The Ashes 2013-14 December 17, 2013

Exhausted and broken

ESPNcricinfo looks at five reasons for England's failure to compete in Australia
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Selection and coaching
When the England squad was announced, there was excitement over the inclusion of three unusually tall fast bowlers - Boyd Rankin, Chris Tremlett and Steven Finn - and the expectation that one or all could play a key role on Australian pitches offering pace and bounce.

But anyone who had watched county cricket in 2013 could have confirmed this was always unlikely. There was a mountain of evidence to suggest that Tremlett was not the force he once was and that Finn was enduring something of a crisis of confidence as he weighed up conflicting advice from county and international coaches. It was naive to think that an England set-up with little track-record of improving bowlers - James Anderson and Stuart Broad were international players before the current management took charge - could revitalise such players. It might well have proved helpful to have Graham Onions, the best bowler in county cricket over the last two seasons, on the tour to provide cover and balance.

Rankin may still prove a valuable player but he failed to shine in his few opportunities and, under the guidance of England bowling coach, David Saker, has regressed during the tour. Indeed, Saker's influence requires some reflection: to have failed to capitalise on the substantial talents of Finn is a major stain on his record.

Questions might be asked about Graham Gooch, too. There is little doubt that England have brought, give or take a name or two, their best batting line-up on this trip: the records of Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell will stand the test of time. They have proved they are fine players. But England are failing to maximise their talent. While the primary responsibility must always lie with the individuals, it is fair and sensible to raise questions of a batting coach who seems so unable to coax the best from talented players.

One man who could feel unfortunate not to make the tour is Nick Compton. He was dropped after two poor games at the start of the 2013 English summer - a decision that suggests cliques - but has continued to churn out runs in the county game. The last time England scored 400 in a Test, Compton and Jonathan Trott contributed centuries. His solidity and restraint would have been valuable.

The inclusion of Jonny Bairstow is also questionable. He appears, through no fault of his own, not to be trusted with bat or gloves by the management. So why bring him?

Losing Trott
The departure of Trott disturbed England. It was not just the absence of a top-order batsman, a vital buffer despite his drop in form, but the sight of a friend and colleague in obvious distress shocked the dressing room and disrupted the equilibrium of those left behind. All the planning, all the attempts to create a calm environment were dashed in that moment. England have never recovered.

Mental and physical overload
Trott's descent into exhaustion may be extreme, but it is not unique. Several other members of this squad have progressed further down the same road than should have been allowed. A combination of a reliance upon a few key players in all formats and the ECB's schedule - a schedule that prioritises income above a duty of care to their most important assets - has asked too much of too few.

Since December 2011, no one has faced more deliveries in international cricket than Cook, with Bell and Trott also featuring in the top five. In the same period, no seamer has bowled more deliveries than Anderson or Broad and only R Ashwin has bowled more deliveries than Graeme Swann as a spinner. That is despite Swann undergoing surgery and missing games with a variety of injuries.

But it is not just the quantity of cricket that England have been playing. It is also the environment in which they travel and train. The intensity of the England set-up has done nothing to dispel the pressure that can build up over time with the many virtues of Andy Flower - the attention to detail, the drive - slowly becoming vices as they are repeated over a long period of time without levity. It may be no coincidence that three of those who have fared best in this series are the three that have most recently come into the side: Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Michael Carberry.

Somewhere, somehow, England forgot to enjoy the journey.

Batting and fielding failures
It may seem odd to lump these two aspects of the game together, but the failures in both may well have the same root: weariness and a lack of belief.

Fielding is often the barometer of a team's morale and England's in this series has been poor. By the time Australia declared in Perth, it had sunk to the level of appalling. England's inability to take their chances in the field reached its nadir in Adelaide when an opportunity to dismiss Australia for around 350 was punished ruthlessly and fatally.

The batsmen have failed to score 400 in an innings since March, 22 innings ago, with Stokes the only centurion in the series so far. The failure in England's top order simply exposed a soft middle to lower order before the tail were blown away.

The domestic system
It is no coincidence that, when the England side enjoyed its best years, it was on the back of a sharp improvement in the standard of county cricket. The move to two divisions, the introduction of promotion and relegation, the appearance of strong overseas and non-England-qualified players heralded a particularly competitive era in the county game, with the likes of Justin Langer remarking that it was as tough domestic cricket as he had experienced.

But the ECB could not resist tinkering. It brought in young player incentives, tightened work-permit criteria, took the best players out of the county game for reasons as diverse as Lions matches, rest and gym sessions and created a schedule that squeezed the County Championship into the margins of the season. Furthermore, it allowed games to be staged on homogenised slabs of mud which bear little resemblance to those on which international cricket is played. Many of the initiatives were well intentioned but nearly all of them have backfired.

  • Brydon Coverdale on why Australia were the better side


    George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

  • Comments have now been closed for this article

    • hhillbumper on December 19, 2013, 22:02 GMT

      Could it just be exhaustion and also total shock that Mitchell Johnson has been fast and accurate.

      The real issue is burn out and England's game has been based on grinding efficiency.when they are challenged by a greater force they lack that spark to answer back.the impact players have had no impact.no looks out of sorts and the lower order that has supplied the aggression has folded.a lack of catches being taken and a siege mentality has been evident.

      There is plenty of young talent to go forward and this is what happens when one team gains confidence and one loses it

    • StJohn on December 18, 2013, 22:19 GMT

      It's an oft-repeated statement that England's 3-0 win at home flattered them. But it was ever thus in sport: I've never watched a football World Cup without the winner enjoying some decisive luck, or marginal calls/misses, somewhere on the way. Similarly, when SA beat England 2-0 in England a couple of years back, England were totally blown away in the 1st Test of that series, however, but for dropped catches (some real sitters went to ground), it would have been 1-1 or 2-1 to England. In that vein, this 3-0 scoreline to date probably flatters Australia a bit too: England have had their chances, but have failed to take them; and the scoreline owes as much to England's underperformance (whether due to fatigue or otherwise) as Australian exceptionality. Australia are the better team at the moment and deserve to win, but despite the thumping results so far, there still isn't really that much between the two sides. As was the case last summer.

    • on December 18, 2013, 19:24 GMT

      The writing was on the wall for England before this series even started. South Africa had already proven over numerous seasons that most of the English batsmen were very uncomfortable against hostile and genuinely fast bowling. And Pakistan's spinners further highlighted England's batting woes in failing against the extra turn and bounce of drier, dustier pitches in the UAE. In other words the very conditions they would encounter in Australia.

      England became arrogant and complacent, just as Australia had become in 2005. They underestimated and failed to respect their opposition, who were more determined, employed better strategy and tactics, and who quite frankly played a more attractive game of cricket.

      With such negavity in too many aspects of England's game the outcome of this series should not have been a surprise; all that remains to be seen is whether Australia can make it 5-nil.

