On the way out? Kevin Pietersen. Photo: Anthony Johnson
England's Ashes nightmare is not yet over, with coach Andy Flower admitting on Monday that more pain is still to come.
The bloodletting looks set to capture some big names, with controversial batsman Kevin Pietersen on the chopping block after a poor series as England were swept 5-0 in emphatic fashion. But despite the devastating fashion in which England handed back the Ashes, Flower said he wouldn't be standing down - and nor should under-fire skipper Alastair Cook.
Pietersen was subject to retirement rumours during the Sydney Test, in which he scored 3 and 6. But the decision might be taken out of his hands with Flower declaring the day after his side slumped to a 281-run loss at the SCG that he was prepared to make tough decisions, while admitting this summer was the end of an era.
Asked directly whether Pietersen would be part of the future, Flower said: ''This will be a new start, and so it should be. It does feel like the end of some type of era. We might have to take a little more pain before we have sustained success again. And we might have to ask for a little patience in that regard over the coming months.''
Flower wouldn't discuss exactly who would feel the pain, but the crosshairs will almost certainly land on 33-year-old Pietersen and 31-year-old wicketkeeper Matt Prior.
England have five months before they host Sri Lanka for a two-Test series, by which time a full review into the Australian debacle will have been completed. One thing is certain, Flower has no intention of walking away from his post, and he believes Cook is the right man to lead England out of their funk.
''I'm not going to discuss individuals, but looking at it a little more holistically, I think it will be the start of something new,'' Flower said. ''I think Alastair Cook as captain can lead that renewal and rebuilding [of] the England cricket side.
''We're not proud of (the Sydney Test). And we're not proud of the Test series result, of course. It's quite a bitter pill to swallow. But that's what it is and we have to face up to that reality. [Australia] have been aggressive and disciplined and completely outplayed us.''