Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, 4th day December 16, 2013

England sailing on a sinking vessel

James Anderson flogged, Kevin Pietersen throwing away his wicket and Stuart Broad hobbling around painted a picture of defeat as the Ashes drifted away from England
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Like the last moan of a boxer, the dying moments at Little Big Horn or the final descent of Titanic, there was an air of desperation to England throughout the fourth day in Perth.

Images of defeat hung all around. A side that have won the last three Ashes series, have reached No. 1 in the Test rankings and enjoyed, by England's not so lofty standards, great success, knew their time was up. They knew they were beaten. They knew, as every sensible person watching did, that the result of this match and this series had been decided long ago. The rest was just administration.

Oh, they tried to ward off defeat. They tried. It was just that, on a basic level, they knew that their opponent was stronger. Like Frank Bruno knew when he fought Mike Tyson. Like Tim Henman knew when he played Pete Sampras. Like England knew when they played Australia in the 90s or West Indies in the 80s.

How that situation has arisen is a question to ponder in the coming days. How a side that, barely weeks ago, was able to win a competitive series 3-0, has sunk to this level - a level where defeat has been inevitable since the second day in Adelaide - is hard to fathom. Certainly Australia are much-improved, but they have been pushing at an open door in charging at this England side. Joyless, faithless and jaded, the self-belief followed the enjoyment out of the dressing room door of this England team some time ago.

Among the carnage, there were a few images that stood out; a few images that summed up the unequal struggle and the mood within the England camp.

The dismissal of Alastair Cook

It was, by any standards, a fine delivery. Ryan Harris, with his perfect wrist position, his bull-like strength and determination to make up for lost time in a career that, but for injury, might have seen him rated as a "great" already, gained just a hint of inswing to Alastair Cook with the first delivery of England's second innings, before the ball left him slightly and took the off bail. It was beautiful bowling.

Perhaps Cook could have played it better. Perhaps, if his feet were moving more fluently and his bat coming down straighter, he would not have been squared to such a degree and his head and hands would be better aligned. Opening batsmen can only console themselves with the thought that they have been on the receiving end of a magnificent delivery for so long. The best hardly believe in "unplayable". The best get themselves into a position where they can play just about every ball.

But it was the expression on Cook's face that will linger in the memory. It was a look of horror. It told a tale of mental torment and despair. A 100th Test dream turned nightmare. It was the look of defeat.

The mauling of James Anderson

The sight of James Anderson being thrashed for 28 in an over just might, from an England perspective, prove the defining moment of this series. For the man who, not so long ago, was considered England's spearhead and gem, to concede a world record-equalling amount of runs from a Test over spoke volumes about the balance of power in this series. The man who troubled Australia throughout the 2010-11 success had been reduced to cannon fodder.

He should probably not have been bowling. Having played such a huge role in England's successes in recent years - MS Dhoni rated him "the difference between the sides" when England won in India a year ago - he should probably be used as a strike bowler; his skills and his fitness preserved for when matches can be shaped, rather than flogged and disdained in games that have already gone.

But his captain was desperate and felt he had nowhere to turn. With Stuart Broad injured and other options unappealing, Anderson was asked, once again, to deliver another spell for his team. The man who has, since the start of the 2010-11 series, bowled more deliveries in Test cricket than any seamer from any nation was, as a result of his fitness, his consistency and his skill, punished, mauled and humiliated. He deserved better.

The dismissal of Kevin Pietersen

Magnificent and maddening, brilliant and infuriating, Kevin Pietersen is hero and villain wrapped in one. With a series to save and a job to do, most batsmen would have taken the opportunity offered by the placement of a long-on to push for singles and occupy the crease.

But not KP. This was the man who responded to England's challenge at The Oval in 2005 with a barrage of hooks and pulls and drives and flicks that could, on another day, have ended in the hands of outfielders. It was the man who, in Mumbai in 2012, responded to the dominance of India's spinners with one of the most perfect, unorthodox innings the game has seen. He has never been governed by convention.

So instead of playing the percentages, instead of taking the safe, sensible option, he tried to hit Nathan Lyon over the man positioned at long-on for the stroke. He had already played the shot once and smashed it into the stand. Perhaps he thought, if he could do so again, he would hit Lyon off his length and disrupt Australia's plans. Perhaps he didn't think at all.

Either way, the end result looked ugly. Pietersen was caught at long-on and Australia hammered another nail into England's coffin. Maybe Pietersen had passed them the hammer.

