Andrew Strauss must oversee post-Ashes changes... England cannot tour Australia relying on medium-fasts and part-time spin bowlers ever again
- England's thrashing in the Ashes was the latest in a long line of away Test defeats
- Their away record is abysmal because England's bowlers are so reliant on swing
- A plan B is needed and for that England require raw pace or a specialist spinner
- England director of cricket Andrew Strauss must ensure the team get both ASAP
As usual, the focus after an Ashes defeat is falling on the coach — but to just discuss the future of Trevor Bayliss would be to ignore the real issue here.
Are England a very good side when they play at home in Test cricket? Yes, but their rare wins away from home — such as against South Africa in 2015-16 — have come when there has been lateral movement for the bowlers. So what do they do when the ball doesn't move? This is the real question that needs answering.
England's away record is abysmal, and it's not just in India and Australia. They ended up drawing their last series in the Caribbean against a 'mediocre' West Indies side, according to ECB chairman Colin Graves, and they have failed to win in Bangladesh and New Zealand in recent years, too.
England director of cricket Andrew Strauss has plenty of work to do after a poor Ashes tour
England's thrashing at the hands of Australia was the latest in a long line of away Test defeats
England don't win series abroad when the ball doesn't move because they don't have a plan B and don't have the right players to cope with changing conditions, and we can't lose sight of this amid talk of Bayliss's contract and having separate coaches for the Test and limited-overs sides.
Split coaching may help to a certain degree, as the problem with having a foreign coach is that they are always on the road — even when they're in England, which is why they often last no longer than four or five years. This will take a lot out of the coach and limit the number of new players he can watch playing as he is constantly with the team.
But planning for future series, particularly in Australia, is a much more important issue — and Andrew Strauss's role in this is huge. England can't seem to produce Test-quality spinners and fast bowlers — or if they are producing them, why aren't they being picked?
Look at the planning for this Ashes tour. Ben Stokes in not selectable so they pick Steven Finn. Finn gets injured, but instead of turning to one of their promising, young quicks they pick another 80mph right-armer in Tom Curran. Nothing against Curran, but he's just not going to bowl sides out in Australia.
England say they planned well for this series with the players available, but planning should have started years ago so the right type of player to win in Australia WAS available. If I were Strauss right now I would be writing a note and sticking it in a draw somewhere at the ECB, saying: 'We will never go to Australia again without an out-and-out fast bowler and with a part-time spinner as our No 1'.
It's easy to say this now, but in the build-up to the next away Ashes series the medium-fasts and part-time spinners will start winning them games again on home soil and it will be tempting, as it was last year, to stick with these same players abroad.
England's decision to call on 80mph right-armer in Tom Curran instead of a promising, young quick as a replacement for Steven Finn highlighted their poor preparation for the Ashes series
Moeen Ali was relied upon too much and England need a specialist spinner as soon as possible
England will have to be ruthless and acknowledge that this type of attack will not win them games away from home. They may end up turning to the likes of Moeen Ali, who took 30 wickets at 21 apiece last summer, and Chris Woakes and telling them they are not part of their plans for Australia.
Strauss is an intelligent man and has known for a while that England need to produce more fast bowlers and spinners, but this is very difficult to do in England with our schedule. The county schedule isn't going to change any time soon, and I find it absolutely ridiculous that the T20 Blast will run along side the new city-based competition in the middle of the summer.
It's far too much white-ball cricket in the best part of the summer when the spinners and faster bowlers should be coming to the fore. If they can't change the county structure, England must centrally contract some handpicked young fast bowlers and spinners and take them abroad to improve their skills so they are ready for battles away from home.
We need to look at the big picture, and if England yet again just focus on the coach after this latest Ashes defeat then they will fall into the same trap they always do.
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