Swann in firing line as Flower wields axe for third Test

Frank Dalleres
Follow Frank
ENGLAND head coach Andy Flower has warned he is ready to be ruthless as he attempts to plot an unprecedented Ashes fightback – and hinted that spinner Graeme Swann could be a surprise casualty.

Flower yesterday made plain his dissatisfaction at England’s meek surrender in the first two Tests, which have left them facing the possibility of a chastening whitewash from gleeful Australia.

He declared he would swing the axe for Friday’s third match in Perth and, although he laid the blame squarely at the feet of his impotent batsmen, indicated even mainstay Swann might be omitted.

“I’m absolutely ready to make tough decisions. There will obviously be changes in Perth. Our fans watching back home, I can understand that frustration, absolutely. We were not good enough,” he said.

“Graeme Swann has been an outstanding spin bowler for us over the past four or five years and very much part of England’s success but we will assess the conditions and see who will be best able to help us take 20 wickets.”

Seamer Tim Bresnan – injured for the first match, left out in Adelaide – is expected to return, likely in place of spinner Monty Panesar, although Flower could opt for a spin-free attack at the WACA, where they have won just once in 12 attempts.

England’s coach rejected the notion that his side had lacked fight or been intimidated by Aussie paceman Mitchell Johnson, preferring a more rational dissection of their failure to bat.

“Usually in sporting contests when there are heavy losses, one of the first areas people look at is lack of fight, or the other side wanted it more,” he said.

“That’s quite a simplistic view. We’ve been outplayed in these two Tests, very obviously.

“Our batting failed three times in a row and we played a little better in the fourth innings, but we will need to up these skills if we are to stand any chance.”

Flower called upon the most experienced players – captain Alastair Cook made four runs in Adelaide – in this decorated England side to spark a revival by vastly improving their own performances.