England’s coach and captain are both angry after their descent to an Ashes whitewash and determined to make up for the embarrassment.
Andy Flower, who confirmed unequivocally in the aftermath of a 281-run defeat in the final Test at Sydney that he will be continuing as coach and team director, made it clear too that he and captain Alastair Cook are seething over their team’s shambolic under-performance.
He is intent on putting things right, whatever it takes, ideally before England’s next Test against Sri Lanka at Lord’s in June – and certainly in time for the 2015 Ashes rematch.
Flower added a slightly uncomfortable caveat that England supporters may need to be patient, such is the apparent remedial work necessary, before results improve.
It is a moot point whether that means England will still be a work in progress by the time world No 2 side India arrive for a five-Test series next summer.
Asked if he felt angry, less than 24 hours after England had folded to defeat at the SCG well inside three days, Flower said: “Yes, in a word. I’m glad Alastair is as well. So we should be. This has been a bad loss.”
There will doubtless be an outcry in some quarters, and demands for heads like Flower’s to roll following such a miserable campaign – after England arrived in Australia hoping for a fourth successive Ashes series win. But he knows he has the backing of new England and Wales Cricket Board managing director Paul Downton, and intends to work closely with him to identify which changes are needed.
“As part of our review, we’ll be looking at playing personnel and support staff and making sure we’ve got the right people on board for the future,” Flower said. “This will be a new start, and so it should be.
“We might have to take a little more pain before we have sustained success again, and we might have to ask for a little patience in that regard over the coming months.”
Since taking over from the sacked Peter Moores almost exactly five years ago, Flower has had conspicuous success – with the odd disappointment thrown in – especially while England were rising for the first time to the top of the International Cricket Council Test rankings.
After their hammering here, they are down to fourth and Flower said: “I like to feel pride about the way we go about things. I don’t feel pride in the way we played in this Test series.
“I am proud of my involvement with the England cricket team, and very proud of the results we’ve had over the last however many years we’ve all been working together.
“I think it’s important that we review this logically, and learn from some of the mistakes we’ve made and ensure we get English cricket moving in the right direction again.”
That process has already started, with Downton in town, and further meetings are planned.
As of yesterday, which should merely have been day four of five at the SCG, Flower can hand over direct responsibility to limited-overs coach Ashley Giles – who along with Cook must try to salvage some of that pride, initially in five one-day internationals starting in Melbourne on Sunday.
“Alastair Cook and Ashley Giles will be busy with their challenges here in Australia,” Flower said. “They need to turn this ship around – and with the opposition growing in confidence, that’ll be a tough ask.”
In the longer term, Flower believes he has a little more leeway for what is nonetheless a very big job. “There’s certainly time (to turn things round),” he said.
“You can see how quickly things have moved between last summer and now – so yes, there is time to get things right.”