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.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
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

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes