The Ashes 2013-14

Flower has desire to lead rebuilding

George Dobell

December 30, 2013

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A
Switch Hit: The changing of the guard?

Andy Flower admitted it feels like the end of an era for his England Test team but does not believe the changing of the guard among the players has to be replicated in the captaincy or coaching staff and has stated his desire to lead the rebuilding.

England are 4-0 down in the series and facing a whitewash in Sydney after a chastening defeat in Melbourne from a position of great strength.

Flower accepted that lessons could be learned from the tour but maintained the right management team were in place to lead England into the future and pointed to the side's success in recent years as proof of their effectiveness.

"Some things have to change because I do think this is the ending of a certain era for this team," Flower said. "After Sydney it will be the start of some fresh cycle in some way.

"This group of players have had some really good times. But we have seen Jonathan Trott disappear at the start of the tour and we have seen Graeme Swann disappear after three Tests. Those have been two absolute stalwarts for us. Trott has been as solid as anyone can be at number three and Swann has provided an outstanding career over six years.

"Hopefully Trott comes back at some stage, but with the passing of those two stalwarts and some of the results we have got on this tour I think it is fair to say that post-Sydney the England management should view this as starting afresh."

Whatever changes occur, Flower remains keen to be at the heart of it. While he will meet Paul Downton, the new managing director of England cricket, in Sydney in the next few days to discuss the future and accepts his style may have to evolve, he insists he retains the appetite to do so.

"I'd like to carry on," he said. "It would be a really exciting challenge for me. I would have the appetite to do that. I still have confidence in my ability to lead this group in the right direction.

"We ask our players to constantly look to improve and evolve and certainly I ask our coaching team to do so and when asking those questions of others I should absolutely be doing that myself."


Andy Flower speaks to the media in Melbourne, December 30, 2013
Andy Flower admitted it was the end of an era for England © Getty Images
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Flower has always studied other leading coaches within sport and is now delving into their knowledge more than ever as he considers whether he can rebuild England's Test fortunes after such a dramatic slump.

"I've had some very interesting discussions with other international or successful franchise or club coaches. They're fascinating people to listen to and they all go through similar experiences. Should I be changing some of our coaching methods?

"Well, we're always looking to do things at an optimum level for the good of the individual players and the side. I'll continue to do that. I've given a lot of thought to what's happened on this tour but perhaps some time away at the end of this series would be the best time to evaluate that kind of thing."

Flower was particularly supportive of Alastair Cook and his coaching staff. As well as providing a reminder of Cook's excellent record up until this tour - he was unbeaten in his first five series at the helm - he also suggested he was still learning his trade as captain.

"Cook is an excellent young man and he's also a young captain," Flower said. "He is still learning about captaincy and he's done a good job so far. This is his sixth series and this is his first loss as captain. We've all got a lot to learn from it."

From the backroom team, the roles of Graham Gooch and David Saker and now under scrutiny although since Flower was made full-time director in early 2009, following the series loss to West Indies, England have only lost three Test series.

"I'm very confident in our support staff. I am sure they are just as motivated as I am. I think they are all keen to carry on. They've done an excellent job over the years and I think it would be careless in a way to have a knee-jerk reaction to this Test series loss.

"Over the last four-and-a-half years that this is our third Test series loss, so I think people should remember that."

Flower dismissed the suggestion that his intense leadership style had contributed to England's lacklustre display. Indeed, he insisted that, if anything, he should bring more intensity to the role.

"I think it is 180 degrees inaccurate," he said. "If anything I have relaxed a little in certain ways. If anything, I could bring more intensity and a closer control on certain things."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by sidekick45 on (January 4, 2014, 7:43 GMT)

well everyone seems to blame cook but its a team effort and most of them haven't played well playing the same shots all the time I think there should be a change in the team bring in a lot of new young guys its worth a go. Cook should remain as captian but players like pryor and pieterson and bell and carberry need to be dropped and give guys like root balance stokes bairstow and borthwick all good players put them in the deep end get them to play and play and play they will do well

Posted by Amit_13 on (January 2, 2014, 16:26 GMT)

Perhaps not the best column to write this under but... IT would be really interesting to see how two different teams undergo a "rebuilding" phase at the same time and if they then emerge as champions. Australia are winning but still haven't settled their team yet. If it was a different opposition, those fires may not burn as intense. India is rebuilding and for once have more than one capable quick bowler in the list. England will have their chance at it soon. South africa might suddenly arrive there if Smith quits and with Kallis now gone.