It is hard to defend such a stroke. But was it worse than Ian Bell's uppercut? Or the hook with which Cook was dismissed in Adelaide? Probably not. But he to whom much is given, much is expected and there are times when Pietersen seems not to make full use of his talents.

England in the field

If fielding is the window to the soul of a side - and it very often is - then England really are a broken, dispirited rabble. There were moments when they resembled slapstick comedians more than finely-tuned athletes. To see a fielder as able as Bell drop a chance a well-trained labrador might have taken was to see a side in obvious disarray.

There were other painful moments. Tim Bresnan took a magnificent, diving catch at long-off only to fall over the boundary. But perhaps the nadir came when Bell and Anderson, as good fielders as England have, demonstrated the depth to which their confidence had fallen by leaving a chance lobbed up by George Bailey to one another. As if the basic failure in discipline and technique was not bad enough, England had to contend with the sight of the Australian dressing room bursting into laugher as the ball fell to earth. England's humiliation was complete.

Stuart Broad in the nets

The sight of Broad hobbling around attempting to practise batting summed up the hopeless situation in which England find themselves. In normal circumstances, Broad might be expected to rest his injured right foot with a view to regaining fitness ahead of the Melbourne Test. But such is his side's plight that he is highly likely to be forced to the crease early on the final day in a last, desperate chance to save this game. With runners no longer allowed and the risk of further injury possible, the move represents a gamble from England. A gamble that has almost no chance of success. But it is the only card England have left to play and as Bob Dylan put it, when you got nothing, you got nothing to lose.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • doubledeckerbaas on December 17, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    Don't worry too much English fans. Aus were supposedly in the same disarray only a few months ago. Cricket is a game of form and momentum, and Aussies were bound to find some after a few horrible seasons. But the normal arrogance will follow, and was already displayed by commentators and players on the 4th day, and the humbled English will fight back agai....... Give Johnson 2 bad tests and there will be calls to drop him again!

  • Thegimp on December 17, 2013, 3:05 GMT

    Quip, we saw it in England in 2005 when everything, and I mean EVERYTHING went againt the Australians. DRS would have seen a different series result. In 2013 in England, again as soon as Australia looked like a sniff they found some way to lose or get weather interrupted. It's amazing what happens when a team is a little below par, the universe tends to exact an disproportionate toll.

  • on December 17, 2013, 2:31 GMT

    The real problem is that the English have forgotten their traditions - mostly the classic understatement of old. Now they are loud; too eager to praise themselves. Stokes played well for once and immediately he becomes the "next Gary Sobers". Flintoff was greater than even sliced bread; KP the greatest batsman on the planet. Unless they change this new (arrogant) mentality, there is little hope for this team.

  • Someguy on December 17, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    @jackiethepen - the oppressive heat could certainly be a factor in England's poor performance, but lets not forget that both teams have batted and fielded in the same heat. Only one of them has completely embarrassed themselves.

  • orangtan on December 17, 2013, 0:43 GMT

    George, get real, this article is over the top. Come on, this is only a game, no one died, except some stumps and bails burned by some society ladies 100+ years ago. England may not rise like a phoenix but come back they will----remember the depths of 2006-07 and winning back the Ashes in 2009. Australia's redoubtable fast bowlers are not young although there are many younger but more brittle ones waiting in the wings. Their spin bowling resources are limited, Clarke has a chronio back problem and Haddin can't keep going for much longer. Smith is really not a top-class Test batsman so that leaves Warner, and he is, as they say, a pocket rocket and rockets tend to go off course. So, let's chill, be gracious losers, pat the Aussies on the back, cop a few snarls from the likes of Siddle and move on.

  • ballsintherightareas on December 17, 2013, 0:14 GMT

    Also three of the top five, and five of the top 22 batsmen, in terms of balls faced over the last two years.

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=11;filter=advanced;orderby=balls_faced;spanmax1=17+Dec+2013;spanmin1=17+Dec+2011;spanval1=span;template=results;type=batting

  • ballsintherightareas on December 16, 2013, 23:46 GMT

    Anderson, Broad and Swann really have bowled a lot of overs in recent times - in fact over the last couple of years, all three of them are in the top five international bowlers based on number of overs bowled across all three formats (the other two being spinners Ashwin and Ajmal). Each of the three of them has bowled over 1000 overs. There are only 27 bowlers who have bowled over 500 overs during the same period (three of whom are Bresnan, Finn and Panesar).

