England capitulated on the third day of the final Test in dramatic fashion and have lost the Ashes 5-0.
In the aftermath of this harrowing defeat, many questions are being asked about where England go from here.
Bleacher Report have isolated the three most important things England must do next.
The ECB always review every series played by England, and as David Collier told Sky Sports during the Sydney Test, the same process will be followed after this series.
In the misty haze of defeat, perspective can often be clouded and reckless decisions made. It is essential that chairman Giles Clarke, chief executive David Collier, new managing director Paul Downton and team director Andy Flower, along with other members of the ECB hierarchy, take time to sit down and carefully evaluate the whys and hows of this series defeat.
England’s immediate international commitments are all in limited-overs formats. There is no need to rush to any decisions regarding how England can move forward in five-day cricket.
Take a step back, take a deep breath and evaluate.
England have lost one series, albeit very, very badly, but it is only one series. No one has died; English cricket for that matter has not died. Let's hope the ECB retain the sanity that many fans and much of the media appear to have lost amongst the soul-searching. Transition should be a process, not an event.
Unlike in 2007, when England were also whitewashed by Australia, the causes of defeat do not run nearly as deep as they did back then.
In 2007 the Schofield Report acknowledged gaping infrastructural flaws in England’s system that were impinging the success of the full national side. Such issues were corrected back then and saw, as Collier has acknowledged, “structures put in place that created a great foundation for the future that hopefully we’ll see the rewards of, with young players coming through for the next few years.”
Taken in isolation, this whitewash may appear worse than six years ago, but the reasons are not as extensive and do not run to the very roots of English cricket.
Flower’s future as team director has been under intense focus as England’s series has gone from bad to worse to hellish. And while there is no doubt that England were beaten by a superb Australian side, that so many of England’s players were allowed to slide out of form at the same time, that selection seemed so confused and that England seemed to lack leadership and direction, all are problems that can be laid at the feet of Flower.
Thus it has been surprising to see both Clarke and Collier publicly state such strong support for the continuation of Flower in his role as team director. And indeed, it is widely thought Downton is similarly enthusiastic that Flower’s position is maintained.
While there are certainly merits to Flower continuing in his role, it seems unfair that he has already been assured of his job, despite the fact that the “review” Collier spoke of is yet to occur.
Flower has expressed his desire to continue, the ECB have backed their man, and Flower leaving would now be a PR disaster. But if the review is held, and somewhere, somehow the conclusion is reached that Flower is not the right man for the job and it is decided that someone else would be preferable, then the ECB and/or Flower should swallow pride and do what is necessary.
The future of not only Graham Gooch and David Saker, but every individual in the back room staff, should also be assessed. This tour has been a disaster, and although Australia have been good, the reasons for England’s failure to cope need to be isolated.
If such causes cannot be traced back to the management, then so be it, but it is the management who must first receive the attention of the ECB. Then, and only then, can focus turn to strategy and personnel changes to reinvigorate the England team.