Who's laughing now?

Ricky Ponting's Australia crush Andrew Strauss's England at Headingley to level Ashes series

England have five days to find a team to save the Ashes. After plunging to defeat yesterday against Australia by an innings and 80 runs, one of their most ignominious displays in the long history of this particular contest, it seems clear that changes must be made for the deciding match at The Oval next week.

Although the tourists have merely drawn level at 1-1 in the 2009 series, the damage they inflicted on the home side in Leeds in the fourth npower Test exposed a multitude of shortcomings. In the immediate aftermath of the reversal both the England captain, Andrew Strauss, and the coach, Andy Flower, insisted that there had to be calm reflection before making any decisions on the team, which will be picked on Saturday. "When we arrive at The Oval next Thursday what's gone counts for nothing," Strauss said. "It's 1-1 in the series and winner takes all. You need 11 guys to stand up and want it enough, be desperate enough to win and if you get that you have a good chance of winning."

While England were spineless, Australia were ruthless, which delighted their captain, Ricky Ponting. "You can't ask for anything more," the captain said. "We couldn't have done anything better. We've had an unbelievably good game and almost every chance that was created was taken."

At least England gave a packed Headingley something to cheer on the third morning as an improbable eighth-wicket partnership between Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann yielded 108 runs from 80 balls. But their cavalier strokeplay, with nothing by then to lose, could not disguise what had gone before.

From the first ball of a match in which England could have won the Ashes, they were simply not up to scratch against an Australia side which had peaked perfectly. Panic and freneticism infused their play throughout. The batsmen played with the air of condemned men and the bowlers might as well have hanged themselves.

The middle order is the most pressing concern for the selectors and every England cricket fan. With Kevin Pietersen out of the team it has taken on a dangerously brittle look. If it was porcelain it would break into a thousand pieces if someone simply breathed over it.

Numbers three, four and five contributed a total of 16 runs for six times out at Headingley. Small wonder there are calls for sweeping change, with Ravi Bopara, who has scored 105 runs in four matches, and Ian Bell, 64 in two, most at risk. As ever the fitness of Andrew Flintoff will be crucial to the balance and he sees a specialist today. Mark Ramprakash and Rob Key are being mentioned as possible replacements. Jonathan Trott, the South African who was called up to the Leeds squad, is bound to be seriously considered, though he can hardly be considered at No 3.

"We mustn't get carried away," Strauss said. "If you're thinking about wholesale changes I would be very resistant to that but we have to make a judgement call." After the events of the three days in Leeds, nobody would be confident that the call would be the right one.

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Nigel Farage arrives for a hustings event at The Oddfellows Hall in Ramsgate on Tuesday
voicesA defection that shows who has the most to fear from Ukip
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Life and Style
Brave step: A live collection from Alexander McQueen whose internet show crashed because of high demand
fashionAs the collections start, Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution