Australia won the Ashes 5-0 and were the deserving winners; Here’s my view on the five points where England were behind and which resulted in this pounding and no these are not stats. These may be trash or whatever, but yeah a read would not cause much of an issue!
After winning the series 3-0 at home, Cook even in his wildest of dreams wouldn’t have thought of getting white washed in Australia. Cook like most of his former captains, has been faulty of waiting for the game. Being reactive and not proactive. Cook comes from the same old school of playing conservative cricket, which does not help him lead team well in troubled times. For that, you cannot blame him alone for being so, having played with such leaders, you’re bound to pick off them. He needs to be given the freedom to captain on his own.
Making plans are one thing and executing them is another thing. England had such good plans for the Australian batsmen when playing at home. Watson LBW, Rogers Spin, Clarke short ball to name a few. Where did these plans vanish when they came down under? Once the Australians started working on them, they had no answer. They took early wickets yes, but what happened every time Haddin came out to bat? Where did that aggression go? Why would you bowl to his areas of strengths? Bowl Full, outside off, no room. It’s a test match, hit that length you’ll be rewarded. Stokes showed that but the rest failed. Playing at this level, you can surely not have only one plan. You must be flexible enough to change them and for that the captain has to lead from the front.
You can speak all you want if you can back it up on the field. To win matches you need to have that hunger, that willingness to prove yourself, not to the world but yourself, that you belong to the place and are lot better. England players looked down ever since Johnson took his first wicket. They played him as if they were going to be killed by him. The intimidation got into their heads, coming from the above two points, the captain failed as they had no strategies, no change in their approach, No Plan B. Australia did lose early wickets and were on the back foot when England picked their wickets, but they backed their plans and went after the bowling. They wanted to win. That eagerness to play, that approach was good for the game. Process matters as much as the result.
When Australia were on back foot which they were quite a few times, they came back, thanks to individuals who put their hands up. Haddin did not shy away from playing his natural game come Anderson, Broad, Swann. When Bailey hit Anderson for 28 runs in that over, it was so evident that the English lacked the intensity, the will to fight. When the Aussies wanted wickets, Johnson did not throw grenades, he bowled with the same cherry but with more intensity, with more intent and he was rewarded and how! England had that with Flintoff, to an extent KP as well but it looks like there are strict rules, to play one brand of cricket which has hurt the team badly.
Australia had an unchanged team for entire Ashes. England were searching for the team till the last Test. This blame goes straight to the “top management” of Mr. Andy Flower. You cannot drop a player for one poor match let alone a series like Ashes. You’ve got to back your own instinct/decision/lottery for the player to come good. A classic example is that of Root! They started the Ashes dropping Compton, thinking Root would be better at top. Looking at the future is good but if not respected by the present it can cost big. They dropped Compton and made Root as their opener. From one problem they now had two slots to fill. Bairstow flopped in England (as expected) and Root could not do well apart from the 180 at Lord’s. They dropped Root from opening brought in Carberry at top. Trott went back for his illness. Root came in at three. Why? When Bell was your best bet why not use common sense and play him at that position? Root flopped again batting at multiple positions. Carberry has not done much except throwing away starts. Why was Compton dropped? What ahead now? For one player, four others had to suffer. At this level, in just two series, you can’t make such decisions and expect them to work. Give them a longer rope.
Though the above mentioned points may look same they have their own meanings and are much deeply inter-related. England will mostly drop half their side in next Ashes, import players from other countries. They may get the individuals again, but the top 5 points if not taken care of, they won’t survive long. Cricket is a game which calls for a team to perform as a team, to be flexible. And as Shane Warne ranted all along, be prepared to lose, to win! Your priorities decide your result!
A summary of what is wrong with England. You may not agree at all, and you are entitled to. Do share your views on it. Awaiting feedback!