    • Sultan2007 on December 18, 2013, 13:15 GMT

      Here is my take on things: 1) the slide in English cricket had set in even during the summer Ashes win in England. The 3-0 result was excessively flattering as England escaped winning some key sessions and the Aussies were unfortunate in sevral instances. The series was in fact closer than the scoreline would suggest but for Bell's brilliance the reuslt might have been different 2) The Aussies got it wrong with Agar. HAd they stayed with Lyon they might have been a lot stronger and 3) Mitchell Johnson is clearly making the difference in Australia but again the English were fortunate that Johnson did not get picked in England. He was clearly in good bowling form as he later showed in the ODI series. Net Net, i think England got lucky during the english summer in no small measure becasue the Aussies got thier team selection wrong. Interestingly, man for man the English still have by far the more impressive credentials

    • Stumay on December 18, 2013, 10:37 GMT

      This is one tour too many for too small a group of players. Taking into account the fact that back-back series of such intensity were always going to be arduous and unforgiving tasks, England appear to have hit a physical and mental wall. The players look drained, the management and coaches come across as weary and the performances which peaked at Lords and Chester-le-Street have just dropped alarmingly since. Questions do need to be asked about selection and coaching. Why is Onions not on the tour, why is Finn who was dropped for 4 out of 5 tests in the summer deemed good enough and as you rightly point out, why is Compton not even considered? Although Flower has worked wonders with the team and squad, perhaps new coaches are needed- Thorpe as batting coach is a suggestion and a new face for bowling too. England seem to have adopted a 'cosa nostra' circle where loyalty and familiarity are perhaps valued above newness and the untried.

    • on December 18, 2013, 10:01 GMT

      Australia won all three tosses and chose to bat. England then either dropped or failed to get into position to take vital catches. That is bound to knock confidence. Monty has bowled well but he is still a dreadful fielder. Slow and cumbersome. He is simply not a first class athlete and you can't afford to carry anyone in the field at this level. For similar reasons I would replace Prior, who is unfortunately completely out of form with Jonny Bairstow. Bairstow is a very good keeper, is young, fit and in form with the bat. He is far more likely to score runs that Prior.

    • Herbet on December 18, 2013, 8:19 GMT

      An article like this hammers home just how badly the England team have been managed/coached. The purpose of any management structure or coaching is to allow players to perform at their best, or in some cases like Brian Clough in his prime, make people perform above themselves. The opposite is occurring here. Players come into the England team and get worse. What is going on when players like Bairstow & Finn arrive with massive talents and buckets of confidence and end up introspective and ineffective? Not to mention the senior players looking like they'd really rather be anywhere else. Its a damning indictment of the entire staff structure and in my eyes points to a root and branch overhaul being a necessity, including Flower & Saker. There are lots of young keen cricketers around the country, and in Giles a bright cheery coach. Lets get them in.

    • AltafPatel on December 18, 2013, 7:49 GMT

      England was coward through out the series that led them to sloppy performance. They were better side by far. Before the start of the series, Aus lost 4-0 in India and almost 4-0 in England where as England won 2-1 in tough India and almost 4-0 against Aus. Eng Management didn't handle mental game by Aus well that led them for slippery. Now, only rain can save them from 5-0.

    • Sugath on December 18, 2013, 7:35 GMT

      This series has clearly shown that coaching is not about getting few corrections in the stride of a batter or the few things of a bowler. It shows that it is always about mind conditioning and mind moments. Clearly in mind moments English showed how they delved in the concern and not the influence. The five-door adverting process clearly showed what was wrong with English side. Person with only cricket knowledge but not being able understand the persons is not a good coach. History has shown that good players are not good coaches because a good player is more self-centered and is unable to understand the other, thus not good for coaching. Clearly the best coaches would those with little knowledge of the game but good mind managers. For that you need to understand the 17 mind moments and what that means to each person. With current coaching staff difficult to see England winning the next two games. I am pretty sure that tcoaches must be taking about what is wrong and not what is right.

    • Meety on December 18, 2013, 7:26 GMT

      @valvolux on (December 18, 2013, 6:29 GMT) - I agree re your comment. The Ashes in England, Oz were one batsmen short - Mike Husseys retirement, was the difference between the 2 teams. At the end of the day England can only beat whoever is put in front of them, but I really believe that the Trent Bridge collapse & the 1st Test falling short, wouldn't of happened under Mr Cricket's watch - that was how close it was. Oz had a lot to play for at the end of the Ashes & in the ODIs because of the short turn around. It will be interesting to see how England respond here, because there is not as much pressing matters to be gained out of the final 2 matches - except for self preservation & avoiding a whitewash. The ODIs will be important for both teams with the W/C just around the corner.

    • hhillbumper on December 19, 2013, 22:02 GMT

      Could it just be exhaustion and also total shock that Mitchell Johnson has been fast and accurate.

      The real issue is burn out and England's game has been based on grinding efficiency.when they are challenged by a greater force they lack that spark to answer back.the impact players have had no impact.no looks out of sorts and the lower order that has supplied the aggression has folded.a lack of catches being taken and a siege mentality has been evident.

      There is plenty of young talent to go forward and this is what happens when one team gains confidence and one loses it

    • StJohn on December 18, 2013, 22:19 GMT

      It's an oft-repeated statement that England's 3-0 win at home flattered them. But it was ever thus in sport: I've never watched a football World Cup without the winner enjoying some decisive luck, or marginal calls/misses, somewhere on the way. Similarly, when SA beat England 2-0 in England a couple of years back, England were totally blown away in the 1st Test of that series, however, but for dropped catches (some real sitters went to ground), it would have been 1-1 or 2-1 to England. In that vein, this 3-0 scoreline to date probably flatters Australia a bit too: England have had their chances, but have failed to take them; and the scoreline owes as much to England's underperformance (whether due to fatigue or otherwise) as Australian exceptionality. Australia are the better team at the moment and deserve to win, but despite the thumping results so far, there still isn't really that much between the two sides. As was the case last summer.

    • on December 18, 2013, 19:24 GMT

      The writing was on the wall for England before this series even started. South Africa had already proven over numerous seasons that most of the English batsmen were very uncomfortable against hostile and genuinely fast bowling. And Pakistan's spinners further highlighted England's batting woes in failing against the extra turn and bounce of drier, dustier pitches in the UAE. In other words the very conditions they would encounter in Australia.

      England became arrogant and complacent, just as Australia had become in 2005. They underestimated and failed to respect their opposition, who were more determined, employed better strategy and tactics, and who quite frankly played a more attractive game of cricket.

      With such negavity in too many aspects of England's game the outcome of this series should not have been a surprise; all that remains to be seen is whether Australia can make it 5-nil.

    • Sultan2007 on December 18, 2013, 13:15 GMT

      Here is my take on things: 1) the slide in English cricket had set in even during the summer Ashes win in England. The 3-0 result was excessively flattering as England escaped winning some key sessions and the Aussies were unfortunate in sevral instances. The series was in fact closer than the scoreline would suggest but for Bell's brilliance the reuslt might have been different 2) The Aussies got it wrong with Agar. HAd they stayed with Lyon they might have been a lot stronger and 3) Mitchell Johnson is clearly making the difference in Australia but again the English were fortunate that Johnson did not get picked in England. He was clearly in good bowling form as he later showed in the ODI series. Net Net, i think England got lucky during the english summer in no small measure becasue the Aussies got thier team selection wrong. Interestingly, man for man the English still have by far the more impressive credentials

    • Stumay on December 18, 2013, 10:37 GMT

      This is one tour too many for too small a group of players. Taking into account the fact that back-back series of such intensity were always going to be arduous and unforgiving tasks, England appear to have hit a physical and mental wall. The players look drained, the management and coaches come across as weary and the performances which peaked at Lords and Chester-le-Street have just dropped alarmingly since. Questions do need to be asked about selection and coaching. Why is Onions not on the tour, why is Finn who was dropped for 4 out of 5 tests in the summer deemed good enough and as you rightly point out, why is Compton not even considered? Although Flower has worked wonders with the team and squad, perhaps new coaches are needed- Thorpe as batting coach is a suggestion and a new face for bowling too. England seem to have adopted a 'cosa nostra' circle where loyalty and familiarity are perhaps valued above newness and the untried.

    • on December 18, 2013, 10:01 GMT

      Australia won all three tosses and chose to bat. England then either dropped or failed to get into position to take vital catches. That is bound to knock confidence. Monty has bowled well but he is still a dreadful fielder. Slow and cumbersome. He is simply not a first class athlete and you can't afford to carry anyone in the field at this level. For similar reasons I would replace Prior, who is unfortunately completely out of form with Jonny Bairstow. Bairstow is a very good keeper, is young, fit and in form with the bat. He is far more likely to score runs that Prior.

    • Herbet on December 18, 2013, 8:19 GMT

      An article like this hammers home just how badly the England team have been managed/coached. The purpose of any management structure or coaching is to allow players to perform at their best, or in some cases like Brian Clough in his prime, make people perform above themselves. The opposite is occurring here. Players come into the England team and get worse. What is going on when players like Bairstow & Finn arrive with massive talents and buckets of confidence and end up introspective and ineffective? Not to mention the senior players looking like they'd really rather be anywhere else. Its a damning indictment of the entire staff structure and in my eyes points to a root and branch overhaul being a necessity, including Flower & Saker. There are lots of young keen cricketers around the country, and in Giles a bright cheery coach. Lets get them in.

    • AltafPatel on December 18, 2013, 7:49 GMT

      England was coward through out the series that led them to sloppy performance. They were better side by far. Before the start of the series, Aus lost 4-0 in India and almost 4-0 in England where as England won 2-1 in tough India and almost 4-0 against Aus. Eng Management didn't handle mental game by Aus well that led them for slippery. Now, only rain can save them from 5-0.

    • Sugath on December 18, 2013, 7:35 GMT

      This series has clearly shown that coaching is not about getting few corrections in the stride of a batter or the few things of a bowler. It shows that it is always about mind conditioning and mind moments. Clearly in mind moments English showed how they delved in the concern and not the influence. The five-door adverting process clearly showed what was wrong with English side. Person with only cricket knowledge but not being able understand the persons is not a good coach. History has shown that good players are not good coaches because a good player is more self-centered and is unable to understand the other, thus not good for coaching. Clearly the best coaches would those with little knowledge of the game but good mind managers. For that you need to understand the 17 mind moments and what that means to each person. With current coaching staff difficult to see England winning the next two games. I am pretty sure that tcoaches must be taking about what is wrong and not what is right.

    • Meety on December 18, 2013, 7:26 GMT

      @valvolux on (December 18, 2013, 6:29 GMT) - I agree re your comment. The Ashes in England, Oz were one batsmen short - Mike Husseys retirement, was the difference between the 2 teams. At the end of the day England can only beat whoever is put in front of them, but I really believe that the Trent Bridge collapse & the 1st Test falling short, wouldn't of happened under Mr Cricket's watch - that was how close it was. Oz had a lot to play for at the end of the Ashes & in the ODIs because of the short turn around. It will be interesting to see how England respond here, because there is not as much pressing matters to be gained out of the final 2 matches - except for self preservation & avoiding a whitewash. The ODIs will be important for both teams with the W/C just around the corner.

    • jmcilhinney on December 18, 2013, 6:36 GMT

      Are England jaded? They may well be. It's not an excuse but it may be a reason for this failure. The players might not even know it if they were and I doubt the players or management would admit it regardless. There really is no solution to that problem if it indeed exists. It would be very hard to rediscover a love of the game without some time away and none of these players are going to get much time away any time soon unless they actually get dropped. That may happen if this keeps up but it won't just yet. England will play an unchanged team in Melbourne other than maybe replacing Broad if he's unfit.

    • valvolux on December 18, 2013, 6:29 GMT

      I dont agree the Aussies have prepared pitches that suit their bowlers. All 3 pitches were traditional Brisbane/Adelaide/Perth wickets, they played exactly as they did in 2006. All 3 pitches were beautiful to bat on. England has a better batting lineup, Australia has a better bowling lineup. Simply put, England's superior batsmen still can't buy a run against Australia's superior bowling lineup, as was observed in England. This time around, Australia's inferior batting lineup has found runs against England's inferior attack. Australia was only one batsman short in england, that series could've been reversed. Due to a batting lineup that changed order practically every innings, and personell every test, England's bowlers were left looking better than they actually are. You only have to look at career averages to see this isn't a one off - not a single English paceman is on the right side of a 30 average, whilst all Aussie pacemen are. Throw an underperforming swann in...and bang

    • mux164 on December 18, 2013, 6:23 GMT

      england need to do something different in melbourne, maybe they should reverse the order, at least the openers might last 20 overs then.

      open with swann, he might get a few quick ones.

      or they can keep bowling and fielding defensively and bat horribly

    • venkatesh018 on December 18, 2013, 6:09 GMT

      I agree on only one thing with George Dobbell. Onions is the best England discard in ages.

    • jimbond on December 18, 2013, 5:55 GMT

      @SoyQuearns: Cook also does not deserve to be called 'great'- not yet. Modern day great batsmen do not have an average of 47 after 100 tests (Actually Trott has a similar average in tests - after 50 tests- though with a much better average in ODIs). The only batsman in the english team who approaches greatness is KP but he too has a similar average, and his claims to greatness rest more on the few commanding innings' that he has played in the face of adversity. He too seems to be in a slump right now. The batting will continue to be reasonably good for England over the next few years, except for Trott, the others in the top six are quite good. Its in bowling where they will struggle, especially when Anderson and Swann move over as these two had been very good in the past two years. The new keepers are unlikely to be better than what prior has been in recent years, and Stokes hardly addresses the bowling problems. Spin is bare and so is swing and pace.

    • Shaggy076 on December 18, 2013, 5:10 GMT

      Village Green; Have you actually watched any of the tests - in all 3 games at the end of Day 2 there has only been one result possible. Even the times they have looked like bowling Australia out for 300, they never looked like managing that with the bat. Each first innings has been well below par, and they managed to get a couple of 300's in second digs chasing over 500 runs because Australia had the games sewn up and could set very aggressive field placings. Each and every test this series has been an absolute hiding, much in the same way England delivered to us at Lords.

