improved performance from Australia's top order, still 60% of the runs came from the usual suspects, Clarke and the bottom half of the order. The impact of Lehman and McDermott can be underestimated but what has also probably much benefitted Australia is that the second of this back to back Ashes series is being played in Australia. While both teams maybe feeling the effects, England is doing so away from home, while the Australians benefit from familiar surroundings, a supportive crowd, an occasional visit to one's bed and a far greater level of back room support etc. Travelling away from home is never easy but having to do it so soon after a Ashes series could well be having a far greater impact than any improved performance in the Australians

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 22:29 GMT)

Carberry is really a stand out in the field. For all the wrong reasons. I think England will need to bring out a new broom after this series. Starting with the captain, his negativity and general lack of confidence is infectious.

Posted by Chris_P on (December 6, 2013, 22:21 GMT)

Fielding standards have dropped dramatically since the last time they toured & before. I recall when our side started it's descent from its lofty position was when we started dropping catches we used to grab. I can't really comment on the next generation of English players as I only view stats, but the cupboard looks a little lean on the pace side of things. It's a cycle every country goes through after a period (long or short) of sustained success. The Poms will battle & battle hard, these guys do know how to put up a struggle, you don't lose that overnight.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 22:19 GMT)

I can understand why a team would be jaded in this era. But from the very start of an Ashes series? Individual players perhaps, it has happened to Aus too and I accept that its a problem but I think that the Baggygreens genuinely caught England out at Brisbane and they are struggling to come back. Anderson and Swann do look genuinely jaded and they've not had a good preparation at all for this series. Can England bounce back? I'm not sure but I think they need to get Broad, Rankin, Finn, Bresnan fired up for Perth and Ballance into the team too. It's pretty embarrassing when you can't even give the opposing no.11 anything other than balls on a good length. I fear the English team has morphed into the shadow of its coach, characterless and myopic. Don't get me wrong, I really like and admire Andy Flower, but you don't want xi of him in your team. They need to find their mongrel and some fresh legs. You need only look at Johnson and Haddin to know that England can come again.

Posted by Masking_Tape on (December 6, 2013, 22:11 GMT)

Wait, what? "End of an era"...? When did this so called "era" begin? You make it sound like England was somehow at level of the Great WI/Aus side! Crazy talk!

Posted by ShutTheGate on (December 6, 2013, 21:56 GMT)

@ SevereCritic - Well put!

I think Butch had an interesting point on one of the switch hit episodes when he said he found it amusing that the Australian team were do everything they could to not be Australian, and we were loosing as a result. Now it's like Australian cricket has woken up from a slumber and we're brash, aggressive and attacking again.

That's what our fans like to see. Hopefully we become the team everyone hates and wants to beat again in the next few years.

Posted by ShutTheGate on (December 6, 2013, 21:51 GMT)

While I agree that England are past their best. Strauss, Collingwood and Trott are not easy players to replace but I don't think it's doom and gloom for them yet.

People are over reacting I think, they are not out of this series - yet.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 21:47 GMT)

@Severecritic What? No innovation? Not in sport I'll grant you. Given that we make up less than 1% of the worlds population we've innovated plenty. Check out British inventions. In sport I'll grant you - we're rubbish. We had a system that worked. Fletcher knew it PACE was required. Jones, Harmison and Flintoff all capable of 92MPH or more. Over the years we've evolved into a team of typical English style trundlers with the comedy of a dobber like Broad thinking he can bounce people out every ball. Anderson without swing is like a one leg man in a backside kicking contest. Swann with a dodgy shoulder is just some bloke who trots up and lets go of a ball for the batsman to hit. The batters all look like they are on tour as punishment for something. You could have a drinking game "spot the pommie smile and take a slug" with a bottle of Jamesons - and after a days play you'd be stone cold sober. Sad - really sad.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on (December 6, 2013, 21:38 GMT)

It is no longer a contest.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (December 6, 2013, 21:35 GMT)

A problem in all this is ECB overmilking the Ashes cow-it gets too much.There is far more more pleasure to be gained from playing fresh faces. But of course there is money in these series. And we have another series in 2015-have they no imagination? Of course the good old ECB have another cow-India.Well done ECB! I listened to Colville plotting the demise Swann on TV and then read some stuff about Prior etc. Then the figures were shown as Colville was proved idiotic (not for the first time.) For God's sake can't the 'experts' stop writing players off five years in advance. It's all too sensationalist and goes along with overmilking cows. England are not suddenly a bad side or a spent force. We shall see. My only quibble about the England squad is that they overplayed the idea of very tall fast bowlers. They may only need have taken Broad and Finn.

