Cow Corner

Mulligans, Boycott and 220mph bowling: 10 ways England can bounce back

Like any blog worth its salt, Cow Corner is more than willing to accept when it is in the wrong.

And yesterday, Cow got it spectacularly wrong by saying that things could only get better for England.

So it's time to put a hoof in the air and admit: yesterday, for the first time in a long time, Cow was wrong. Things, somehow, did indeed manage to get worse.

On day two of the fifth and final mauling - erm, sorry, Test - England slumped to 5 for 23 in the opening session as the concession of cheap English wickets continued unabated.

But Cow loves English cricket and, as such, feels a moral responsibility not to put the boot, but instead offer some suggestions of ways in which the English touring party can arrest this slide into mediocrity before the nation's Test status is rescinded and Afghanistan elevated to cricket's top table.

- - -

1. Abandon attrition

Under Alastair Cook, many of England’s successes have been built on the wearing down of their opponents, a tactic which harks back to the Test cricket borefests of the 1980s and 1990s. This tactic has patently outlived its useful life. Time for a more flamboyant and exuberant approach, which could only realistically be brought in by a new, less cautious captain. Maybe Graeme Swann could be tempted out of retirement?

- - -

2. Make shot selections. Not better shot selections - just shot selections.

Kevin Pietersen is to miss England's limited-overs series in Australia.Kevin Pietersen is to miss England's limited-overs series in Australia.

England have across the whole series failed to survive the good balls while not punishing the bad ones. By which Cow means that they've flailed pathetically at everything. If this is a radical new approach based on late 1940s free-form Jazz, it ain't working.

- - -

3. Introduce the mulligan

In lieu of the fact that getting England to play better cricket is very dull and will take ages, why not lobby the ICC to bring in a concept from a different sport? To wit, the 'mulligan' from golf, which allows players in friendly games to simply have another go at a shot on the occasions that they do something unutterably stupid. Imagine what damage Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell might have done during the series if they'd been able to get away with the string of brain-farts they perpetrated after doing the hard work of getting themselves in.

Of course, this was tried initally as an experiment during the summer series, when Australia's inept use of the DRS system effectively gave England's batsmen two bites at the cherry during most of their innings.

- -

4. End the madness of picking English players

There are a few positives from this disappointing Ashes tour. Ben Stokes, born in New Zealand, has been superb. Gary Ballance, who has previously represented Zimbabwe, also showed admirable courage having come to the crease with England facing ignominy at 17 for four. South African-born Kevin Pietersen has been the only top order England batsman to average more than 30. Cow thinks it's pretty clear that the future of English cricket does not lie with the English.

- - -

5. Mimic Mitchell

Let's all take solace from the resurgence of Mitchell Johnson. Remember, not so long ago, Johnson was a laughing stock hemorrhaging runs and firing no balls left, right and centre like the 2009 vintage Steve Harmison. Now he is ripping through English batsman as if he's knocking down toy soldiers with a pea shooter. If he can do it, anyone can.

- - -

6. Train hard, play easy, thanks to the 220mph bowling machine

This is the simplest option in the book, surely. The ECB can simply up the speedometer in the bowling machine at National Cricket Performance Centre in Loughborough to 220 mph, and replace the pitch with 22 yards of rolled concrete. Once England's batsmen get used to that, facing Johnson’s howitzers at the WACA will seem ludicrously easy - it'll be an unusual over when the Aussie paceman doesn't go for 36 runs.

- - -

7. Pump up the Barmy volume

The Barmy Army find it all too easy to out-cheer the home fans in places such as India, given the paltry numbers of local fans that turn up to Test matches. But trying to outscream tens of thousands of sun-baked, beer-fuelled Aussies is very different. So each member of the Barmy Army must be equipped with a free mega-phone to drown out the vociferous home support, and provide the tourists with a 12 and 13 man. If those megaphones can be tweaked electronically to give all the fans Yorkshire accents, so much the better. And speaking of Yorkshiremen...

- - -

8. End the Boycott boycott

If Stan Matthews can play top level football into his 50s and George Foreman win a boxing world title at an age when he should be dozing in his garden shed, there's no reason England's former greats shouldn't still do a job in the middle - particularly during those matches when all that is required is someone to prod every delivery into the turf. 73-year-old Geoffrey Boycott's sane, rational and well-reasoned analysis clearly shows that he is still the man to lead England's top order - while Ian Botham and Piers Morgan must also be drafted into the side to remind English cricketers how to face down a barrage of Aussie abuse.

- - -

9. Kick back and do nothing

Success is cyclical, as is a team’s mental capability to replicate success is so too. The core of this England team has been together for over three years now, so a freshening up of the squad will bring renewed hunger and enthusiasm. Or if nobody fancies that, the Aussies are bound to hit a new downward spiral sooner or later, and there's a chance that could coincide with an upturn in English fortunes. Not for nothing is Father Time the weather vane at Lord's: Father Time is English cricket's friend.

- - -

10. Channel the spirit of Rocky

Use this chastening defeat as motivation to emerge from the, erm, ashes of this Ashes series as a renewed force – a Rocky-esque philosophy, if you like, that would involve players downing glasses of raw egg before embarking on training runs through the streets of Nottingham.

- - -

Got any better ideas? Share them with the world below... and don't forget to forward your suggestions as emails to timidskipper@ecb.co.uk and dyingflower@ecb.co.uk to make sure that the national game's key thinkers benefit from your wisdom!