Ashes: should Pietersen escape England axe as inquest begins?

England start planning for 2015, and not many of current team are expected to survive

BY Jonathan Harwood LAST UPDATED AT 11:17 ON Wed 18 Dec 2013

THE INQUEST into England's Ashes humiliation is underway with the futures of many of the team, comprehensively outplayed by an unfancied Australia side, now in question and the very future of the sport in the spotlight.

The surrender of the urn means the "beginning of a period of introspection for all connected with English cricket", says Jonathan Agnew of the BBC. And he calls for media pundits like himself to be given a say in how the game, and the England set-up, is run.

"We write on this team every day. Sometimes we are right, sometimes we are wrong, but we do watch a lot of cricket and can offer an opinion on the direction in which England should go," he argues.

So what do the pundits prescribe?

Having called for a say in how things are run Agnew then goes on to acknowledge that there is no obvious answer to England's woes. But he insists: "England cannot keep putting out the same players that aren't performing, because more of the same will result in 5-0. But, it's a question of how radical they [the selectors] want to be."

The side built by coach Andy Flower and former captain Andrew Strauss is obviously in decline says Mike Atherton in The Times. "Circumstances, the game, the opposition or a combination of all three have chipped away at the core of this team."

The travails of wicketkeeper Matt Prior illustrate the problem. His fall from grace since being crowned cricketer of the year in 2012 has been abrupt. But Atherton points out that other key players like Jonathan Trott (even before he left the tour), James Anderson, Grame Swann and Kevin Pietersen have all been found out. And those players are singled out by most other commentators.

But it's not just form. England's attention to detail has lapsed as well. "England came here unsure of their opening combination, unsure of who was to bat at No 6 and trumpeted three giant fast bowlers, none of whom played a central role in the series," points out Atherton.

It is time to look to the future, says Mike Selvey in The Guardian. Of the XI that played in Perth only Joe Root, Ian Bell, Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad are certain to be around in 2015 when Australia visit England. Anderson and possibly Tim Bresnan may still be in contention, but "how Kevin Pietersen fits into this is hard to gauge," he adds. "If his ambition is still there then so should he be".

As for the next Test he calls for the inclusion of Jonny Bairstow, fast bowler Boyd Rankin and spinner Monty Panesar. "The changes have to start now, as far as they can," he says.

What England need is "evolution not revolution" argues Robin Scott-Elliot in The Independent, but he identifies the need for a new spinner, wicketkeeper, opening bowler and opening batsman.

However, he calls time on Pietersen's career. "If simply selecting the six best English batsmen Pietersen would still be among that number. But it is no longer as simple as that; it is time to move on," he states.

Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph runs the rule over five young players who could be in the frame by 2015. Their list features two young fast bowlers in Tymal Mills and Jamie Overton (who get plenty of mentions elsewhere), wicketkeeper Ben Foakes and spinners Scott Borthwick and Simon Kerrigan, who endured a nightmare Test debut in the final Ashes Test of the summer. · 

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