Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, 4th day

Flower's time is up, England need a fresh approach

All the qualities that once rendered Andy Flower the perfect man for the job - his intensity, his attention to detail and his demanding personality - have now become the reasons he needs to go

George Dobell at the MCG

December 29, 2013

Comments: 135 | Text size: A | A
#Politeenquiries: Are both teams just hometown bullies?

It is a simply a question of 'when' not 'if' now. England's defeat in Melbourne - and the manner of it - has rendered Andy Flower's position as coach all-but untenable.

Flower has done a magnificent job. Appointed with the team in disarray - he inherited a side who had just sacked their captain and coach and, in his first game in charge saw the side bowled out for 51 in Jamaica - he instilled a discipline and unity of purpose that saw the team rise to No. 1 in the rankings in all three formats. He was exactly the man required when appointed and has exceeded expectations. Despite recent events, he should still go with his head held high and great pride in what he has achieved.

But all things must pass. All the qualities that once rendered Flower the perfect man for the job - his intensity, his attention to detail and his demanding personality - have now become the reasons he needs to go. England need refreshing. They need to rediscover their joy in playing the game. They need a change.

For that reason, it is highly likely that, sometime over the next few days or weeks - probably in the aftermath of the Sydney Test - Flower will take the decision to resign. He will reflect on what he has seen and come to an honest decision over whether he is the man to inspire a resurgence in this England team. Anyone who has seen them disintegrate over recent weeks can come to only one conclusion.

He will not be sacked. An odd situation has arisen where there is arguably no-one with the authority to do so. Hugh Morris, the managing director of England cricket, has just stepped down and it is asking a great deal of his successor, Paul Downton, to make such a decision on his first week in the job. David Collier, the chief executive, is more suited to overseeing financial matters and long-term planning, while the idea that a non-paid chairman like Giles Clarke could take such a decision is ludicrous.


Andy Flower and Alastair Cook look on, Adelaide, December 3, 2013
One goes, one stays: Andy Flower and Alastair Cook are unlikely to be working together much longer © Getty Images
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Despite the current debacle, the ECB will not be without a succession plan. Ashley Giles remains the frontrunner to take control of the England teams in all formats and with a new head coach invariably comes a new back-room team which means the roles of Graham Gooch, the batting coach, and David Saker, the bowling coach, are extremely vulnerable especially after the batting collapses during this tour and the lack of a role for any of England's tall quicks.

 
 
To have picked a side with an inadequate reserve wicketkeeper, a lack of reserve opening batsmen, three tall drinks waiters and a reserve spinner who came into the tour with serious doubts over his readiness to return to this level, has been proven to be folly
 

Graeme Welch, Giles' right-hand man when he oversaw Warwickshire County Championship success in 2012, will be a strong contender for the bowling role and Paul Collingwood would be a viable candidate for the batting role. Graham Thorpe would, in normal circumstances, be a favourite for the batting position due to his links with England Lions but there is some doubt over his willingness to tour.

There may be questions about Alastair Cook's captaincy, too. Again, it is highly unlikely that Cook will be sacked. Rightly so, too: it is only a year since he led England to victory in India, and a few months since the previous Ashes and a home season that included taking the side to the brink of their first global ODI trophy. However, though he said what he had to after the Melbourne defeat, whether Cook has the appetite for the challenge after this dispiriting reverse remains to be seen.

As his senior spinner wilted and his wicketkeeper flapped like a drowning seal, Cook looked a broken man on the fourth day. Stuart Broad, the captain of the Twenty20 side, and Ian Bell, the Test vice-captain and a particularly impressive leader at domestic level, would be the only viable candidates to replace him.

The selectors need to reflect on their contribution to the current state of disarray, too. To have picked a side with an inadequate reserve wicketkeeper, a lack of reserve opening batsmen, three tall drinks waiters and a reserve spinner who came into the tour with serious doubts over his readiness to return to this level, has been proven to be folly. Several of those errors could have been averted had they simply taken more notice of results in county cricket.

While there will be the inevitable calls for a complete cull from the side, that would prove a mistake. Kevin Pietersen remains, whatever his army of critics say, the prize wicket for every opposition side, while James Anderson showed in Melbourne that he remains a skilful operator. England's early bowling on the fourth morning by Anderson, Broad and Ben Stokes was impressive. They created four chances before lunch but, partly due to Jonny Bairstow's obvious deficiencies with the gloves, two of them went begging. Suffice it to say, Matt Prior had a good game in Melbourne.

However, it's hard to see how changes won't be made for Sydney. Tim Bresnan and Michael Carberry are vulnerable but Monty Panesar, slinging down his left-arm medium pace with a horribly ragged action, was wretched and will almost certainly be replaced by the young legspinner Scott Borthwick. Borthwick is not the finished article but as a fine fielder, a decent batsman and a fresh face, he offers hope for the future. And, in a grim chapter for England cricket, hope is about the best that can be offered.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by 5wombats on (December 31, 2013, 10:26 GMT)

Jeez - people have short memories. And some funny ideas about management. This is NOT Flowers first series defeat. Flower presided over the whitewash V Pakistan in the UAE, and the pathetic 2-0 home defeat V South Africa. This is actually Flowers THIRD failure. There are people saying that it is not Flowers fault - that he is not responsible for morale or performance. WHAT?!?! Sports management, like any other management - is about results. Get results, meet targets = all is well. Fail to get results, miss targets = sacked. Simples

Posted by cricjet on (December 31, 2013, 7:24 GMT)

Cook won in India, Ashes at home and almost won the ODI trophy, so he has a reason to continue as captain? Flower was part of all of this as well. Flower has converted an above average performing England team into a winning unit. England could be back to winning against New Zealand and The West Indies and drawing or losing against the others if Flower's methods are gone.

Asking Flower to leave after losing one series against vengeful Australia at their home is a mistake.

Posted by Harold-I on (December 31, 2013, 7:00 GMT)

The "Team Director" or "Coach" or whatever is NOT responsible for team morale or for performance or all this stuff, except in a minor way. His job is, and should be, to PREPARE the team. There is room for only one leader in the team, and that is the captain. If anything, the order should be that the captain is giving directions to the coach, this is what I need from my team. The coach is there to support the captain. That's why that entire battalion is called a support staff. Border, Taylor, Waugh, Ponting, Clarke - it is clear who was the boss. If they succeed, good, and if not, they get replaced. Dhoni is not looking over his shoulder for instructions from the side. Graeme Smith isn't. I didn't mind the Cook experiment - you should try. But he is a poor captain. Let him just bat, and find the person to lead. Would remind the poms here - you won in India not through leadership but through brilliant individual performance. Those happen regardless of the captain.

Posted by Manush on (December 31, 2013, 0:18 GMT)

Both Cook and Flower should not be given any further time and must quit gracefully before further damages can happen.Cook is a very good opener and there it stops. Last 3 years England always looked rusty in the first few games before they really performed anywhere. The blame goes to Flower for such poor preparation plus the team selection has been poor based more on sentiments and past glory than right men for right games and for future.!!! Cook cannot be an aggressive captain, which is the need of the hour to build a team. The current series defeats have pushed England to the bottom league. They could not defend the position they attained due to poor planning,application and attitude.

Posted by   on (December 31, 2013, 0:07 GMT)

One bad tour and the knives are out.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 22:36 GMT)

All of a sudden the coach has to go? This man led the England revival and may victories. Surely they did not expect to keep handing the Aussies defeat after defeat. I guess you are only as good as your last win.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 21:29 GMT)

England's management of the younger players (whilst protecting the seniors) is awful. Look at Joe Root. Did well at 6 and moved to opener early. He returned to 6 before going to 3, whilst playing all 3 formats. Now he looks like cannon fodder.

Bairstow has been a drink waiter for a year, before he was thrown in at the deep end to much criticism. Finn and Kerrigan have been destroyed and James Taylor bounced in and out the team without a decent run.

England also 'broke' Bresnan and Tremlett, with both suffering serious injury and losing pace. After initially 'breaking' Onions, he cannot get in the team, despite doing well in County Cricket.

The failure to manage less established players and settle them into the side has brought about the current woes, with no new talent to come through fresh. Management and backroom staff should pay the price.

Posted by 5wombats on (December 30, 2013, 20:36 GMT)

@Chris_P Hello mate. Sorry I couldn't be with you at the Gabba. I would have liked that (if not the scoreline...). Since Gooch became involved with England batting it has gone slowly but surely down the tubes. He was around the side in the UAE, look what happened there. Then he was made batting coach. Since then England lost dismally at home to South Africa, failed to win in NZ and then did not fire in the Ashes in England. The batting has got progressively worse. He dissects their game and the damage has built up to what we see today - England batsmen walk to the crease with their heads in a total stressed out mess. Bowling is similar, not as bad. Who's dull idea was it to have Tremlett/Finn/Rankin carrying the drinks? Words fail me. And what of Flower? His methods, his obsessions, psychoanalysis, micro-management, etc, worked for a while. But not any more. Trott's departure says everything, then Swann. The players have had it. Times' up. Gooch has to go. Flower? Probably.

