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Monday, 9 September 2019

Aussies put English cricket on brink of implosion


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Joe Root's Test captaincy has been condemned and there is talk of England imploding its national team system after its Ashes failure.

Stuart Broad as Test skipper and Australian great Jason Gillespie as England coach are just two SOS suggestions from the UK media.

The post-mortem is well underway, with leading writers and former players dissecting Australia's first successful retention of the Ashes in England for 18 years. Root's captaincy is again firmly under the microscope.

While he remains England's best batsman, Root had failed to convert three half-centuries into hundreds this series and averages only 30 through four Tests. He has also borne heavy criticism for his use of bowlers, field placements and inability to trouble Australian superstar Steve Smith.

Writing for The Telegraph, former England batsman Geoff Boycott said that Root was not captain material and should reconsider his future in the role.

"Joe Root is such a likeable lad, a quality batsman and nobody wants to hurt or humiliate him but I'm afraid he lacks any feel for captaincy," Boycott wrote.

"His captaincy has been very disappointing and he has to seriously think about whether he is suited for the job and whether it is affecting his batting.

"Captaincy is like playing chess. You have to think two steps ahead. A match can be nip and tuck for long periods then when you see an opportunity you have to attack. I'm afraid Joe does not see his chance early or quick enough and sometimes he does not see it at all."

Writing for The Guardian, Tim de Lisle suggested that Root was not a natural captain and that he should be replaced by a born leader: Stuart Broad.

"Joe Root is not a disaster – he has still not lost a home series – but his captaincy weakens England in two ways. It diminishes their only world-class batsman: Root's average as captain slumps from 53 to 41 and the hundreds dry up. And it stops them maximising limited resources, as Eoin Morgan has done with the 50-over team," de Lisle wrote.

"A true captain can be spotted just by listening – is he intense, forensic, a touch fanatical? Nasser Hussain is, Mike Atherton is not. Michael Vaughan is, Alastair Cook not. Stuart Broad is, Joe Root not.

"Let Broad take over for now, until Jos Buttler returns to form or Rory Burns becomes a fixture. And let Root bat and bat."

Writing for The Daily Mail, Paul Newman said that England appeared to be declining under Root's leadership. However, he also reported that Root was likely to survive.

"The harsh reality is that England look further away than ever from emulating Andrew Strauss's side in becoming the No.1 ranked Test team in the world and have gone backwards under a captain who does not seem to be getting any better at the job," Newman wrote.

"The signs at Old Trafford were worrying. England looked flat and uninspired in the field despite Root's best efforts to cajole them when they should have been inspired to go for Australia's throat by the miracle of Headingley.

"Then it was left to Ben Stokes, the emotional leader of this team, to deliver an address in a huddle before Australia's second innings when Root's reported two rollockings of his team in Manchester had seemingly fallen on deaf ears."

Speaking in The Mirror, former England spinner Graeme Swann said that he was never a fan of Root's ascent to the captaincy, branding such a pick a recurring mistake.

"It's a very English thing, if you haven't got Alastair Cook oven-ready to take over from Andrew Strauss, to make our best player the captain," Swann said.

"We did it with Ian Botham, we did it with Fred (Andrew Flintoff), we did it with Kevin Pietersen – and it didn't work for any of them.

"But I wouldn't sack Joe Root because we lost the Ashes. There is no obvious candidate to take over.

"I would be asking questions of the players who couldn't back up what Stokes did at Headingley. England have named the same squad for the final Test, and some of their places will be on he line."

Writing for Cricinfo, senior correspondent George Dobell said that Root was overseeing the demise of this England Test team.

"Having inherited a side that seemed to have the potential to build into something special, he has instead presided over what increasingly looks like its disintegration. Moeen Ali has already gone, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler may not be far behind. There's not much evidence to suggest he has the tactical or rhetorical skills to lift this side," Dobell wrote, while slamming England's selectors for picking limited overs specialists who are "living off promise".

"That's, basically, the story of this England side. It's full of batsmen with big reputations and small averages. Batsmen who can impress for an hour or two but lack the old-school skills required to build match-defining innings. And bowlers who, while honest, were put in the shade by the sustained excellence of Cummins and Hazlewood.

"Yes, England did wonderfully well to win the World Cup. But in Test cricket, at least, they're not as good as they think they are."

Bowlers lead Australia's Ashes retention

The reality that England has allowed its Test cricket to steeply decline in order to deliver World Cup success has led to calls for a major rethink.

Writing for The Times, former England captain Michael Atherton said that the ECB needed to embrace the use of specialists across formats; both players and coaches. Current coach Trevor Bayliss is about to depart and will be replaced, at this stage, by another lone mentor across the Test and limited-overs sides.

"Quite a few players involved across formats this summer have disappointed in the Ashes - Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Jason Roy, like Root, have all struggled," Atherton wrote.

"Only Ben Stokes, of those already established on the international circuit, has had success in both. It is not easy to excel across formats, and will become less easy over time. While there may be a nucleus of multi-format players, increasingly specialisation at international and county level will happen.

"Ashley Giles, (Andrew) Strauss's successor (as ECB director of cricket), should reconsider his stated desire to appoint one head coach across all formats. There is too much cricket now for one man to focus equal energies on Test and one-day games."

Yet England seems likely to press forward with one coach only and it is hoped that the new man may lift not only the Test team, but Root's leadership.

Writing for The Sun, John Etheridge said that Root was likely to continue but needed fresh guidance to spark his captaincy.

"The job is beginning to undermine his batting and he has made three ducks in the last three Tests — including two golden ducks. He should bat at No.4 but has gone to three for the sake of the team," Etheridge wrote.

"His leadership can lack ruthlessness. For example, a lethargic (Jofra) Archer hardly bowled to Smith at Old Trafford last Wednesday in the Aussie's first innings since his concussion. Maybe he needed to fire a rocket up Archer's backside.

"Stokes is the only viable alternative as skipper and already has enough on his plate. So Root is almost certain to stay in charge. Root should be encouraged to have a steelier streak. Perhaps the new coach can help with that."

So who might the new coach be?

Writing for The Telegraph, Scyld Berry suggested that it should be Jason Gillespie, the great Australian Test fast bowler who coached Root at Yorkshire and Archer at Sussex.

"To give England's Test cricket the direction and force which have been lacking, Jason Gillespie, the Australian fast bowler who took 259 Test wickets, is the best qualified candidate: been there, done that, but not parading the fact, although he might be persuaded to regale you with the story of his Test double-century as a nightwatchman against Bangladesh; not prescriptive, sensitive to differences, making sure it is fun as well as work, and capable of the riot act when occasion demands," Berry wrote.

"While coaching Yorkshire, Gillespie got the best out of Root (and won two championships), and while coaching Sussex the best out of Archer. While Root is captain, the best Test chemistry would be a compound of Gillespie as his coach and more of those Stokes rallying cries."

Joe Root's Test captaincy has been condemned and there is talk of England imploding its national team system after its Ashes failure.

Stuart Broad as Test skipper and Australian great Jason Gillespie as England coach are just two SOS suggestions from the UK media.

The post-mortem is well underway, with leading writers and former players dissecting Australia's first successful retention of the Ashes in England for 18 years. Root's captaincy is again firmly under the microscope.

While he remains England's best batsman, Root had failed to convert three half-centuries into hundreds this series and averages only 30 through four Tests. He has also borne heavy criticism for his use of bowlers, field placements and inability to trouble Australian superstar Steve Smith.

Writing for The Telegraph, former England batsman Geoff Boycott said that Root was not captain material and should reconsider his future in the role.

"Joe Root is such a likeable lad, a quality batsman and nobody wants to hurt or humiliate him but I'm afraid he lacks any feel for captaincy," Boycott wrote.

"His captaincy has been very disappointing and he has to seriously think about whether he is suited for the job and whether it is affecting his batting.

"Captaincy is like playing chess. You have to think two steps ahead. A match can be nip and tuck for long periods then when you see an opportunity you have to attack. I'm afraid Joe does not see his chance early or quick enough and sometimes he does not see it at all."

Writing for The Guardian, Tim de Lisle suggested that Root was not a natural captain and that he should be replaced by a born leader: Stuart Broad.

"Joe Root is not a disaster – he has still not lost a home series – but his captaincy weakens England in two ways. It diminishes their only world-class batsman: Root's average as captain slumps from 53 to 41 and the hundreds dry up. And it stops them maximising limited resources, as Eoin Morgan has done with the 50-over team," de Lisle wrote.

"A true captain can be spotted just by listening – is he intense, forensic, a touch fanatical? Nasser Hussain is, Mike Atherton is not. Michael Vaughan is, Alastair Cook not. Stuart Broad is, Joe Root not.

"Let Broad take over for now, until Jos Buttler returns to form or Rory Burns becomes a fixture. And let Root bat and bat."

Writing for The Daily Mail, Paul Newman said that England appeared to be declining under Root's leadership. However, he also reported that Root was likely to survive.

"The harsh reality is that England look further away than ever from emulating Andrew Strauss's side in becoming the No.1 ranked Test team in the world and have gone backwards under a captain who does not seem to be getting any better at the job," Newman wrote.