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=11;filter=advanced;orderby=overs;qualmin1=200;qualval1=overs;spanmax2=16+Dec+2013;spanmin2=16+Dec+2011;spanval2=span;template=results;type=bowling

  • on December 16, 2013, 23:18 GMT

    The problem is not that they play too much cricket - the play too little! Looking at fast bowlers, Fred Trueman, John Snow and Bob Willis played FAR more cricket than Jimmy Anderson. They paced themselves when playing first-class games to turn up the wick when playing Tests. The numbers are truly stark - FST sent down 15178 balls in 67 Test and another 84523 in 536 first class games. To date, Jimmy Anderson has sent down 19694 balls in his 89 tests but only a pitiful 12070 from a laughable 71 first-class games...

    The villain is the Central Contracts. There is no chance for today's players to hone their skills, fine tune them and conserve their form for Tests, batsmen as well as bowlers. When they turn out, they do it in the high-pressure arena of international cricket with insufficient preparation. Test players should be available for their counties for at least half the County games - but NOT for the one-day cricket!

  • CricFanKrish on December 16, 2013, 23:16 GMT

    I believe if (and it definitely looks like) England lose this test, they will lose the Ashes no doubt, but the pressure will be off. They could pull one back in the MCG or SCG. On the other hand, if they manage a draw they will still be under pressure and could well lose the series 3-0 or even 4-0. At least a 3-1 margin will look better than a 4-0.

  • liz1558 on December 16, 2013, 23:10 GMT

    @Chris Dezso - refreshing candour. If it's baffling for you its frankly embarrassing this side when old pros talk about JA in the same breath as Steyn. He's a canny bowler who has had some great moments when the ball has swung, but you can't be considered great if you average over 26.

  • doubledeckerbaas on December 17, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    Don't worry too much English fans. Aus were supposedly in the same disarray only a few months ago. Cricket is a game of form and momentum, and Aussies were bound to find some after a few horrible seasons. But the normal arrogance will follow, and was already displayed by commentators and players on the 4th day, and the humbled English will fight back agai....... Give Johnson 2 bad tests and there will be calls to drop him again!

  • Thegimp on December 17, 2013, 3:05 GMT

    Quip, we saw it in England in 2005 when everything, and I mean EVERYTHING went againt the Australians. DRS would have seen a different series result. In 2013 in England, again as soon as Australia looked like a sniff they found some way to lose or get weather interrupted. It's amazing what happens when a team is a little below par, the universe tends to exact an disproportionate toll.

  • on December 17, 2013, 2:31 GMT

    The real problem is that the English have forgotten their traditions - mostly the classic understatement of old. Now they are loud; too eager to praise themselves. Stokes played well for once and immediately he becomes the "next Gary Sobers". Flintoff was greater than even sliced bread; KP the greatest batsman on the planet. Unless they change this new (arrogant) mentality, there is little hope for this team.

  • Someguy on December 17, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    @jackiethepen - the oppressive heat could certainly be a factor in England's poor performance, but lets not forget that both teams have batted and fielded in the same heat. Only one of them has completely embarrassed themselves.

  • orangtan on December 17, 2013, 0:43 GMT

    George, get real, this article is over the top. Come on, this is only a game, no one died, except some stumps and bails burned by some society ladies 100+ years ago. England may not rise like a phoenix but come back they will----remember the depths of 2006-07 and winning back the Ashes in 2009. Australia's redoubtable fast bowlers are not young although there are many younger but more brittle ones waiting in the wings. Their spin bowling resources are limited, Clarke has a chronio back problem and Haddin can't keep going for much longer. Smith is really not a top-class Test batsman so that leaves Warner, and he is, as they say, a pocket rocket and rockets tend to go off course. So, let's chill, be gracious losers, pat the Aussies on the back, cop a few snarls from the likes of Siddle and move on.

  • ballsintherightareas on December 17, 2013, 0:14 GMT

    Also three of the top five, and five of the top 22 batsmen, in terms of balls faced over the last two years.

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=11;filter=advanced;orderby=balls_faced;spanmax1=17+Dec+2013;spanmin1=17+Dec+2011;spanval1=span;template=results;type=batting

  • ballsintherightareas on December 16, 2013, 23:46 GMT

    Anderson, Broad and Swann really have bowled a lot of overs in recent times - in fact over the last couple of years, all three of them are in the top five international bowlers based on number of overs bowled across all three formats (the other two being spinners Ashwin and Ajmal). Each of the three of them has bowled over 1000 overs. There are only 27 bowlers who have bowled over 500 overs during the same period (three of whom are Bresnan, Finn and Panesar).

    http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/stats/index.html?class=11;filter=advanced;orderby=overs;qualmin1=200;qualval1=overs;spanmax2=16+Dec+2013;spanmin2=16+Dec+2011;spanval2=span;template=results;type=bowling

  • on December 16, 2013, 23:18 GMT

    The problem is not that they play too much cricket - the play too little! Looking at fast bowlers, Fred Trueman, John Snow and Bob Willis played FAR more cricket than Jimmy Anderson. They paced themselves when playing first-class games to turn up the wick when playing Tests. The numbers are truly stark - FST sent down 15178 balls in 67 Test and another 84523 in 536 first class games. To date, Jimmy Anderson has sent down 19694 balls in his 89 tests but only a pitiful 12070 from a laughable 71 first-class games...