Posted by TenDonebyaShooter on (December 30, 2013, 20:06 GMT)

I found the latter part of this article extraordinarily misguided. Why focus on Panesar as a selection blunder? England have lost this series because a vaunted and overpraised 6 of their top 7 batters (Cook, Trott, Bell, Root, Pietersen and Prior) have failed to record a single century between them, combined with the underperformance of the equally overpraised Swann or Anderson. Dobell goes on praising Pietersen and endorsing Cook, yet it is such senior players who have let England down, not the likes of Carberry or Bresnan. Why focus to such extent on the very few overs Panesar has been allowed to bowl? Dobell likes to depict himself as a close student of the domestic game, but if he'd been watching closely he'd have noticed that potential alternative second spinners such as Kerrigan and Tredwell had at least as miserable a summer. Also, Panesar was picked to play the same role on the triumphant 2010-1 tour; whatever he's done this time only matters because Swann's wimped out.

Posted by KiwiPom on (December 30, 2013, 19:35 GMT)

The senior players have had enough and the rest are either not good enough or not experienced enough to step up. Oh, by the way, that applies to Ian Bell as well. They need a break. Send them all home ... NOW ... and look at reconsidering them after the next English season. The rest of this tour? Use it to give the younger guys experience. Look after England cricket not Australian cricket.

Posted by pjd_Howzat on (December 30, 2013, 18:03 GMT)

Is this what it haa come to - Cricket sacking managers after 1 failure. All England need to do is win the last test and they are still above Australia in the rankings - now how would the Aussies feel about that - maybe sack Darren Lehman, because they could not pass England in the rankings. Mitchell Johnson is a homeground bully, or he is just a bully. All he needs is one bad game and he goes back to bad Mitch again.

England should just grind Australia (or bore) them into the ground

Posted by RoBoBobster on (December 30, 2013, 17:34 GMT)

Problem is, who do yoou drop? Cook's the captain, Carberry's got the 2nd most runs, Root deserves to play 6 again before being dropped - always done well there vs 1 good innings @ top of the order, Bell has just come off the tour of his life, Stokes is the one positive from the series, Bairstow's only had one game, and only replacement next game could be Prior, who was only just dropped, Broads boiwling best, Anderson has been so good for so long and is the attack leader. That leaves Monty, who was extremely underused and deserves another chance (he bowled quite well in the 1st innings) and Bresnan, who is no worse than he used to be. Next test likely: Cook, Carberry, Bell, Pieterson, Ballance, , Stokes, Bairstow, Broad, Anderson, Rankin. Borthwic/Monty, near future Cook, Carberry, Bell, KP, Root, Stokes, Bresnan, Broad, Anderson, Monty

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 17:29 GMT)

Surely Root has to score more runs, consistently and heavily, before he can even be sure of a settled place in the side. Then, in a few years time, he might be ready for captaincy. Cook should continue. We need a wicket keeper who will take the catches and can bat in an orthodox manner. The ability to play a reverse scoop does not guarantee success at test level, and I'm not sure how good Buttler really is in that respect.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 17:16 GMT)

The question re Panesar was why, as in New Zealand, he was parachuted into the team with minimal preparation. He was excluded from all three warm-up matches before the first test. By contrast the three tall quick bowlers were given lots of chances and no matches.

Posted by ahweak on (December 30, 2013, 17:08 GMT)

Monty outbowled Swann in India (as Monty was the one who figured out the right speed to bowl on those wickets). Yes, Monty had a bad game in Melbourne. But if Monty cannot bank on his India exploits, why should Cook? Cook, who's captaincy skills are most needed when the team is down, hasn't shown it all series.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (December 30, 2013, 16:42 GMT)

There's a lot to be said for Andy Flower and Alistair Cook but it may just be that the combination is not right. It's hard to say because they did wonders in India with Cook leading from the front but they just seem to have lost their way completely during this Ashes series. I wonder whether Cook's captaincy might benefit by having someone a bit more imaginative at the helm in place of Flower. It might be that Flower's approach just encourages Cook to be more stodgy and the team suffers as a result. I don't want Cook to model himself on Michael Clarke or anyone else for that matter but a bit more imagination and proactiveness might be in order.

Let's make no mistake here though: the reason that England have lost so badly is because they have batted poorly and caught poorly in Adelaide. The bowlers have been good enough if not great but have never had enough runs to put any pressure on the opposing batsmen in the second innings. That is what England need to fix.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 15:12 GMT)

indecision is the biggest problem facing England. For example

1) Why did Trott arrive in Australia when he was obviously not in a fit state to tour. That meant someone else having to step in and was poor planning from the management. He should have been left at home to recover and someone else told this is your position for the tour right from the start.

2) The same with Swann. Surely someone in the set up must have known that he wasn't able to perform at his best and another option should have been taken.

3) Pieterson - what are England to do with him? Either give him the ultimatum of behave or you're out or let him do as he wants. The current approach is not good for team morale.

4) Bresnan - A good tidy bowler but 1 5-for in 41 innings shows he is only a 3rd seamer option. That requires the other two to be on their game and a decent wicket taking spinner or extra seamer to be in the side. Without this he is not an effective selection. How long has this been known for?

Posted by cricketcricket1987 on (December 30, 2013, 15:08 GMT)

Cook (C), Root, Bell, Pietersen, Ali, Ballance, Stokes, Buttler, Broad, Anderson, Finn/Panesar.

The above would be a decent team for the next Ashes in 2015.

Posted by geoffboyc on (December 30, 2013, 14:33 GMT)

Much easier to say who should be thrown out than to come up with realistic alternative selections who might do any better. I also watch a lot of county cricket and wouldn't put my savings on any batsman or bowler that I've watched making a big difference. The squad for this series was made with a lot of backward thinking and finger crossing, especially in the bowling and WK departments. It obviously backfired but it's hard to know whether this is a permanent decline of several players or a massive wake up call to one or two of them who could bounce back. It's also as well to remember that in three of these Tests, England had the Australians in potentially big trouble and let them off the hook which I believe is a leadership issue as much as anything.

Posted by jackiethepen on (December 30, 2013, 12:17 GMT)

Stating the obvious has been a long time in coming. But the mismanagement of the team now has dire consequences. The reason you look to the team director is the collapse of morale. The team looks leaderless on the field and Cook is just appalling. It isn't his fault. He has been pushed beyond his capabilities by Flower who likes to control what is happening. Cook admits that Flower tells him what to do. Well it isn't working. Nothing is working. All the other blunders along the way, the indecision over a No 6 lasting three years, ditto over No 2, now No 3 - when Bell was the obvious candidate to most fans - the trio of giant bowlers carrying drinks, the unused Balance, the almost unused Bairstow - was he a No 6 or sub wicket keeper? If the latter, why? And over it all the suffocating 'work and more work' ethic as the answer to every problem by Flower and Gooch. Their answer is to burn out certain players or get them close to it. It's not rest they need but Flower to resign.

Posted by catchoftheday on (December 30, 2013, 10:38 GMT)

To my observation, England's next f/t captain (not a fill in) is Root - but let's not place too much pressure on this talented young man at this stage. With that in mind I think the answer to England's current captaincy question is two-fold: 1. Cook's batting in the second innings showed signs of confidence - let's hope that continues. 2. Cook needs to take advice from his players, especially his bowlers and keeper as necessary, and then make the decision himself, ie. stamp his own authority & character on the game. (Wasn't this Ponting's own mistake in the 2005 Ashes series.)

The first will improve his confidence, the second will improve his decisiveness, and both will show him as a leader really worth following. These will take a little time to grow - so let's not expect instant results. However, at 4 - 0 down, this is the time to start.

Posted by SirBobJones on (December 30, 2013, 10:19 GMT)

AussiePhoenix is spot on again, as is Chaffers...Cook should be allowed to develop his captaincy skills. He obviously has some, to have been ear-marked FEC at a young age. Not everyone is born with them. To win in India surely showed some, where the timing of bowling changes is vital. It's the selectors I'd like to chat with...taking up three spots with fast-bowling giants and not playing them, Compton for one should have come instead.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 10:15 GMT)

"...while the idea that a non-paid chairman like Giles Clarke could take such a decision is ludicrous. "

Clarke was hands on - very hands on - during the KP/Strauss spat and instrumental in keeping KP in the fold which led, as he knew it would, to Strauss's departure. This was the beginning of the end for Flower who took a different view. I doubt that there is much love lost between Clarke and Flower. If Giles wanted Andy out nobody would stop him. Andy knows this so he has got his retaliation in first. But if Clarke wants Flower out it will happen.

Posted by latecut_04 on (December 30, 2013, 10:06 GMT)

@5wombats welcome back and hope your health is good right now. wish to add a few words to your latest comment.When Aus lost the Ashes (starting 2009) NONE of the games were this one sided(except a couple in 2010-11,even then there was a victory at Perth for Aus in 4 days).Just what has happened to England that they have lost in 4 days at Melbourne of all places.Like someone said Aus are not that great and Eng arent this poor.A few boxes need to be ticked(or may be answered).But please rememeber the games in June were never over on day4 or were not 300 odd innings defeats...and this is from India...