It may be best for cricket if the sides remain closely matched. If a game didn't cost as much to organise, Ireland and Afghanistan would cause an upset quite a few times and manage to kick Bangladesh of to the bottom tiers.

Posted by markatnotts on (January 1, 2014, 14:55 GMT)

Some interesting ideas here. Taking a more long term view about some kind of hard hitting middle order replacement for KP needs to be addressed. Here is where I believe Notts can help both themselves and the national side. It has become apparent that Hales probably doesn't quite suit opening in first class cricket. To that end I would like to see him bat four in the championship. Also it might do Taylor some good to bat number three.

Posted by 5wombats on (January 1, 2014, 11:48 GMT)

@southstoke49 I don't agree that Flowers achievement looks good "because it occurred at a time when Australia & India were both rebuilding". England whitewashed India when they were #1 and had been for some time. They were not rebuilding. Similarly when England beat Australia in Australia in 2010/11 they were not rebuilding either - many of the same players from that 2010/11 series are still there now; Johnson, Harris, Siddle, Clarke, Haddin, Watson, most Aussies I know will tell you that this current Aus side is rebuilding at this time. I have often argued with people here about the use of the term "rebuilding". It doesn't mean anything. All teams are rebuilding at all times. However, I certainly agree with you regarding the batting problems that became apparent against Pakistan; at the time I thought that was a blip - turns out it was not. Gooch was brought in to fix it - but it has got worse, much worse; thrashed @home by SA, weak in NZ, this Ashes, under his coaching. He has to go.

Posted by neil99 on (January 1, 2014, 6:26 GMT)

Land47

Good post. Agree Carberry is not test standard, I would give Compton another go hoping he can anchor whilst Cook plays with freedom. . Bell should bat first down - remember the auld addage of "play your best batsman at 3"? KP at 4, with Root, Ballance or Morgan bolstering the middle order - a combo that could be exciting. I would add that Root is neither ready for opener nor 3, he needs to be back at 5 or 6.

Bowling wise, time's up for Bresnan. Give Borthwick a run out, as surely we can't play the likes of Batty or Tredwell. I would rather no frontline tweeter than these journeymen.

Only other comment is Flower must go. The results in all formats over last 2 years speak volumes. Maybe this can release the shackles on Cook's captaincy. I wonder just how much of a negative influence Flower has been

Posted by landl47 on (January 1, 2014, 5:06 GMT)

@64blip: A year ago I'd have agreed with you about Finn and in the future maybe he'll go back to being a strike bowler. At the moment he's bowling tentatively, searching for his run up and for rhythm in his delivery stride and only occasionally reaching 90moh.

He needs to play a season of first-class cricket in which he reverts to being a strike bowler and goes all out. At county level he can do that and get his mojo back. At test level his weaknesses are magnified and his confidence is way down.

I hope he'll come back strong, but at present he's not the bowler England needs. I'd give Jordan a run, he's quick and aggressive and he can bat a bit, too. I'd put him in for Bresnan- having Stokes as 4th seamer gives England that luxury.

@Nutcutlet: I don't think Root has gone backwards- he's going through a learning process. In fact, until he was run out in the last test he was batting fluently and well. I'd put him back at #1 and tell him to play a little more like that every innings.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (December 31, 2013, 21:28 GMT)

@ 5wombats(December 31, 2013, 18:25 GMT): so good to see you here again! Can't help but think that you've hit the nail on the head. Heads must roll, indeed. Who was it that pushed for the three lanky 'fast' bowlers at the selection stage? That was a misjudgement of monumantal proportions. Why has Finn (90 wks; 23 Tests) been un-selectable? Why wasn't Onions taken along? Why was Trott's on-going psychological state ignored? Who thought that Bairstow was a genuine reserve w/k? Why has England played such joyless cricket? Why has the batting failed so miserably? Everyone is so protective of Gooch. Why? The batting has looked brittle for a while - sometimes clueless - & only Bell held things together last summer. IB holds his hand up - protects Flower. So Does Strauss. Flower says it's his fault. With everyone in self-accusatory mode, we are left scratching our heads. Everyone wants to take the rap. Very noble. But the axe must fall and, I suspect, more than once. Happy New Year, 5W & all!

