Gloomy Gooch warns of more pain to come
If you have assumed that England have reached their low point, think again. England's batting coach Graham Gooch has warned that some more pain might be in store next summer before a rebuilt side begins to show signs of improvement.
As England face up to uncomfortable changes in their playing personnel, Gooch also believes that the entire backroom staff will be desperate to keep their jobs and be given another opportunity to put things right after the Ashes debacle.
Gooch might be imagined to be one of the people most in the firing line. England's loss of their first five wickets for 23 in Sydney on the second day was their fifth worst start in Test history. They have also only made one century in the series - that from a novice, Ben Stokes, playing in only his second Test.
"Everyone has to look at themselves," Gooch said. The coaches, the players; we're all going to be under scrutiny, quite rightly, and we all have to take it on the chin and we have to take the criticism.
"If you play the way we play, the brutal truth is it's not been good enough. We have to look for ways to move forward and ways to improve and that might entail taking some more pain before it gets better. Obviously there will be a rebuilding process. I don't make those decisions but I've been here before many times.
"Everyone on this tour would not like to leave under the circumstances of this tour and the debris of this tour. 4-0 down and behind the 8 ball in the fifth game is not the way you want to leave. Everyone will want to try to put things right and try to move English cricket forward."
Gooch did not place the blame in Sydney entirely at the batsmen's door. He suggested that Australia's first-innings 326 was substantially over par - much more so than the 60 runs which Stokes had suggested after the opening day.
"A total of 326 is way over par on this pitch, in my opinion," Gooch said. "Looking at the way the pitch behaved on the first day, once that score is on the board it's always going to be difficult - especially once we got the start we did. Drawing on all your experience I'd have said 250 was a good score, 200 even, but once you concede that sort of score, it's going to be tough.
"We managed to recover a little bit but it's the sort of pitch where there are lots of wicket-taking balls going around, and you need to play well. You probably need to play a bit aggressively. So it's going be tough from here, from this position.
"As for the rest of the tour, a lot has been said but our players have not met the challenge with the bat, obviously. We've not competed as we'd have liked to and not shown the skills that have been necessary. Good Test players generally get out lbw, caught behind, caught slip, but we've gifted too many wickets. If you look at Nathan Lyon last game - he bowled pretty well but five wickets he got, not one, personally, bowled out, really.
Gooch conceded that England's faltering batting was already evident in the Ashes series last summer when they still managed to beat Australia 3-0.
"You try to coach run-making - obviously that's not gone very well this trip for us. You have to take responsibility as well. You try to give insight, give ideas, you try and condition the players to what they're going to face, and how to think and how to construct innings, and the knowledge as well as the skills, as well as the technique. You do your best. Plainly, we've not had the effect and I've not had the effect that I would've liked in this series.
"Over a little period now, we've not been getting the runs. Ian Bell played brilliantly in the summer and held our batting together. In Australia, possibly the fourth afternoon at Perth, when Stokes and Bell were batting, was the only time they probably felt a little bit under pressure.
"We all have to look at ourselves and our methods. Personally, I have total belief in the messages I give to the players but we'll have to look at it and see whether there's a better way. The powers that be will definitely be reviewing everyone after this series, as they do, and quite rightly. So we'll all be under scrutiny.
Gooch, a mentor of Alastair Cook since his formative years, did insist that he should be spared from any examination. "For any player, your No. 1 job, whether you're a bowler, an all-rounder, or a batsman, is to contribute to the side. No captain is going to be happy with just being captain and not contributing. For me, he's still a guy who's learning and he's still the guy who should be there when some sort of rebuilding takes place."
David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo