England Ashes Fallout: Do England Need to Hit Rock Bottom?

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England are in danger of continuing their stagnated form if changes are not made. Australia retained the little urn at minimal effort and so the investigation begins as to how they so meekly surrendered. Whether it be lack of pace and quality of spin bowling in the bowling ranks, failing to convert fifties into centuries, or just a gulf in quality and class – the arguments will pour in.

England Ashes Fallout: Do England Need to Hit Rock Bottom?

However, once the dust has settled, how many of these reasons for failure will be seriously addressed? England lost 4-0 last winter against India and the only real change to come from this result was the end of Alastair Cook’s captaincy tenure, which many felt had run its course anyway.

Instead, attention was quickly switched to the upcoming Champions trophy and home series against South Africa and Windies. Now, after being soundly defeated away from home 4-0 again, the ECB need to decide if they are going to seriously invest in England’s Test future.
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England Ashes Fallout: The Need to Hit Rock Bottom

The 2015 50-over World Cup was a calamity for England. It exposed their outdated and primitive style of play in a humiliating manner. So much so that the ECB decided to sack Peter Moores and hire Trevor Bayliss who had an outstanding record in white-ball cricket.

Fresh players were brought into the team and given freedom to play in an attacking fashion. The resulting changes produced an exponential upturn in form and England have been one of the best white-ball teams in the world ever since.

The 2017 Ashes has not been a calamity. While they might be few in number, positives can be taken. James Anderson’s efforts with the ball were outstanding, Dawid Malan has shown what England’s batting has lacked in the past couple of years, Alastair Cook’s 244* will live long in the memory, and Jonny Bairstow once again thrived under added responsibility.

Even if England had hit rock bottom in this series, how would they proceed? The same talent does not exist as it did in 2015. Players like Jason Roy, Alex Hales, and David Willey were well known for what they could bring to the side.

If England were to adopt the same policy as in 2015 then George Garton, Jofra Archer, and Josh Tongue would make up the bowling attack against New Zealand in a couple of months’ time. Perhaps that is an exciting prospect in a few years. However, England have to adopt a different strategy for a different format. Australia’s State sides have played more cricket with Duke balls following the 2015 Ashes – we’ll find out next year how much this has benefitted them. The ECB can learn from Cricket Australia’s investment in the future.

County cricket has been called into question once against but how could it be changed? New toss regulations were implemented in 2016 to aid the progression of spin bowlers. Mason Crane bowled just 193.1 overs in the County Championship last season.

It remains to be seen just how the change in toss regulations would aid faster bowlers. If the pitches are flatter, will it make them bowl faster as it’s not as easy to bowl on green tops? Some have suggested decreasing the amount of long-form matches played in a season to aid workload and perhaps encourage a higher intensity of bowling in the matches they do play. Surely that solution would be quickly torn apart because youngsters won’t be playing enough red-ball cricket.
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How to invest?

The ECB need to ask themselves if they actually want to invest in England’s Test team. A large investment in a franchise-style tournament despite already possessing a more than competent tournament could be seen as a fruitless venture. Furthermore, the ECB might be happy to have a Test side that wins more times than not at home and just ignore away tours altogether given their increased interest in white-ball cricket. Test attendances are far superior in England than anywhere else in the world so who wants to win when no one is watching anyway?

Long-term investment is not always guaranteed, of course. England’s greatest away tours in the past decade were not years in the making. An Ashes win in 2010 was achieved by excellent preparation beforehand, something that has been eradicated by many sides in world cricket since. A 2-1 series win in India was won by having an opening batsman in the form of his life and two world-class spinners at the peak of their powers.

Paul Farbrace has stated that the preparation for the next away Ashes series is already under way. Discussions are already underway between the two cricketing bodies to ensure the series is more competitive. By 2021, the long-awaited t20 city-based tournament will be at the end of its second season. Perhaps, if England are at the receiving end of another hammering, a witch-hunt may not be necessary if the tournament is a huge success.

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