    • DaisonGarvasis on December 18, 2013, 5:05 GMT

      Have England got anyone's sympathy? NO. What do you expect after peeing in the pitch to "celebrate" a series win???? Ridiculous disrespect to the game they showed. And now they say it hurts like hell to lose???? I dont believe it does to them. They are just embarrassed but it doesnt hurt those bunch. Two different things you know.

    • Cricket_theBestGame on December 18, 2013, 4:40 GMT

      eng lost after the 1st day of the 1st test ! there was arrogance in their attitude as to say 'we've done it before. no worries'. underestimated aus and it backfired. aus used the same tactics vaughn used in 2005 ashes. short pitch bowling. maybe weather will save eng but its 5-0 all the way.

      prior is in the team to mouth off, primarily. even at that he can't make a dent in aus side. hadding kicks him to bits in the banter match!

    • SoyQuearns on December 18, 2013, 3:35 GMT

      Trott has averaged 36 for the last 2000+ runs of his career. It is more that he was a familiar face and a 'cog in the machine' that would have upset the balance.

      @VillageGreen - no, 3-0 in 3 tests here has been VERY indicative. Cook averaging 25 with the bat, Anderson 58 with the ball and Swann 80 with the ball are all fair figures. For too long this English side has rested on these 3 players (to the point whereby English fans deluded themselves into thinking that all 3 were greats, in all cases bar Cook they are just 'good enough').

      Australia were in 3 out of the 5 games for the vast majority of the 5 days in each of the 3 tests.

      England have been blown out of contention in all 3 tests here by around lunch on Day 2.

      Whatever happens in the next 2 tests is irrelevant to Australia, they'll never admit it, but England got absolutely belted in the 'live' matches and the urn is safely ours now, who cares if England does well in dead rubbers, we sure don't.

    • Ducky610 on December 18, 2013, 3:34 GMT

      Fatigue? Australia had SA, Sri Lanka and the West Indies over to start the season, toured India twice, the first time their series against the west indies hadnt even finished before they left, the Champions trophy (in england) toured england, and now are back for more in the mean time England played NZ back to back and the CT then the home Ashes... Such a hard schedule!! As for the domestic competition it was only a month ago the Shield Shield was universally condemned... No, Enlgand have been shown up by genuine pace, they bearly kept up with Harris in England and Johnson has been simply to fast for them... Mean while Anderson has no idea how to bowl unless its overcast with a brease across him, and it shows in his career average, I couldnt believe people were saying he was the second best paceman in the world, utter garbage... On top of that both Anderson and Swann have been unwilling to work for their wickets after the armchair ride they got in England, and it shows!!

    • CSpiers on December 18, 2013, 2:34 GMT

      @VillageGreen Completely disagree, this series has been completely one sided in very aspect, bowling, batting, fielding, tactics, mental approach. Adelaide was a very English style pitch and England were still hammered. 3-0 at this stage is a very, very true reflection of proceedings.

    • Alexk400 on December 18, 2013, 2:27 GMT

      England is not bad side. But it happens to all teams in australia. Its is kinda hell hole of visiting team. So any team beat australia in australia is very good team or aussie team worse of worst.

      My reasons for england losing ashes and even going 5-0 1. Replacement for Trott is not root. 2. Anderson and swann inability to take wickets puts pressure on rets of bowlers and they crumbled. 3. Lack of pure fast bowler to return the favor MJ is dishing to england.

    • zenboomerang on December 18, 2013, 2:11 GMT

      @dunger.bob - think you are wrong about the lack of overseas talent available to Eng ;)

      Stokes is only 22 & a good Kiwi prospect for Eng while the Aussie born & trained Robson's name seems to on every Poms lips - looks like the Saffa's are getting a run for their money for a Test spot :P

    • dunger.bob on December 18, 2013, 0:06 GMT

      @ R_U_4_REAL_NICK: "I don't agree that faster strike rates make for better cricket in tests. In tests it's all about runs & ensuring 20 wickets. Yes Australia have shown you CAN have both, but still." I can't really agree with that. I think Test cricket is about time as well as runs and both have to be taken into account if you want to win. Making lot's of runs and taking plenty of time doing it makes it likely that you won't lose but you mightn't win either. It brings the draw right into play. Making the same runs at a quicker rate is a risky proposition at many levels but the rewards are high.. The biggest single benefit of batting quickly is that it gives you time to get those 20 wickets imo. .. How many times has Clarke declared in this extended series? .. He doesn't do it because he can. It's all about giving himself enough time to bowl the opposition out twice.

      For some reason very few England fans seem to get it. Must be one of lifes little mysteries I guess.

    • heathrf1974 on December 17, 2013, 23:17 GMT

      I don't think the selectors have been too bad there are many proven palayers in the team who haven't performed to expectations. However, the exclusion of Onions seems to be a big error. Picking three tall bowlers seems overkill. I would have Finn, Rankin and Onions. Finn reminds me of an English Johnson.

    • HatsforBats on December 17, 2013, 23:04 GMT

      @VillageGreen, 0-3 is absolutely a true reflection of this series to date. England have been comprehensively outplayed in all facets of the game. They have showed very little desire, fight, or even tactical nous. Anderson looks (almost embarrassingly so) to be going through the motions, while their best batsmen (KP & Bell) have showed little stomach for digging in and playing ugly when required to do so. Even Swann lacked the conviction to back his experience & skill when getting pummeled by Watson, instead letting poor Root be the sacrificial lamb. Contrast this with Lyon who keeps throwing the ball up to KP and backing himself. The home side have not produced pitches favouring themselves; each pitch has been brilliant for batting and has rewarded high quality bowling. England have been extremely poor in both facets. Sadly, I think the loss of Trott made a greater psychological impact then we all may have expected.

    • Digimont on December 17, 2013, 22:22 GMT

      @VillageGreen - you are right 3-0 is not an accurate reflection. Australia should be 4-0 up after 3 tests, they're THAT FAR in front.

    • Number_5 on December 17, 2013, 21:29 GMT

      Good Summary. Another factor that I feel has been overlooked thus far is that of the last 8 Ashes tests, 6 have been won by the team winning the toss and batting first, the other 2 wash outs that Aus could have won (they also won the toss and batted). Had Eng won the toss in any of the first 3 tests, could the result have been diff? For mine, 1 session of cricket in Bris turned the test for Aus and Day 3 in Adelaide where Aus fielded well and Mitch tore the heart out of the lion gave them the momentum. The challenge for Eng will be to recover some pride and not loose 5-0.

