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Should England ring the changes for Boxing Day?

Australian cricketer Steve Smith (left) catches out England batsman Matt Prior. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Roar Pro
17th December, 2013
11

Much will be written about the state of both Australian and English cricket teams at the conclusion of the current series. In England, however, there is no doubt that the postmortems will already begin.

Put simply, the spine of the English team needs to be accountable. Time and again throughout the series thus far, the most experienced players in the English team have been at fault and let their less experienced counterparts down.

Let’s recap their performances…

Alastair Cook
Hasn’t been able to find his mojo this tour. The Australians seem to have worked him out.

For a fleeting moment in this test in Perth, he looked a little shadow of his former self, but it wasn’t sustained.

His captaincy, too, has lacked imagination and vigour.

Michael Carberry
This guy has been possibly the most consistent batsman on tour. That said, he can’t seem to get beyond a ‘start’.

If he can convert these starts into tons, then he will hold his place long term.

Joe Root
Bats with a great temperament and patience beyond his baby-faced years. A long-term number three if Trott fails to return to international cricket.

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Failing that, possibly an opener to bat with his skipper if Carberry doesn’t work out as an option.

Kevin Pietersen
Throughout this series, time and again, KP has looked unable to manage his ego when batting.

He has chimed in on very rare occasions to inspire his younger teammates, but has not contributed in any major way this series.

Thoroughly disappointing in every way, his career is on the line on Boxing Day. What does he want his legacy to be?

At the moment, for me, he is not respecting his teammates enough through his performances and needs to be punted.

Ian Bell
I love this guy. While he may not have contributed to the extent that he is capable of (and let’s face it, in England, he dominated the entire Aussie attack) his natural ability dictates he must move up the order.

Ben Stokes
Impressive – really impressive.

His ton in the second innings should’ve been a lesson to KP and others. Let’s hope they were watching.

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I’m tipping a massive Ashes series from him in 2015.

Matt Prior
He’s had a test in Perth he’d rather forget.

Well, a series for that matter. His batting has been woeful and his glove-work not much better.

Similar to KP, I’d suggest his career goes on the line on Boxing Day in Melbourne. Do they play Jonny Bairstow as a keeper?

Stuart Broad
Injury aside, he has been England’s shining light throughout the three Tests. Undoubtedly one of the best bowlers in the world, he can bat too.

Most importantly, he plays with guts, tenacity and doesn’t take a backward step. His spot is safe as houses.

Tim Bresnan
Only played one Test thus far, so hard to judge. Should hold his place in the team for now, particularly with Broad’s injury.

Graeme Swann
Throughout the tour has been a shadow of his former self. He did bowl well in Australia’s second innings in Perth without a lot of luck and Prior’s poor keeping didn’t help.

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He is one of four playing for his future this Boxing Day. He may be just lucky that Monty Panesar is the only other option…

James Anderson
It’s hard to fathom how one of England’s greatest ever fast bowlers was smacked around the WACA for 28 runs off one over by George Bailey.

Anderson hasn’t bowled anywhere near his best this series. Will this tour be his swansong?

So with all that in mind, does England make wholesale changes before Boxing Day or after? Is there a point in carrying players that aren’t performing, even if they’ve played 100 tests?

I don’t think so. England need to blood players this tour, just as they have with Stokes.

Do you feed new players to the wolves and blood them in front of 100,000 on Boxing Day, or wait until Sydney?

For what it’s worth, as an Australian fan, here’s my English XI for Boxing Day (assuming Broad is clear of injury): Cook, Carberry, Root, Bell, Gary Ballance, Stokes, Prior, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Anderson.

England need to rediscover something and quick – Australia has outplayed them in every aspect of the game this series.

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A whitewash is absolutely on the cards, unless something drastic changes.