"The signs at Old Trafford were worrying. England looked flat and uninspired in the field despite Root's best efforts to cajole them when they should have been inspired to go for Australia's throat by the miracle of Headingley.

"Then it was left to Ben Stokes, the emotional leader of this team, to deliver an address in a huddle before Australia's second innings when Root's reported two rollockings of his team in Manchester had seemingly fallen on deaf ears."

Speaking in The Mirror, former England spinner Graeme Swann said that he was never a fan of Root's ascent to the captaincy, branding such a pick a recurring mistake.

"It's a very English thing, if you haven't got Alastair Cook oven-ready to take over from Andrew Strauss, to make our best player the captain," Swann said.

"We did it with Ian Botham, we did it with Fred (Andrew Flintoff), we did it with Kevin Pietersen – and it didn't work for any of them.

"But I wouldn't sack Joe Root because we lost the Ashes. There is no obvious candidate to take over.

"I would be asking questions of the players who couldn't back up what Stokes did at Headingley. England have named the same squad for the final Test, and some of their places will be on he line."

Writing for Cricinfo, senior correspondent George Dobell said that Root was overseeing the demise of this England Test team.

"Having inherited a side that seemed to have the potential to build into something special, he has instead presided over what increasingly looks like its disintegration. Moeen Ali has already gone, Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler may not be far behind. There's not much evidence to suggest he has the tactical or rhetorical skills to lift this side," Dobell wrote, while slamming England's selectors for picking limited overs specialists who are "living off promise".

"That's, basically, the story of this England side. It's full of batsmen with big reputations and small averages. Batsmen who can impress for an hour or two but lack the old-school skills required to build match-defining innings. And bowlers who, while honest, were put in the shade by the sustained excellence of Cummins and Hazlewood.

"Yes, England did wonderfully well to win the World Cup. But in Test cricket, at least, they're not as good as they think they are."

Bowlers lead Australia's Ashes retention

The reality that England has allowed its Test cricket to steeply decline in order to deliver World Cup success has led to calls for a major rethink.

Writing for The Times, former England captain Michael Atherton said that the ECB needed to embrace the use of specialists across formats; both players and coaches. Current coach Trevor Bayliss is about to depart and will be replaced, at this stage, by another lone mentor across the Test and limited-overs sides.

"Quite a few players involved across formats this summer have disappointed in the Ashes - Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes and Jason Roy, like Root, have all struggled," Atherton wrote.

"Only Ben Stokes, of those already established on the international circuit, has had success in both. It is not easy to excel across formats, and will become less easy over time. While there may be a nucleus of multi-format players, increasingly specialisation at international and county level will happen.

"Ashley Giles, (Andrew) Strauss's successor (as ECB director of cricket), should reconsider his stated desire to appoint one head coach across all formats. There is too much cricket now for one man to focus equal energies on Test and one-day games."

Yet England seems likely to press forward with one coach only and it is hoped that the new man may lift not only the Test team, but Root's leadership.

Writing for The Sun, John Etheridge said that Root was likely to continue but needed fresh guidance to spark his captaincy.

"The job is beginning to undermine his batting and he has made three ducks in the last three Tests — including two golden ducks. He should bat at No.4 but has gone to three for the sake of the team," Etheridge wrote.

"His leadership can lack ruthlessness. For example, a lethargic (Jofra) Archer hardly bowled to Smith at Old Trafford last Wednesday in the Aussie's first innings since his concussion. Maybe he needed to fire a rocket up Archer's backside.

"Stokes is the only viable alternative as skipper and already has enough on his plate. So Root is almost certain to stay in charge. Root should be encouraged to have a steelier streak. Perhaps the new coach can help with that."

So who might the new coach be?

Writing for The Telegraph, Scyld Berry suggested that it should be Jason Gillespie, the great Australian Test fast bowler who coached Root at Yorkshire and Archer at Sussex.

"To give England's Test cricket the direction and force which have been lacking, Jason Gillespie, the Australian fast bowler who took 259 Test wickets, is the best qualified candidate: been there, done that, but not parading the fact, although he might be persuaded to regale you with the story of his Test double-century as a nightwatchman against Bangladesh; not prescriptive, sensitive to differences, making sure it is fun as well as work, and capable of the riot act when occasion demands," Berry wrote.

"While coaching Yorkshire, Gillespie got the best out of Root (and won two championships), and while coaching Sussex the best out of Archer. While Root is captain, the best Test chemistry would be a compound of Gillespie as his coach and more of those Stokes rallying cries."

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