Cow Corner

Worse than 2007, but is a revolution needed?

Alastair CookAnd so, England are 4-0 down, and the crushing inevitability of their batting collapses in this series (Cow Corner passim) means it would take a brave and/or foolish person with money to burn to bet against Australia making it a second whitewash in three home Ashes.

There was much talk that, as England were 116 runs ahead with 10 wickets remaining on Saturday, needing less than 24 hours to throw such a commanding position away, that this was one of their worst Test losses. While it was bad, it will never compare with the slow-motion horror of Adelaide in 2006, but the question of whether this series defeat is worse than the one seven years ago is more valid.

While it is not yet 5-0, this is already a worse series defeat for England. Then, Australia had a selection of the greatest players that have ever lived, whereas this time they have a perfectly competent Test side, but not much more than that.

Seven years ago Australia pulverised England largely because they were demonstrably better; this time England have made them look better than they are through sheer incompetence. Being thrashed in such a manner by a team featuring Warne, McGrath, Ponting and Gilchrist is incredibly bad but excusable; being thrashed in such a manner by a team featuring Lyon, Siddle, Watson and Haddin is not.

So will there be a 'revolution'? Those hoping for a 'rip it up and start again' approach to England's Test future might be disappointed. Wholesale changes like that usually do not happen, as history tells us. In the first Test after the 2006/7 whitewash, England played the West Indies at Lord's. Five of the top six were the same as those who struggled through the Ashes, the only change being Owais Shah replacing the injured Andrew Flintoff. Matthew Prior came in for Chris Read behind the stumps, while there were two changes to the bowling attack, one of those was the return of Matthew Hoggard, who missed the Sydney Test with a side strain, and replaced Jimmy Anderson.

Flintoff and Anderson would of course return to the team, so the only men who appeared in the defeat at Sydney who would never play another Test were Chris Read and Sajid Mahmood. Throw in Ashley Giles and Geraint Jones, who were replaced in the middle of that series, and you basically have three positions that were changed for good by the England selectors – wicketkeeper, spinner and one of the quicks. Of course the team eventually changed, but it was not exactly an instant revolution.

It might be different this time, of course. After this series, England will be without Graeme Swann, and can't plan for life with Jonathan Trott. Michael Carberry is 33 and hasn't exactly presented an unanswerable case for his inclusion and Jonny Bairstow isn't a Test-class wicketkeeper and has such obvious technical flaws with the bat that it's difficult to justify his inclusion beyond Sydney. England will presumably be hoping that Jos Buttler's move to Lancashire goes well, and/or Ben Foakes matures pretty quickly.

The future of the players is a fun game that anyone can play, throwing in names like Sam Robson and Jamie Overton and Reece Topley because they're promising young players, and perhaps more importantly not the ones who have just had their bottoms handed to them.

Ben Stokes

But do England even need a 'revolution'? With the possible exception of Bairstow, England's top seven are all enormously talented players who simply aren't performing at the moment – two of them will be England's top two run-scorers of all time in a couple of years, if they keep playing. There is a sense that the calls for change are simply because Something Must Be Done, and that Something Is Seen To Be Done.

There's little point in changing the players unless you can be pretty sure the new ones will actually be much better. This isn't exactly an ageing team, especially without Swann – Carberry probably won't be around for much longer, but other than that it's perfectly possible that everyone else will play in the next Ashes in 2015. Pietersen is 33 but has a few years left in him, Bell and Anderson are both 31, Cook is 29, Broad 27, Root and Stokes are both 22 – there is nobody in the team that, in terms of age, are ready to be turned into glue yet.

In addition, we have the question of Andy Flower's future. There has been talk for some time that Flower won't be around for much longer, and he has steadfastly refused to discuss his future beyond the end of this series. The fact England only have one full-time selector is another complicating factor – would it make it easier for new men at the top to overhaul the team, or would it be too much to change the players and head honchos at the same time?

This has been a calamitous series for England, and worse than 2006/7, but we should all take a breath before demanding heads on a platter.

Nick Miller - @NickMiller79