Posted by AussiePhoenix on (December 30, 2013, 9:59 GMT)

I understand the criticism of Cook's captaincy and the calls for Flower to resign, however to me this series seems endemic of the England 'system'. They place too much emphasis on group leadership, but this match, in fact series, shows how necessary an outstanding individual leader on the field is needed. To respond to the game as it is happening, rather than taking instructions from the laptop council during drinks breaks (or bowlers disappearing frequently for an over at a time to get new instructions). It's a live sport, you have to breath it. Having plans is one thing, implementing them in real time reality is another. It is not too late for Flower to develop Cook's captaincy skills, and for the team to learn to function in the present moment. To be ready, adaptable and most importantly, have fatih in their single leader.

Posted by Chaffers on (December 30, 2013, 9:45 GMT)

Rounding on Cook because his batsmen haven't scored any runs and his bowlers have been awful is nonsense. Team talks and field settings are not going to stop players being out of form or flighted filth being bowled on wickets where only pace and seam matters.

The entire England side has been out of sorts, it's been difficult to watch at times as one has become used to several of these players putting their hands up when their team need them.

Quite the opposite of sacking Cook England should welcome this, he will learn from it, recognise it in the future and prevent it. He has many years left in him at test level.

It is clear that only one team was picked and England didn't expect to have to make any changes, leaving the captain relying on allrounders to get him out of a hole. Prior, Broad, Bresnan and Swann though didn't, along with everyone else.

Play the young lads and just accept that this has been an awful tour.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 6:32 GMT)

Michael Vaughan and Geoffrey Boycott shamelessly over-hyped Root to the point that Compton had to be dropped after 2 poor Tests against NZ (preceded by 2 back-to-back centuries).

All these York-SHIRE folks stick together.

Root is overhyped and we all fell for it.

Bring back Compton immediately!!

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 6:22 GMT)

I have to say that the English cricket team is in such disarray with backbiting and internecine warfare that sacking the coach will not paper over the cracks. It has been a disunified dressing room for some time with some massive egos butting against the team philosophy. Only the fact of them winning kept the ship on an even keel. Now that they are being thrashed, the ship is sinking fast and no-one is likely to be able to rescue those onboard.

I have to say that Cook's captaincy was disgraceful in the last test - either the man has no idea or he gave up. Either way, he needs to be replaced. No idea who might captain the team, I watched a committee system in operation. Good luck for Sydney, boys!

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 6:13 GMT)

Ian Bell as captain would be great fun, based on memories of his captaincy for Warwickshire a few years ago. The big question with Cook is what does he bring to the captaincy? Strauss was good because he was calm when everything went wrong, Vaughan was good because he was innovative; it's not obvious that Cook is up there in either category. The remaining major aspect of captaincy is authority, and that's difficult to judge from the outside. Also, he's not very good at guessing which side of a coin will come up. The English tendency to select the best batsman as captain always annoys me. With Stokes in the side, and Root bowling decently, I don't see a problem in selecting Borthwick. I think there's a good argument for replacing Bresnan with Tremlett (second best bowling average in the series for England) or one of the other giants. That said, we don't want to go back to the 90s and change too many. Oh yes, sack some of the selectors, they've been poor for several years now.

Posted by Harold-I on (December 30, 2013, 6:10 GMT)

It's beyond me why anyone looks at the team director and not the players. The batters were terrible in every single match, the bowlers tried, but they're just too tired to give 100%. Some selections were idiotic. This has little to do with Flower (apart from the selection). While i don't subscribe to the Warne point of view that the coach is just the bus the players get to the field with, his importance in cricket is much overstated. Instead the team leadership needs a look. Is Cook really the right man to captain the team? Does the team really need to run by committee on the field? If Broad is not the future, can't they find a left-field option from the 638 county teams that can bring original thought to leading this team? Watching that last days play i was just sorry for the poms (although I'll still have a party when they go down 5:0). They suffered through a mediocre batter but tough talking Vaughn, a talented and calming but unimaginitive Strauss - it's time to find a real captain

Posted by bharath74 on (December 30, 2013, 6:09 GMT)

Pls Mr Kimbo Slice & George Dumb Yell, Pls learn to pronounce the name of the viewers , if you cant just don't mention the name of the viewer

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 3:38 GMT)

bresnan was bowling at 125 ks. It was obvious cook had more faith in stokes than bresnan. And as a batsman, well he isn't test level. Better have stokes as third seamer and pick a batsman instead.

Posted by muthukumar.velusamy on (December 30, 2013, 2:23 GMT)

I am from India.It is Shocking to know how the whole world turn against England Team after 1 series loss technically. They have won many series & was on high.Teams & players cannot always win every game & every series. Always Law of Average comes in to play. After all Players are Humans. Medias & former Players in the name of critics already rolled Swann's Head the man who won many matches for England.Now targeting Andy Flower & Cook which is disturbing. Guys they have won many matches for England pls give them some space to get out of Tough time. This England team & players deserves better treatment.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (December 30, 2013, 2:09 GMT)

England should try getting Paul Collingwood into the coaching setup but not Ashley Giles. Paul Collingwood is from the sunny north-east & loves a fight.

Posted by jaykdane81 on (December 30, 2013, 2:01 GMT)

Hey 5wombats..welcome back... sorry about your health... not so sorry for your team... it is nice for them to have some humble pie... the problem is when you win (team + fans), it is a good thing to remember where you came from... otherwise you end right back where you belong... BTW, I am very thrilled that India are close to/ at the top in all three formats of the game... as for England, time to rebuild sir (as has been the case during a vast majority of their lifespan in the game).... :-)

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 1:20 GMT)

I think he should stay.He changed the way English Cricket is now.1 bad series cant describe what he did for English Cricket.

Posted by Ms.Cricket on (December 30, 2013, 1:01 GMT)

George Dobell should go first, his articles last six months have been worse than the English batting.

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 0:54 GMT)

Trust the English to blame the coach for players not bowling right lines, or to short. And batters playing ridiculous shots.Maybe the players should hold some of that accountability! After all I'm pretty sure Andy Flower didn't say to KP " go out there, get to 49 then try and reach your 50 with a six!"

Posted by anton1234 on (December 30, 2013, 0:38 GMT)

Keep Flower. I really can't see anyone in word cricket at the moment who would do a better job. It's a matter of scoring runs faster, not merely looking to survive. Keep defending and then sooner or later a delivery will have your number. So instead of having 30 after 100 balls you could have had 60 or 70 after 100 balls, and in turn created pressure on the opposition. It's time we realised Panesar is not a world beater. He has played over 50 tests now and he isn't going to get better. I think it's time England moved on to the Irish spinner Dockerell, who could be turned into a good spinner, just like Swann became in his mid 20s.

Posted by cricmatters on (December 29, 2013, 23:24 GMT)

Ian Bell should have batted no. 3 and steadied the ship after Trott left the team. It was too much for young Joe Root to be shoved into that position. No matter how talented he is, he wasn't ready for that spot. Cook the captain, looked bereft of ideas in the middle and it affected his batting and fielding as well. It was obvious from watching England that they are not enjoying the contest any more and simply want to go home. Andy flower or any new coach has to bring the "feel good" factor back into the team like Lehmann did for Australia. It is still a team of very talented individuals but it appears they have lost their focus and drifting aimlessly like a rudderless ship into uncharted waters. It is time for some one to stand up and take control to guide the ship back into safety.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 22:37 GMT)

Andy is the best man for the job but he might not stay long anyway. The problem really is Cook. His captaincy has been found out terribly. Maybe he came up against the best captain in the game in Michael Clarke and thats probably not a fair comparison. But if you look at his decision making in the field, he is always chasing the game and never exerting any sort of authority. It is so obvious to everyone watching that he is not a natural captain. There is time for him to learn but he needs to learn quickly. He has to show some flexibility , the home series against SL and IND will be a good opportunity for him. Cannot write him off after one bad series

Posted by tinysteelorchestra on (December 29, 2013, 22:18 GMT)

I think there is a danger of too big a knee-jerk reaction here. This team has achieved much, it is unfortunate that apparently almost all the key players have suffered lapses of form or run out of gas at the same time. Yes, Cook needs to become much more imaginative and perhaps Flower has had his day... but I think hunger has a big part to play, scheduling back-to-back series was a ridiculous idea.

However, I also believe that to attribute the score to England's failings is an insult to just how well Australia have played. Johnson obviously has had the series of his life, but look at the likes of Harris and Siddle, they're excellent bowlers too. Brad Haddin has been absolutely critical in all four matches, he has been a massive thorn in England's side. Some of their guys have played in three losing Ashes series, four in Clarke's case. They are ravenously hungry and have played like it.

I am a proud England fan and I am hurting like mad, but I have to take my hat off to the Aussies.

Posted by ballsintherightareas on (December 29, 2013, 22:03 GMT)

Both the Polite Enquiries and the article are like a juicy, milk-laden coconut of hope bobbing in a sea of nonsensical cricketing folklore and cod-logical punditry. Keep up the good work...and the suits.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 21:35 GMT)

@5Wombats, to be honest I think you are sharing the same attitude as the likes of Swann, Anderson and co. who thought it would be enough just to show up, go through the motions and enjoy a little summer holiday down under. Guys like Harris, Siddle, Haddin, Clarke are very consistent performers and when Warner and Johnson click they are impossible to stop. You can't come here with a squad formed on playing on nothing but slow, dry tracks for two years and expect them all to perform on fast bouncy tracks. Blokes like Bell and Root will just go straight back to hitting tons on slow tracks where patience is the remedy just as Anderson and Broad will probably go back to ripping through average batting line-ups on those overcast late may days at Lords and then you can bask once again in the glory of it all as this tour gets squared away in the 'it was just a blip' folder. Because that's what England does these days, they revel loudly in victory and offer up excuses in defeat. Arrogant.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 21:27 GMT)

Panesar bowled England to victory in India. He has been under bowled in the test match and if he is bowling too fast, should be told to bowl slower by the coach. Problem with England is their appetite to win. But they have been going downwards and now ranked 4th very quickly.

Posted by grahaam on (December 29, 2013, 21:21 GMT)

Hope he can hang on a little longer...I don't think Heath Streak is ready yet , his ranch will need looking after...

Posted by JG2704 on (December 29, 2013, 21:11 GMT)

@Henrik Lovén on (December 29, 2013, 8:08 GMT) It would indeed have been handy but who knows whether the Aus state sides would have gone for English players. There's quite a few playing BBL which I know is different but they are out there

Posted by gristy83 on (December 29, 2013, 21:11 GMT)

First things first - the better side has won this series and I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a whitewash.

Something is very wrong in the England camp at the moment and I am sure that it will all come out in the next few months once the one dayers are over. There must be more to Swann's retirement than has come out so far.

Whilst this is a decent Australian bowling line up, and this series is one of the rare ones where Johnson gets it right, our batting has made them look a lot better than they are. I don't understand why they are scoring so slowly. There is no excuse to have 6 off 60 balls like a few of our batsmen have this series! What has happened to rotating the strike?

Panesar should never have been brought on this tour let along played any games. Root is a good enough second spinner and would have done the job once Swann retired. The spinner situation could have then been looked at for the next series. Apart from Broad, the seamers have generally looked toothless too!

Posted by browners76 on (December 29, 2013, 21:03 GMT)

I guess this drubbing was a blessing in disguise. The writing was on the wall during the tour to NZ and then the northern summer. This side is just spent. They desperately need an injection of youthful vigour while the senior players need to go and discover themselves again. I would seriously put Cook's captaincy under the microscope, his inability to inspire or goad what was a superior side on paper was a huge disappointment. If he continues to struggle for runs in the summer then he needs to be relieved of the captaincy. Carberry hasn't worked out as an opener so England need to at last try a Lions player in that position, perhaps Chopra. I would love to see Borthwick play in Sydney, England could do worse than pick a side containing championship winning players. I would expect to see Onions return to side in May against Sri Lanka. The spine of this England side should be Cook, KP, Bell and Broad, I would see how Anderson goes this summer but he looks tired. Time for new blood.

Posted by Yorks1 on (December 29, 2013, 20:37 GMT)

There is opportunity for a shakeup. Flower wasn't that great earlier this year in managing his resources, he certainly mismanaged many that were in the pool. Cook was way too green to captain England and that has certainly harmed his batting. Gooch should join Flower and move on. You can't improve if you are not playing matches and Flowers mismanagement of some by holding them back rather than allowing them to play county cricket has done disservice to those players and the team as a whole. Certainly asking Collingwood into the mix would be a bonus. He has done a great job in Durham and is a natural leader and has a good reputation behind him; he certainly didn't buckle to the nay-sayers on his talent and now those pundits can all see how a man of that character is missed. Also time to silence pseudo journalists among the team. They lobby for themselves and for who they think may be in the shadows and that is self-serving and disruptive to team harmony. Do your talking on the field.

Posted by crockit on (December 29, 2013, 20:35 GMT)

Confused selection started with Kerrigan and Woakes at the Oval - Woakes 3rd seamer role bowling low 80s from a low height on a very flat pitch. Selecting 3 tall bowlers for Aus went too far the other way. Did anyone assess what (lack of) pace Tremlett was bowling before picking him? Onions or Rankin should have played at Brisbane. Davies should have gone as a decent quality reserve keeper /no 7.

The real problem is with the batting though - Cook has flaws but has to stay, Pieterson and Bell for class and Stokes chance to bed in as allrounder but the other two slots ought to be opened out to young guys playing well (Ali, Robson, Ballance). Prior needs a break but may be back. Panesar should be in the squad but one hopes that someone with better fielding and batting will put hand up to displace him. If Borthwick has a good season with bat and ball he and Stokes could be 4th and 5th bowler behind Broad, Anderson and Rankin

Posted by SpartaArmy on (December 29, 2013, 20:21 GMT)

1. 'They need to rediscover their joy in playing the game' - victories in India, and last ashes, reaching ct finals with team not enjoying the game is really great a effort, KUDOS. 2. 'probably in the aftermath of the Sydney Test - Flower will take the decision to resign. He will reflect on what he has seen and come to an honest decision over whether he is the man to inspire a resurgence in this England team' - Psyches do exist. 3. 'Borthwick is not the finished article but as a fine fielder, a decent batsman and a fresh face, he offers hope for the future. And, in a grim chapter for England cricket, hope is about the best that can be offered' - Lets build a strong team with non-finished FRESH faces HOPING we become number 1 again.

I bet you are English mate, I know it hurts to loose a series in the fashion they did, but this group of passages are reflecting a kid trying to show his desperation to express how much he hate the people who let him down.

Posted by Pritt32 on (December 29, 2013, 20:10 GMT)

In previous series, England won India for the first time on the sub-continent and a 3-0 home series Ashes win. Things looked bright for the team. Now, everything is looking gloomy for the team. England is facing the likely prospect of a whitewash as they are low in confidence and motivation. The team have barely passed 300 mark and struggle to contain the Australia batting line up. Alarm bells should be ringing. Form and places of players should be questioned. Every player in the team should be made accountable. The captain and coach should take responsibility and decide for themselves for whether they are up to job anymore. They both seem to have lost the plot completely. The selectors need to arrange an urgent meeting to review the disastrous Ashes campaign. I agree new blood are needed for the team and axe some players. Prior and Monty should call it a day. Swift decisions should be made. The team cannot hide the problem under the carpet, as it would escalate

Posted by Chris_P on (December 29, 2013, 19:55 GMT)

@5wombats. Good to see you back, sorry to hear about your illness, hope all goes well. Mate I sort of have to agree with you with the impending 5-0. There is no way your lot are as bad as they have shown, nor are we as good as some believe. We got a few boxes to tick yet. Ican't explain what has happened. Trott was a huge loss, he was the heartbeat of the batting line-up. Bell's drop in form has been critical, upon reflection, he masked the impending problems back in England in the northern summer by continually pulling England out of trouble, although the warning signs were also there in NZ earlier this year. You might be a little hard on our bowling line-up which has delivered as well as I can recall in recent memory & Haddin appears to be doing a "Bell" in fixing up early hiccups. Hope you get better, I enjoy your posts & I know how you are hurting & how you feel, don't forget, I have sat through 3 of these recently!

Posted by mad_ush on (December 29, 2013, 19:52 GMT)

No body wanted him to leave few month back when England was thrashing Aussies. How unfair it is to comment on Flower this way. It's may be true that he has nothing more to give to English Cricket. But the blame should be share equally with the team and the players as well. End of the day the players are the once who have to perform not Andy.

Posted by drnaveed on (December 29, 2013, 19:29 GMT)

if the players are not performing ,it is not the coach who should go ,but it is the players ,who should be given rest in the next series, who didn't performed well. Eng side like other countries , with the exception of SA and to a certain extent PAK ,only performs well on their home conditions, they were beaten 3-0 by Pak ,and now 4-0 by AUS (so far).however they did well in IND and SL .

Posted by zoot364 on (December 29, 2013, 18:51 GMT)

Ashley Giles is not the solution. Australia have finally got their act together - that's the big change from before. Everyone was happy to praise Flower as recently as 2 months ago so I think he at least deserves the chance to sort out the mess. There's a lot of unpleasant hindsight being trotted out by his critics right now.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 18:48 GMT)

The key question to ask before sacking anyone is: who else is there who could do better? In the case of Flower, the answer is almost certainly not Giles. The ODI team looked less than inspired in the home series and I'll be surprised if they do much better in the return - if they lose that then everyone will be saying he should go too. They need fresh blood - someone from outside the current set-up.