    The villain is the Central Contracts. There is no chance for today's players to hone their skills, fine tune them and conserve their form for Tests, batsmen as well as bowlers. When they turn out, they do it in the high-pressure arena of international cricket with insufficient preparation. Test players should be available for their counties for at least half the County games - but NOT for the one-day cricket!

  • CricFanKrish on December 16, 2013, 23:16 GMT

    I believe if (and it definitely looks like) England lose this test, they will lose the Ashes no doubt, but the pressure will be off. They could pull one back in the MCG or SCG. On the other hand, if they manage a draw they will still be under pressure and could well lose the series 3-0 or even 4-0. At least a 3-1 margin will look better than a 4-0.

  • liz1558 on December 16, 2013, 23:10 GMT

    @Chris Dezso - refreshing candour. If it's baffling for you its frankly embarrassing this side when old pros talk about JA in the same breath as Steyn. He's a canny bowler who has had some great moments when the ball has swung, but you can't be considered great if you average over 26.

  • ShutTheGate on December 16, 2013, 22:21 GMT

    Ryano's ball to Cook was an absolute Jaffa and up there with any delivery I've seen in test cricket.

    And well done to Bailey. He's responded in the best possible way to Jimmy Andersons sledging @ Brisbane by tonking him for 28 in an over.

    Now let's roll them in the first session today regain the ashes and enjoy the break until Melbourne. Hopefully the Aussie guys don't loose motivation/focus after the win as they have a chance of a white wash here.

  • 2.14istherunrate on December 16, 2013, 22:11 GMT

    What are England on?! That fielding display was not even childish! Send them home and let the 'A'side take over. Something is so badly wrong and no-one is saying why! I have watched Tests since time immemorial and really in fairly intense fashion one way or other and THAT was the pits of fielding and catching and bowling. Some watchers have probably seen u-12's performances recently and in that sort of milieu,kids get told what not to do and what to do instead like 'watch the ball' and 'put your hands together'. Obviously these clown need the same advice.I pity Bresnan Bell's drop and obviously he did too. great comedy,lousy cricket!

  • Quip on December 16, 2013, 21:33 GMT

    It is as if England were cursed. I have been watching cricket for over forty years and cannot remember a series where one side has seemed so blessed and the other so blighted. In a test match before WW1, SF Barnes bowled Victor Trumper with a ball that swung in and broke away. That ball has been written about for a hundred years. Cook has received two such balls in the space of barely a week, and bowled at a significantly greater velocity than Barnes could muster - and received them both at the very beginning of his innings.

    The gods are smiling on the Australian team and seem determined to humiliate the English. How can this be explained? Some of the explanations already offered do seem plausible. Various permutations of jadedness and tiredness. A coaching regime turning its virtues into vices by means of excess. Divisions within the team. Who knows? Such is the fascination of sport.

    The English team is abject. So was Australia in India only months ago.

  • jb633 on December 16, 2013, 21:27 GMT

    @Surlycynic, I agree we need to wait till your boys can actually win a series in Asia before we talk of dynasties with your side too. I would refrain from constantly bashing England before your guys win in India. England have been woeful here but at least we still have the fans watching it. Much better than the Aussie and Saffa fans who only sing when they win.

  • on December 16, 2013, 21:26 GMT

    @liz1558 I think most Aussies would view Lee and Johnson that way. That's why we get baffled when people make out Anderson to be some sort of 'great'.

  • __PK on December 16, 2013, 21:14 GMT

    The really sad thing about Cook's dismissal is how similar it is to the one Johnson bowled him with earlier in the series. The only difference is that Johnson's came in with angle, not swing, before straightening. Cook's bat was swinging towards wide mid on both times while the ball was heading towards the off bail.

  • on December 16, 2013, 20:13 GMT

    O how did England come to this? It is so sad for cricket.

