When England last visited Australia, we were slim favourites. We’ve just beaten them 3-0 at home, albeit not as convincingly as the result might suggest, and we have a solid squad with fond memories of their last Ashes trip.
The backbone of the team looks good: Cook, Trotter, Peterson, Bell, Young Root, Player, Swann, Broad and Anderson. Some of them carry some physical or mental baggage, but overall life looks good and most fans are relatively optimistic.
Then we lost 0-5.
When such a catastrophe strikes, the onus is on the ECB to turn it around before the next journey to the ashes. After all, the Ashes is the most important event on the English cricketing calendar.
So why, after a full four-year cycle, did England return to Australia with a weaker side than they did at SCG in 2014?
The ECB’s first task is to assess why things went wrong last time. They failed. Instead of having a proper debate, they decided to make the team’s most damaging hitter a scapegoat. Then they replaced a head coach who was past the end of his life with a head coach who was completely musty from a few years ago.
Only a complete idiot would think that firing Peterson in a botched fashion and then bringing back the much-maligned Peter Moores was a recipe for success…which is exactly what Paul Downton did.
Meanwhile, James Whittaker proves he’s absolutely responsible for replacing the lovely Jeff Miller. But what did the ECB do? there is nothing. Nada. sweet fa
Instead they compounded the mistake by hiring Gus Fraser, who was already a full-time employee at Middlesex, and then compounded the mistake by appointing Mick Newell, a full-time employee at Nottinghamshire. Maybe someone should explain what the term “conflict of interest” means?
As a trio, Whittaker, Fraser and Newell are as inspiring as a vacation to Bognor. They played so poorly that Andrew Strauss considered firing them last summer. Too bad he decided against it. God knows why.
It took nearly four years for England’s selectors to find an open partner for Cook and suitable replacements for Trott, Peterson, Player and Swann. There are five missions in total. They totally screwed up four of them.
The only success story is Jonny Bairstow, who is as good as Prior (in my opinion). Some might argue that Moeen is actually a replacement for Swann, but I disagree. He’s not a dedicated lunatic, and he’s nowhere near that good…especially away from home.
When England sent Stoneman, Vince and Maran (injuries allowed) in Brisbane, it was basically an acknowledgment that our selectors had screwed up repeatedly since 2013/14.
Stoneman will only be in his third Test — behind Robson, Leith and Jennings in the past — while Malan will only be in his sixth after debuting as an afterthought in the middle of last summer. .
Meanwhile, James Vince was called back only because the selectors ran out of initial bad ideas. So they decided to recycle the old ones. Maybe they think it’s good for the planet?
If you want to skip the selectors – please don’t open them all at once – you could argue that the closet is empty so it’s not their fault. Well, in this case, the ECB is to blame. After all, they made Pietersen a scapegoat instead of doing a proper review and making changes that might improve the team in the long run.
Now, before I’m sent away in the chaos of a siege, I should remember that England hasn’t really lost its ashes. It’s 0-0 at the moment and everything is up for grabs…at least in theory.
However, if England miraculously keeps the Ashes – with Stoneman, Maran and Vince miraculously transformed into the new Chris Broad, David Gore and Michael Vaughn – it’s not for good plan of. It would be pure luck. After all, these players aren’t selectors; they’re not the players that selectors have been demanding (and investing in) for so long.
The bottom line is that England’s new players are just metaphorical crap…the latest crap our fumbling selectors throw at the wall and hope some of it sticks. Their choices are based on hope rather than good judgment. That’s because at this point they’ve basically tried everyone else.
With that in mind, I’ll ask you a question: do England really deserve to win the Ashes? Certainly not the ECB.