For captain, if it isn't Cook then it has to be Bell. Broad should never have been considered for the T20 role, never mind Tests.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 18:46 GMT)

"It seems premature to be calling for the dismissal of Cook and Flower, and yet England have been simply awful in this series. " - these aren't bad players - in reality the teams are probably about equal. But in terms of performance it has been awful, and its not like the opposition is McGrath et al. Lyon 5/50, I mean, that was just ridiculous. We do have decent players - there are some problems - Tremlett and Bresnan have lost a yard, Panesar has personal problems and those could be foreseen ; Swann chickening out (sorry I don't think it was brave), Trott's problems were unfortunate. But there are players out there who have got runs reliably in the past, against the same attack, and they don't look like getting to double figures. I'd still basically keep the same team though, tell Carberry to play normally, he's not Boycott, and replace Bresnan with Finn or Rankin if Finn isn't mentally up to it. Keep Panesar and bowl him, Borthwick is a daft idea at present.

Posted by gsingh7 on (December 29, 2013, 18:45 GMT)

time is up for flower i guess. and with likely scenario of 5-0 loss in ashes to lower ranked opposition will be hindrance if he applies for another coaching job. england needs to change personals and ensure only selections are done on basis of performance not past laurels. hope they improve after last test.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 17:44 GMT)

I think Kerrigan should still be in the mix-look at his record. You don't write someone off for a handful of nervous bad overs.

Posted by balajik2505 on (December 29, 2013, 17:22 GMT)

Sorry, for Cook read Flower; he may be too much of a set piece guy.

Posted by balajik2505 on (December 29, 2013, 16:42 GMT)

It may be that Flower has nothing left in the tank; we don't know. His man management skills need to be looked at. The way the KP episode was handled last year; it took an initiative from Cook to close the issue. Swann's retirement; Trott breaking down; the way Panesar was handled; the way Finn is being handled. How well you bowl depends a lot on the confidence your team management has on you. England had no confidence in Panesar. The least they could have done was not pick him. Finn's confidence seems to be shot. Carberry was a daft selection. He's stayed around and seen off the new ball, but has not continued after doing the hard work. What did Compton do wrong to get the sack? James Taylor looked good in the one Test he played; why was'nt he persisted with? Maybe Cook is too much of set piece guy. He is not able to bring others into the mix, or deal with it when some parts of the piece change. If so he has to go.

Posted by cloudmess on (December 29, 2013, 16:22 GMT)

It seems premature to be calling for the dismissal of Cook and Flower, and yet England have been simply awful in this series. It was one thing to lose 5-0 to a great (if ageing) side in 2006-7, but this current Australian side would be whopped by the 2007 lot. Flower is a brilliant analyst of the game, and Cook a good man-manager; but right now, they're also having some basic flaws exposed - Flower is too intense and rigid in his approach (players are mentally shot), and Cook is not a great tactician on the field (England not capitalising on promising positions). I don't know what the answer is. I worry about England appointing another little Englander from the shires who does everything by the book and is a good bloke (Peter Moores). If Cook and Flower feel they have little more to offer, they should go, but it should be their decision. If Flower resigns, please advertise the post and interview some candidates, including those who are not English, don't just appoint Giles.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 16:16 GMT)

Normally agree with George, and do indeed agree that Onions should have been out there instead of one of the three tall quicks. Also Compton should have been called up as soon as Trott went home. However who would he have taken as reserve keeper instead of Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (not played a test, with an average first class record, batting style more suited to one day and twenty20 cricket and probably the same level of keeper as Jonny Bairstow), Steve Davies (not played a test and jettisoned by England 3 years ago) or perennial underachiever and again, not yet played a test, Craig Keiswetter?

He's also been very harsh on Monty, there was nothing in this pitch for him and the way Cook bowled Root (16 fc wickets at 58) in front of him, twice, in the second innings, would have shattered any fragile confidence Monty has at the moment. When in form the guy is a quality bowler and our 2nd best spinner since Underwood. Would he have taken Simon Kerrigan as the second spinner?!

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge-Needs-A-Hug on (December 29, 2013, 16:01 GMT)

Giles in for Flower would be a disaster, and yes a disaster compared to this tour. Flower took a poor team in complete disarray and helped them to realise their potential. That might not be number one, they probably will struggle to ever get to 1 and stay there but they have generally been able to give the top teams a run for their money under Flower. Remember he prepared them pretty well for the last Ashes. They weren't great but the history books say 3-0. I am an Aussie and yeah it's been nice to get the Ashes back but Ashes series are best when they are gripping contests that go down to the wire rather than one sided affairs so dare I say it, we need a competitive England and I agree with Strauss, Flower is the man for the job if he is still keen.

Posted by golgo_85 on (December 29, 2013, 16:00 GMT)

So, one horrendous series and blame the coach as if he is literally responsible for all the bad shot selection which have been, mainly, the issue. How about the unavailability of Trott and the cowardice of Swann who couldn't handle the harsh possibility that his inane form would've resulted an average of over 30. Yes, blame Flower. Pointless article.

Posted by rohin_72 on (December 29, 2013, 15:57 GMT)

Have to say you are being harsh on Panesar and the selectors for picking him. Borthwick is nowhere near good enough to be a test match spinner and kerrigan had a shocker last time he played so I don't see them playing. Compton should never have been dropped and Root and Bairstow are overrated. I think their presence in the team is down to hype created by prominent people in the media like Boycott and Vaughan.

Posted by LalithW on (December 29, 2013, 15:24 GMT)

Why should he? Don't forget how Andy Flower turned around a poorly performing team few years ago. It is not only his fault but there are others who should take the blame.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 15:10 GMT)

I think George (Australia are not a good team ) Dobell makes some interesting points. The selection of the touring squad was poor, especially picking 3 talls, all whom they seem reluctant to play. Flower has created a robotic team that is fine when everything goes to plan, but has no flexibility or ability to change with the state of the game. Shane Warne called out the captaincy of Cook ages ago. He was correct and it was obvious. Only the English couldn`t see it and instead had a go at Warne. Cook has no feel for the game, is clueless with fielding positions and his bowling changes are probably worked out with Flower before the session starts. As Warne said, he looks like an under 10`s captain. Fresh blood all around is required.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 15:06 GMT)

It's plain to see how one day cricket has affected batting in test matches now. The ball is always being hit in the air and players are getting out caught. I was always taught (admittedly a long time ago) to keep the ball on the ground. You can't be out caught then. How many have been ought caught in this series ?

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 14:46 GMT)

Please, not the remarkably unsuccessful Giles to succeed Flower. The selectors and the batting coach, for that matter the bowing coach as well, have all failed. Gooch because the tail cannot bat at all - guys like Siddle, Steyn regularly hold the bowlers up for 100 balls or so with scores of up to 50. Saker because the 3 giants have not been called on except for an unimpressive appearance by Tremlett.

But when we have a new support team in place perhaps we can practice fielding as well? England is appallingly mediocre in the field - place for Collingwood perhaps even as the battiing coach.

Whatever it must be an English coach this time and one who knows success.

Posted by csr11 on (December 29, 2013, 14:46 GMT)

It is true that Cook's captaincy has seemed insipid in this series, and more so in the last two days of this test, when england had the chance to seize the initiative with the ball. What perhaps is more serious is the probable impact this is having on Cook's batting. Cook the batsman is far too precious for England. Lastly, even though it will be anathema to a lot of english fans i think Peitersen should considered as a possible captaincy candidate. If you are looking to move on from staid flower to a more free flowing, intuitive "boof style" leadership style, is Asley Giles your guy? again, i think england are already on the side of overreacting, but if they got to change captains i think they should look at Pieterson.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 14:43 GMT)

Cook only just lead England to victory in India, and a home Ashes win. Too harsh to sack him as captain now. In fact in the last 30 years only 2 England captains have been sacked for poor results: Gower twice and Stewart. The others were for bad behaviour or resigned. Bell is a potential captaincy alternative. Read or Foster! No way to captain! Rob Key, James Taylor need a recall, Finn too. Not convinced about Panesar. Root, Compton, Bairstow, Carberry, getting 30s is of no use.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 14:40 GMT)

Poor field placing only had a third man when it was too late too many runs had gone in that area releasing any chances of creating early pressure. Too much reliance on reverse swing why is normal swing utilised early doors. Batsmen generally poor. Having said that Clarke and Warner have been the only two batsmen in both sides to show good form. Why drag the three big lads out there then not use them. Anderson and Swann overated. Stokes shows promise. Borthwick promising bowler but usually bowls one four ball per over, but like Stokes can bat. Wicketkeeper first slip positioning poor should be closer for LH batsmen and spaced for RH batsman. Finally why leave the most consistant bowler at home Onions would have been and ideal addition.

Posted by wapuser on (December 29, 2013, 14:27 GMT)

Cook needs to be rested for the final test. It is sad to watch him out on the field in this series, particularly when he dropped those sitters in the slips. He is a fine player but this series has seen him disintegrate mentally, much like Jimmy Adams when the Windies fell from grace in the late 90s.

