It will be an absolutely heartbreaking time for England. When you’re about to go on a big show and then get blown away like they were here in Australia, it’s really disappointing for everyone involved.
This is the Ashes’ third consecutive tour where England are thoroughly beaten – I was involved in the middle one – so there must be something inherently wrong.
The questions will be asked in England. Essentially, is County competition producing players capable of progressing to Test level, especially away from home? The answer is obviously ‘no’, so it’s about doing something about it.
Andrew Strauss is the right man to save English cricket after heartbreaking Ashes tour
Straus (R) pictured here alongside Trevor Bayliss during the 2017-18 Ashes series
The need for change is such that I don’t see England solving the problems overnight, or with a few tweaks here and there. Whatever changes are made to the system will take time to bear fruit.
Much of what England had wanted to do before this trip was right. For example, Chris Silverwood wanted to come here with faster bowlers, but injury cost him two players he wanted to use – Jofra Archer, a huge miss, and Olly Stone.
I wanted to do the same four years ago, but there was no Archer or Stone then and Mark Wood was a young guy who got injured anyway. Unfortunately, there weren’t many others with a high enough pace for us to choose from and that’s still something to work on now.
Wood has been great in Australia. He played very well without taking the wickets he deserved earlier in the series. In Hobart he showed that if you have extra pace you can shake up any hitter, as long as you have the ability to get the ball in the right spot.
Australia always seem to have two or three bowlers offering pace and rebound, not just one, and always have the ruthlessness you need to show with the ball.
Strauss has led England’s revival in white-ball cricket and could do the same for the red-ball game
But the stick was the big problem for England and I come back to this question of tempo and a positive state of mind.
Yes, you need to have a good defense to pass test cricket, but you need to be in the right frame of mind to seize every opportunity to score. It just seemed like we were – sorry, England were, should I say – in two minds about how to play.
There always seems to be thousands of words said and written at times like this about what is wrong and what should be done. But the time for talk is over and England must do something. It’s time to act.
In fact, doing anything could prove difficult as there will be hurdles to jump through to ensure everyone in the English game – ECB and county administrators – is on the same page.
Commitment to change needs to be mainstreamed, across the whole game. Let’s take what happened to white-ball cricket after the 2015 World Cup as an example of what can be achieved.
Strauss is intelligent, has an innate knowledge of the game and varied experiences
Something desperately needed to change and England’s commitment to improve after years of underperformance led to the 2019 World Cup victory and some formidable international 50 over and T20 sides.
The architect of that change, of course, was then-team principal Andrew Strauss. I think he would be the perfect man to do the same for England’s red ball game now, if his personal situation is such that he can devote the time to it.
I really liked working with Straussy. He is an intelligent man with an innate knowledge of the game and has many experiences as a player, England captain and then administrator.
England will be hard pressed to find someone better than him to complete this task and get the team back on track in Test cricket.
England’s troubles started before Chris Silverwood and Joe Root took over
When I was with England, Strauss had this ability after a meeting to sum up perfectly what we thought and what needed to be done. Everyone understood his message.
There will obviously be calls for personnel changes now, but if England are to go down that road they need to make sure whoever they bring in is a better option than the people in place now.
I understand it’s the coach’s fate to be in the firing line at times like this – sometimes it’s justified, sometimes it’s not.
But I also think it would be hard for Silverwood or Joe Root to lose their jobs now, when we all know the problems start long before they end up with a team.
England must get to the root of these problems. Problems to be solved include playing too much cricket, too many players not showing ambition to reach the highest level, setting up better wickets, playing top class matches at the right time of year, maybe using a different ball and maybe even ensure more separation between the Test and cue teams. Otherwise, we’re going to see the same story in Australia four years from now.
There are so many people passionate about the long form of the game in England that I am optimistic changes can happen. Yes, it may take time, but England is a country with a proud history of testing and there are few people prouder than Andrew Strauss. I think he should be at the forefront of making things right.