Sydney: Coach Andy Flower warned today there was more pain to come in the wake of England's Ashes series meltdown in Australia.
Australia completed a 5-0 clean sweep on Sunday, routing the hapless tourists for 166 off just 31.4 overs to carry off a 281-run victory in three days in the Sydney Test. Such was the magnitude of the series defeat that major ramifications are expected for English cricket, just months after they beat Australia 3-0 in England.
Flower said he would not identify individual players facing the chop, with reports that high-profile batsman Kevin Pietersen, one of the big English failures in the series, was under pressure. Pietersen, who averages just over 47 in 104 Tests, was dismissed for three and six in the final Test to finish with 294 runs in the series at 29.40.
Flower, who has said he will not be standing down as team coach, said he was prepared to make tough decisions, while admitting the nightmare series was the end of an era. Asked directly whether Pietersen would be part of England's future, Flower told reporters: "This will be a new start, and so it should be.
"It does feel like the end of some type of era. 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."
As well as speculation over the future of Pietersen, 31-year-old wicketkeeper Matt Prior, who was dropped for the last two Tests, could also face the axe. "I'm not going to discuss individuals, but looking at it a little more holistically, I think it will be the start of something new," Flower said. "I think Alastair Cook as captain can lead that renewal and rebuilding (of) the England cricket side.
"We're not proud of (the Sydney Test). And we're not proud of the Test series result, of course. "It's quite a bitter pill to swallow. But that's what it is and we have to face up to that reality."
England have five months before they host Sri Lanka for a two-Test series, by which time a full review into the Australia debacle is expected to be completed. Cook said after the Sydney defeat that he knows what it takes to rebuild shattered England.
He said he has been given a vote of confidence from the England and Wales Cricket Board to continue as captain as England look to regroup after sliding to fourth in the International Cricket Council rankings, below Australia at three. "I am desperate to try and turn it around. I feel as if I am the right man to do it," he said at his post-match conference.
"If I'm not and people higher up want a change because they think that's the best way, I have to take it on the chin."
Cook had a wretched series, scoring just 246 runs at 24.60 after being the man of the last series in Australia in 2010/11, when he amassed 766 runs at 127.66. Leading spinner Graeme Swann announced his retirement midway through the series, while number three batsman Jonathan Trott returned home after the first Test suffering from stress.
Australian media hail 'Unchangeables'
Australian media hail 'Unchangeables'
Sydney: Australia's media today hailed their cobbled together bunch of rejects and recycled players for their decimation of England in a crushing Ashes series whitewash.
Michael Clarke's Australians inflicted a comprehensive 281-run victory in just three days in the final Sydney Test on Sunday to become only the third Australian side to thrash England 5-0 in a series. "Never before in 137 years of Test cricket has Australia decimated England so completely, winning the fifth Test inside three days to finish with all 100 English wickets in a series for the first time," The Sydney Daily Telegraph's Malcolm Conn said.
"And they did it as the Unchangeables, taking the same XI players through all five Tests after the selectors recalled man of the series Mitchell Johnson, 32, and his closest rival for the award, Brad Haddin."
The Australian newspaper's Peter Lalor said the whitewash was special because "nothing remotely similar was expected of this lot". "Clarke's men had lost 4-0 in India and then 3-0 in England a few months back. It has sacked a coach, auditioned more batsmen and bowlers than a television talent contest and navigated a path as bleak as any travelled by an Australian team," he wrote.
"England won a handful of sessions but was soundly beaten from Brisbane to Sydney. The home side did it with a reconstituted opener in Chris Rogers, a resurrected bowler in Mitchell Johnson, a reappointed wicket-keeper in Brad Haddin and a rediscovered sense of how to play cricket the Australian way."
The Australian's Wayne Smith said English opener Michael Carberry's bat snapping in half as he pushed forward to defend on Sunday was rich in symbolism amid the carnage of the team's final collapse of the series.
"Perhaps, in the absence of the real symbol of Ashes supremacy, the tiny terracotta urn that is regarded as so fragile it lives almost permanently in the MCC Museum at Lord's, Carberry might be prevailed upon to leave his wounded bat here on these shores as a treasured reminder of one of Australia's greatest Ashes triumphs," Smith said.
He added that "greatness" has never been a word applied to Clarke's side. "That's what most rankles the English about this series, that their mighty team, so recently ranked number one in world cricket, has been brought low by a team of, well, plodders."
Fairfax Media's Chris Barrett said the annihilation of England has left an Australian team that were in the doldrums only six months ago feeling on top of the world. "They're not quite there yet -- the savage beating of England over the past eight weeks confirms a leap to number three in the ICC Test world rankings with a visit to top nation South Africa on the horizon next month," he said.
"But as Nathan Lyon led them in the team song in the middle of the SCG soon after play it was hard to escape the belief they again are a side to be reckoned with."
Watson feels vindicated by Ashes victory
Watson feels vindicated by Ashes victory
SYDNEY: - Australia allrounder Shane Watson says the 5-0 Ashes clean sweep against England and the team's sharp improvement under coach Darren Lehmann had vindicated his own opposition to the methods of previous coach Mickey Arthur.
Watson had well-publicized issues with Arthur and said on Monday that international cricket had become fun again since Lehmann took charge last year. "Personally it makes it more sweet," Watson said. "To know that there were times when I knew I had to stand strong with my beliefs. "I certainly would never take back how I stood and voiced my opinions at certain times. It makes it all worthwhile."
Watson was one of four players suspended from a test against India early last year for failing to complete an off-field written assignment set by Arthur. He immediately returned to Australia and admitted he considered his future in international cricket.
Watson said the transformation of Australia's mindset had been immediate under former test batsman Lehmann, who took over from the fired Arthur at short notice just prior to the 2013 Ashes series in England.
"Darren Lehmann comes in and within one day just turns that all around," he said. "It just made me know that what I was standing strong for were the right reasons and always was.
"This is the time of my life, it really is. And I know how lucky I am to be involved in such a special environment because it doesn't always come along."
Watson said the players lost their enjoyment of cricket under Arthur, who had been a highly successful coach with South Africa and at first-class level before taking the Australia job. "That had gone out the window," he said. "It was more so you had to be desperate and put every other part of your life on hold to become the best player and best team in the world instead of just getting the perfect balance.
"And Darren knew that from experience and that's what he implemented."