Posted by Hjaltibonhoga on (December 29, 2013, 14:19 GMT)

Changes are necessary in the England setup, but I'm not convinced that Flower going is the answer. I believe that Flower should remain in his current role and Cook should stay at No 1, supported by Carberry, Root and Bell for 2014/15, but be replaced as captain by Ian Bell. Having watched county cricket extensively over the past few years I would say there are youngsters who have developed to the point that they are mature and capable enough to step up to the international arena. I would drop Pietersen and replace him with James Vince for 2014. To my mind Prior should return for the next test and be the first choice keeper for 2014/15, with Jonny Bairstow and Michael Bates as understudies. Saker must stay, but I believe Gooch should go, possibly to be replaced by Strauss who has a better understanding of the test match demands placed on batsmen in the current era.

Posted by yorkshirematt on (December 29, 2013, 14:05 GMT)

If the alternative is Giles then I want Flower to stay

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 14:04 GMT)

Bring in Foster or Chris Read to captain the side for a year or two; it would give Bairstow or Buttler time to develop and bring in a top wicketkeeper/batsman and fine captain. (I'm from Worcs.!) - and Root or someone to work on captaincy with their county. I was never really convinced by Cook, not least as his captaincy experience was very limited. Finn's potential needs working on and Onions needs to play the Anderson role.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (December 29, 2013, 13:35 GMT)

I think it is obvious that the ideas are just not there. I do not however believe coaches are the be all and end all or that defeats are necessarily their fault. I like the diefiniton of coach which says it is a mode of conveyance for a large number of people. They are facilitators and wise older heads. Lehman has the Aussies telling jokes every day. Another might have a side doing the highland fling before every day, another have them reciting poetry etc. That is all window dressing. To say that Flower is god one year and then a mere mortal next year merely shows up human neuroses. It was the same with Matt Prior. So who can be blamed for this debacle? The menu, surely. The obsessionwith microplanning is possibly symptomatic of the intense anal retentive modus operandi of this side.In the end one gets a team suffering extreme ObsessiveCompulsive Disorder. It did for Trott. After all perfectionism really is not pretty. Someone needs to fing the windows open and let the light in.

Posted by AamirKhan-SuperStar on (December 29, 2013, 13:17 GMT)

Make KP captain again. He is so bold and naturally aggressive. He is the only one who can think out of the box in current England side.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 13:13 GMT)

the worst thing that England could do now is cull the entire squad, when it probably only requires 2-3 changes in on field and off field positions. Andy Flower doesn't deserve the sack he has worked wonders to get England to the position they were in prior to this tour from the debacle following Peter Moores. But England could do with a change, we have become far too defensively minded at times when we ought to be attacking, that needs to change. Borthwick for Panesar and Balance for Carberry should be the changes for Sydney. Possibly Finn for Bresnan aswell.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 13:11 GMT)

England should wake up at least for the final test by calling Steve Finn. There is no mistake in Andy Flower's Coach.Its all faulty decisions taken by each individual player of its own where first be Johnathon trott, grame swan.The England Board Should not encourage these type of things.

Posted by Leggie on (December 29, 2013, 12:46 GMT)

Its surprising that people are calling for Andy Flower's head, but none talks about Graham Gooch - the batting coach. This is not to say that Gooch may be at fault, but just a loud thinking on how some are not caught on the radar - while the others are. I'm a BIG FAN of Graham Gooch - the player, and have been overawed by his success as England's batting coach and the way he encouraged batsmen to score "daddy hundreds"! However in *this series*, English batting has collapsed way too often and the batting is a shadow of it's glorious days. Through this series, I could not understand the ultra-defensive approach of Carberry, the reason why Bell did not bat at number three and how Prior was even allowed three Test matches when the writing was on the wall. Not sure who (of Flower or Gooch) is responsible for these key decisions, and who should be accountable.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 12:43 GMT)

If the only alternative to the uninspired, dour, negative Flower era is the poster boy for uninspired, dour and negative, Ashley Giles, then I'd suggest a "fresh approach" is far from what a change will achieve.

In his brief tenure as ODI coach, England have become the only side in the world who don't score 300+ regularly, preferring to block out the first 25 overs and keep wickets intact for a final dash to 270 at the end if the innings. They're loser tactics, and everyone knows it. Yet they never deviate from the unenterprising plan.

Giles' appointment, were it to happen, won't take England forward. He was the personification of mediocre as a player and is plotting the same path as a coach.

A "jobs for the boys" appointment isn't what their stricken vessel requires. They should aspire more than to just limp along.

Posted by izzidole on (December 29, 2013, 12:36 GMT)

At last England's luck seems to have run out and all their weaknesses have been exposed in batting, bowling, fielding and last but not least even Cooks captaincy. The pressure was too much on their players that some of them just couldn't handle the pressure and abandoned ship and left for home early come what may. Now the team is in disarray and needs rebuilding almost from scratch. England should have faith in their home grown talent than depend on overseas talent though Kevin Pietersen and Stokes were outstanding. It remains to be seen how this England team will fair against other test nations to gauge the impact of this ashes thrashing. However they have a long way to go before they can be competetive in the next ashes series in England in 2015. Only a miracle can save them from a 5 nil defeat in the current ashes series.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 12:25 GMT)

Agree with Dobell's comments about looking at what's going on in County cricket. It's as though the selectors are totally focussed on a group of players who have done enough to get involved with performance squads and A tours, and as a consequence totally overlook other players who are consistently performing in the county game. Sometimes you have to select players who ARE playing well rather than on those who MAY have the potential to do so at some point in the future. An Ashes tour is no time to experiment with untried 'talent' (or if you do, you have to have a strong nterbalancing core of experience). Not a new problem though - Warren Hegg, clearly the best wicketkeeper/batsman in England for several seasons, was not selected until he was well past his best.

Flower has done a great job - now it's time to go. Miller too (if he hasn't already)

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (December 29, 2013, 12:22 GMT)

Isn't it bizarre that Carberry seems to escape criticism? Ten innings and only once past 50 - no hundreds either. Even Cowan was better than that.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 12:15 GMT)

No one panic, England can just scour county cricket for the next generation of Test cricketers. Oh wait, the authorities have spent the last decade systematically undermining county cricket. Everyone panic...

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 12:09 GMT)

This is divine justice.

Andy Flower needs to be sacked, and the man who had scored back to back centuries against New Zealand this time last year needs to be given an extended run as England opener.

Carberry just won't cut it, and neither will Root. Both are mediocre players who have been over-hyped.

Compton's honest journeyman profile is exactly what this England team needs at the moment, and fast.

If the selectors can swallow their pride and bring Compton back, I have no doubt that even if he is HALF as good as his legendary grandfather, this England team will be on the winning track again.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 11:57 GMT)

This series has shown up some serious deficiencies in the team management - which must come down to Flower and the selectors. The selection of 7 players who time has demonstrated weren't up to the job (Swann, Trott, Panesar, Prior, Finn, Tremlett & Rankin) is unacceptable - one or two can be excused, but seven ... Panesar and Prior's problems were plain to see, Swann's elbow problem should have been known and the three tall quicks just seem to have got worse the longer they are with the squad. I can excuse them Trott - his problems may have been hidden behind a cheerful exterior.

And Bairstow as spare keeper ... a batsman for the future and a great substitute fielder means he is not a bad choice for the squad - but keeper!

But 4-0 is not entirely down to England's woes - the Australians were a lot better in England than the 3-0 scoreline suggests and have improved since - by picking experienced players ahead of their young prospects. England can learn a lesson there.

Posted by CricketChat on (December 29, 2013, 11:54 GMT)

Eng performance in this series meant that Flower was unable to exert any positive influence on the mindset or enthusiasm of the Eng players. A great fighter himself in his playing days, he was unable to make Eng team tough it out on the ground which to me is his biggest let down. Changes are inevitable from this debacle. I see both coach captain stepping down. Also, time to test bench strength for the last test. They can't do any worse than the choice first XI.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 11:52 GMT)

Ring the changes.

Root, Cook, Bell, Pietersen, Balance, Stokes, Prior, Broad, Borthwick, Rankin, Anderson.

That team wont win. But they shouldn't lose as badly. Give them a shot.

