Ashes debacle a reality check for England's seniors

Published: Dec 19, 2013, 00:36 IST | AFP |

England's senior players are facing tough questions over their international careers after flopping badly in the embarrassing Ashes defeat to Australia.

While major changes are unlikely mid-series, some players who have formed the backbone of a previously successful team will rightly be nervous about their futures.

Matt Prior and James Anderson
Wicketkeeper Matt Prior (left) and paceman James Anderson are under the microscope after ordinary performances in the series. Pic/Getty Images

Thirty-somethings Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann and James Anderson, along with captain Alastair Cook, all went missing as Australia won emphatically in Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth to take an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.

Head coach Andy Flower is yet to pledge his future beyond this series, and with the England and Wales Cricket Board also about to welcome a new national selector and managing director, a significant shift seems likely.

Cook, 28, cautioned against “radical decisions” ahead of the final two Tests in Melbourne and Sydney, a call echoed by the British press.

“When the game’s just finished and everyone’s really emotive and it’s hurting like it’s hurting, you could make some very radical decisions which could be the wrong ones,” he said. “These have to be very cool, calculated decisions at the right time.”

However, it seems inconceivable that England will not try to rebuild as they look ahead to the next Ashes series in 2015.

Wicketkeeper Prior could be the first to go after making just 107 runs at 17.83, and missing two stumpings and a catch in a disastrous showing on the third day in Perth.

“It’s a possibility of course,” said Flower, when asked if Prior could be replaced by Jonny Bairstow, 24, for the fourth Test. “Matt Prior has been an outstanding cricketer for England during a second phase of his English career.

“But like all those positions we have to review them. We constantly review what our best side will be and we also have to have an eye to the future as well.”

Flower admitted England’s veterans were going through “tough periods in their careers” and indicated they would need to find their form quickly.

“It doesn’t mean their careers are over. But it does mean they need to call on that experience to help them get out of a tough time quicker than other people,” he said. 

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