    • Nutcutlet on December 17, 2013, 20:51 GMT

      The increasing isolation/disconnect of the centrally contracted players (effectively the ring-fenced Test squad) from the county championship is something that GD touches on here & certainly needs another look. There is a balance between Test/ tour readiness & being match-fit & in nick. Too many of Eng's players have been living, cheek-by-jowl with one another, well away from the discipline of our county game and this has led to a sense of insularity. Just how good am I at the moment? is question that has no answer because I haven't played enough to know the answer. All old players say that there's no net as good/ useful as a competitive game. And then take it from the other side - the aspiring county pro doesn't get enough practice against the best players. If he's asked to step up, then he's not been given the best preparation & his stats come with the caveat for the Eng management - not against Test quality players. A healthy root produces the best crop. Why cut away the root then?

    • peterhrt on December 17, 2013, 20:08 GMT

      Six of the last seven Ashes series have been won by the home team. This series has simply run to form. No doubt England will reclaim the urn in 2015. Forget sledging, bouncers, captaincy, coaches and local media. It is home pitches and familiar weather that always give the hosts in Test cricket a huge helping hand. They decide the series unless the visitors have much better players. This may seem like a defining moment for both teams, but it probably isn't. Australia will most likely lose in South Africa shortly to begin another round of soul searching, while whoever England pick will be expected to beat Sri Lanka and India at home. Then everyone will forget about Test cricket for six months in the build up to the World Cup.

    • InsideHedge on December 17, 2013, 19:48 GMT

      lol all the England fans who were sticking their nose in and complaining about Australia's 7 match ODI series in India just prior to the Ashes. They were worried that the Australians would be exhausted, their performance impaired in the all important cricket that subsidises itself without any assistance from limited overs "hit and giggle". They didn't want an EASY Ashes win, the Aussies shouldn't have any excuses they cried out.

      A close look - that would be asking too much of most trigger happy fans here - would have revealed that the majority of the players in the Oz squad were limited overs specialists. If anything, the fringe Test players could make a case for their inclusion, and that's exactly what transpired: Johnson who'd played an important role for Mumbai Indians in the IPL and Champions League had a great series using the bouncer to great effect. Bailey had a great run too. Note, Johnson was out of the Test side at this point.

    • geoffboyc on December 17, 2013, 17:54 GMT

      Stormy 16; you're confusing excuses with explanations. If a team like England lose so easily to a pretty middle-of-the-road outfit like the current Aussies then anyone with any sense would look for the reasons why. According to the Aussie press and plenty of people on here, you only lost in England because the DRS didn't work, the umpires were useless and the pitches were lousy and Broad was a cheat. That's what I call excuses. Luckily Boof and Clarkie thought better and looked for some reasons and came up with some answers; some pretty sloppy England performances guaranteed they were the right answers.

    • on December 17, 2013, 16:25 GMT

      I think the tiredness is not just about the last year. The vast bulk of the England side (Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Prior, Bresnan, Broad, Anderson, Prior...plus the coaching squad) have been playing pretty much non-stop for 3 years. Of the Australians, that can only really be said of Clarke, Watson, and Siddle. That level of deep exhaustion can not be wiped out by a few weeks rest here and there.

    • pull_shot on December 17, 2013, 15:19 GMT

      3 reasons r enough Batting,Bowling,Fielding

    • on December 17, 2013, 14:35 GMT

      For the final two test matches England need to play Ballance, Bairstow (as keeper) and Rankin and tell them "you've got two test matches, show us what you're made of". With the series lost they will be under less pressure than normal to perform. Only if they have complete stinkers will their reputations be undermined. My team for Melbourne: Cook (c), Carberry, Root, Bell, Ballance, Stokes, Bairstow (wk), Bresnan, Broad (if fit), Rankin, Panasar.

      I'm not counting out Jimmy Anderson but he needs a good long rest starting now. I really hope that spell at Trent Bridge last summer didn't break him, unfortunately it isn't looking good.

    • VillageGreen on December 17, 2013, 13:28 GMT

      Don't write the Poms off yet. Yes, they were ripe for the picking, and all the good fortune they had at home reversed in Australia's favour this time…toss of the coin, the DRS. Yes, the Ashes are lost after only 3 tests and cracks are there for sure, but the batting is actually improving with each innings, and the bowling has been within one wicket of complete distruction in each 1st innings.

      Just as 3-0 was not a true relection of the battle in July, 0-3 is not a true reflection in December. Its more a reflection of momentum, a slice of good fortune, the home side curating favourable pitches (in both series) and a couple of players being off-peak performance.

      Yes, the experienced champions need to dig deeper and forget past records. Stokes has shown them how.

      The Poms got closer in Perth than we all expected…its just that they let the Aussies off the chain in the 1st & 2nd Tests and should have batted far better in Adelaide.

      This series is lost, but this team is not done yet.

    • wanatawu on December 17, 2013, 13:25 GMT

      What happened to the worlds best bowler James Anderson, was he playing? I heard of an Anderson that bowled the most expensive over it surely can't be the great, must be another Anderson.

    • on December 17, 2013, 13:25 GMT

      As an Aussie supporter and not being too knowledgable of the English Domestic setup, the article here sounds like a type of "Groundhog Day" reading of what has occurred in Oz recently with the Sheffield Shield. With that in mindm it sounds like the Poms can do a lot a worse than reviewing how Oz has handled their recent troubles and try not to replicate the mistakes CA has made whilst they go about attempting to fix the problems they are now facing...

    • stormy16 on December 17, 2013, 12:59 GMT

      That's right - the selections, the bowlers, the coach, the domestic system, anything else? For crying out aloud Aus also played the last Ashes in Eng and then went to India for 7 one dayers and before the Ashes, they played 4 tests in India too, their coach was sacked minutes before the Ashes, they werent sure who was going to open the bowling when Eng arrived in Perth - have I forgotten anything. If we live in the land of excuses life will be a long excuse. Eng were hammered because they didnt see or expect or beleived Aus could do what they did. It's what happens when you become over confident and take your opponent for granted. Surely at some stage Eng need to stop blaming.... (not sure what else is left) and say well played to Aus and accept defeat.

    • gujratwalla on December 17, 2013, 12:52 GMT

      Not too bad an article!I fully agree that this English squad's played too much cricket.They are after all humans not machines and overcricket leads to physica and mental fatigue.Some pace bowlers are more effective on Australian pitches than their own because of the bounce and here i think England should have blooded Rankin or brought in Finn irresepective of how they performed in the side matches.Way back in 1970 Ray Illingworth lost his first choice pace bowler Alan Ward but did not hesistated to thrust the unknown Bob Willis in the side just because of his pace.Snow was never so succesful in England than he was on that Tour .As for the batsmen! Well!they can't keep on forever!

    • aus_trad on December 17, 2013, 11:32 GMT

      Just putting my (Aussie) twopence in: I don't think it makes sense to drop players of the calibre of Anderson, Swann, Pietersen, Prior, etc, unless there are quality replacements. Is there a better spinner in England than Swann? I doubt it (Monty isn't). Knowing Aus conditions as I do, I don't think Onions (given the kind of bowler he is) would have fared any better than Anderson. You have to remember that Eng have been thrashed by a pretty good Aus outfit, playing a brand of cricket tailored to local conditions (and there was the same kind of soul searching here when we were beaten hollow by England, in England, a few months ago, doing exactly the same thing in their "home" conditions). I think the comment that this lot look jaded, more than anything else, is correct. Anderson is simply a better bowler than his figure show (best Eng bowler of his type I've seen in over 40 years watching). Pietersen is an erratic genius - and geniuses are normally worth persevering with. He'll be back.