Posted by lebigfella on (December 6, 2013, 21:30 GMT)

I am so disappointed. This is such a similar scenario to 2006-7. Fair play to the Australians, they have blown us away with aggression, confrontation & better cricket. Surely we wouldn't expect anything less which really adds to the disappointment. Swann & Anderson look really out of sorts however the Australians seem to have done their homework and played both extremely well with skill & admirable patience. It is time for our batsmen to stand up to the mark and make us proud. This is going to be an extremely hard series and we need to start playing. Enough said... all said and done I still have faith. England to win 2-1. I pray that tomorrow morning I wake up still believing that.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 21:16 GMT)


Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 21:15 GMT)

This just illustrates how much cricket is a mental game. Three years ago, with a not dissimilar team, England gave Australia the worst thrashing imaginable in their own back yard - three innings defeats. Now, Australia believes it can win and England has forgotten how to play tough. But perhaps the place to look is the head coach - remember Duncan Fletcher in 2006/7 -- somehow the team lost its grip after a few years under Fletch? Are we seeing a similar pattern here under Andy Flower, seven years later? Flower has been fantastic, no question. But something has gone awry, and it is reflected in England's mental approach.

Posted by gogoldengreens on (December 6, 2013, 20:57 GMT)

This article smacks of the reason Australia has dominated England over the years - England kick cans as soon as things go wrong. If this is what England calls as the dominant team of the decades - team that was annihilated the last Perth test match!! Also boasting prior to ashes how not lost a match for 13 tests - bring on our Aussie record of 16 straight wins we did it twice!!! The last time Australia were 1-0 up in an ashes test we went on to win 5-0.

Posted by BigINDFan on (December 6, 2013, 20:53 GMT)

Eng need tweaks to their team and thinking - 1) Need an aggressive free flowing batsman or two in the top order like Warner for Aus and Shikhar Dhawan for Ind. Cook is a conservative player that needs a free stroke maker on the other end. 2) Need young fast bowlers with energy and fighting spirit instead of Anderson, Bresnan. 3) Replace Swann with a legspinner or good left arm spinner 4) Sack Flower and get an energetic/successful coach like Gary Kirsten. 5) Send Eng players to play in IPL and other T20 leagues like Big Bash and SAT20. They can earn and have fun to keep the energy levels going. Biggest mindshift is Ashes is not everything. You need to win against SA, NZ, etc. Also reduce the Ashes series to 3 tests and play on competitive fast pitches. ICC - There should be a rule that only 3 Test series should be played and more of it on bowler friendly pitches.

Mitch Johnson is on song and its so much fun to watch him. Groom Steve Finn and he will destroy teams with Broad!

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 20:29 GMT)

oh! so india playing cricket round the year isn't a great deal but England playing 250 days a year is a herculean workload. Every team goes through that. When India lost 2 years ago. They were jaded too. everyone looks jaded when they lose

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 20:24 GMT)

Too simplistic an analysis- describing the Australian improvement as only "relevant" to the situation England finds themselves in is to miss the point. Surely ascribe a little credit where its due!

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 20:20 GMT)

Cricket is the glorious game of uncertainty. Lets not rule England out yet.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 19:55 GMT)

it was not too long ago that all the media was praising the domestic setup in England and how that has ensured englands continuity in being the top team in cricket. this team is still good, even without trott. this article is jumping the gun. I will not be surprised if England have a good first innings, saves this test match, all media hails their achievements and this article is then deleted.

Posted by DJAbacus on (December 6, 2013, 19:55 GMT)

Looking forward to day three and expecting England to get back into this Test Match and Series with a solid batting performance. England should remain positive. You don't become a bad team overnight. A draw will feel like a win for England from here. Come on boys.

Posted by rohan34mca on (December 6, 2013, 19:55 GMT)

Front-Foot_lunge - Right mate totally agree with you comments on Australian team of last decade! I have little problem when Media brags about; However when you see players themselves/coaching staff or even former players proclaim greatness. You really know the decline is around the corner. They have a dug a grave of embarrassment for themselves.. No one else!

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 19:46 GMT)

England need to remember how they were humiliated in 2009 Ashes in 4th test I believe before Trott made his debut and England came roaring back. Same thing last time in Australia when they lost in Perth badly and came back strong. Similar situation in India. They are mentally stronger than previous teams. They need to bat for 3 days and grind the Aussie bowlers. Don't need to go too far back, just look what Faf did against them on SA last tour. England have their destiny in their own hands. This is the moment. Bat 3 days and you will see the panic in Aussie camp.

Posted by ScottStevo on (December 6, 2013, 19:45 GMT)

After each day of play the knee-jerk articles are coming thick and fast. What's also been interesting is just how quickly the next day completely opposite conclusions are drawn. I'm not entirely sure why it is we're writing such articles about Eng being done. They've lost one test and have fielded below par for a day or so. Big deal. It's somewhat insulting of the Aus batting achievement that we've scored those runs and kept Eng in the field for such a long period to mark it down to weariness - we earned that weariness by batting through. Also, is it any shock that on this deck that 500 were scored in the first innings? Eng may bat for the next 2 days and pile up 500+ themselves. Then what, Aus bowlers too are battle-weary? That's not to say that Aus aren't in quite a good position, 1 up with a big 1st innings total - and Eng have it all to do - but there's no point writing them off until we finish them off - and there's a long way to go before Aus achieve that.

Posted by Clavers on (December 6, 2013, 19:44 GMT)

I agree with @severecritic. England have a captain with a boring, uncreative leadership style and a coach who is a micromanaging taskmaster. That might be a tolerable environment for the players to play under while they are winning. But when they lose a few, and if they are playing too often and not getting time to recharge the batteries, it can be a recipe for an unhappy team.

Perhaps England need their own version of Darren Lehmann as coach, someone who is an authority on the game but also knows how to enjoy it. Is Botham or Flintoff available?

Posted by chicko1983 on (December 6, 2013, 19:42 GMT)

From December 1995 to August 2009, Australia were the no 1 ranked team for all but 9 months! That is an era of cricket. England held no 1 ranking For one year in 2011, but both the Indian and south African "era"s have been longer. England had a good two or so years when they played the worst Aussie team to walk out onto the field and did alright, though did manage to get beaten in a game against that team. Hardly an era and hardly a golden generation. Australia are best pointed to have the next era of cricket, a real era though, due to their depth in quick bowling which is about to be unleashed over the next couple of years. Pattinson, cummins, starc, hazelwood, Coulter-Nile, cutting, richardson, etc.

Posted by oze13 on (December 6, 2013, 19:38 GMT)

The average age of Enland's team is less than Australia's. But lack of desire and complacency have eaten away at the team bit by bit. Swann, Anderson and Prior haven't performed for ages and at the moment are living on their reputations! Flower needs to act!

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 19:33 GMT)

I don't understand why people blame scheduling. I don't remember England playing anything after the previous Ashes and the one-days. They have had about 1.5-2 months of rest. How much more do they need? Australia just came back after playing India. They should be the ones tired.

But I agree with what someone said: "Winter Is Coming" for England. It has always loomed over and they have managed to delay that with individual performances that shadowed the overall issues of the team. Compare that to Australia's performance, where every member is contributing.

I just hope England find a way to delay the doom somehow, again

Posted by bhushanB on (December 6, 2013, 19:30 GMT)

What Era?

Is it the WI of the 80s or the AUS of the 90s and early 21st century or to a certain extent SA of the post-millennium?

Posted by chitti_cricket on (December 6, 2013, 19:27 GMT)

During last Ashes I have seen umpteen articles on cricinfo regarding how CA has killed it's domestic cricket structure that could produce quality test batsmen and bowlers. Now I here the same on England now? it this truly realistic. The same system that was hailed during last Ashes is now branded as one rigid system not making the amends to what modern day test cricket needs. I don't agree with that, even today England is the only country that can produce professionally well equipped test cricketers than any other nation. England is the only country that plays this much test cricket. ECB did not give that much importance to ODI and T20 format is world known. For England ultimate win of cricket is Ashes and test match wins over other nations unlike countries like India, Pakistan SL and Australia who relish and cherish on their ODI and T20 wins. So all this criticism is unwanted and undue.

Posted by Harmony_not_Discord on (December 6, 2013, 19:26 GMT)

The crux of the matter is that the Poms have lost the mental game - the poor performance in all departments says it all.

Posted by Whispering_Holding on (December 6, 2013, 18:59 GMT)

Arrogance breeds delusions which make teams feel they are better than their opponents and so disrespect the other team's chances of beating them. It creates that false sense of security. England had this over the last 2 years or so, as did the Windies of mid 90s and the Aussies of early 00s. Yet England swaggered on in their arrogance and soon their press believed this and also started to disrespect other teams playing against England. Their writers would be especially scathing when England destroyed them. Never mind that domination is cyclical, those who have ben around long enough should know better. How does it feel? Would this change the ethos of arrogance? Only time will tell but here's wishing England well, they once were my favorite second team.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 18:57 GMT)

the main difference between the two sides has been mitch johnson. real pace combined with accuracy rattles even the best. and england have been rattled.

Posted by chicko1983 on (December 6, 2013, 18:56 GMT)

@TurningSquare: those players are ok but not really ready to step up to the plate when you compare them to some of the Aussie youngsters. Ben Stokes v Mitch marsh, Jos Buttler v Peter handscomb, James Vince v joe burns, kerrigan v zampa, Chris Woakes v Faulkner, Tymal Mills v mitchell starc, James Taylor v Jordan silk, Jonny bairstow v nic maddinson, and Joe Root v steve smith. All those Aussie players are roughly the same age and I would have that Aussie team ahead of the English team any day of the week. No wonder the English lions were whitewashed when they toured Australia early on in the year.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 18:44 GMT)

England can bat long and save this game. If they can keep the Aussies out in the field all day tomorrow and some of the fourth day, it will be interesting how much energy how much energy the Aussies have then. If England can save this game then they need to fight fire with fire in Perth and go at Australia with the quicks. They may need to make a tough call and leave out Swan or even Anderson for that Test and play horses for courses there. They picked the right side here, but lost an important toss and dropped too many chances to restrict Australia. Lets hope they can battle hard, have some luck and gain a bit of momentum/form going into the next Test. England have been a formidable outfit with more peaks than troughs since the early 2000's under Hussain. This maybe a trough but I'm sure there are some peaks to come in the near future.

Posted by drpramit on (December 6, 2013, 18:15 GMT)

Conditions are different here, bowlers are not getting enough swing here, in Aus you need bowlers who can bend their back, only stuart broad is doing that & getting some wkts in d process. stokes has done well as a 5th bowler but overall its adelaide wkt which is supporting batting. Eng batsmen can also score 350+ here that should be their first target to avoid follow by batting about 4 sessions. I dont think there was any era of english team as such. they were beaten by SA in their own home this year & by pak & sri lanka last year. yes they managed to beat India in India & Aus, NZL & WI but their overall record in last 2 years was 10-8.

Posted by CricFanKrish on (December 6, 2013, 18:07 GMT)

The same was being said of Australia not so long ago - travel weary, too much workload, players performance dipping, etc. The Poms haven't had a major retirement since probably Strauss and Flintoff (there may have been others, but really not one that would really be missed). What I believe is that all great cricketing nations go through this period. The West Indies went through it (and had not really recovered yet), the Aussies did and now it is England's turn. Apart from that, yes it is too early to ask them to do soul searching. Cook and I think Trott had the major partnership in the second innings of the first test in their last visit down under. Though Trott is not in this team, they still have stalwarts like KP yet to come. I wouldn't criticize or analyze their performance just yet.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (December 6, 2013, 18:00 GMT)

I don't wish to be harsh on England here. But, you cannot call a couple of years of good test performances as an ERA. If that is the case, then India being no.1 for close to 3 years would have been a dynasty. An era is when you dominate for more than a decade at least. England simply played well for 2 years during the period between 2010 and 2012. There is nothing superlative about it. England were always going to struggle one day. Most of their players are well into their 30s and won't be around for long. Trott has already left, he's not retired but I don't think he will return any time soon. KP has already said he will play only another year or two utmost. Then you have the likes of Prior, Bell, Anderson, Swann who are all in their 30s. So this England team will eventually decline. But I don't think England will become a worst team. They have always played competitive test cricket over a 100 years. They could end up as 4th or 5th down the line.

Posted by Front-Foot_lunge on (December 6, 2013, 17:41 GMT)

Sadly, as an English fan, the writing was on the wall a long time ago, which only those lacking in intelligence and blinded by hubris, could not see. Yes we enjoyed a purple patch of performance, every team does, that is the cyclical the nature of sport. However, rather than recognising it for what it was, we spoke about things like "legacy" and "being as good as Australia was"

We now see how great that Australian team in the past was, to maintain that level of performance for so long, that in itself is awesome. We were lucky to be ranked #1 and only avoided the ignominy if handing back the mace and money due to the kiwi-SA test being rained out.

SA made sure of it in the following summer though and I wish perhaps the press and fans had tempered our hubris then. Alas, as they saw in Game of Thrones, "Winter is Coming"....and for England fans, its going to be a long long cold bitter winter of cricketing discontent.

Posted by SevereCritic on (December 6, 2013, 17:33 GMT)

This article sorta reminds me of "Another Brick in the Wall" - specifically the original video (banned in UK) of kids throwing books into the fire. The English has always been so pro-establishment, pro-process, that sometimes individuality and creative expression have been snubbed. Andy Flower, Cook, Anderson and Co epitomizes that. They follow a system - a set of predefined processes that needs to work. To be fair, it has worked for sometime. But if the system fails, they don't have the flair to break free from the shackles. Except for Pietersen. Pietersen is the only player willing to work outside the system and for this he has been repeatedly ostracized, banished and reprimanded by the pro-establishment stiffnecks. Botham all over again. Aussies were going down the same road under their previous coach. Result was a bunch of washed out miserable players and poor test series. Under Boof, they have learnt to enjoy the game again - to stamp their individuality and charm into the game.

Posted by 2929paul on (December 6, 2013, 17:17 GMT)

The two sets of players are basically the same as the ones who played in the English summer, so what is the difference? In the summer I thought England had a belief that they could win from any situation whilst the Aussies felt they could lose from any situation. Durham was probably the best example, where Australia were set up to win by Warner but Broad was roared on by the partisan crowd and ripped through the Aussie batting line up. England used to lose like this all the time in the '90s, getting into no lose situations, then somehow, before you knew it, losing.

Clearly the Australians have had the opportunity to regroup and Johnson's form and confidence has given the whole team a boost. England do look jaded and probably have lost motivation, as most of them have been there, seen it, done, got the t-shirt. There's no excuse for it really but perhaps they should take a moment to get things in perspective and understand that it is just a game, not life or death.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 17:16 GMT)

The Poms are not going to make 200 in the whole series, they have been found out or are on the way out. Their recent run of success is now well and truly over. Nathan Lyon has even out performed and outbowled Swanny and that says it all. Aussie are hard, aggressive and intense and this is more like the old days. Here's to a whitewash.....

Posted by Beertjie on (December 6, 2013, 17:15 GMT)

This article is somewhat off course. The writer assumes a quality of performance that was never based on the triumphalist note sounded by English journos starved of celebrating a champion team. That England never was, no matter what stats and rankings reflected. South Africa took over from Oz a few years ago, but this only became evident to those journos after their victory over England in 2012 could no longer conceal the gulf in class. Quite correct @MCC_Tie on (December 6, 2013, 15:13 GMT). No amount of window-dressing can disguise the fact that the emperors (both English and of course Australian) have long been exposed. Aussie fans need to acknowledge the team is s-l-o-w-l-y rebuilding. English ones may be reluctant to accept even this necessity. Agree @SagirParkar on (December 6, 2013, 13:26 GMT) Spot on @valvolux on (December 6, 2013, 14:34 GMT).

Posted by bigdhonifan on (December 6, 2013, 17:08 GMT)

Era? they just performed for couple of years....

Posted by CM1000 on (December 6, 2013, 16:59 GMT)

@HRC1979 - I don't agree that Anderson is necessarily past his best at 32 - look at Mitchell Johnson - he is also 32 and he is certainly not slowing down. You only have to go back to the 1st Test against Australia at Trent Bridge a few months ago and Anderson was awesome, taking 5 in each innings. I tend to agree more with Justin Langer's leaked dossier from 2009 - Anderson is great when everything is gong his way, but tends to hang his head and drop his effort too easily when they are getting beaten. That may be true of a lot of bowlers, but not the true greats.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 16:44 GMT)

england just defeated australia in their home tests...there ll be a drop in performances of any all these fact findings are done hust for the sake of it and can be read and ignored.I personally dont like the english team.still i love their game and it ll come out in full flow when they are pinned like this.Remember how every one criticized their batting when they lost the 1st test in India..And how magnificently they came back and won the series..England may not win this series since the aussies are all pumped up and forgot their weaknesses courtesy to their own performance in the previous test.But this England team is not going to go down easy..No predictions can be made until everything is decided on the ground..

Posted by TurningSquare on (December 6, 2013, 16:43 GMT)

Yes there are number of players the wrong side of 30 but we have a lot of promising players who ARE ready to step up to the plate: Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, James Vince, Simon Kerrigan (don't dismiss him on one game) Chris Woakes, Tymal Mills, James Taylor, Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root to name a few.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 16:42 GMT)

i don't like the article because it's telling you wrong story that england is exhausted and are tired and not happy to play cricket any more. This article is not pointing out the way australia is playing high quality currently.

Australia did not perform well in ashes in england because they knew that performance down under will be more important because getting ashes in england for 3 months was not worth it.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 16:30 GMT)

That Panesar and Stokes looked the best bowlers is telling, and sort of shows what George is saying here. The longer these guys spend in the England team - the weaker they get. Watching Broad try and match Johnson is so sad. Bowling a full 10mph slower it just doesn't have the impact. Every pacer has lost at LEAST a yard in pace over the past 18 months. Finn - who in the ODI series in India in 2011 was clocked at 96.5 and regularly over 94 is now 7-8mph down and lost his seam movement and direction. No wonder he isn't playing. Swann, Anderson, Pietersen, Bresnan, Prior and maybe even Cooke. All look shot. Be a real shame if Cooke retired early. It looked certain that he would get close to 50 test hundreds, but looking at him now it looks like he'd rather be walking around Waitrose with his wife or mowing the lawn than playing test cricket - they all do. I can see even Cooke retiring from cricket in the next 12-18 months along with 5 or 6 of the others.

Posted by TimmyFromTimbuktu on (December 6, 2013, 16:24 GMT)

@MCC_Tie Perhaps you are right. However the team itself is not at fault and any overrating has been the fault of the commentators and fans, perhaps egged on by talk of whole generations at number one by Botham and others.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (December 6, 2013, 16:11 GMT)

I agree with @RU4RNick: You need inspiring cricketers, all rounders are usually those types of characters. Also, @Ishfaq333 makes good points, you have to enjoy the game. England play the game as if they work in an office, it might work for sometimes but it will wear you down, i'm glad our boys are with Boof who sees the game for what it is, a game and entertainment. He said if you live to 80, cricket is only 10 years of that, makke them count, they should be the best days of these players lives not a business.

Posted by Ishfaq333 on (December 6, 2013, 15:27 GMT)

Yup.. You've got to enjoy the game. You can't have your vacations planned out by the ECB. No go my friend. There needs to be lot more levity when it comes to playing this game. Its sport and entertainment after all. And you can't see that in this English side. Yes they've achieved success due to their relentless professionalism. But you have got to take it easy once in a while.And that's what we are seeing from the Aussies. A close bunch of lads enjoying every moment they are spending together. In Australia one sees a family. In England, a machine.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (December 6, 2013, 15:19 GMT)

@BradmanBestEver (post on December 6, 2013, 11:46 GMT): "Keep that foot firmly on the Pommy throat - they did the same to us a few months back - so should return in kind..."

Therein lies the problem - I DON'T think England did the same previously, and quite frankly I DON'T think they have for a long, long time. They seem quite happy to do 'just enough' to win the games they do, or try their hardest to draw the ones they think they can't. I think England are severely missing big 'awe-inspiring' characters like Flintoff and Botham were once claimed to be; their stats might not necessarily come across as phenomenal but they just had that aura/presence/confidence about them that was contagious to team-mates. Instead we have a bunch of 'potentials' like KP who fire once in a blue-moon, and insert no aura/confidence to the team at all. Heads are dropping/hanging very low in the England camp these days. A miraculous effort from one or two players (like Bell last Ashes) is all we can hope...