  • jackiethepen on December 16, 2013, 18:13 GMT

    I think George Dobell is wallowing a bit. The temperature has been roasting at 47 degrees (even today it was "down" to 37) and that is seriously hot, even hotter than it was in Colombo in 2012 (44). Heat exhaustion can play just as much a part in poor fielding as low morale. The last time I can remember Bell dropping a straightforward catch was on another roasting day in Sri Lanka in 2007. Was there nothing in between Kev's loft to the boundary and Bell's feathered upper cut? Are you just concentrating on the low lights? Bell and Stokes put on an attractive fluent partnership, full of proper cricket shots which tested the Australian bowlers on a pitch which looks as though it has been attacked by a demented pitch slasher. If the cracks widen any more the ball will disappear into them. Admittedly the partnership wasn't enough but it was not "jaded" "joyless" or "faithless". I would substitute "spirited""skilful" "enjoyable". Playing safe and steady was not an option on that pitch.

  • 2.14istherunrate on December 16, 2013, 18:11 GMT

    It was truly ghastly.I suppose amidst the carnage, Tim Bresnan managing a run out provided light relief. Are England on some sort of torture programme such a sleep/food deprivation when they are not playing cricket? Are they being waterboarded in the intervals and this is their cry for 'Help'? Perhaps Flower has gone over the edge and gives them 50-100 lashes with a cat-o-nine tails while tied to a mast?Quite frankly their play has beggared belief.Who will turn out v Sri Lanka in the summer?

  • on December 16, 2013, 17:51 GMT

    Anyone else spot Andy Flower going through his iPhone's address book trying to find Nick Compton's number?

  • SevereCritic on December 16, 2013, 17:48 GMT

    If this was boxing, this is already way past KO. Referee would have stopped the fight a long time back.

  • InsideHedge on December 16, 2013, 17:37 GMT

    The smart thing to do would be to wait till the match is OVER before making these mighty proclamations but then the need to churn out a headline overturns the need to show any restraint.

  • on December 16, 2013, 17:36 GMT

    To tell the truth..You lose interest in the game the moment you see a team so very dominant over the other..England seem to be broken both physically and mentally

  • on December 16, 2013, 16:39 GMT

    Is this the resurgence of Australia or is it the demise of England? I think it is both. Australia is definitely on the up and this was already evident in the previous Ashes in England where they lost 3-0. Two of those losses could have gone Australia's way. Playing at home in the Ashes is crucial and the 3-0 score line flattered England. The cracks were appearing then but England arrived in Australia over confident and Australia like they always do fought hard and enjoyed the underdog tag going into the first test. England was in this series only on day 1 of the first test. I can't wait for Australia to be in SA, just such a pity they will not be playing at the Wanderers in Johannesburg. Long live test cricket!

  • IAMGOD on December 16, 2013, 16:39 GMT

    Ever since the 4-0 drubbing of India in 2011, this England team hasn't beaten a world class team .. One would like to think that beating India 2-1 away to be a great achievement.. but one look at that hopeless Indian team would indicate that it wasn't a team worth mentioning - 4 dead weights in the top order ( Sehwag, Gambhir, Yuvraj & Sachin), 2 useless opening bowlers - Zaheer & Ishant and 1 lead spinner still in T20 mode (Ashwin). England couldn't even win against NZ and had to scrap hard for a miraculous draw in the 3rd Test. The signs were there.... the main culprit seems to be the batting. It was batting that failed in UAE and again in India & SL... but KP & Cook played superlative innings' to haul them up. Cook, Compton, Root, Bell, Stokes - can form the core of future batting line up... Compton was unfairly dropped.. Finn & Broad to be the core of future bowling. Finn needs match practice to gain accuracy... not nets sessions.. !

  • Nutcutlet on December 16, 2013, 15:42 GMT

    I'd like to mention two England players not part of George's melancholy list. Carberry has been a qualified success as Cook's opening partner (in fact his aggregate for the series currently exceeds anyone other England batsman, I think) and the new kid on the block, Ben Stokes, of course. Has it struck anyone else that these two players who haven't buckled under the pressure are also more positive in their attitude, display better body langauge & have been far more effective than the tried & tested players? Or, to put it another way, they haven't got the current wide-spread malaisie of doubting their own competence with a consequent knock-on effect on their confidence. Until recently, Joe Root has something of the same freshness & positivity, but he too, I fear, has now succumbed to whatever it is that ails the core of players who have many years of experience of playing huge numbers of Test matches. Only Ian Bell, and he only just, can escape censure. Now, why would that be, hmm?

  • Pelham_Barton on December 16, 2013, 15:02 GMT

    Further to my own comment on (December 16, 2013, 14:37 GMT): Of course, I meant to say I have no quarrel with anyONE who thinks that my plan would be a seriously bad idea. I apologise unreservedly for using the word "anything" to describe my fellow human beings.

