What happens next?
Where do England's 2009 Ashes heroes go from here? The Sky Cricket panel deliver their verdicts...
Last Updated: 28/05/13 10:24am
The Ashes are over and England have reclaimed the urn from Australia after a thrilling 2-1 series win.
But where do Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower go from here? When the celebrations have died down there are questions to be answered about how the England team moves forward.
How do they cope without the talismanic Andrew Flintoff? What needs to be done to improve the middle order? Is it time to leave Paul Collingwood out of the side? Is this the best time to blood new talent or should the selectors stick with a winning team?
Those are the questions that the Sky Sports commentary team attempted to answer when they reconvened at The Oval on the morning after the decisive fifth Test.
Nasser Hussain, Michael Atherton, David Lloyd, Sir Ian Botham, Michael Holding and Shane Warne have followed every ball of the Ashes series and they have plenty of views on what should happen next for the victorious England side...
It might be a good time, from a position of strength, to look to the future. Andrew Strauss has mentioned trying to be the best side in the world, while Andy Flower has talked about the batting and how he sees that as an area of weakness that needs to be improved.
England have got to improve the side. Paul Collingwood is a difficult one because he produced that innings at Cardiff and Andy Flower was very proud of that innings, which was so important. Whether that keeps him in the side or not, I'm not so sure. He is someone who gives the side a lot of stability and he's one of the good guys of the side, one of the senior players that does all the right things. With no Flintoff in the middle order Andy Flower and the selectors have to decide if it's too much of a gamble to get rid of another senior player. Or is it a good time to blood someone new?
The aim of every captain is to mould a team in your image, take it forward and lead them to greener pastures. It's really important that Andrew Strauss was there in 2005 and he has the experience of an England team that rather took its eye off the ball. We all got a sense in 2005 that perhaps the celebrations were slightly over the top and after that England didn't really progress as a team. Between four years ago and now, England haven't travelled a great distance, they are still a mid-ranking team. Therefore the fact that Andrew Strauss has been through that will stand him in good stead.
I also think Any Flower is absolutely critical because he is a good man. I asked him yesterday morning, tongue in cheek, if he'd got an open-top bus parade lined up. He gave me a look as if to say that's the last thing he wants. He's a really solid, down-to-earth man who won't let these guys lose their focus or getting carried away by this victory. Between them they've got a really important role to play.
A position of strength is a good time to make changes. The phrase 'never change a winning team' is a dumb phrase in sport because when you're winning and strong, if you can improve the team you should look to do so. There will be question marks about people like Paul Collingwood and the middle order. And has Alastair Cook hit a glass ceiling?
Sir Ian Botham
Australia are a prime example of this. Look at examples like Mark Waugh or Dean Jones, who was left out when he still wanted to play. There's a history of players who could have gone on for another year or two but because Australia are successful they start feeding in the next players to take them on to another level. There is a strong argument for England doing that.
When you're playing well it's a great environment to come into the team. When you're losing it's a tough time to come in because you're supposed to be the saviour. But you can only replace the players if they're good enough to come in. You only do it if there's someone on the outside who can make a difference and is better than the player who is in there.
First Division County cricket is super important now. I was disappointed that Collingwood, who was out of form in this series, didn't go back and play County Cricket. There's a sense of not wanting to play first-class cricket in this country. Kevin Pietersen, for instance has played one game for Hampshire in four years. I know when you're playing well in international cricket you can do that, but I believe you've got a responsibility to get back to County Cricket and help the next generation of players. It's important that the international players give something back and help the younger players so that they're better equipped when it's their turn to play international cricket.
I think England's best performances are when they've got five bowlers, The wicketkeeper Matt Prior has been outstanding and he's in there at number six, which is important. On Collingwood, his best performances are on the coat-tails of Kevin Pietersen. He's a great foil, but he's not a number four. He was a makeshift in this game to allow Jonathan Trott to come in at number five. And yes, he is vulnerable - but Collingwood plays his best cricket when he is vulnerable. That's when he comes to the fore.
As far as the ICC rankings are concerned, they are number five right now, but I think they can be a very good team that can climb back up that ladder. People talk about four batsmen or four bowlers, but I think it's all about the mindset. England have to start thinking differently. The Ashes are very important but they are not the only thing. They came to the Caribbean and lost to a very bad West Indies team. The Ashes are not the only thing, they have got to win other cricket matches and other series.