I love a blame game and the latest Ashes debacle Down Under provides another wonderful opportunity, although why anyone is surprised at the outcome when our only hope beforehand appeared to be based on Australia being rubbish as well is beyond me.
Anyway these are the folk responsible for another miserable winter.
1) Ben Stokes. We might have won one of the first two Tests with a disciplined performance from the street fighter. We probably wouldn’t have, but he can be the main 2017 scapegoat
2) Joe Root. His captaincy has been fine, but he has been hamstrung by a pop-gun bowling attack. His batting has been dismal though. He seems content with reaching 50. He’s been outclassed by his opposite number.
3) Stuart Broad. He seems to have treated the whole tour so far as a holiday. He should be dropped in an attempt to shake him out of his complacency as the worst Test bowling figures of his career in the Perth Test probably won’t.
4) Alastair Cook. See above, apart from the holiday bit. I said he was in decline last summer and sadly I’ve been proved right again. He needs to retire to the farm and family now.
5) Trevor Bayliss. We haven’t improved our Test match play in the Aussie’s 30 months in charge. He’s overseen more losses than wins now (17-15) and looks more and more like the specialist one-day coach England knew they were hiring. Let him concentrate on the white ball game and find an Englishman with some passion and personality. Current assistant Paul Farbrace is first in the queue.
6) First-class counties (1). There has been a quick call to revamp our four-day game, although producing better pitches to suit fast bowlers and off spinners would just ensure Australia won 5-0 over here as well. Our County Championship chief exceutives/chairmen are not interested in the Test team. They are chasing a quick buck by promoting T20 cricket above all else and that self-centred approach won’t change in a hurry.
7) First class counties (2). How sad to see Surrey name Aussie all-rounder Mitchell Marsh as an overseas player for 2018. Let this journeyman get used to English conditions ahead of the next Ashes series while keeping an Englishman with potential out of the side. Great plan, well done.
8) The ECB. What have they been up to in the four years since the last Ashes drubbing Down Under? Trying to foist a T20 competition on the counties and the fans that neither seems to want. Chief executive Tom Harrison is a plodder. We need someone a bit more dynamic. What’s Sir Ian Botham doing these days?
9) Steve Smith. How we all laughed when the Australian team was announced for the First Test. How someone as awful as Peter Handscomb and someone as ordinary as Cameron Bancroft were selected was baffling. But Smith is so good, so hungry and so determined, Australia could carry passengers.