When Paul Downton agreed to take over the role of Managing Director from Hugh Morris it must have seemed like a great idea, three times Ashes winners and doing reasonably well under new captain Alastair Cook. One shambolic Ashes tour later and he seemingly has it all to do now along with new chief selector James Whittaker. He has to try and negotiate a peace treaty with both Flower and Pietersen and along with Flower rebuild this England team from what is one of their lowest ebbs in modern times.
Going forward Alastair Cook has plenty to think about, his batting form has been appalling in his last two series against Australia he has averaged a paltry 27 and 24, with no centuries and a high score of 72 over both series. His captaincy style has been highly and rightly criticised by everyone in particular Shane Warne.
For England to move forward Cook will have to become a much more astute captain, he has to be more attacking and imaginative with his field places and assume complete control of the field placings and tactics. His batting form will have to improve as well but he must build a team of his own, his own personnel and with a much more aggressive style and brand of cricket.
There has to be a thorough review of the way we go about our batting, I personally feel that it may be time for Graham Gooch to step down as batting coaches this batting unit has struggled for a while now and a fresh approach may yield new results. Both Andy Flower and Kevin Pietersen must remain in the set up as England go forward as well, a new spinner must be unearthed and the balance of both the batting and bowling line ups have to be determined.
I would also look to bring Paul Collingwood into the set up at some stage as well, he was an exceptional team player and would add so much to the backroom staff. He was the best fielder that England have probably ever produced, he was very popular in the dressing room and depending on how his stint as Scotland coach goes may well have some great experience on his side by the end of next summer.
In the spin department Panesar would have been the obvious choice for Graeme Swann but his lack of ability in the field and with the bat have counted against him and the fact that Cook bowled Root ahead of him in Melbourne then played Borthwick ahead of him in Sydney suggests his test career could be over. The three viable options would be to stick with Borthwick, try Tredwell in the short term or go left field and try someone like a Danny Briggs or Simon Kerrigan again.
In the bowling department I don’t think an attack that contains Stokes, Anderson and Broad is varied enough I would like to seem them mix it up by bringing in a genuinely quick bowler and a left arm seamer as well if possible. Bringing back Steven Finn might be an option and he’s young enough to build a team around. For the left arm seamer option I’d look at Chris Jordan who is currently in the one day team as well as the likes of Tymal Mills and Warwickshire’s Keith Barker.
In the batting department I don’t think England will stick with Carberry but if they are to go forward with Root he needs to stay there but seriously adapt his game. The main reason they dropped Nick Compton was because he was putting scoreboard pressure on Cook at the moment Root is the same he looks shot less at times and cannot rotate the strike. The likes of Ballance should be given a chance to impress during the home series against Sri Lanka and India.
There are places up for grabs for the likes of Morgan, Bopara, Compton and James Taylor to grab during the early stages of the county season and in the one day matches coming up as well. Although I’d like to see Alex Hales give himself a chance at the test team and the one day team with improved performances as well, he has a good technique and is someone I’d like to see in other England teams.
The other big question mark is that of England’s wicket keeper, England have plenty of options in that department. I don’t see Jonny Bairstow as a long term option, he isn’t a good enough gloveman or batsmen at the present moment and Matt Prior could potentially force his way back into the team with some early season runs at Sussex. There are also the options of Steve Davis, Craig Kieswetter or Jos Buttler who is now at Lancashire, I think Buttler is the future wicket keeper for England in all formats but for the short term Matt Prior may come back into the reckoning.
Either way for a team who were looking to create history and become the first English team to win four back to back Ashes series they are now at rock bottom with it all to do.