  • liz1558 on December 16, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    @BradmanBestEver - will merrily concede the point about Anderson, if the same is conceded about Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson. You know he will finish - not just his career, but this series as well - with a bowling average over 30.

  • Pelham_Barton on December 16, 2013, 14:37 GMT

    @libranavi2009 on (December 16, 2013, 13:35 GMT): I have a lot of sympathy for your view, but the current Test Match playing conditions state "Law 2.1 (a) (ii), 2.7 and 2.8 shall not apply. A runner for a batsman when batting is not permitted." Personally, I would go as far as allowing full replacements in Test matches, as follows: A team may have up to five replacement players available. A specific replacement player must be nominated for each individual member of the starting eleven before the toss. If a full replacement is used, the original player may not return to the team. The option of "fielding only" substitutes would remain available for short-term injuries. If a player is injured, but his replacement has already been used for another player, then that is just bad luck, and the option of a substitute fielder would be used. I have no quarrel with anything who thinks this would be a really bad idea, but am happy to discuss the details of my plan with anyone seriously interested.

  • on December 16, 2013, 14:33 GMT

    I'm not sure why people think this side looks so different to the team of the last couple of years.

    We didn't deserve to beat Aus 3-0 in the Summer, we struggled against a weak NZ team in NZ and were mauled by Pak in UAE.

    Admittedly, I've overlooked some good results and performances in there as well, but the writing has been on the wall for while now but been overlooked, it's now all come crashing down and the Eng management, from top to bottom, need to take stock. These aren't bad players.

  • liz1558 on December 16, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    ...Which all comes down to the coach/manager. He should've been replaced when the limitations of his methods were exposed - at the end of the SA series, after defeat to Pakistan. England's ambition was not to win the Ashes, but to be the best. it was clear after that year that Flower's England weren't good enough to sustain number one billing. In sticking with Flower after defeats to Pakistan and SA, the ECB betrayed its short-sightedness by focusing on the Ashes, when they (if they were serious about being the best) ought to have focused on more important priorities. They took it for granted that a very ordinary Australia side would be dispatched. It's amazing to consider after defeating India 4-0, and all the talk of legacy and fast bowling stocks second to none, how much England's reserves have shrunk. Onions, Tremlett and Finn were at that stage considered to be the second best fast bowling attack in the world, behind Anderson, Broad and Bresnan. Strange game cricket.

  • BradmanBestEver on December 16, 2013, 14:25 GMT

    Yes SurlyCynic - Anderson is overrated - he is but a serviceable test standard player as his average of 30 indicates.

    He is not bad but he is not great either.

  • SurlyCynic on December 16, 2013, 14:20 GMT

    It wasn't so long ago I was reading articles on this site about English cricket 'legacies and dynasties' and 'Fortress England'. I read how Anderson was England's best ever bowler, Prior the best keeper/batsman in the world, Swann the best spinner in the world, Cook the best batsman in the world who would break all records.

    Things seem to have changed very quickly. Perhaps it's better to wait a bit longer before talking about dynasties.

  • 158notout on December 16, 2013, 14:10 GMT

    Great article George. Hit the nail on the head, although not sure Jimmy deserves sympathy. He has been fantastic for England in the past but as an opening pace bowler he has a job to do each match. In 2010-11 he had no issues bowling with a Kookaburra, but now he has.

    However rather than protecting Jimmy Anderson it is Ian Bell that deserves sympathy. He was the difference between the two sides in the summer and has so far performed significantly better than any of the other fixtures in Englands batting. A few years ago people thought KP was frustrated at having to play with players he perceived were so far below him. If Bell was like KP he would now be thinking the same.

  • BradmanBestEver on December 16, 2013, 13:58 GMT

    They are sailing on a sinking vessel with sails with holes in them, no sight of land, no navigation equipment and a typhoon is approaching - that is a number 10 typhoon on the Hong Kong scale.

    In short, they have been found out to be a loose collection of overrated, "just serviceable" pretenders because they have faced genuinely tough opposition for the first time in many years. No excuses. Some of their supposed "big names" are not team players and must be replaced ASAP.