Posted by MCC_Tie on (December 6, 2013, 15:13 GMT)

It **may** be that England have simply been overated for a lengthy period of time...

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 14:58 GMT)

outplayed, out thought, out performed.

England are a shadow of the team they can be at their highest level of performance.

Unfortunately they have been faced with a rampant and revitalised Aussie side, the signs were there in the Summer, but they couldn't get across the line. With the genuine pace of Johnson, the wicket taking ability of Harris they have a great attack. Coupled with the best batsman in the world (Clarke) and the gritty Haddin as well as the other batters chipping in, England are quite frankly no-hopers in this series.

Back to the bad old days and a major rethink.

Posted by NRC1979 on (December 6, 2013, 14:56 GMT)

Whilst it may be a bit premature to write this team off, there is certainly some evidence that the writer has a point, not so much on the weariness (they have been quite adept at resting from the ODI and T20 team) but on age catching up with players, especially the bowlers. We saw with Hoggard and Sidebottom that at around 32, the zip seems to go out of the bowling - perhaps the same is happening to Anderson. Swann's problem isn't so much his age (35 is fine for a spinner) but the injuries that he has had which seems to have reduced the amount of revs he puts on the ball. Revs = turn but also bounce and dip - see Lyon for comparison.

George Dobell has always been in support of quality Kolpak players in the CC so no surprise that he adds their absence to the argument. When England do well, it is because the CC is strong and there is a deep pool of players, when Aus do well, it is because they only have 6 states and therefore the quality is better concentrated!

Posted by valvolux on (December 6, 2013, 14:34 GMT)

The problem is they are just complacent because their media heap over the top praise on them. Australia, even during their dominant era, always seemed to have to prove something to someone. They chased a legacy, not MBEs. Being tired is a cop out. Australia too participated in the ashes and played one less ODI in the CT. I remember when eng made world number 1 there was a particular article on cricinfo about eng having the best attack in the world, all on the verge of having an average below 30, even though at the time I think Australia and South Africa actually boasted attacks that consisted of guys with averages below 30. By the end of this series, they wont have a single bowler below 30. Their batting lineup was the best in the world, without a single guy averaging 50...with SA, oz and india each boasting 3 or more guys averaging over 50. Apparently Anderson and Swann were as good as McGrath and Warne. Wheres the incentive to be great when your media already say you are.

Posted by CoverDrive88 on (December 6, 2013, 14:29 GMT)

I think this is a pretty interesting article. In my opinion, the issues raised here are very similar to those Australian cricket is suffering - too much cricket, jaded players, weakened domestic competition, etc, etc. Those who are saying this is just one loss should open their eyes. There was the weak performance in NZ. The Ashes win was deserved and ultimately looked convincing, but with a little change in a few areas e.g. winning more tosses, favourable weather when we were ahead and behind, pitches that didn't look doctored, it could have been much closer. Cook, Trott and Root had mediocre series (one 180 for Root after a simple miss for Haddin early doesn't count for much when there was nothing else). Take Bell out and it would have been a disaster. Anderson was starting to look worn out. That should have set alarm bells ringing considering how weak our batting was. Now only the odd session has gone against us. Test cricket needs some smarter, less greedy people in charge

Posted by thebengaltigers on (December 6, 2013, 14:28 GMT)

Agree completely with the fact that England look jaded and joyless but to say that it is the 'end of an era' is taking it a bit too far. What England desperately is somebody from the new-entrants to put their hands up and contribute. In that sense, Carberry & Root have a massive opportunity ahead of them tomorrow.

Posted by chechong0114 on (December 6, 2013, 14:08 GMT)

England's barmy army is really an awesome organization, just too see that these people will take the time out to travel with their beloved cricket team and give that kind of support is just truly phenomenal and nothing short of great. I think that all cricket nations should have a group of passionate followers at least 1000 that will support them wherever they go. And in nation's where crowd turn outs are very poor like South Africa and Sri Lanka for instance they are guaranteed to have someone in the stands on gameday. I believe this initiative should be encouraged and governments should help to rally people and make it a national thing in all quarters, this will do great for a game that is truly struggling for fans at the many grounds around the world. I remember when the Micheal Vaugn captained England team toured South Africa some years ago almost all the test matches were played before sold out crowds it was an awesome thing to behold as a cricket lover.

