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Red faces in the blue cap camp

Updated: 2014-01-08 07:10
By Paul Tomic ( China Daily)

Red faces in the blue cap camp

What now for English cricket? After an Ashes series that started badly, with a defeat and the departure of troubled batsman Jonathan Trott, and culminated in a ignominious 286-run loss in less than three days, there have been calls for heads to roll.

However, a root and branch overhaul of the team seems unlikely, not least because captain Alastair Cook and team director Andrew Flower have refused to countenance the idea of resignation.

For many supporters this "steady as she goes" approach is tantamount to dereliction of duty, but realistically, the players are probably still the best available.

The need for new faces, if any, can be assessed before the Sri Lankans arrive in the spring, but England will definitely need a new No 3 batsman - the chances of Trott returning to the fray in the near future, if at all, are extremely slim.

Meanwhile, someone will have to occupy the place formerly held by offspinner Graeme Swann, whose retirement mid-series spoke volumes about the atmosphere in the team. Rumor is that the England dressing room is not a happy place. Senior players, it is said, have had enough of Flower's motivational methods, which consist of a lot of stick, but precious little carrot, according to some.

Swann, who had a wonderful international career, had every right to call it a day, but his departure was a massive blow to the public image of team unity. Surely the management could have accepted his decision, but asked him to keep it quiet until the series had ended? Flower could have used the deterioration of Swann's elbow and the fact the urn had already been lost as get-out clauses and an excuse to "rest" the bowler.

Several men may have played their last game for the blue caps, though. The emergence of all-rounder Ben Stokes probably spells the end for Yorkshire's Tim Bresnan, whose bowling has lost its nip and whose batting has regressed. Fast-bowling giant Chris Tremlett no longer strikes terror in batsmen's hearts, so short of pace was he, and Boyd Rankin is not the future, either, sad though that may be for him after just a single Test match.

Finally, the management will also be keen to reintegrate the former heartbeat of the side, Matt Prior, so Jonny Bairstow is unlikely to retain his place as wicketkeeper.

The rebirth of English cricket will have to begin in earnest, now, but in 2015 Flower will have to engage in some serious succession planning. If not, he and his team may find themselves in strife again when the next Ashes rolls around.

Paul Tomic can be contacted at

(China Daily 01/08/2014 page23)