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December 18, 2013
Features : Can England's senior players fight back?
Features : Cheery Aussies cherish victory
Ian Bell : Unfair to blame the coaching staff
Features : Can England Flower again?
Series/Tournaments: England tour of Australia
There were no excuses, no complaints and no empty promises as Andy Flower reflected on England's Ashes humiliation.
England's head coach accepted that questions would be asked about his own role and that of many of England's senior players and he accepted that it was quite right that they should be.
Flower was particularly critical of England's misfiring batting unit and admitted that, with the Ashes already lost, the final two Tests of the series might be utilised to provide opportunities to younger players.
"It is very obvious we underperformed badly with the bat," he said. "Our first innings batting has been ordinary and we are not going to win many Test matches or many Test series if we don't score heavily in the first innings.
"We've been behind in the game very early on in all three games and that makes it very tough to fight back from. Our bowlers in every second innings have not had enough time off to recuperate and then put the opposition under pressure. The opposition are never under any pressure in their second innings because they have a huge lead.
"Three Tests is ample time for players to come to the fore. The shot selection very obviously hasn't been good enough because the results tell us that: we have made one Test century and they have made seven. And ours came from a 22-year-old all-rounder in his second Test match.
"In every big Test series we need the senior players to perform and so far that hasn't happened. It is time for those guys to stand up. In fact it's past time, because the series is lost.
"We are going through a tough period as a side now and as number of those individuals are going through tough periods in their careers. It doesn't mean their careers are over. But it does mean they need to call on that experience to help them get out of a tough time quicker than other people.
Flower accepted that there would be a value in providing opportunities to new players in the final two Tests. "This series is now lost and I will be chatting to the selectors and talking to Alastair Cook and coaches about our strategy going into the Melbourne Test," he said.
The most likely changes could see Jonny Bairstow brought in to replace Matt Prior, Gary Ballance brought in to replace Kevin Pietersen and Boyd Rankin given a Test debut in place of one of the seamers. England remain unsure whether Stuart Broad will be fit for the fourth Test and still seem reluctant to pick the out-of-sorts Steven Finn.
It seems unlikely that either Flower or Cook will be sacked by the ECB. Both men remain highly thought of and with the organisation already going through a period of transition - Hugh Morris is being replaced as managing director by Paul Downton and Geoff Miller has been replaced by James Whitaker as head selector - there is no appetite for further change.
But Flower will reflect on his position after the series and make a decision over whether he is the man to rebuild the team for the challenges ahead. He insists that, as of right now, he has not looked beyond the end of the series.
"I've always said I don't look too far ahead personally," Flower said. "There is time for reflection after the series. Ultimately I am responsible for the result of this series. I've got that judgement to make. The English cricket board will have that judgement to make as well.
"Obviously my role means I have to plan ahead for the team's sake but personally I don't like looking too far ahead and quite frankly there are still two Test matches to play in this series and I want all my focus to be on those. I think that's the right thing to do for the England cricket side."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: George Dobell
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