Posted by golgo_85 on (December 6, 2013, 13:52 GMT)

It, really, is too early for this sort of asinine excuses. Battle-weary? Seriously???? This is just a slump, nothing more, nothing less. Doesn't take you much to start singing praise on how Anderson is the best Test bowler, how Ian Bell has become one of the greats even thought they had failed to beat South Africa and Pakistan in the recent past. Beating India in India was when England were were ready to stamp their authorityonce again but they were in no way consistent to begin with. It doesn't look it but this is a team with fairly regular ups and downs with momentary hints of ruthlessness. Against a decent Test bowling unit they were bound to struggle. After a couple of series wins only England would sound and look complacent which they most definitely did. They can still bounce back here but strangely enough, their own media aren't ready to bet on them after the drubbing in the first test. Why let one win put that much fear in you?? Strange.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 13:44 GMT)

Performing poorly in 1 and 1/4 matches does not indicate the 'end of an era.' At a stretch, it may indicate a decline in the fortunes of some of the England 'old guard', but more than likely it just means a slump in form for a lot of the key players. Sometimes everyone is firing and England look truly dominant; sometimes just a handful are firing and they win, like earlier in the year; sometimes everyone is off form and there's not much you can do about that.

Well, there is. England could try out some of the up-and-coming talent. I could name an under 25 team for England which I'd comfortably expect to remain one of the best sides in the world in a few years very easily, or do even better than the current side, but the England management want to stick with their team. It's a tactic which has proven successful, but it does mean that you've just got to grin and bear slumps in form like this.

Once again an over-reactionary media making issues over nothing. The story of this Ashes.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (December 6, 2013, 13:37 GMT)

This melancholy report seems to resonate with what we're seeing. This England side seems dispirited. Camera close-ups of a number of players suggest that many are deep inside themselves, and little wonder. Carberry looks to be haunted by his missed catch; Jimmy is behind his shades, subdued & impassive; Swann's flat, without hs usual chirpy-ness. The Captain appears perplexed (little wonder) & out of ideas. The least surprising part of the day was his sketchy innings - he was ripe for castling - brain-exhausted by the effort to keep England going in the field through one & 3/4 days when keeping a lid on the RR was proving increasingly ineffectual. If England were a car, then the service is overdue & the brakes are def in need of replacement. The throttle ain't too clever either. You could well be right, jackiethepen: this era has run its course. In the end, the gas ran out. But take nothing away from Australia -- Lehmann's men are looking good: a winning side coming together at last.

Posted by SagirParkar on (December 6, 2013, 13:26 GMT)

with particular reference to - "But it was also the scheduling that saw England obliged to go straight from a Champions Trophy final into an Ashes series; it was the seeping weariness of asking them to play back-to-back Ashes series"

Why does the media and perhaps the ECB have to go on about scheduling all the time or come up with other pathetic and lame excuses to cover up for the team's shortcomings ? for far too long have i read and heard about the pettiest of excuses in such a scenario. The Aussies have faced a similar, if not more hectic, schedule off late when you consider that they played a meaningless ODI series in India just days before this Ashes installment.

Does England hold exclusive rights to make lame excuses ?

Posted by Rampant_Aussie on (December 6, 2013, 12:57 GMT)

England are and remain a very good team. They have never been a great team. But the suggestion that a prosperous period for England is finished, I think is premature. Despite their inconsistency in the past eighteen months, England have a strong and stable team. In this match, Pietersen, Bell et al can make Australia toil in these excellent batting conditions. The Australians are bowling well (not just Johnson, but all the bowlers). If they continue to bowl well England will find it difficult. I am a huge Australian supporter, but let there be no mistake that England are a quality outfit and we have to bowl vey well tomorrow.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (December 6, 2013, 12:55 GMT)

@Johnycodes: It has nothing to do with age. A cricketrs performance is not a linear correlaton to how old they are. Australia, though older a side with ambition and drive and have experienced pain and they want to get better for the sake of the country. England have been around the clock many times over, they have won in india, been the world number one and there just isn't that "buzz" in the team, whereas Australia feel as if they are on the verge of great things which is a much more inspiring thing.

Posted by bownie on (December 6, 2013, 12:54 GMT)

Totally agree with this article. Strauss already recognised the signs at the end of his reign. Cook got off to an indifferent start but kept going with his own self belief and ability to lead from the front. He is learning that leading when you're behind is another thing and goodness know what it's like trying to motivate senior players who have done it all. We need to get a couple of new streetfighters into the team - perhaps Stokes is one of them, get Bairstow back in with the gloves, drop some of the old guard and let them fight for their places. Perhaps a new captain - you could even try Bell - and let Cook regain some form. The setup is ok but they need to stop being so rigid about it and as Boof says - let them express themselves. Get some enjoyment back into the game.

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 12:43 GMT)

None of this is new. They have been ordinary for a while but Australia were worse. Last Ashes in England were closer than the scorecard reflected and had rain not denied Aus the early series victory, could have looked very different. Here, the first match went Australia's way and they have the confidence previously only England had. That has lifted their performance to surpass England who have never really been much stronger on pure talent.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on (December 6, 2013, 12:40 GMT)

@jackiethepen, that's a really interesting comment. I imagine the constant pressure and workload, not to mention very long stints away from home are tough. I wouldn't think for a second I would handle it so I admire the grit of international sportspeople. England have had issues that were glazed over by winning and hats off to them, they did win. But that's history now, they are against a very determined unit who are playing with great skill. Australia still have problems at 3 and 5 which is also glazed over while we are winning but the bowling unit would trouble any batting side at the moment.

Posted by 64blip on (December 6, 2013, 12:34 GMT)

George might add to his list a media following in which England are either set to dominate world cricket for the foreseeable future or teetering on the brink of total disaster. Battle-weary players are just that: weary. There is a lot of class in this England side, and indeed the management would do well to consider how that ability is managed "going forward" as they no doubt would say. As George says, perhaps they have been to the well one time too many. I'm not sure what evidence there is for his claims about the domestic game from the recent performances though. Maybe if the top wicket taker in domestic cricket had been chosen and smashed he'd have a point, but three seamers with modest County form were chosen. Stokes was no disgrace today. Root and Carberry are still there. "Making a drama out of a crisis" comes to mind. Oh, and well played Australia. @ GP Newnham: quite right, this match can still be drawn.

Posted by johntycodes on (December 6, 2013, 12:28 GMT)

I don't get it before the series it was all about how england have dominated the ashes lately and on paper have a younger average age than the aussie team now because aus are on top your saying england is past it's best and too old. Australia is older.

Posted by jackiethepen on (December 6, 2013, 12:26 GMT)

Jonathan Trott has reported to Warwickshire that he is not suffering from a stress related illness similar to Trescothick but that he is burnt out from endless drills and intense pressure. This inside info came from Dennis Amiss speaking to a meeting of the Cricket Society in the North East. This seems to chime with the assessment of jaded players by George Dobell, but he seems to be relating only to the schedule whereas Trott seems to be alluding also to the management regime led by Flower. It is known to be a very tough one and it certainly worked for a long time but inevitably it has piled on pressure rather than relieving it. The management have been excessively concerned with their mish-mash of choices for 2, 6 and 3rd bowler while neglecting their front line players. KP has hardly had any match practice. Australia had to change their coach. We need to change ours.

Posted by Reaction88 on (December 6, 2013, 12:25 GMT)

Pakistan showed everyone England can be beaten well, South Africa payed attention and soundly beat them. Australia slowly got there house back in order and are attempting to end the English era as Eng/Aus ended India's.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (December 6, 2013, 12:13 GMT)

2 days into the second test and the excuses are coming out. No big comments or sprinkler dances this time then? No more references to Anderson with his 30+ average as the best bowler in the world?

If bowlers are tired then why not rotate them as other countries (esp Aus) do? English international already hardly play for their counties, do they really play more than in the past? Weren't similar sentiments expressed during the 'whitewash' tour in 2006, but this 'tiredness' somehow wasn't a problem on the last winning tour?

Posted by PrasPunter on (December 6, 2013, 12:10 GMT)

@Manxmuppet, it so happened that it couldnt be scheduled for the summer of 2015 because of the WC. So lets face it. Nobody complained when Eng were the winners 3 months ago !!

Posted by Clyde on (December 6, 2013, 12:10 GMT)

Speaking as a journalist, I would say this is a scandal story, and well done. The fundamental question is why players go on to the field when they don't feel like playing. It is dangerous. What if a batsman is too tired to avoid a ball coming at his head? Will players leave tours simply because for them to bat in their condition is prejudicial to life and limb? What are the players' unions saying?

Posted by   on (December 6, 2013, 12:00 GMT)

ManxMuppet-'come out winners'? Is it all over then?

Posted by TimmyFromTimbuktu on (December 6, 2013, 11:53 GMT)

An honest attempt to search for answers. We will all know by the end of the month whether it a case of England being past its own sell by date and having one foot in the grave.

The turn around in fortunes is partially down to Aus improvement but seemingly, and more dramatically, down to England decline.

Posted by btron3000 on (December 6, 2013, 11:52 GMT)

It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment the music died because there is no exact moment. They started dying in England, but they crept along on life-support. Now, in foreign territory, the machine can't keep them alive anymore.

Posted by BradmanBestEver on (December 6, 2013, 11:46 GMT)

Keep that foot firmly on the Pommy throat - they did the same to us a few months back - so should return in kind

Posted by Manxmuppet on (December 6, 2013, 11:41 GMT)

I, for one, agree with you George. The back to back Ashes series was a crazy idea that does nothing to enhance cricket and just devalues the worth of the Ashes as a cherished and 'special' competition. Sadly it has morphed into another cash cow for another sport's governing body.

Fair play to Aus though, they've handled the ridiculous situation extremely well and come out winners.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge-Looks-Silly-Now on (December 6, 2013, 11:41 GMT)

To me it seems like England are lacking motivation. Don't get me wrong, Australia have played nicely but it seems England have this feeling of "We just went through all this a few months ago and we are exhausted at the thought of doing it all again so soon". Australia however are still motivated by the sting of their losses this year. Losing those 7 games has only made them hungrier and add that to a home crowd who are hungry for blood and you have one determined team. It's in Australia's DNA to bounce back strong after a humiliating time for as long as I remember. After being bowled out for 47 in Cape Town they came back the next test and chased down 300 in a very gutsy effort. It would be unfair to attack the skills of the England team because most of these guys were here for their historic tour 3 years ago. Australia is the much hungrier side and are more ferocious after they have been through some low experiences.

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