Posted by chapati on (December 31, 2013, 19:33 GMT)

To be bowled so comprehensively twice in the same series, albeit by great deliveries, is pretty unusual for Cook - unprecedented. An indication that his head is well and truly messed up. Call it the "system" if you like - and I agree that there should be wholesale systemic changes from the top down - but for my money Cook hasn't shown the ability to make good on field captaincy decisions, whether the pressure is on or not, and secondly, his batting would benefit from being released from the captaincy. A smattering of gritty half centuries here and there is what really hurts and is not the Cook we all want to see.

Posted by southstoke49 on (December 31, 2013, 19:01 GMT)

While I think Flower has done quite a good job it may be time to look at someone else, preferably from outside. While he was an undoubted improvement on Moores and did get us to no.1 in the 3 formats, in regards to tests I think the achievement looked better than it was. This is because it occurred at a time when Australia & India were both rebuilding & the more peripheral countries such as the West Indies were in a state of turmoil. Also despite success at home, generally against weaker opposition, and the occasional success abroad, mainly due to the strength of our spin bowling we have never solved the batting problems that became apparent against Pakistan after the last Ashes success. This should have been addressed 2-3 years ago. If he does wish to carry on Flower must present a plan to integrate new players, a more positive style, a better selection process & to address issues a lot quicker.

Posted by 5wombats on (December 31, 2013, 18:25 GMT)

@64blip. Hello. We've seen before the consequences when people are rock solid certain that their methods are "right". They are not equipped to see that they are in fact WRONG. Flower MAY be one of these. Now, Flower has brought this team from despair (defeat in the West Indies) to triumph (3 Ashes victories, the historic series win in India). You could take the view that Flower's methods have brought England to being a decent team. However, there are elephants in the room; this desperate Ashes is NOT a "blip": clueless batting & defeat in the UAE, beaten at home by SA, failure to win in New Zealand, listless but victorious last summer V Aus. Something is desperately wrong when TWO top performers walk out of a team. Batting is the main problem. Gooch must go - that is a fixed and given; the batting is abject now and he has to pay. That's the minimum. Then the bowlers... taking Rankin/Tremlett/Finn and then they don't play!? What the hell is that all about!? Heads must roll.

Posted by 2.14istherunrate on (December 31, 2013, 17:08 GMT)

That was a very interesting audio about the predicament we face. What emerges from it is the it is all clear as mud as to how England should progress, though maybe having new faces working at Loughboro' is one thing which can be implemented. It is sad to see quicks with obvious talent being changed for the worse by Kevin Shine etc-telling words from Butch in particular. If ever we need reminding about quicks and pace it was on this tour. If the processes involved at L'boro' transform young quicks into trundlers then these and their agents can easily be dispensed with. I remember Chappell.G saying at the end of the '93 tour that English coaches were obsessed more by length and line at medium pace than genuine talent and real gifts such as pace, swing. With spin again, spin and flight were sacrificed to the needs of uniformity. If people can bowl fast, swing the ball or give it a rip then that must encouraged. We have just seen Swann bowl and Johnson. These talents need fostering.

Posted by 64blip on (December 31, 2013, 16:30 GMT)

"If anything I have relaxed a little in certain ways. If anything, I could bring more intensity and a closer control on certain things." Is anyone buying that? @ 5wombats: "stored stress" is my take on the situation but outwardly it seems Flower sees this series as a blip, not as a consequence of his regime. Hard to know where to go. Ashley Giles is no Darren Lehmann. If Flower stays then a new batting coach is a must because that's where we've really struggled to cope. Saker? Not sure - whose decision was it to bring the three "quicks"? However Finn hasn't come on under him - @landl47 There's no reason Finn couldn't have been that bowler for us, other than this management wants everyone to 'bowl dry'. Maybe now Stokes has emerged they'll feel they can afford the 'luxury' of an out-and-out strike bowler.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (December 31, 2013, 15:04 GMT)

The darkest hour before dawn. England is right there. One match to go and pride, only pride (but how precious is that, given the four pummellings thus far?) to salvage. In a sporting context it's more cruel than a boxing mismatch. If this series had been that, the ref would have stopped the fight long ago. Nonetheless, this is cricket & the combatants are obliged to come out for the final round that's unlikely to need any of Day 5 & probably little of Day 4, if current form is any guide. The England players that have stood up look resigned; the rest appear haunted. To me, the salvage from this tour would appear to be Cook, Broad, Jimmy, Stokes, KP & Bell. Root has been going backwards (Why? Because he's been affected by the general malaise, IMO). The other places must be up for grabs. Those players are about, unscarred by the maulings of the tour. That is decidedly in their favour. Bold & imaginative selections are called for, but I'm not sure that Eng/Flower does imagination.

Posted by landl47 on (December 31, 2013, 14:27 GMT)

It's easy to get carried away by a bad performance. Yes, this tour showed up some weaknesses, but don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Look at what needs to be done instead of saying throw them all out.

England does need a quick bowler- 90+ regularly- to add another dimension to the attack. We have some young quicks, like Jordan, Mills and Overton, who can do this. We need to learn from Australia and use them in short bursts at top speed, no more than 3/4 overs at a time.

Carberry is not a test player and is 33. Return Root to the top of the order and bring in another #3; Moeen might be ready for this role and we have Vince waiting in the wings (he's going to be a top player).

Spin is the biggest problem. Kerrigan shouldn't be abandoned after one test, but he needs to show better temperament. We might need a holding policy on all but the most spin-friendly tracks, but new spinners must be found. Monty's not the answer.

Be patient! Rebuilding takes time.

Posted by 5wombats on (December 31, 2013, 14:11 GMT)

@shammini (December 31, 2013, 13:36 GMT) Hello mate. I hear what you are saying sure. But - don't forget that Cook has also turned in several other towering performances, e.g, Ashes in Aus in 2010/11. He certainly does not call the shots and is not the traditional "on-field leader" in the old fashioned sense. What you have said is right - management call the shots. The idea is that this then takes the pressure off of Cook so that he can perform with the willow and not have to worry about captaincy issues which are dealt with by committee elsewhere. Trouble is - it doesn't work. Mistakes are there for all to see. Witness this shocking series. You could have Bell/Bresnan, or whoever as captain - it still wouldn't work with the set up as it is. The bigger picture is that it didn't work for Strauss either - he/Flower got thrashed in the UAE AND by SA in England. The problem isn't Cook/Strauss/"The Captain" - it's the system, and it is Flower that has set up that system. It must change.

Posted by shammini on (December 31, 2013, 13:36 GMT)

@5wombats: Agreed Cook shone in India but apart from that, his 'captaincy' did not get us much dividends in any other series. It was mostly good performances from a few regular members of the squad that saw to it. If Cook is not calling the shot, why is he the captain? Let management call the shots and make some non-performer like Panesar or Bresnan captain - atleast that will take some pressure off Cook and he can contribute more with the bat. Broad or Bell will certainly make a better captain than Cook ever will be.

Posted by 200ondebut on (December 31, 2013, 13:27 GMT)

Englands failures have been because of their batting - and more so the approach they have taken. We have not lost matches or series because of tactical decisions made by Cook.

You have to look at the overall approach - and this is set by the head strategist or in England's case the Team Director. Step forward Mr Flower.

I also think that the batting coach has some questions to answer. Ever since Gooch took over all of England top 4 batsmen (Cook, Bell, Troot, KP) have seen their career averages drop.

Personally - I would just get rid of Gooch. Get Thorpe in instead to coach the batters. I cant see any natural successor to Flower - so I would stick with him for the time being.

Posted by ThirteenthMan on (December 31, 2013, 11:26 GMT)

"Flower dismissed the suggestion that his intense leadership style had contributed to England's lacklustre display. Indeed, he insisted that, if anything, he should bring more intensity to the role.

"I think it is 180 degrees inaccurate," he said. "If anything I have relaxed a little in certain ways. If anything, I could bring more intensity and a closer control on certain things.""

Time for him to go.