    • on December 17, 2013, 11:26 GMT

      I dont understand why people lay the blam most on KP and Prior.They are proven match winners.Only few months ago Prior single handedly helped Eng draw against NZ in Auckland.KP played some of the best test knocks in 2012.Its not like his is in a prolonged slump like sehwag.Same with Cook Swann Anderson.Only 3 months ago Swann and Anderson took 25 odd wickets in Eng.I am surre Eng will bonce back and atleast win a test and draw one.But the non selection of Finn for Perth and the seection of Bresnan baffles me.And Where are Nick Compton and Onions?

    • Gaswell on December 17, 2013, 11:18 GMT

      I think the criticism of Saker is harsh. For years he has been hailed as a Svengali. It is not his fault necessarily, that Tremlett is bowling innocuous medium pace. I would have picked Finn regardless and just told him to bowl fast. Stokes is a find. He has some genuine pace just needs to learn how to use it properly. Anderson needs a break. He is clearly knackered. Onions would not have worked in Australia. England failed to utilise the bowlers they had. Stubbornly refusing to select Finn and Rankin was plain stupid. The batting was plain bad luck that so many good players were out of form together. Prior and Pietersen should be dropped immediately. KP clearly is mentally deficient and is incapable of playing a disciplined test innings against quality disciplined bowling. He is an arrogant slugger who occasionally comes off. Bring in Compton who can play that kind of innings. Make the changes for the boxing day test and see what a difference the new blood makes.

    • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on December 17, 2013, 11:17 GMT

      Many sensible fans saw the signs way back during the series against NZ. Around the times when articles such as "Tactics Vindicated" were being circulated, England fans with both eyes open were hanging their heads in embarrassment with horrible discomfort in their bellies. Barley scraping wins/draws with teams often containing passengers in poor form and/or picked on promise/past glory alone, is not the way to contend for high status in test cricket. This Ashes series should be a huge wake-up call to ECB. There are class players in the England team who have all done magnificent things at some point or other during their careers; that will never change. But bouts of poor form are inevitable & England MUST start making harsh (but careful) decisions - as they promised to do quite some time ago but never have. I don't agree that faster strike rates make for better cricket in tests. In tests it's all about runs & ensuring 20 wickets. Yes Australia have shown you CAN have both, but still.

    • TheChap on December 17, 2013, 11:13 GMT

      Nutcutlet gets it absolutely spot on IMO...

      "There is a great weariness, a staleness, about the core (Swann, Jimmy, Matt P & Trott). They have been run into the ground & absolutely rumbled by the Oz set up. This is where it all ends. And rebuilding starts".

      This is something I have alluded to already on here. Whilst I think we can all agree that England's tour-party quick bowling selection decisions were flawed, it's the fact that England have been brow-beaten by Australia's incredible intensity from the very first ball of this series.

      England just don't have that energy and passion in their locker right now. You can physically see it in their more experienced players - Cook, Swann, Anderson, Prior, KP...and Trott.

      One other factor is that I also believe England were (once again) undercooked in their preparation - the oppo they've played in the state games has been pretty average, and I think that was a deliberate ploy by CA.

      Play all the squad members in the 4th and 5th tests.

    • bestbuddy on December 17, 2013, 11:07 GMT

      People are talking about Onions like he could have saved this bowling attack. Yet the top wicket taker in the country championship 2 seasons running has performed rather averagely as an overseas player in SA this winter, with just 7 wickets at 30 in the limited overs comp, and none (albeit in just a single innings of bowling) in the first class competition

    • OneEyedAussie on December 17, 2013, 10:57 GMT

      The one credit I can give to CA is that they have taken some hard decisions over the years. It was obvious the Ponting/Nielsen/Hilditch combination were incapable of leading Australia forward. Secondly, the "resignations" of Clarke as a selector and Watson as VC along with the sacking of the Arthur. Can the English management make similar tough decisions?

    • TheBigBoodha on December 17, 2013, 10:35 GMT

      I think it is time England looked at the overall "vibe" of their unit. Way too serious and joyless. Time for a new recipe, Mr Cook? Loosen up a bit! Some of the tactics like time wasting and that annoying ball-changing ritual they go through after ten overs without a wicket are bizarre. Can't ever remember any other team so deliberately manipulating the system like that. Time wasting won the Ashes via Cardiff 2009, and ever since then they seem obsessed with it. Time to ditch this nonsense. Let guys like Stokes, Root and maybe Ballance and Bairstow have a bit more freedom to play a more natural game. I think some of the older guys will appreciate it too. After all, 32 is by no means over the hill, and you have several guys around that age playing like they are 42.

    • BradmanBestEver on December 17, 2013, 10:27 GMT

      out: Pietersen, Prior, Anderson

      in: 3 good players who try their guts out

      The selectors need to send a message to the team that their attitude is just not good enough by dropping 3 seemingly undroppable underperformers - that will but the wind up the remaining guys. Then England will only lose by 50 runs and we will have a contest in the remaining 2 tests.

      This prediction is based on the strong assumption that Australia maintain the status quo and do not start playing to their full potential. If so 2 more floggings are on the cards.

    • on December 17, 2013, 10:24 GMT

      I think the article missed the fundamental truth - England are nowhere near as good as the players and their press believe. The dissonance between expectation and outcome has been crushing for the psyche of the squad. Now, the English press will bay for blood but I doubt that those most responsible for the loss - the selectors and senior players - will pay the price. Instead, there will be a change at the margins, probably using the excuse of Broad's injury to play a different paceman. But really Anderson, Swann, KP and Prior (with Cook) bear the lion's share of responsibility. If these players had shown some real fight, England wouldn't have only been beaten but not thrashed!

    • PutMarshyOn on December 17, 2013, 10:22 GMT

      It was noticeable in the previous Ashes just how well Aust bowled against a powerful Eng lineup. Without Bell's magical form the scoreline may well still have been 3-0, the other way round. This has not only continued in Aust, but been magnified by Johnson's own magical form. Aust shouldn't get too carried away though. How much more can we expect to get out of Harris, or Johnson for that matter? Yes - there are some excellent young quickies coming through but there is no way the score would be the same with Cummins, Pattinson & Starc. Not to say they won't be a formidable unit in years to come, but each of them has some way to go to match Broad, let alone Johnson.

    • on December 17, 2013, 9:34 GMT

      I feel that as an observer, England team were able to won so many test series - Ashes (in England, and Australia), Series against India (Eng 2011, India2012), when they were they were the dark horses. Whenever, they are the favorites, they somehow choked and cracked under pressure (Against SA) and again in this Ashes.

      Having said that- well done Team Australia on regaining the URN back !!

