Ashes 2013/14: 'Hard part is staying at the summit,' says former Australia coach John Buchanan

Buchanan believes England failed to build on their recent success

John Buchanan was the man who oversaw Australia’s remarkable period of domination that saw them rule the cricketing world for the best part of two decades. He was also the man who led Australia to a series whitewash against England – a 5-0 mauling in 2006-07 that has eerie echoes in the disaster that the current Ashes tour is becoming.

His contribution to the all-conquering Australian side has been questioned in the past, most notably by Shane Warne, but when he left his post, shortly after the 2007 World Cup, Australia’s fortunes endured an unimaginable slump. Staying at the top is a trick England have failed to master, falling from the Test summit almost as soon as they got there.

“It’s always harder once you’re at the top because everybody – be it the business world, the corporate world or the sporting world – tries to copy what you’re doing, grabs the IP [intellectual property] and then improves on it,” Buchanan told The Independent.

Buchanan points to England employing Australian bowling coaches Troy Cooley and David Saker as evidence of the latter. But while England saw reaching No 1 as their primary target, the 60-year-old Queenslander believes that should only have been the start. 

“When you’re at the top you have to understand that that’s just the starting point – the base camp to doing bigger and better things,” he says. “Provided you can keep the message fresh and keep the environment stimulating and challenging and really appreciate winning then you can keep your group really at a point where they’re determined to stay where they are and set new benchmarks.

“There’s no question that we couldn’t have achieved what we did over the period that we did without great players. But it’s about more than great players. Brad Hogg, an unheralded spin bowler, really carried our one-day fortunes in 2003 all the way to 2007. We had a number of players coming in and out but at the same stage we were able to retain a core of batters, bowlers and a keeper that were really the rocks on which we built long-term performance.”

Although England relinquished the world No 1 spot to South Africa, they had been playing consistently good cricket in recent times. That has well and truly deserted them Down Under. The pace of Mitchell Johnson and the unrelenting aggression of Michael Clarke’s side have unsettled England to an extent that few could have envisaged at the end of the summer.

“It seems to have intimidated some of them,” says Buchanan. “I think that [Stuart] Broad was the only one who was really prepared for the onslaught in the first Test match and that’s because he knew what was coming his way. This is a throwback to real hostile bowling and nobody really wants to face that.

 “Irrespective of these two Test matches and the series, though, this is just a snapshot in time so until we get to see a bit more of the movie you can’t make an individual assessment on players within the group.”

Buchanan also gives praise to coach Darren Lehmann’s impact on the Australia team. He took over in difficult circumstances following the sacking of his predecessor Mickey Arthur on the eve of this summer’s Ashes. However, he has not just steadied the ship but also set it on course to regain the urn. That represents a remarkable turnaround for a team who appeared in inexorable decline just six months ago.

“It was a pretty toxic environment so any change that he brought in, especially in terms of team culture, was going to be welcomed,” the man who once guided Australia to a world record 16 consecutive Test said.

“It takes some time to have an effect and I’m sure it was by the end of the Ashes tour in England. It had certainly taken shape by the start of the series here and it’s amazing how little things can help, like winning the toss in Brisbane and a couple of dropped catches. Suddenly Australia are in the driving seat and haven’t looked back.”

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
newsChester Zoo have revealed their newest members
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
The video, titled 'A Message to America', was released a day after Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that has overrun large parts of Iraq, threatened to attack Americans 'in any place'. U.S. officials said they were working to determine the video's authenticity
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape