Let us first get those adjectives out of the way: insipid, horrifying, horrendous, spineless, catastrophic, mind-numbing, deathly, bitter, repulsive, frazzled, exhausting, humiliating and the very apt ‘Boycott-ian’ rubbish! The swear words unfortunately cannot be listed here.
The manner in which England surrendered the urn was made all the more astonishing if you consider the dismemberment of the English side in the context of the glittering consecutive Ashes victories that they had amassed in recent years. The rejuvenated Australian side did not just knock England off from their pretty perch that they had set-up not so long ago with a glittering 3-0 victory earlier in 2013, but they sadistically trampled the cozy nest that the English had made stick-by-stick.
The defeat can only find its equivalent in a boxing metaphor: a battered, broken amateur boxer who is made to stand up and box out 15 rounds against a bull of a heavyweight champion even after multiple knockouts. They should have perhaps allowed England to throw in the towel and call ceasefire after the 2nd Test at Adelaide. It might have saved a few breakdowns and retirements.
The frightening thing for England is that the crown that they had pieced for themselves turned out to be illusory. Andy Flower, the architect at work, who was supposed to sustain a world-winning team, seems reduced now making unnecessary and unjustified calls for a ‘potential’ renaissance post the debacle.
The personnel who had carried England’s winning march withered under the pressure mounted down-under. And while credit must go to the Australians who were desperate for blood, the abysmal surrender calls for some radical and swift action.
Here is a list of five English players who certainly need a reminder that their place in the side isn’t permanent:
5. Matthew Prior/Jonny Bairstow
You only had to look to the other side to see what effect a quality wicketkeeper-batsman can have on the balance and performance of a cricket team. Brad Haddin was the second-highest run-getter for Australia finishing with 493 runs at an average of over 60.00 and while that maybe too much to ask of poor middling Englishmen against the roaring pace of Mitchell Johnson (metamorphosed into a modern Jeff Thomson), Matthew Prior’s return of two ducks from the first four innings of an Ashes series is just plain unacceptable.
Prior’s lack of form with the bat was not a new issue but had troubled him since March 2013 and glossed over by the consistency of other English batsmen. As an experienced campaigner whose role extended beyond holding catches and making runs, Matthew Prior failed to set an example in a side that seemed to lack leadership. Alastair Cook has already hinted that it might be a long-road back for Prior.
Prior’s replacement, on the other hand, was hardly an ideal replacement. Tentative with his glove-work and incompetent with the willow, Bairstow seemed caught like a cat on a hot tin-roof in a more-than-competitive Ashes environment. He continued the great tradition of duck-making established by his predecessor and was hardly someone who could have turned it around for England. He might have a few more games before England realize they need to explore some other options.