    • PrasPunter on December 17, 2013, 9:34 GMT

      Wish Eng come to terms before they face an young indian side in 6 months time. Back in 2011, they beat a group of ageing Legends. For sure, the indian team is waiting to give it back !! About time Eng starts to rebuild !! Not sure if they can repeat their performance this time.

    • dunger.bob on December 17, 2013, 9:19 GMT

      Gee, I hate to say it, and the last time I did I was kicked around like a soccer ball, but here goes anyway. England's rise has coincided with the great Saffer diaspora. I know England is a wonderfully cosmopolitan country so the fact that these guys were born elsewhere isn't the problem. The fact that people like Strauss, Pietersen and Trott learnt their cricket in SA, not England, is. .. Some of England's pillars during their ascendancy and brief view from the top of the pile was built upon English players who didn't learn their cricket in England. .. That's fine while it lasts but unless you have a steady supply of similarly schooled replacements you eventually have to go back to the counties. .. It would make sense to look after them. If allowing a few o'seas pro's to play helps the overall standard I can't see what's so wrong with it, particularly if they keep taking the best players out and sending them on A tours and development tours.

    • Jeeves_ on December 17, 2013, 9:15 GMT

      Very sentient comments. I have been saying the same thing for a while. Anyone who watched the 5 tests in England this year, will know that England were very lucky. To carry Jonny Bairstowe for an entire series was an opportunity missed. Gary Ballance should have been blooded, or given Compton the opener's slot, and Root at 6. That would have made a big difference. To keep selecting Anderson on international tours is also naive. He has never travelled particularly well to hard pitches in South Africa and Australia. As far as I can recall he also badly faded in england. The signs were there, and a team of back-up squad bowlers should have been selected, with Graham Onions a "must" selection. One can't help feeling that the omission of Onions and Compton were personal, not professional (or on purely cricketing terms)....Just look at the results of such decision-making!

    • kepler22b on December 17, 2013, 9:07 GMT

      Andrew - 'Time to wave goodbye to KP, Prior and Swann.' Bit harsh on Swann and you must have a spinner ready to stand up, and I'm not sure Monty is that man. KP should be given his marching orders and Prior needs to find form - at least Bairstow is a ready replacement. Cook needs to be replaced by Bell as the captain. It will help both of them

    • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 17, 2013, 8:57 GMT

      Australia will be mighty pleased to shake up the whole system. It's worth keeping in mind that England still do have very good players, they just couldn't perform under the pressure a very skillful Aussie side put them under. Definitely their selections were ordinary with Conpton and Onions at home for starters.

    • neil99 on December 17, 2013, 8:55 GMT

      Agree with change. In management Gooch & Saker must go, especially a Saker for picking 3 out if form bowlers instead of Onions, and destroying Finn. Player wise Anderson, Swann, KP and Prior should be sidelined. For once, let's drop players when they don't perform. Cook needs to take a good look at his captaincy style. For sometime it's looked one dimensional, conservative and very negative. He seems incapable of taking the game to the opposition.

      The one excuse I don't buy is the schedule. These guys have central contracts, so play minimal games through the summer. However, the ECB needs to take responsibility for so many one dayers v Aus in the last few years and not enough quality warm up games.

    • Quip on December 17, 2013, 8:54 GMT

      A probing, acute and, on the evidence available, accurate analysis. Rarely have so many players in a cricket team performed so far below their demonstrated capabilities.

      The suggested reasons given above seem all the more plausible because this decline in performance has occurred over the course of the year. Australia's new found cohesion, and the sudden emergence of the bowling attack they might have hoped to have over the past five years, has exposed what was already apparent in New Zealand and England - that the English team is struggling with a variety of ills.

      However, the Australian team has itself shown that these ills can be overcome. Whether or not a possible resurgence would involve Trott and Pieterson remains to be seen.

    • on December 17, 2013, 8:47 GMT

      This humbling has been coming for a while, take away the last Ashes and the victory against India and we've been either very poor (SA / Pakistan) or poor NZ x 2 over the past few years. Love the points about exhaustion and county cricket, as a Yorks fan it's particularly frustrating to lose Bairstow and often Bresnan to England drinks carrying duties, Balance, Lyth, Gale etc to Lions duty. Changes should have been made some months ago, perhaps this is the kick in the backside the ECB needs, but you can guarantee the players will cop the flack and the 'support staff' will continue as is

    • Nutcutlet on December 17, 2013, 8:46 GMT

      I have been making most of these points for quite some time. Honestly! It's difficult to know where to start, but selection has to be as good a place as any. Without going into the reasons why X was selected and not Y seems as much to do with face-fitting as actual performance. To give a concrete example, I am convinced that Tremlett is an excellent man to have about the place and will give his all, but he's been injured and can no longer hurry batsmen into errors with sharp bounce. Why Onions wasn't chosen is utterly baffling. Finn has been ill-served by well meaning tinkerings with his action & is now out of contention for selection As GD says, the players who have done best (Stokes, Root & Carberry) are new-comers - not fully initiated into the ethos. And a good thing too! There is a great weariness, a staleness, about the core (Swann, Jimmy, Matt P & Trott). They have been run into the ground & absolutely rumbled by the Oz set up. This is where it all ends. And rebuilding starts.

    • aus_trad on December 17, 2013, 8:44 GMT

      Apart from questions of form and personnel, there are certain perennial difficulties Eng face in Aus: 1) Far bouncier wickets, which makes life difficult for batsmen facing good quality fast bowling; 2) the lack of movement off the seam and thru the air which are the Eng medium-pacer's stock in trade; and 3) the minimal help given to finger spinners - even very good ones like Swann (when was the last time a finger spinner dominated a test series here in Aus...?) Two more things: 1) Lack of preparation. A touring team simply cannot reach peak form overseas after 8-10 days of cricket (this has of course become almost universal - it's why Aus didn't start playing well until the 3rd test in the northern series); and 2) the quite extraordinarily aggressively jingoistic treatment the Eng team has been subjected to (on and off the field, in the media, advertising, etc). It's probably hard for anyone who hasn't witnessed an Ashes series in this country to understand; but it must take its toll.

    • on December 17, 2013, 8:33 GMT

      i would think England are not been bad as such. They would improve as the margins of defeat are decreasing gradually. The bowling has gradually faded from very good on Day 1 of ashes. They need to focus on the idea of drying up runs for the opposite batsmen, boring but fruitful tactic in this day and age of T20. 2nd thing again boring but very effective tactic is to bat to bore the opposition, as they used to do in the recent past. This usually makes opposition bowlers frustrated and trying things to prize wickets and bowling bad ball which need to be put away. Again tactic used by England in not so recent past. All the leaving of balls outside offstump and ducking under the short pitch balls will tire opposition and slowly the balling will deteriorate. Ashes might be lost but next 2 matches can still be won by boring the Australians and then it wouldnt look so bad.

