THEY say Christmas is a time for reflection and I’ve a feeling England team director Andy Flower will be doing more soul-searching than most over the next couple of weeks.
The late Bob Woolmer once told me he believed coaches had a maximum of five years with a team – by then you’ve imparted all that you can.
England’s players won’t want Flower to go and I’ve always been a big fan. But his five years will be up in April and, having not just lost the Ashes but been outplayed by Australia in every facet of the game during the past month, he must be wondering whether he has taken England as far as he can.
That prospect won’t be lost on limited-overs coach Ashley Giles as he prepares his team for the one-day series that follows the Ashes.
Flower’s far from the only one whose days appear numbered, because this England team as we know it looks finished.
So abject have the performances of key players such as James Anderson, Graeme Swann, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior been that their long-term futures are in real doubt. The only players safe from the chop in my eyes are Alastair Cook, Michael Carberry, Joe Root, Ian Bell and Ben Stokes, whose gallant century in only his second Test was the sole crumb of comfort from a desperate series.
It’s no exaggeration to say this tour could not have gone any worse. England arrived Down Under expecting a hard series but one they’d ultimately win; instead they have not even won a single session.
Coach Darren Lehmann deserves great credit for turning this Australia side around. Yet Peter Siddle is no Glenn McGrath and Nathan Lyon a very ordinary off-spinner; somehow England’s inept batsmen have made them look like world-beaters.
It could still get worse, with a whitewash on the cards unless England pull themselves together. Flower must be giving thought to replacing Prior and Swann with Jonny Bairstow and Monty Panesar for the next match, while Kevin Pietersen is playing for his Test career.
They’ve been found wanting in every department and changes are needed; if they play the same team, they’ll get the same outcome.
Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who has also been captain and chairman of Warwickshire.