JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Captain Cook discovers the recipe for disaster

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Mitchell Johnson cements Australia's fightback

A day that appeared to be going England's way was turned around first by Brad Haddin and Steve Smith with the bat, then Mitchell Johnson with the ball.

PT0M0S 620 349

AFTER every sporting annihilation there is a serious post-mortem to see what went wrong. Clearly, this England team has put in a shocker.

When a team capitulates as easily as England have on this tour, something tells me there are many problems within its structure and culture. Great buildings or structures just don't fall over that easily. Their strong foundations won't allow that to happen under any circumstances. England received two punches on the chin from Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson on day one at the Gabba and haven't got up from the canvas.

Alastair Cook of England sets off for a run at the SCG.

Alastair Cook of England sets off for a run at the SCG. Photo: Getty Images

English and Australian captains are measured on how their team plays within an Ashes series. Recently, England have had a good run under Alastair Cook's reign, winning five out of his past six series. But the way England lost at the MCG showed England have lost the plot and it was mainly caused by the captain, coach and selectors.

First, the selection of Jonny Bairstow was a shocker. I firmly believe any Test team must have a specialist keeper. Bairstow isn't in the best six keepers in England and not in the top 20 batsmen, and yet he was selected in front of Matt Prior. I know Prior is out of sorts, but utility keepers don't work in Test cricket and Prior's record entitled him to play out the series as he is the best keeper in England.

The English batting has been woeful. Ian Bell or Kevin Pietersen must bat at three. I prefer Pietersen because I believe he needs a challenge. He looks bored. Also, I would field him at gully, instead of on the boundary, to get him involved.

Cook's captaincy on the morning of day three in Melbourne was the worst I have seen in Test cricket. With Haddin and Nathan Lyon at the crease, we saw fieldsmen spread all over the MCG, with bowlers having private meetings, and no direction from the captain. It was deplorable. After the first hour, England lost all momentum and that was enough for Australia to go in for the kill. It was almost a sackable offence there and then for Cook. But there were no leaders in the field putting up their hand to help Cook. They were playing reactive cricket.

All I saw was Pietersen asleep in the deep, Bell thinking of how to make runs, and their vice-captain taking out drinks.

So this smouldering wreck has been thrown on the lap of Paul Downton, the new managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board. His biggest job is finding out what went wrong and what can be salvaged from this mess. Should Cook stay as captain? Should Andy Flower stay as coach? Have they got too many staff?

Is Cook the solution or the problem? No doubt England have lacked direction and leadership this series. Captaincy can be learnt. Allan Border did and so can Cook. There are no other stand-out candidates within the England squad, as none of his teammates is captain or vice-captain of their counties. The only other candidate is Prior. So Cook is still the solution, in my opinion, but he must look towards others for help.

Cook can learn from his adversary Michael Clarke, who has a great mentor in Shane Warne. This relationship must not be downplayed as Warne challenges Clarke, and keeps him positive and instinctive. I feel Cook must take the same lead and look towards a David Gower, Mike Brearley or Mike Gatting for inspiration and advice.

Flower is under pressure. If this England team was an English Premier League team he would have been sacked by now. Flower was a tremendous cricketer and has been a successful coach. But he has suffered the most humiliating defeat. He must know that things need to change. He has to get his team back to the level it once knew.

He can put up new walls and create more discipline or loosen the noose, so to speak, and allow the players more freedom like Darren Lehmann has by letting the Australian players take more responsibility in their games and allowing them to play more freely.

Sadly for Flower, I think he has run his race and I would be looking for other possible aspirants. England's best option would be Warne, but they haven't got enough money. Other candidates to look out for are Michael Vaughan, Tom Moody, Justin Langer or someone from left-field such as Michael Hussey. I probably would lean towards Vaughan, who likes a challenge. The best cricket coaches, I feel, are guys who have been there, done that and Vaughan would bring back that strong English culture he had when he was captain.

