Cricket Expert & Columnist
Ashes 2013/14: Alastair Cook has learnt nothing as captain during shambolic Ashes
Skipper must trust his gut and stand up to senior players for new era to be a success...
Last Updated: 05/01/14 11:59am
Cook's captaincy was criticised as 'predictable' and 'one-dimensional' during England's 5-0 Ashes defeat by several former players, including Mark Butcher and Shane Warne.
Former England skipper Hussain says the crushing nature of the tourists' loss, rounded off with a 281-run defeat in Sydney, indicates the end of an era for English cricket but says a new one will only be successful under Cook if he is prepared to improve his leadership skills.
"Alastair has to ask himself some really good questions," said Hussain. "We keep hearing that he is a good learner but is he going to learn? He hasn't learnt in this series and it has been five Test matches.
"He has been completely and utterly out-captained in this series by Michael Clarke. He hasn't learnt one iota from the first game to the last game.
"That goes from the bowling, to the batting and the fielding. It has been absolutely abysmal. Cook has got to start proving to people that he is willing to learn.
"Instead of maybe standing up to Andy Flower, stand up to Jimmy Anderson and say 'in four years' time they won't say it was Jimmy Anderson, who lost this tour 5-0 - they'll say it was Alastair Cook's tour'. Say that to Stuart Broad.
"Take command of your own game, your own gut feeling. If you don't have one, give the job to someone else. But if you are going to be England captain, have a gut feeling and do it yourself.
"Cook has shown with his own game that he is willing to learn and he can learn; this summer he has got to show that to England fans, players and management.
"The one good thing for him is that this is his first loss on tour as captain. He's won five previous series and he's 29 years old so he's not got that mental scarring. Cook must promise to himself that he must not let this shambles of a tour happen again."
The series ended in dramatic fashion with England, set 448 to win, bowled out for just 166 in 31.4 overs to lose inside three days after losing four wickets in 11 balls after tea.
Australia duly recorded their third 5-0 series whitewash over England - the last one coming in 2006/07 - as the tourists lost 100 wickets in a five-match Ashes series for the first time.
"England have been completely blown away," said Hussain, after Australian seamer Mitchell Johnson was named man of the series for taking 37 wickets at 13.97 apiece.
"I don't think the cracks are just on the field. For it to be so bad and to end up as bad as this, they must have been there before this tour started. There has been complete mental disintegration.
"England need to have a good, long, hard look at themselves. They haven't been good enough all series. I believe that this England side came here and were taken aback by the ferocity of what they got, to be honest.
"Some of them would have played on that 2010/11 tour, they've just beaten Australia 3-0 and might have thought 'here we go, it's going to be exactly the same - we're going to go out there, the pitches are going to be better, there's going to be more pace and bounce'.
"They didn't really factor in Mitchell Johnson; they didn't know which way he was going to go and they got a real wake-up call in that first game at the Gabba.
"I think that when they suddenly realised that this series was going to be very, very tough - game by game they started questioning how much they wanted it, to be honest."
He added: "This has been very hard and a real eye-opener for some of this England side. The opposition's bowling attack has really gone up a level from what they've been used to.
"It only takes one or two cricketers in either team to go in the wrong or the right direction and that really improves the standard of cricket.
"If you add Johnson to one side and take Jonathan Trott out of the other, immediately cracks start to open.
"I agree with Andy Flower. This is now the end of an era, this is the end of the house that Andrew Strauss built. This has got to be Andy Flower and Alastair Cook - if they are the right men - to take England into a new era of international cricket."
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Stick with us for plenty more reaction throughout the day before The Ashes Verdict returns at 9pm on Sky Sports 2.