Ashes 2013/14: Horror show is England's worst tour of Australia I've experienced, says Athers
Tourists capitulated after being out-played, out-classed and out-captained...
Last Updated: 06/01/14 12:44pm
Our Ashes Panel of Andrew Strauss, Nasser Hussain, David Lloyd, Ian Botham and Mike Atherton reflect on a chastening time in Australia...
Is this the worst Ashes tour you've been on?
ATHERS: I've been on a few bad tours of Australia - both as a player and an observer - and I'd say this is the worst because the scale of the defeats against what I don't think will be perceived as a great Australian side. This is a good Australian side with an outstanding bowling attack but with lots of flaws in their batting. So to be beaten 5-0 and hammered in every single game makes it probably the worst Australian tour of my experience.
NASSER: I've not known such a bad trip, either as a player, commentator or even watching and supporting England. In a funny sort of way, let's hope they've got all of their bad cricket out of the way on one tour because it has been a horror show from start to finish.
BUMBLE: We've had reversals and we've been beaten by some wonderful teams. Before this last innings I thought we'd been out-played, out-classed and out-captained, out-gunned and out-fought in four matches. I really thought England had done their best but that last innings will gnaw away at me. I always defend players but if I was the boss I'd be playing that last innings over and over again and putting little remarks about every delivery.
So, did England throw in the towel?
BUMBLE: I'm very angry. It was a capitulation and an absolute disgrace to not last 32 overs. It was embarrassing - it really was - while going along at 5.40 an over. This pitch was no minefield. It was a good Test match pitch and yet they've been bowled out for 166. That's when I'd question every player on their hunger in a tough situation and ask them 'have you thrown the towel in?' From a management viewpoint, I've never seen a team capitulate like that. Can Andy Flower look in the eyes of the players and see if they have the hunger?
NASSER: When you've played 10 Tests in a row and you've got this side of youngsters and old 'uns, who are mentally scarred from the last few Test matches, I think we all felt that if Australia got one or two quick wickets it could all end very, very quickly. The England boys work really hard - there was no lack of effort - and they care deeply. They just weren't good enough. The opposition were simply much, much better.
ATHERS: Australia were rampant and confident but England hoisted the white flag at the end, which is never pretty to see. To be bowled out in under 32 overs - a session's worth of cricket - is pathetic. It might sound a little strange but you can lose Test matches in the right manner and on this occasion I don't think England did. We wanted to see England take the game into the fourth day even though clearly they were going to lose. Individuals had a lot to play for - people like Michael Carberry, playing for his place, and Gary Ballance in his first Test. The senior players could have put in one last performance but nobody did. It was collective disintegration.
BEEFY: I feel sorry for the fans because they haven't had any value. The juggernaut started up in Brisbane where they got bullied and they've been hammered throughout the series and it has been pretty weak, to be honest. I am not allowed to use the words that are flashing through my head at the moment. I just think it was spineless.
What could England have done differently?
ATHERS: Not much in terms of selection - most people thought this was about the team they should have brought. You could argue that Graham Onions could have come instead of one of the big, tall seamers but don't tell me Graham Onions would have made any difference to a 5-0 scoreline. Most people felt like the best batsmen came.
Before 2006/07 we didn't have a whitewash for 100 years - now we've had two in seven years. I'm not making excuses for modern players but the fact is that there is no cricket in between the Tests, so there is no chance for batsmen who are out of nick to find some form and no chance for bowlers who are on the fringes and not in the team initially to play some games and find some form of their own. So when a team starts to lose it becomes very difficult to turn that around.
Are Andy Flower and Alastair Cook the right men to lead England forward?
NASSER: Flower's record is phenomenal - he's a wonderful coach. Losing takes a lot out of you, so as long as he's got the energy he should continue. Cook should carry on too, so long as he learns. He as a great capacity to learn but I didn't see it in the five Tests, unfortunately. We saw the same fields - it was groundhog day. He's got to be tougher with some of his bowlers and go with his gut feel.
BUMBLE: Cook has been a successful captain in the past and now he has tasted bitter defeat. I'm not one for changing because of that. I'd expect an intelligent chap like him to move on and be better for this experience
ANDREW: He will have learnt so much over the course of these five matches because when you lose you find out which players are supporting you, which ones have the stomach for the fight and which ones go missing. In some respects he has been found wanting in this series. When the pressure has been on he hasn't grabbed the initiative enough - he's said that himself. He's definitely got to take the reins a little bit more strongly and maybe take the reins of Andy Flower a bit more strongly and say 'this is my team, I need to forge a team in my own image'.
BEEFY: Have I been strong enough on the field with some decisions? That's what he's effectively saying. That's probably the same in the dressing room. He will now sit back and think about things and say 'hang on, this is my team and I'm going to remodel it'. I don't have a problem with that; I think it's exactly the way to go. He's going to be strong enough to do that now because he's seen it in the worst conditions. He'll know the guys he wants with him and the one he doesn't. I'm fine with him and this is a chance for him to have his team - not one he's inherited and he was part of that team as a player and it's very difficult at times when you take over as captain to sever some of those friendships and matey situations, because I think the captain has got to be a bit more aloof and make the decisions and take more control out on the field. That will be a lot easier with a side that he models.
In part two of our post-Ashes assessment, the Panel pays tribute to Australia and looks ahead to how Michael Clarke's side will fare in South Africa.
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