Mark Butcher says Alastair Cook was too conservative against Australia

Last Updated: 19/12/13 11:05am

Mark Butcher blamed the conservative approach of English cricket for the disastrous Ashes defeat in Australia - and pinpointed captain Alastair Cook as one of the chief culprits.

The former England batsman told What's the Story? that the cautious team selections and timid tactics of Cook were at the core of England's inability to compete with Australia's aggressive play Down Under.

With England trailing 3-0 in the series and facing a huge task to prevent a humiliating whitewash, Team Director Andy Flower's future has come under scrutiny.

However, Butcher believes the panel of selectors and Cook must take much of the responsibility for England's demise.

"It is incredibly difficult to win playing conservative cricket against a team who throws the kitchen sink at you."

Mark Butcher

"I don't think that you can put the blame for this at his [Flower's] door," said the ex-Surrey star.

"If you are going to put the blame somewhere it has to be over a much wider scope of the England cricket organisation as some of the selections were far too conservative.

"Cook has been a conservative captain and that has worked very well for England, but it is incredibly difficult to win playing conservative cricket against a team who throws the kitchen sink at you.

"Especially against a side that plays with such skill and élan, as the Australia team have done in this series."


Butcher also believes that Flower's role as Team Director means his influence is severely limited.

He said: "You are very much beholden to the players being produced at the level below you and you are then beholden to the people who select the teams to give you the best possible players and the right combination, and then you fashion them into a side.

"I think if you look at Flower's time in the job you will see that he has done that pretty well. He has been able to mould a successful group of senior players who have made England as successful as they have been in my lifetime."

Butcher was also wary of the idea of making kneejerk reactions and overhauling the side for the final two Tests, saying the senior players had a role to play in England's recovery.

"I think you have to be careful because part of the reason why Australia had a slump - against all comers - was because they lost so many players all at once," he said.

"I think it would be wise to recycle the odd position here or there and have a couple of young players in the XI - but if you put five or six of them in there together then it takes even longer to come out the other side.

"You cannot introduce five or six debutants into any side and expect them to live with the very best at the top end of any sport."