England set to axe flops after Aussies take charge

<strong>Bopara under threat as Flower prepares for deciding Ashes Test at the Oval</strong>ENGLAND head coach Andy Flower insists he is ready to wield the axe ahead of the Ashes decider at the Oval after his side&rsquo;s fourth Test humiliation.<br />Australia clinched victory by an innings and 80 runs early on day three at Headingley, levelling the series at 1-1 and ensuring they need only to draw the fifth Test to retain the urn.<br /><br />Eighth-wicket pair Stuart Broad (61) and Graeme Swann (62) managed a 108-run stand that at least ensured England avoided a record home defeat, after they had resumed on 82-5, 261 runs behind.<br /><br />But that was nowhere near enough to avoid a chastening defeat that looked inevitable after the abject failure of England&rsquo;s top-order batsmen during the first two days&rsquo; play in Leeds.<br /><br />And Flower admitted changes may need to be made in a bid to wrest the momentum back from Australia, with Ravi Bopara&rsquo;s place at No3 in the batting order seemingly particularly at risk.<br /><br />&ldquo;You&rsquo;ve got to have a think about that middle order. We&rsquo;ve got one Test hundred in the series so far &ndash; captain Andrew Strauss has been holding the batting together a bit &ndash; and I think they Australia have got seven or eight. So that tells the story,&rdquo; said Flower.<br /><br />&ldquo;Ravi Bopara has had a hard time. When he came in and scored three tons he looked good, composed, certainly talented enough, but the jury was still out about whether or not he was a No3. That&rsquo;s still the case.&rdquo;<br /><br />Strauss said there was no need to panic, with the Oval Test still 10 days away, but admitted underperforming players could be culled.<br /><br />&ldquo;That was far below the level we think we should be playing at,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I would be very resistant to wholesale changes, but at the same time we have to make a judgement call about the best 11 players to win that last game.&rdquo;<br /><br />Paramount amongst those considerations will be whether Andrew Flintoff&rsquo;s knee will allow him to play, and the all-rounder is to see a specialist today with a view to a quick decision.<br /><br />&ldquo;Hopefully we&rsquo;ll know two or three days out from the Test match whether he&rsquo;s fit enough to play,&rdquo; added Strauss. <br /><br />&ldquo;Maybe he doesn&rsquo;t need to bowl 28 overs a day, but he&rsquo;s got to be able to bowl more than one spell. Having had a couple of weeks&rsquo; break, hopefully he will be in better shape for the Oval.&rdquo;