  • on December 16, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    I think many of the old hands have, like Trott, grown weary of the treadmill English cricket forces them on. Look at Stokes and even Carberry, both are new to the team and have outplayed their more illustrious team mates. And Carberry is 33 - proves it doesn't matter how old you are, enthusiasm and appetite make a difference. It's so clear that the likes of Cook, Pietersen, Bell, Prior and Anderson are just jaded and no longer have that 5% of zip that makes the difference. It's quite likely the dourness of the coaching staff and their ridiculous regime (an 80 page recipe book?!) have something to do with it, and it might just be to do with playing so much cricket. But its clear these guys need a rest. Whether its short term or not, they would probably benefit from being dropped for the last two games while the likes of Ballance, Finn and Rankin would probably benefit a great deal.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on December 16, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    Really great piece that sums things up well. This is not the same England team that took to the field a few months ago in the last Ashes - that team seems to have stayed behind in England. Australia, on the other hand, have regrouped and come back fighting and really shown England the "not in my backyard" attitude that England have been missing since the retirement of the likes of Freddy Flintoff. Cook's first-ball dismissal by Harris pretty much epitomises this series so far for me, in much the same way Anderson dismissed Clarke for a duck in the very first game last series and created that belief/aura that something special was going to happen. Warner's brutality has really paid off this series, and sadly for England this has not been matched by the likes of KP. Fittingly, there are no articles entitled "Australia over dependent on ..." being circulated and that is because they are playing some excellent cricket as a (seemingly) settled unit. Hats off to Boof et al. for this.

  • LancsRedRose on December 16, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    Wish I didn't have to agree with this article, but it's an excellent analysis. The cracks in England were showing during the unconvincing Ashes win at home. Sorry for Jimmy Anderson - he deserves better than the "world record" bad over!

    Hope that the England management take a balanced view - can't throw the baby out with the bath water but at the same time questions need to be asked about the make up of this side, so recently number 1 in the world. Is too much being asked of jaded players? Back-to-back Ashes didn't seem to be too good an idea when proposed & seems even worse now!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 16, 2013, 13:41 GMT

    A nice article George. It does seem cruel but it is a bit like watching the clubbing of baby fur seals, those cute white ones. I am very interested in the changes for the MCG, England must find some runs and wickets from somewhere.

  • on December 16, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    I agree with all the points here, but i think many teams have been in this position before against not so strong opponents... India in England 2011 was a classic example... By the way there was no way Anderson was going to be rested for this game and Cook has had no reliable pacer to fall back on throughout this series... This just outlines a basic difference between Steyn and Anderson-the former, a legend and Jimmy, a very good bowler but not among the best... A fast bowler is always judged based on how long he can steam in no matter how bad the match situation is! In that context even Harris beats Jimmy hands down! KP plays the way he does and can't be blamed for the mess... I have a strange feeling that if England somehow manages to draw this match, they will retain the Ashes... I know it will need an incredible performance from Stokes and Prior but maybe that is the kind of miracle England needs to pick itself up from abyss!

  • libranavi2009 on December 16, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    I think Broad should be allowed a runner, because he got injured (not fatigued) during the match

  • SurlyCynic on December 16, 2013, 13:32 GMT

    KP's innings was bizarre. It's easy to say 'he's an attacking player' etc, but team players play for the team first, their ego second. For example, AB De Villiers is one of the most attacking batsmen in the world, he loves destroying bowlers and playing unorthodox shots. But when SA needed to bat out a day and a half to save the test in Aus last year he shelved his aggression and made 30 off over 200 balls. Noone had ever seen him play like that.

    SA saved the test. Given the way Stokes and Bell played was it really impossible to save this test? Hope KP has a long hard look in the mirror but he's probably just thinking of T20 tournaments now.

    PS: I do find it amazing that this article defends Anderson and makes his poor returns this series out to be someone else's fault. Perhaps Anderson has just never been that great, especially without a Duke ball? Isn't that what a career avg over 30 indicates?

  • george204 on December 16, 2013, 13:20 GMT

    Dan Hodges was merely 6 months premature when he wrote "The Aussies are coming and they bring with them fire, death destruction - the same things they always bring. Standing in their way? Debilitating complacency, a sense that things are shaping up nicely"

    This tour reminds me of 2006/7 in the way the England setup has become bloated - too many hangers on, unnecessary support staff, too many people telling the players how great they are to the extent that they have started to believe it. The result will probably end up the same too.

  • on December 16, 2013, 13:20 GMT

    Makes for a painful reading, but that's what England's performance and its viewing has been like Down under as well - painful.

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

    Sounds like a fine time to rearrange the deck chairs and play a bit of Whist eh?

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

    Sounds like a fine time to rearrange the deck chairs and play a bit of Whist eh?

  • on December 16, 2013, 13:20 GMT

    Makes for a painful reading, but that's what England's performance and its viewing has been like Down under as well - painful.