Posted by 5wombats on (December 31, 2013, 10:40 GMT)

@chapati on (December 31, 2013, 6:16 GMT) you haven't got much of a clue have you? Cook was a conquering hero in India a year ago and that must really hurt. If you knew anything about English cricket you would know that Cook simply follows instructions from the management staff. Cook does not make the calls - management does. Management oversees the formula, Cook implements it. The problem, as we England fans know very well, is the conservative, defensive formula which is applied throughout. It is not Cooks fault that KP, Bell, Prior, Root, Carberry, et all, have all failed, not Cooks fault that Tremlett/Rankin/Finn have been carrying the drinks. For you to claim that this is poor captaincy by Cook shows how little you know.

Posted by Lmaotsetung on (December 31, 2013, 10:04 GMT)

I guess the fantasy of that seamless transition with England bringing in the youngsters one at a time over a number of years is not going to materialize. Root, Stokes, Bairstow are the present and future of team England and that's something we fans need to embrace and enjoy. It's been a heck of a ride since that 51 all out in Jamaica almost 5 years ago. Sure a few bumps here and there (UAE 2012 and vs SA last year) but overall it's been a great 5 years. Impressed with Flower admitting the obvious and even more impressed that he's willing to stick around and help rebuild. I for one look forward to the next phase and maybe Flower can come up with a system that will be more sustainable and help England stay at the top for longer than 5 years. Here's to youth and the future!!!

Posted by 5wombats on (December 31, 2013, 10:03 GMT)

@jb633 @Paul Rone-Clarke hello again. Far from 3 years ago eh!? This IS a tragic tour. No one goes to Australia and expects to win. But I thought we would be competitive. FFS not 5-0. This is "stored stress"; systems or components are continually loaded but not to destruction. Fatigue builds up and eventually under a severe stress the thing fails. The irritation I have is that this is known. Any decent manager knows this, unless they have not been paying attention they can move to prevent system failure. But here the system has failed. Attention has not been paid. Flower says; "I still have confidence in my ability to lead this group in the right direction". This is really worrying. Flower is admitting that he is leading - but he has led us to another series defeat. Micro-management and getting into peoples heads has built up and now caused system failure; stored stress. Unacceptable. This is not the right direction. The players are ok. Quality is there. It needs better management.

Posted by   on (December 31, 2013, 9:25 GMT)

Peter McCoy - you have some faith in Kerrigan. Maybe this is where our problems lie - never have I seen a bowler look so below Test level. Even in our darkest days of Childs, Patel, Lathwell, Iggulden and Newport (etc etc) they looked better prepared. Can county cricket be so far behind Test cricket? And I am a Lancastrian, but also a realist.

Posted by   on (December 31, 2013, 6:39 GMT)

That player is Simon Kerrigan and he will come back and will be the spinner for years to come for England .If all else fails i'm sure he will help win another championship with Lancashire

Posted by chapati on (December 31, 2013, 6:16 GMT)

It really is time for Cook to go as leader.. His inadequate captaincy has been masked by series wins, but with enough of the team's future hall of famers firing even a drovers dog could have lead them to victory. But the signs have been there for a long time. Cast your mind back to the close escape against NZ and the initial debacle against India. The 3-0 win over Australia in the summer was not a true reflection of the narrowing dynamics between the teams. England's poor top order batting was only overshadowed by Australia's even poorer efforts. Without Bells regular heroics it would probably have been a different story as this current series has shown as Australia's bowlers were already showing enough to sound alarms. And Cook frequently got it wrong under pressure. Down under he has continued where he left off. He, as much as any under performing batsman or bowler has contributed to the series outcome through incredibly poor captaincy.

Posted by johnthepom on (December 31, 2013, 5:29 GMT)

Certainly changes are required but in an orderly fashion. First things first, is to zero in on replacements for Trotty and Swan, and keep faith in some of the younger blokes. Flower still the man and never Giles - how can such a defensive player in the past be running the shorter games? Beats me. The main thing that puzzled me during the four Tests was our negative field placings. How often when we had Aust by the throat did we throw people back on the fence instead of turning the screws? This must change. Still felt that Monty looked more dangerous than Swan this series and if we can't find anyone better than that poor snodger (name forgotten already) who was slaughtered in England, should stick with him until a new face appears.