Posted by southstoke49 on (December 29, 2013, 11:45 GMT)

What I do not understand is how a management team who seemed to have prided themselves in micromanagement, even to the extent of the diets, seem to have overlooked blatantly obvious things like bouncy pitches, players horribly out of form/heading for breakdowns and even team selections vaguely relevant to the opposition or pitch conditions. The aspect of this that really upsets me is that last ashes in Australia, against what was probably a better team, England succeeded in all of those departments. The team appeared finely tuned beforehand to the conditions, made adjustments when conditions demanded it and had necessary back up in prime form when required ((Bresnan for Finn after 2 tests and Tremlett for Broad when he went home injured). Why could this not be repeated? The tour gives the impression that after the Oval they just issued some flight tickets out and said see you at the Gabba all we will do is organise some lunch menus.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 11:42 GMT)

Why Cook was appointed captain only Flower knows. He's an excellent batsman an can perform a 'first lieutenant' role to the captain. Ian Bell should have been Strauss' successor and Cook allowed to concentrate on his batting. Carberry is obviously is not ready for test cricket, wasting starts like he has done is criminal and his innings at Melbourne was a shocker. Compton needs to be brought back into the fold and Carberry to play shorter forms where he is a much better player. Watching Root at 3 is painful and for his own good and the good of the team he needs to bat down the order and Bell needs to be moved up. Bairstow is not a test wk yet but has the potential to be so. Prior should only be considered for selection again after big runs for Sussex next summer. England need to grovel to Onions, admit their mistake and bring him back in. My team for Sri Lanka: 1) Cook 2) Compton 3) Bell* 4) Pietersen 5) B 6) Bairstow 7) Stokes 8) Borthwick 9) Broad 10) Anderson 11) Finn

Posted by DJAbacus on (December 29, 2013, 11:37 GMT)

Andrew Strauss was right when he said that the Fifth Test is not about long term planning and we should give some of the other players on tour a chance to play.

Long term, I think England should stick to their long term plans. We have around 20 core players that are near the Test Squad. A great mix of youth and experience. Andy Flower has been key in putting these long term plans in place and I hope that he decides to stay and get England back to winning ways before he goes. I would like to see him stay until the next Ashes Series in 2015.

If he feels that he has come to the end then fair enough, but if he wants to stay I will be one of those who feel he should continue with all the great work that he has done over the last 5 years.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 11:37 GMT)

Asalam a laikum brothers. I think stop bothering with continuous English coaches, look overseas. Look towards Australia, South Africa, West Indies where all the greats have come from. Talking player wise; the middle order needs to be ripped apart. Root is playing awfully, Bell is looking lost and Peiterson is just starting then smacking. There is Bopara, Morgan, Taylor, Moeen Ali and Garry Balance all of whom can bat from 3-6. If Cook is to be replaced Compton can bat with Carberry in the near future. At the moment captaincy should go to bell in tests and Morgan should take over the odis

Posted by dunger.bob on (December 29, 2013, 11:29 GMT)

This is all beyond my wildest dreams. A matter of just months ago it was we who were dumping coaches, making crazy selections and taking our turn as the laughing stock of world cricket. .. 'The once mighty Aussies, reduced to this' the headlines screamed. .. Fair enough too, we deserved it.

I don't know if sacking Flower is the way to go or not. All I can say is I think it depends upon your reasons. We sacked good old Micky Arthur, that's history, but the reason we sacked him is because he was trying to make us play in a way that just wasn't consistent with how we think the game should be played. He liked dour, we like flair. The two can't mix for long. .. If England feel that Flower has gone sour or is trying to push them in a direction they don't want to go, then by all means sack him. .. If it's more a case of some-one has to pay, so lets take out the coach, I can't see that helping in the long run.

Posted by jonesy2 on (December 29, 2013, 11:15 GMT)

the problem isn't with the coach its simply with the players. the captain is probably the worst captain to ever captain a team, they have no up and coming talent in any department (no bowlers, no keeper, very few batsmen) to the point that the likes of bresnan, stokes, bairstow and root, guys that are no where near test match level, are playing test cricket. the next spinner they are looking to bring in takes on average one county wicket per innings, and that's bowling against batsmen who cant play spin! is that test standard?

Posted by Dandhara on (December 29, 2013, 11:12 GMT)

Good article . How they let our best number 3 batsmen ( Trott) get to the point him couldn't cope anymore with the emotional demand of his job ? They should had a clue, and done the necessary to prevent it, as in my view , the exit of Trott leaves a big hole on this English side. The Swann retirement is other concern, why they selected him when was clearly some doubt about his bowling performance after the elbow surgery. How they could dropped Prior a long server and contributor for the past success of this team, being dropped without a adequate substitute is beggars believe. He would had taken the regular catches that JB was unable to do so. Anderson is drained and past his best.

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (December 29, 2013, 11:11 GMT)

@5wombats on (December 29, 2013, 10:25 GMT): My friend, go and look at the averages of the English bowlers and compare them to their Australian counterparts. In Australian conditions, there is not one English bowler/allrounder that any sane person would swap for an Australian one. Now granted, English batting is slightly better on paper but going into this series only Bell had form. There is also the woeful English fielding and let's face it, England has been a great fielding side. Frankly, Bailey and Smith aside, your comment of lacklustre players and chancers is way off the mark.

Posted by thejesusofcool on (December 29, 2013, 11:09 GMT)

A lot of people were full of it about this squad before we embarked, how good it was in every department, how the reserves were great, how well prepared we were etc.

Well, it turns out we ain't the greatest thing since sliced bread. And how many people foresaw any of this back in September, eh?

Posted by iloveecb on (December 29, 2013, 10:44 GMT)

I don't think the solution is to sack the coach or the captain. It's just how you handle the pressure. It's not that you solve the equation of the performance by England by sacking your coach. I would agree with the ECB Chief that he should stay. I agree with David Collier that he should stay and I agree with Finny, Rooty and the others. I back Andy and my opinoin is that he SHOULD stay on the side.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 10:27 GMT)

I think Boycot has a crucial role to play. Bring him as the batting coach.

Posted by I_cant_believe_its_not_batter on (December 29, 2013, 10:25 GMT)

Just before the Aussie contingent gets too delusional, let's take stock of the fact that this England performance is rendered even more abject by the fact that this is a VERY ordinary Australian side. They have done well to consistently bully a side in disarray but beating SA in SA? Get real.

Johnson has been allowed to look competent in this series by some awful English incompetence but people talking about his pace? He was notching only an MPH or two more than Broad yet Broad ripped through no-one and that with arguably better movement and control.

Pace was a factor? No. Competence, confidence and competitiveness were. And let's be clear; this was the demise of the English side rather than the resurgence of the Australians.

Posted by 5wombats on (December 29, 2013, 10:25 GMT)

I agree with a lot of this from George. I had tickets for the MCG and Sydney, but I have not been well enough to travel back to Australia. Good thing. The micro-management, psychoanalysis and drilling employed by Flower/Gooch have had their time. It's no disgrace to get whitewashed by a team containing some of the greatest players ever to have graced the game; Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Langer, Hayden, Ponting, Lee, Ponting, and this happened in 2006/7. But to get whitewashed by this lot. FFS. I know I will get accused of sour grapes, so what, - but THIS Australia side isn't fit to stand in the shadow of that great Aussie team. This Australia side is a group of chancers coached by a chancer, so it is APPALLING to have been beaten like this by THIS bunch of lacklustre players. Yes - sour grapes. But I'm angry about what has happened here and I am entitled to be. And we've lost TWO of our best players in a generation Trott & Swann for no good reason as well. It's outrageous. continued...

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 10:14 GMT)

An excellent article from George. England need a fresh approach and most importantly look like they're enjoying their cricket. Cook should be rested from the one day series and decide whether he wants to continue as captain. Although he says he wants to continue he has to decide what it best for his own batting and the team in general as tactically he is clueless. He is too much like Gooch and Stewart as skipper, leads from the front and by example but will never inspire or try something different. It just isn't him.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 10:09 GMT)

This loss, added with those other 3 serious hidings has shown England to be a spent force, backed by a spent management team and headed by a tired, worn out coach. Cook himself is not looking the player he was only a few months ago. Cook although has shown signs of improvement in this struggle, but he's at the helm of a sinking ship where other players have either taken the longboats to safety or drowned in the maelstrom of international cricket success. Flower the architect of a short era of England dominance in all three formats of the game is by all means a great coach, but his hold over this team is fading fast...He needs rest, the same as some of the senior players, resignation is on the cards for most, but that decision is for the board and players alike not for the media monster that has already claimed many victims over the years. England need to rebuild, restart and reform into that proud lion once more and reach those far off heights of cricketing luck and success very soon.

Posted by Dielo on (December 29, 2013, 9:50 GMT)

If England players are on their last fumes as per KP, then what was the point of that extensive diet for the England cricketers (featuring goji berries)? They clearly showed they had no energy reserves to even try and fight to sustain the winning position their bowlers had gifted them for the second innings at Melbourne. Waste of good money I think.

Posted by ThirteenthMan on (December 29, 2013, 9:36 GMT)

There are many good keeper-batsmen who didn't understand why JB went ahead of them. They still do not understand. Many people wondered why England took the 3 tall bowlers. They are still wondering. Jimmy Andersen's record shows he is no more than a good bowler, not special (compare his stats to any of the top pace bowlers from Trueman through Lillee to Steyn....different league). Why wasn't Trott replaced as a No.3? Expecting a rookie to step up was always wrong. Michael Carbury's record shows he isn't a test opener (though he did as well as can be expected, no real criticism of him). Why is Finn still a drinks tray carrier? Why is Flowers in the job? (it happens, in cricket and in industry, that "one way to do it" managers have success when their limited view is appropriate. Good managers are more flexible). Decent bloke and good batsman but "the boy" Cook doesn't have what it takes in this kind of situation. There isn't an alternative in the squad (now Bell has ruled himself out).