  • george204 on December 16, 2013, 13:20 GMT

    Dan Hodges was merely 6 months premature when he wrote "The Aussies are coming and they bring with them fire, death destruction - the same things they always bring. Standing in their way? Debilitating complacency, a sense that things are shaping up nicely"

    This tour reminds me of 2006/7 in the way the England setup has become bloated - too many hangers on, unnecessary support staff, too many people telling the players how great they are to the extent that they have started to believe it. The result will probably end up the same too.

  • SurlyCynic on December 16, 2013, 13:32 GMT

    KP's innings was bizarre. It's easy to say 'he's an attacking player' etc, but team players play for the team first, their ego second. For example, AB De Villiers is one of the most attacking batsmen in the world, he loves destroying bowlers and playing unorthodox shots. But when SA needed to bat out a day and a half to save the test in Aus last year he shelved his aggression and made 30 off over 200 balls. Noone had ever seen him play like that.

    SA saved the test. Given the way Stokes and Bell played was it really impossible to save this test? Hope KP has a long hard look in the mirror but he's probably just thinking of T20 tournaments now.

    PS: I do find it amazing that this article defends Anderson and makes his poor returns this series out to be someone else's fault. Perhaps Anderson has just never been that great, especially without a Duke ball? Isn't that what a career avg over 30 indicates?

  • libranavi2009 on December 16, 2013, 13:35 GMT

    I think Broad should be allowed a runner, because he got injured (not fatigued) during the match

  • on December 16, 2013, 13:40 GMT

    I agree with all the points here, but i think many teams have been in this position before against not so strong opponents... India in England 2011 was a classic example... By the way there was no way Anderson was going to be rested for this game and Cook has had no reliable pacer to fall back on throughout this series... This just outlines a basic difference between Steyn and Anderson-the former, a legend and Jimmy, a very good bowler but not among the best... A fast bowler is always judged based on how long he can steam in no matter how bad the match situation is! In that context even Harris beats Jimmy hands down! KP plays the way he does and can't be blamed for the mess... I have a strange feeling that if England somehow manages to draw this match, they will retain the Ashes... I know it will need an incredible performance from Stokes and Prior but maybe that is the kind of miracle England needs to pick itself up from abyss!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 16, 2013, 13:41 GMT

    A nice article George. It does seem cruel but it is a bit like watching the clubbing of baby fur seals, those cute white ones. I am very interested in the changes for the MCG, England must find some runs and wickets from somewhere.

  • LancsRedRose on December 16, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    Wish I didn't have to agree with this article, but it's an excellent analysis. The cracks in England were showing during the unconvincing Ashes win at home. Sorry for Jimmy Anderson - he deserves better than the "world record" bad over!

    Hope that the England management take a balanced view - can't throw the baby out with the bath water but at the same time questions need to be asked about the make up of this side, so recently number 1 in the world. Is too much being asked of jaded players? Back-to-back Ashes didn't seem to be too good an idea when proposed & seems even worse now!

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on December 16, 2013, 13:47 GMT

    Really great piece that sums things up well. This is not the same England team that took to the field a few months ago in the last Ashes - that team seems to have stayed behind in England. Australia, on the other hand, have regrouped and come back fighting and really shown England the "not in my backyard" attitude that England have been missing since the retirement of the likes of Freddy Flintoff. Cook's first-ball dismissal by Harris pretty much epitomises this series so far for me, in much the same way Anderson dismissed Clarke for a duck in the very first game last series and created that belief/aura that something special was going to happen. Warner's brutality has really paid off this series, and sadly for England this has not been matched by the likes of KP. Fittingly, there are no articles entitled "Australia over dependent on ..." being circulated and that is because they are playing some excellent cricket as a (seemingly) settled unit. Hats off to Boof et al. for this.

  • on December 16, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    I think many of the old hands have, like Trott, grown weary of the treadmill English cricket forces them on. Look at Stokes and even Carberry, both are new to the team and have outplayed their more illustrious team mates. And Carberry is 33 - proves it doesn't matter how old you are, enthusiasm and appetite make a difference. It's so clear that the likes of Cook, Pietersen, Bell, Prior and Anderson are just jaded and no longer have that 5% of zip that makes the difference. It's quite likely the dourness of the coaching staff and their ridiculous regime (an 80 page recipe book?!) have something to do with it, and it might just be to do with playing so much cricket. But its clear these guys need a rest. Whether its short term or not, they would probably benefit from being dropped for the last two games while the likes of Ballance, Finn and Rankin would probably benefit a great deal.