The Big Questions

England's Cook rubs his head as he stands with coach Flower before Thursday's second Ashes cricket test match against Australia at Lord's cricket ground in London

Where has it all gone wrong? Why has it all gone so wrong?

These are questions that must be giving England and its under-fire management cold sweats at night. The tour lurches from one hideous defeat to the next; we all know it’s going to be a 5-0 defeat – well, only a miracle can stop this now.

Lets have a look at some of the reasons why this has been quite possibly the worst England tour of all time …

1) Fifth test v Australia at the Oval.

England were 3-0 up going for a record 4-0 win against the old enemy, so what did they do to keep the pressure ramped up and our foot on the throat of the embattled tourists? They selected Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan, two players who had little chance of making the winter touring party. Why? Only the selectors will or can answer this question, but talk about handing back the initiative.

2) Not picking players the correct players to tour.

Can anyone out there tell me why Graham Onions wasn’t selected? It would have to be a very good argument to convince me.

Apart from Anderson and Broad, who were obviously a shoe-in, Onions was the one England seam bowler in form: 70 wickets at just over 18, spearheading an unfancied Durham side to the County Championship. He should at least have been on the plane, surely.

This costly error was borne out when Tremlett bowled in Brisbane – at least five to eight mph slower than three years ago. Those on the county circuit knew he wasn’t the same bowler, but our selectors chose him anyway. Enough said

3) Picking three tall fast bowlers and playing none of them on the quickest wicket in world cricket – Perth.

Only one of them has played a single test! Cant add anything to this. Speaks for itself. Mind boggling

4) Mitchell Johnson.

Arguably the single biggest reason why England are in the position they are. 31 wickets at 14 after four tests says it all.

Recalled early from the Indian ODI tour by the Aussie selectors to prepare for this series, he has been fast – seriously fast at times – and has bowled with menacing aggression to a pre-determined plan.

England’s batsman have been reeled in, mesmerised and are now under his spell. Sure, the rest of the Australian attack are decent, but they’ve benefited from the fact that England’s batsman have relaxed when Johnson is taking a rest. Brilliant performance.

There are surely many more that I haven’t mentioned but we are all sitting, shaking our heads, asking the same questions.

What happens next? Does Cook retain the captaincy? Does Flower go? Whats the long term future of some England players? Will the selectors have the bottle to change?

In my view change is inevitable, and is always hastened by crushing defeats like this one.

This England side simply hasn’t been good enough. New blood is probably needed if we’re going to rebuild and grow again.

Good young players add verve, confidence and energy to a side – and boy do England need that at the moment.

A change of captaincy and management is also a possibility, but with Flower determined to carry on in his role, who exactly is going to sack him? It would take outrageous courage if Paul Dowton’s first decision as Hugh Morris’ replacement is to sack one of England’s most successful coaches.

With both Flower and Cook determined to stay on – with Flower backing Cook as captain, and Cook backing Flower as coach – it’s hard to see where change is going to come from in the long term.

In the short term, wholesale changes are unlikely for Sydney. However, I’d like to see young Scott Borthwick given a chance.

My team would be:












What do you think?

Ian Thorburn


  • Your team, Ian, is about as good as we can muster from the players out there. Maxie wrote 2 pieces recently about the shambles and I agreed with every word. We have way too much of an Essex love-in going on. Flower, Gooch, Saker, Halsall to go, before the next home series. It is difficult to think of a top class replacement for head coach (grumpy Gus?), but Thorpey, Goughie and Collo (Scotland??) come to mind for the 3 specialist roles. Cook should stay, but his captaincy credentials were always thin. Out should be Carberry (oh for a Tres clone, who would get a move on and try to dominate the opening attack), Bairstow, Prior, Bresnan, maybe Monty, Tremlett. Borthwick shows promise and Buttler must be included. Why are our batsmen so inept now and why are our fast bowlers getting slower and less penetrative? Time for major changes. No way should a thuggish, oafish outfit like 2013 Aussies beat us so overwhelmingly. Shameful. I lived in Oz for ten years during the McGrath & co era, so I know pain, but pain inflicted by a world class team, not the current motley mob. Fortunately I came home in 2005. 5 diabolical tests mean swift action, please.

    • I think you meant aggressive Aussies, in fact call them what you want, sticks and stones won’t break their bones…..
      I find it amusing that many comments on TFT from English supporters can’t handle the tough aggressive approach played by the Australians. Instead it’s labelled negatively – so when Jimmy was in his pomp and England were winning, was his snapping and snarling at batsman ok? I think the Australians aggression caught everyone unawares, but English supporters should man up a bit and accept the brand of cricket played. The great WI’s team in the 80’s were very aggressive, and everybody was in awe and still talk about them today.
      Get over it guys.

  • Ian, sadly just when you were getting into your article, someone must of rung the door bell. Anyhow, for what’s worth, I’ll add a couple of other factors:
    1. Cook’s captaincy – lost count where I saw 3-4 players changing fieldsman around whilst Cook is helplessly looking on. No skipper, means it’s a mess. I don’t know who else can take over after this – any good captains playing county cricket at the moment?
    2. Kevin Pietersen – the guy is a w*anker, let’s face it. This series, as it unfolded, became more and more unsuitable for his style of batting and he just couldn’t adjust to it. Sensible, mature batting when it’s getting tough is what is required, not cavalier gung-ho “this is me, this is how I play” type of batting. As more younger players join the team, he is looking less the batsman than he was.
    3. Michael Clarke – they said Ricky Ponting’s mother could of captained that great team, so if this current Australian team is slightly better than good, it must mean that Clarke is a pretty damn good captain to bring the best in these guys. I see that he is really working hard out there and the players watching and following him. He averages around 60 as captain. He has been one of the big factors in this series.
    4. Brad Haddin – written off after heading home from the WI, he worked hard at his game, came back and has been tremendous in every facet. A good vice captain is someone who watches his captain’s back and is not trying to take his job, he is immense for Clarke, a valuable ally.
    5. Matt Prior – the warning signs were there before the tour, but they stuck by him putting more pressure on Cook. For me he should of been dropped before Perth, Adelaide even.

    Cook and Flower will stay, and so they should as there is no likely candidate for the captains job and Flower is a good coach. I’d leave the coaching staff alone and work on the next group coming through.

  • My England XI for Sydney:
    1. Cook
    2. Root
    3. Bell
    4. Pietersen
    5. Ballance
    6. Stokes
    7. Bairstow
    8. Borthwick
    9. Broad
    10. Anderson
    11. Finn/ Rankin

  • I’d like to see Rankin given a go. And I think Carberry should be given one more shot.

    It’s very hard on new players when the senior players are being so rotten.


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