Boyman on Sport - Call time on the England careers of Pietersen, Prior and Carberry

Basingstoke Gazette: Kevin Pietersen reflects on another batting failure. Kevin Pietersen reflects on another batting failure.

England’s Ashes shambles Down Under

A FRIEND of mine flew out to Australia at the end of last week to spend Christmas and New Year in the sunshine while enjoying some competitive Ashes cricket.

Well, that was the plan when he booked the trip a few months ago. Sadly, by the time he and his girlfriend landed in Melbourne on Sunday, the series was all but over.

Despite a fine century from Ben Stokes, a rare bright spot for England, Australia regained the Ashes a day later – and I’m not sure anyone would be surprised if they went on to make it a whitewash.

Let’s face facts, England have been exceedingly poor throughout all three matches so far. They were briefly ahead during the very first day, but since then, they have been pummelled into the ground by the Aussies.

I gave up recording the highlights midway through the second test. It was just too depressing.

Batting-wise, it has been a disaster, with Australian bowlers not really having to work for their wickets. It’s incredible how many wickets have fallen to poor shots, with English players tempted to play pull and hook shots far too often, with the result normally being a catch on the leg side.

The bowling has been better – but not by much. Jimmy Anderson is a great bowler when the ball is swinging around but his lack of pace has been brutally exposed, while Australia have done a good job of targeting Graeme Swann.

They took three bowlers specifically to make the most of Australian conditions – but the trio have played just one game between them. They must have really impressed in the nets.

It has been suggested that complacency may have played a part in England’s collapse, but I find that unlikely. They may have beaten the Australians 3-0 in the summer, but I’m sure they realised that the series was far closer than the final scoreline suggested.

Sadly, it’s just one of those cyclical things. After several years in the doldrums, Australia are on the up, while England’s ageing team are in decline.

Nine of the 14 players who have played for England in Tests are over the age of 30 and while some, like Ian Bell and Anderson, clearly still have more to offer, it may be time to think about new blood elsewhere.

Wholesale changes may be a step too far but I believe that of the 11 players who started the most recent defeat in Perth, at least three should be put out to pasture.

Michael Carberry hasn’t really had much of a chance but Joe Root is the future and should be given back the opening spot. England have been carrying Matt Prior as a batsman for the best part of a year, while enough patience has now been shown to Kevin Pietersen, who continues to bat for himself rather than the team.

Do I know who should replace them? No, because like most other people in the country, I have very little idea about English cricket below the national side.

That’s an issue that needs addressing just as urgently.

Basingstoke Gazette:

Two more Premier League managers get the sack

LAST week, I spoke of the need to give David Moyes time to get things right at Manchester United.

He’s still in situ, but the same cannot be said of two other top flight bosses – Andre Villas Boas and Steve Clarke.

With Spurs losing 5-0 at home to Liverpool, not long after they had been spanked 6-0 at Manchester City, the departure of AVB was predictable.

That’s not to say that it was the right call. AVB will go down in history as one of the most successful Spurs managers ever, win percentage wise, while this season he was having to deal with the loss of his star player.

Spurs fans are a funny bunch. It seems they would rather lose a game 5-4 than win it 1-0. A colleague of mine was asked what she thought of AVB’s sacking and she said she was pleased, mainly due to the Portuguese’s chosen style of play.

“We’ve never played with one up front,” she added. I somehow resisted the temptation to point out that they’ve never won much either.

Like Moyes at United, AVB’s problems can be traced back to the summer. Spurs couldn’t turn down Real Madrid’s offer for Gareth Bale but their approach to spending the windfall they received from his sale was scattergun to say the least.

Roberto Soldado, Christian Eriksen and Paulinho are all good players – but I’d suggest that Spurs would have been better off if they had been the only signings of the summer.

The others, including record buy Erik Lamela, have not fitted in and bringing in so many players must have made AVB’s job very difficult.

Technical director Franco Baldini must shoulder at least some of the blame for this, particularly as it appears AVB didn’t really want all of the players thrust upon him.

If AVB’s sacking was harsh but understandable, Steve Clarke’s departure from West Brom defies belief.

The hierarchy at the Hawthorns need to have a long, hard look at themselves. What do they expect a medium-sized club like West Brom to achieve? The title? A place in the top four?

Clarke worked wonders by guiding the club to eighth last season but surely a successful season for the Baggies is a mid-table finish and a decent cup run.

Things may not have been going well of late but I could not see West Brom in a relegation scrap under Clarke. Now that he has gone, I’m not so sure.

In fact, I think that both West Brom and Spurs will do worse now they have made managerial changes.

Have your say on these issues by using the comment box below or Tweet me @JBoymanGazette

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