Posted by Happy_hamster on (December 31, 2013, 3:11 GMT)

As much as it pains me to say Cook is not up to muster as a captain and I am not sure who to replace him with, certainly someone with more technical nouse, maybe a bowler it has been a generation since a bowler was England captain. If a bowler was to be chosen the only real candidate is Broad, he might be an inspired choice, he might be a nightmare I think the former is more likely it would make him. As for Flower he has been a great coach and I would hate to see him go but we need a more dynamic approach, if he can adapt with some changes to the support staff then ok. Gooch is my all time favourite batsman but we have been a terrible batting side for a long time when was the last >400 innings that won a game.

Posted by   on (December 31, 2013, 1:41 GMT)

Flower is an oustanding coach and England would be better off with him than giving Ashley Giles the job. England have had their moments in this series at Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne and have simply failed to deliver with the bat throughout. Now is the time for a few changes but that doesn't mean you drop 5-6 of the players that have been around a team that has been in the top 3 of world cricket for a number of years.

Give Giles another 12-18 months in the job as ODI/T20 coach and then maybe after the world cup it might feel more natural for him to step into the Test arena as a coach too.

Posted by OnePleaseUmpire on (December 31, 2013, 1:11 GMT)

"I'd like to carry on. It would be a really exciting challenge for me. I would have the appetite to do that. I still have confidence in my ability to lead this group in the right direction." Excellent news! Best thing to come out of Australia in years. I look forward to seeing Andy Flower restoring the England test team to No 1 in the world.

Posted by Atifkhan3489 on (December 31, 2013, 0:02 GMT)

I think flower is right. Only one loss can't bring big changes. English players have lost the confidence. If they somehow play a home series againest india or west indies, they should gain confidence and will be right back on track

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 23:35 GMT)

Longer term contract and performance based pay?

Posted by jb633 on (December 30, 2013, 23:28 GMT)

cont... for me I would like to see us go in with Cook and maybe someone like a Vince or another young gun who has showed promise. At 3 we must promote Bell and leave KP at 4. I would bat Taylor at 5 with Davies at 6 and Stokes at 7. Bresnan has always been hugely overrated and we should bring in Onions in place of him. Jimmy and Broady still have another couple of years in them and should be persisted with. As for the spinner well we may as well do a lucky dip. We have no good spinners in the English game at the moment and so picking anyone of them will be open to question. May as well go with someone who can bat and catch a little bit so maybe Borthwick, although his bowling is not even close to test level yet. Panesar is only really good in Asia and his fielding has cost us too many test matches in years gone by so I think we need to forget Monty until we venture to the SC. I am sure I echo the thoughts of many when I say i anticipate a few years of struggling.

Posted by jb633 on (December 30, 2013, 23:23 GMT)

Following this tragic tour something must change. I know knee jerk reactions are too common nowadays but we can't simply accept this kind of performance. It is simply not good enough and is embarrassing our whole nation. The manner of these losses and the surrounding episodes have made us look so weak in the eyes of the world and we can't sit back and say oh well he made a good 30 at the MCG or took a couple of catches. Agreed that changing everyone is not practical. Maybe changing the management is not practical of beneficial either. Our approach has simply got to change and we must give it time to develop. This must start with finding 7 quality batsmen, one of which can keep. We need to find guys who can score big 100's and not just a gritty 30. I think we need to drop Carberry and Root for the foreseeable future and with Carbs their should be no going back. Stokes must be forced to work on his bowling and all our tailenders should be working their socks of to improve their batting

Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 22:51 GMT)

OK, in a way a big loss like this "all in one go" might be the best thing for England. Get them to really shake things up.

Johnny Baistow is not yet test class as a batsman and is a very long way short of test class as a keeper. His flapping gloves along with Monty's mechanics going haywire added a lot to the sense of farce on the 4th day. Both need to go. Maybe not permanently, but for now.

Anderson needs a rest. Not dropping - but a rest. The batsmen certainly aren't giving him one so the selectors should. Just one test.

Finn and Rankin must have been bought on this tour for a reason. So let's see them play.

Root is not a number 3 (yet) give the guy a break. It's so blindingly obvious to everyone that Bell should be number 3.

Cooke, Pietersen and Broad are the only players in form - Have been for the whole tour - and that's tough on the team. And even they aren't exactly setting the series ablaze.

No better time to try one or two new players than now.

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