Ashes 2013-14: Five things for England to urgently look at before the Fourth Test in Melbourne

The series is over in terms of the urn - but there is much to be learned from the final two Tests

Doing nothing is not an option

Wholesale changes, whatever they are, never work but England pride themselves on having systems in place which are supposed to ensure an eternally smooth progress through life. In a way, it is a relief that all the systems ever invented are powerless when you come up against a better team. It is the nature of sport.

But there is obviously something amiss with a side that has lost three successive matches by huge margins. It is simply wrong to keep insisting they are the best around if they keep losing. If the systems are that perfect – and we keep being told they are – there ought to be ready-made replacements. Of course, there aren’t but the concept should be worth testing.

Examine the whole approach to batting

The repeated mantra of anybody being interviewed on behalf of the England team is that there is a lot of talent in that dressing room. Nobody doubts their belief but it is becoming harder to swallow.

England have made above 400 in the first innings in only one of their last 14 matches. But the signs of decline have been there since the heavy loss to Pakistan in the UAE early last year. In the 14 matches before that tour England made 400 in the first innings nine times, frequently above 500. A review of the order, especially Alastair Cook’s place in it if he is to stay as captain, as well as the approach is urgently needed.

Look at the next  wicketkeeper

It is wholly correct that Matt Prior has been given an extended period in which to try to rediscover his form, he has been a magnificent player for the cause. But for 10 Test matches he has been short of the necessary stuff and his poor batting form has started to affect his wicketkeeping.

Somebody else probably deserves a bash but England have made the mistake on this tour of not picking the second best wicketkeeper batsman. It is probable that Jonny Bairstow should be seriously considered for the fourth Test in Melbourne but the selectors do not view him as the long-term successor, something they should have thought about.

What to do about the gun bowlers?

There is no easy answer to this. But Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann have had dreadful series. Swann, who took 26 wickets in the home Ashes last summer has seven in this and has regularly been despatched. Anderson, too, has got seven wickets and both have looked shadows of their former selves.

Anderson is 31, Swann is 34 but this hardly makes them ancient for swing and spin bowlers. They should play the rest of this series but after that England have to start looking elsewhere. The planning for the 2015 Ashes cannot start a moment too soon.

Think about the next captain just in case

If the future is planned it would be fascinating to know who is designated as the next captain, just in case it does not work out for Cook.

While Cook is entitled to one bad series, it cannot be in his or the side’s best interests if England lose this series 5-0 and his form fails to improve. There are other options but Prior is the vice-captain and Stuart Broad probably next in line as Twenty20 captain. It is hard to see Broad taking over. Jimmy Whittaker, the new chairman of selectors, has much to ponder.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before