    • on December 17, 2013, 8:20 GMT

      It always takes a disaster like this to bring about wholesale changes, As I've said before the players are clearly not enjoying their cricket due to a stifling regime that has brought them to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion. All coaches and players have a shelf life, both coaches and some of the players are now past their use by date and England have to move on and rebuild. If Australia win 5-0 then so be it, let's start rebuilding now in the last two tests, not next summer. Time to wave goodbye to KP, Prior and Swann. I won't go as far as saying Cook should quit or be sacked as captain as there is no one to replace him. Flower, Gooch and Saker to depart when the series finishes.

    • on December 17, 2013, 8:18 GMT

      I agree that Saker should consider his position especially in the way Finn,a real talent ,has been coached out of his game-for now anyway-he will be back soon I think. As for the selection of Tremlett(a joke)Rankin(daft)-the insistence that Bresnan is the missing link and a genuine all rounder???? Playing two spinners etc etc etc.-and leaving Onions out????? The trouble is that outside of all these bowlers and those that played-there isnt much coming through,especially in the spin dept.

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    • on December 17, 2013, 8:18 GMT

      I agree that Saker should consider his position especially in the way Finn,a real talent ,has been coached out of his game-for now anyway-he will be back soon I think. As for the selection of Tremlett(a joke)Rankin(daft)-the insistence that Bresnan is the missing link and a genuine all rounder???? Playing two spinners etc etc etc.-and leaving Onions out????? The trouble is that outside of all these bowlers and those that played-there isnt much coming through,especially in the spin dept.

    • on December 17, 2013, 8:20 GMT

      It always takes a disaster like this to bring about wholesale changes, As I've said before the players are clearly not enjoying their cricket due to a stifling regime that has brought them to the brink of physical and mental exhaustion. All coaches and players have a shelf life, both coaches and some of the players are now past their use by date and England have to move on and rebuild. If Australia win 5-0 then so be it, let's start rebuilding now in the last two tests, not next summer. Time to wave goodbye to KP, Prior and Swann. I won't go as far as saying Cook should quit or be sacked as captain as there is no one to replace him. Flower, Gooch and Saker to depart when the series finishes.

    • on December 17, 2013, 8:33 GMT

      i would think England are not been bad as such. They would improve as the margins of defeat are decreasing gradually. The bowling has gradually faded from very good on Day 1 of ashes. They need to focus on the idea of drying up runs for the opposite batsmen, boring but fruitful tactic in this day and age of T20. 2nd thing again boring but very effective tactic is to bat to bore the opposition, as they used to do in the recent past. This usually makes opposition bowlers frustrated and trying things to prize wickets and bowling bad ball which need to be put away. Again tactic used by England in not so recent past. All the leaving of balls outside offstump and ducking under the short pitch balls will tire opposition and slowly the balling will deteriorate. Ashes might be lost but next 2 matches can still be won by boring the Australians and then it wouldnt look so bad.

    • aus_trad on December 17, 2013, 8:44 GMT

      Apart from questions of form and personnel, there are certain perennial difficulties Eng face in Aus: 1) Far bouncier wickets, which makes life difficult for batsmen facing good quality fast bowling; 2) the lack of movement off the seam and thru the air which are the Eng medium-pacer's stock in trade; and 3) the minimal help given to finger spinners - even very good ones like Swann (when was the last time a finger spinner dominated a test series here in Aus...?) Two more things: 1) Lack of preparation. A touring team simply cannot reach peak form overseas after 8-10 days of cricket (this has of course become almost universal - it's why Aus didn't start playing well until the 3rd test in the northern series); and 2) the quite extraordinarily aggressively jingoistic treatment the Eng team has been subjected to (on and off the field, in the media, advertising, etc). It's probably hard for anyone who hasn't witnessed an Ashes series in this country to understand; but it must take its toll.

    • Nutcutlet on December 17, 2013, 8:46 GMT

      I have been making most of these points for quite some time. Honestly! It's difficult to know where to start, but selection has to be as good a place as any. Without going into the reasons why X was selected and not Y seems as much to do with face-fitting as actual performance. To give a concrete example, I am convinced that Tremlett is an excellent man to have about the place and will give his all, but he's been injured and can no longer hurry batsmen into errors with sharp bounce. Why Onions wasn't chosen is utterly baffling. Finn has been ill-served by well meaning tinkerings with his action & is now out of contention for selection As GD says, the players who have done best (Stokes, Root & Carberry) are new-comers - not fully initiated into the ethos. And a good thing too! There is a great weariness, a staleness, about the core (Swann, Jimmy, Matt P & Trott). They have been run into the ground & absolutely rumbled by the Oz set up. This is where it all ends. And rebuilding starts.

    • on December 17, 2013, 8:47 GMT

      This humbling has been coming for a while, take away the last Ashes and the victory against India and we've been either very poor (SA / Pakistan) or poor NZ x 2 over the past few years. Love the points about exhaustion and county cricket, as a Yorks fan it's particularly frustrating to lose Bairstow and often Bresnan to England drinks carrying duties, Balance, Lyth, Gale etc to Lions duty. Changes should have been made some months ago, perhaps this is the kick in the backside the ECB needs, but you can guarantee the players will cop the flack and the 'support staff' will continue as is

    • Quip on December 17, 2013, 8:54 GMT

      A probing, acute and, on the evidence available, accurate analysis. Rarely have so many players in a cricket team performed so far below their demonstrated capabilities.

      The suggested reasons given above seem all the more plausible because this decline in performance has occurred over the course of the year. Australia's new found cohesion, and the sudden emergence of the bowling attack they might have hoped to have over the past five years, has exposed what was already apparent in New Zealand and England - that the English team is struggling with a variety of ills.

      However, the Australian team has itself shown that these ills can be overcome. Whether or not a possible resurgence would involve Trott and Pieterson remains to be seen.

    • neil99 on December 17, 2013, 8:55 GMT

      Agree with change. In management Gooch & Saker must go, especially a Saker for picking 3 out if form bowlers instead of Onions, and destroying Finn. Player wise Anderson, Swann, KP and Prior should be sidelined. For once, let's drop players when they don't perform. Cook needs to take a good look at his captaincy style. For sometime it's looked one dimensional, conservative and very negative. He seems incapable of taking the game to the opposition.

      The one excuse I don't buy is the schedule. These guys have central contracts, so play minimal games through the summer. However, the ECB needs to take responsibility for so many one dayers v Aus in the last few years and not enough quality warm up games.

    • Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on December 17, 2013, 8:57 GMT

      Australia will be mighty pleased to shake up the whole system. It's worth keeping in mind that England still do have very good players, they just couldn't perform under the pressure a very skillful Aussie side put them under. Definitely their selections were ordinary with Conpton and Onions at home for starters.

    • kepler22b on December 17, 2013, 9:07 GMT

      Andrew - 'Time to wave goodbye to KP, Prior and Swann.' Bit harsh on Swann and you must have a spinner ready to stand up, and I'm not sure Monty is that man. KP should be given his marching orders and Prior needs to find form - at least Bairstow is a ready replacement. Cook needs to be replaced by Bell as the captain. It will help both of them