Posted by heathrf1974 on (December 29, 2013, 9:31 GMT)

I agree with a lot said, but to criticise the composition of the squad is a bit late. No one would have thought so many players would have played so poorly. The only criticism I can think of is the non-selection of Onion.

Posted by jimbond on (December 29, 2013, 9:16 GMT)

Strauss was a natural captain, Cook is not. His facing burnout was only a matter of time, even though his batting has not been adversely affected by his captaincy. Flower gave some backbone to the English team, and if he leaves, that is going to be the major concern.

Posted by Hira1 on (December 29, 2013, 9:08 GMT)

time for flower to leave and its better Cook also resigns from captaincy gracefully. If you cannot take out best from your players its management fault. O.K its understood that your batting and bowling is not working but how about fielding, some catches were dropped at really crucial stages and its seems quite obvious that there is some thing some where is missing that needs to be fixed. Looking at Pietersen in this test match it seems that he was playing more for his own survival than doing any good to the team, this is really dangerous and shows how much pressure has been built on the senior players to prove their worth even when they have played more than 100 test matches. Root was complete failure at the top and he did so much better at number 6 but still he was never rotated, there was simply no effort from Flower or Cook to change batting / bowling (bringing finn as an opening bowler) combination.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (December 29, 2013, 9:08 GMT)

My team for SCG 1 Cook 2 Root 3 Bell 4 KP 5 Ballance 6 Stokes 7 Bairstow 8 Borthwick 9 Broad 10 Anderson 11 Panesar/Finn/Rankin?

Posted by Rahul_78 on (December 29, 2013, 9:07 GMT)

Correctly Andy Flower and Cook needs to take majority of the blame for the disastrous English performance down under. I never understood the selection of Finn and Rankin in the squad. Why pick the players who do not seem to have confidence of the coach and the captain. England are 4-0 down and these 2 havent got a game even though KP has himself came out and said that the regulars are exhausted and running on the last fumes. From being a well oiled and closed knit unit Poms are looking like disgruntled bunch and team unity is looking fractured. As Aussies have shown this is a time for fresh start and new beginnings. Flower has delivered more then English fans might have expected of him and he will certainly depart with his head held high.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 8:53 GMT)

I agree completely with most of this, though perhaps not the criticism of the original selection. Flower handing over the ODI coaching role was a warning sign he was burnt out, and Michael Atherton remarked after the Headingley Test how tired and physically ill Cook looked. Other questions that need answers have to include why was no batsman called up to replace Trott - surely Compton was a like-for-like replacement? Why Gooch was ever appointed batting coach is a mystery (my suspicion is it was purely to support his protoge Cook). I do think KP had a point in his comments about the schedule, and perhaps this Tour has shown England as victims of their own past successes as there have been relatively few personnel changes and I think many of these guys were just physically and mentally spent by Brisbane (note that in yesterday's Big Bash game Brisbane had three bowlers who played two or more Ashes Tests in the English Summer of 2012).

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 8:52 GMT)

When was attention to detail a reason to get rid of a coach? This is not Soccer where a coach runs the game. That said there may be other valid reasons for Andy Flower to move on.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 8:45 GMT)

No good deed goes unpunished ! Shame on England management if they go this way.

Posted by Webba84 on (December 29, 2013, 8:41 GMT)

@Nuwan R, He isnt blaming anyone. Hes saying a change of coach will help he team, a very reasonable stance to take right now.

Posted by Rufus_Fuddleduck on (December 29, 2013, 8:39 GMT)

Has everyone really lost the intent to play? Yesterday's collapse - twere not an Australian turnaround - was epic. No one wanted to stay on the pitch. Carberry notches up around a hundred balls regularly and despite whatever anyone may say, he looks the ONLY candidate unlikely to get a pair. While bowling, a couple of players justify their selection. Rest just want to get it over with. Swann said someone else can turn the tide, I just came for easy pickings. As someone said, regular service has resumed. Its not about Australian spirit and talent, but about total lack of English bulldog spirit like most of the last 25 years. When you don't feel like playing under pressure, what do you do? Sack the coach. No one else can be blamed. Such profound logic. Salute, mate.

Posted by milepost on (December 29, 2013, 8:24 GMT)

Wow, Australia are winning on and off the field. To rearrange English cricket is pretty cool. Root, Bairstow, Panasar, Bresnan. They are 4 guys who should be replaced at least but who is there? 5-0 is a formality but this team (if you can call it that anymore) looks like getting rolled by Sri Lanka and India back on home turf while the Aussies look like they will get a series win in SA. How fortunes have changed!

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 8:15 GMT)

Australia bowled well and it looked like they are the best bowling side in the world. Partly this was because of england's poor show and no fight was shown as they lost it mentally. Good captaincy by clarke, it would be a great upcoming series in south africa where two best fast bowling attacks currently would fight for supremacy.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 8:11 GMT)

Flower was probably going to jack it in anyway. Won't make a lot if difference anyway. The coach doesn't play on the pitch. He can try and influence the way the team plays, that's about all. They will probably enlist the old age adage if jobs for the boys and give it to Giles.

Posted by Nuwan_R on (December 29, 2013, 8:11 GMT)

hah blame the coach yes. never mind the lackadaisical bunch of cricketers in the England side at the moment, both young and old.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 8:08 GMT)

One obvious difference between England and Australia, an option Australia didn't quite fully use last summer, is that Australia have pre-selected a lot of players and have them playing County cricket should they be needed. What wouldn't England have given to have had Buttler, Compton, Ballance, Finn, Onions and Panesar come into this game with five Sheffield Shield games under their belt...

Posted by Digimont on (December 29, 2013, 7:58 GMT)

This is the problem England face - despite the debacle, this is arguably still their best eleven. There isn't anyone visibly knocking the door down to get into the team. You can replace as many mediocre or past their use by date players with talented, but not ready youngsters as you like, the results could get worse, and those young players scarred for life. I can see 10 years or more of pain for England.

Posted by Masking_Tape on (December 29, 2013, 7:53 GMT)

If he's let go it'd probably be one of the most knee jerk decision in the history of cricket. You make him sound like Tony Greg, India. One bad series ...

Posted by kav555 on (December 29, 2013, 7:52 GMT)

How come Stuart Broad has gone mum? He often mouths big words and rubs opponents on the wrong side. He is an utterly over-rated cricketer who is pretty average. This fellow has failed to live up to the hype.

Posted by Little_Aussie_Battler on (December 29, 2013, 7:47 GMT)

Cook's captaincy was lamentable. Why was he setting ultra defensive fields when wickets were needed to be taken? Why did he bowl Root when he had Panesar? And these are the questions raised just from the fourth day of the fourth test.

England needs a better captain going forward. Maybe Pietersen. He is more attack minded.

Posted by Chris_P on (December 29, 2013, 7:41 GMT)

@Tony Sadgrove, Maybe you meant Sam Whiteman, the WA keeper who was born in England, Hanscomb is Melbourne born & bred.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 7:37 GMT)

Why was Compton dropped?? ..

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 7:33 GMT)

Let us not forget that this team won 2-1 in India. India lost 2 consecutive Test matches to them on their home soil. It's not that England are bad. The Australian bowlers are too good.

Posted by   on (December 29, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

peter handscombe, born in england, regular start for victoria, needs to be groomed for the w/k job - bring back compton

Posted by Gupta.Ankur on (December 29, 2013, 7:13 GMT)

I am surprised to note that the author is blaming Flower for the debacle without affording him the same cushion of past performances as he has done to Anderson/Cook/Broad.

I have seen most of the ashes and two players who looked the worst were Anderson and Swann and one of them has already retired.

One thing which really stood out was the poor body language of the team after they got out cheaply at gabba in 1st innings.

After that England never looked like they believed that they could win.

England lost the battle mentally and it was surprising that it took just one spell from Johnson to inflict such a deep mental wound.

Bowlers never looked like they were bowling to take wickets, batsmen were too busy defending their wickets rather than score runs.

A very very poor performance indeed.

Posted by tpjpower on (December 29, 2013, 7:05 GMT)

Another major selection dilemma revolves around the third seamer's position. Surely Graham Onions should be drafted back into the England set-up after this series. There's been a lot of speculation that Tymal Mills could come into the side, but even if he is as quick as he's supposed to be (and he has the physique to bowl a decidedly heavy ball), he is still too raw for Test cricket. The example of Steve Finn suggests that young quicks are better off learning and refining their trade with plenty of domestic cricket before entering the national squad (where they spend too much time mixing drinks and tinkering with technique).

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Australia v England at Sydney - Feb 2, 2014
Australia won by 84 runs
Australia v England at Melbourne - Jan 31, 2014
Australia won by 8 wickets (with 31 balls remaining)
Australia v England at Hobart - Jan 29, 2014
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Australia v England at Adelaide - Jan 26, 2014
Australia won by 5 runs
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England won by 57 runs
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