Many touring teams seem to turn up their toes before they arrive. They simply don't prepare properly. If I were a touring coach, I would ask for three four-day matches at Test venues. I would then put up a $250,000 bounty to any team who could beat us. As a coach, you want your team to play competitive matches and put players under the pump before meeting the Australians in a Test series here. England looked like they were having a net in the touring matches before the Test series and thus weren't ready.

There are many other reasons England lost this series. Their quicks seem to be down on pace. Their batsmen got worked over and their fielding has been shoddy. And the tourists didn't help themselves with their ridiculous dietary menus and requirements. England have simply lost the plot and now need some tough leadership and direction, and that starts with Downton.

2 comments so far

  • I wonder if Micky Arthur would be a good candidate for coach for the England cricket side they could use a bit of homework

    Commenter
    Andrew
    Date and time
    January 03, 2014, 8:36PM
    • Great article but a blip rather after all that success it's only natural that the team are bored and lack motivation. Too much rubbish is written, we all have bad periods amongst the good!

      Commenter
      Bonzo
      Date and time
      January 04, 2014, 11:24AM

      Make a comment

      You are logged in as [Logout]

      All information entered below may be published.

      Error: Please enter your screen name.

      Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

      Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

      Error: Please enter your comment.

      Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

      Post to

      You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

      Thank you

      Your comment has been submitted for approval.

      Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

      Related Coverage

      Ashes: Steve Smith leads fightback. With Brad Haddin, of course

      It is easy to forget. Three years ago against England Steve Smith looked out of his depth, a half-backed international cricketer not quite sure whether he was a batsman or bowler.

      It's afternoon delight for the home side after morning period

      England's morning, Australia's afternoon. Pity the visitors: more cricket is played after lunch.

      Rumours of Brad Haddin retirement hosed down

      As rumours tend to, it started as a whisper and before long became the talk of the town.

      New stands but fans on edge of their seats

      If you build it they will come – although it doesn't really matter in which new stand you're sitting when the home side is 5-97 just after the lunch break.

      Why old enemy are their own worst enemy

      I HAD a dream the other night that Jim Maxwell, at his present age and fitness level, wearing dark slacks and a blue ABC long-sleeved shirt, reached the final of the Australian Open. He beat Djokovic and Murray and was about to deal with Nadal when I woke up. Headlines called it 'The Miracle on (Rebound) Ace'.

      Ashes: Bright start at SCG but toothless tourists take foot off hosts' throat

      The fifth Test may be only a day old but already there is an overwhelming sense of familiarity about it.

      George Bailey unlikely to hold his place for South African tour

      There is no escaping the feeling that unless Bailey produces something special, he's gone.

      Bob Simpson tells cricket selectors to forget about age

      FORMER national coach Bob Simpson wants Australia's selectors to continue picking the team on merit rather than age, despite the lack of youth in the Test side. Simpson, the former national coach who was inducted into the ICC's Cricket Hall of Fame on Thursday night, said age should not be a major factor when selecting teams. Australia have seven players aged 30 or older in their side, including two 36-year-olds, Chris Rogers and Brad Haddin - both of whom have played important roles in helping their team regain the urn. Simpson was a major critic of the Andrew Hilditch-led panel's decision to axe Simon Katich in 2011 - a decision which caused an outcry. ''I think we have to be very careful we don't discard players purely because they're of a certain age,'' Simpson said. ''Rogers has demonstrated that. He's been a player who has enabled the team to win. It's important you don't get influ

      Ashes 2015: Who's in, who's out and who's next?

      AUSTRALIA'S use of an unchanged line-up throughout this home Ashes series for the first time since 1989 has been a luxurious symptom of winning and reward for those campaigners who avenged the recent 3-0 defeat with glorious thumping victory.

      Mitchell Johnson cements Australia's fight back (Thumbnail) Mitchell Johnson cements Australia's fightback

      A day that appeared to be going England's way was turned around first by Brad Haddin and Steve Smith with the bat, then Mitchell Johnson with the ball.

      Related Coverage

      Featured advertisers