• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Expect extensive rebuilding before England embark on next Ashes series

Perhaps it is not that surprising there has been so much sledging and snarling between the combatants in this Ashes series.

After all, if familiarity breeds contempt, then the senior members in both teams must truly hate the sight of one another.

Mercifully, therefore, with Australia having already wrapped up the campaign 3-0 - an outcome which almost nobody predicted and certainly none of the English pundits - it will not be too long before the ageing gunslingers in opposite camps finally trudge out of the saloon to Boot Hill and leave the stage clear for the next generation.

With the countries not squaring up again until summer 2015, one always envisaged there would be significant changes in personnel between now and then. Yet the scale of the rebuilding process offers a stark reminder of how quickly sport transforms young pups into old sweats. There may be no more Ashes conflict for Michael Clarke or Brad Haddin, Chris Rogers or Ryan Harris and Shane Watson, no more chances to reclaim the urn for Kevin Pietersen and Michael Carberry, Graeme Swann, Matt Prior and James Anderson, some of whom have resembled leg-weary busted flushes during the last month's frenetic action Down Under.

And these may not be the only casualties once the final two Tests have been completed. Such is the unforgiving nature of the Test calendar these days that the Aussies have to venture to South Africa early in 2014, where they might experience more problems against Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel than has been the case in their dealings with the flaccid England attack. Andy Flower and co, for their part, must ask themselves some hard questions, because they have been outplayed in every department. Do they persist with a maverick such as Pietersen when his approach suggests he is already mentally gearing up for a lucrative swansong in the Pyjama Game? Or do they clean out the dead wood immediately and allow Ben Stokes, Joe Root, James Taylor, Gary Ballance and their compatriots to attune to the mental demands of the toughest form of the sport?

They surely must recognise that their preparation for this tour was a mixture of complacent and shambolic, a combination which allowed Mitchell Johnson to rip through them at will in Brisbane and Adelaide. But one of the most obvious lessons of the one-sided contest was that many of the losers had neither the requisite stomach for the fight or the ability to display the necessary grit in adversity.

Can these qualities be taught at the highest level if they don't exist instinctively? Time after time it has seemed as if Alastair Cook, for instance, has no idea how to combat genuine pace, let alone muster a decent score. And most of his colleagues have similarly withered on the vine against virtually the same opponents they trounced comfortably all of three months ago.

That, surely, has to be one of the lessons absorbed from this sorry mess. Yes, the Australians have thoroughly deserved their success and few people are better at rubbing the losers' noses in the brown stuff.

But never again, whether for the benefit of television companies, the ICC or anybody else, should these nations agree to a programme of 10 Tests in less than six months.

Otherwise, what should be special ends up being utterly mundane.

Contextual targeting label: 

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.