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
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
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

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat