England can learn from Ashes defeat, says Dean Headley

Photo:SM200312-014ow'Launch of England Masters Twenty20 at Stamford School.  Pictured, former England cricketer and Stamford School coach Dean Headley.
Photo:SM200312-014ow'Launch of England Masters Twenty20 at Stamford School. Pictured, former England cricketer and Stamford School coach Dean Headley.
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Former England cricketer Dean Headley says he is as surprised as anyone at England’s shock 5-0 Ashes loss in Australia.

But the Stamford School cricket coach believes that, looking on the bright side, there will now be opportunities for plenty of youngsters to come through and stake a claim for a place in the squad.

On Sunday, England were on the receiving end of a fifth consecutive defeat in the series, leaving them victims of only their third ever whitewash at the hands of Australia in the 130-year history of the Ashes.

The team were thoroughly outplayed in each Test match and recorded their lowest ever runs total in an Ashes series, making just 2,030, at an average of 203 runs per innings.

Dean, who starred in two Ashes series during the 1990s, had predicted a tighter contest for England than in their 3-0 win over the Australians on home soil last summer, but did not envisage the annihilation that followed.

He said: “I don’t think anyone could have predicted a 5-0 scoreline. It was a wake-up call to say the least.

“I don’t think England knew what to do and Australia skittled us.

“But hopefully, it will make people focus, and so I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing. People can go on and say it’s all doom and gloom but I see it as an opportunity for young players coming through to get in the side and really take their chance.”

Dean believes England did not help themselves by playing safe and predictable cricket but also said that Australia did not get the credit they deserved.

Dean, who played for Kent and Middlesex during his career, said: “I think England played quite safe cricket. Against minor teams it’s alright but when you play against teams with a spark, like Australia or South Africa, you need something else.

“Jonathan Trott has been the rock of the team, batting at number three but he was challenged.

“Our batsman were really put under pressure by Australia and that meant our bowlers were really up against it.

“I think people were being harsh on Australia by saying they were one of the worst Australian sides ever, because I’ve not seen a team play so well as a unit for many a year.”

Following the crushing defeat, calls have been made for captain Alastair Cook and team director Andy Flower to resign.

And the future of senior players such as batsman Kevin Pietersen and bowler Jimmy Anderson have also been called into question.

However, Dean wants England to keep its core of senior players and refrain from making wholesale changes for next summer’s home Test series against Sri Lanka and India.

He said: “I don’t think that the main group of players should really change.

“You need to pick your core senior players but you need to make sure it’s a settled dressing room for young players to come into.

“I think Cook is a fine player and this is only the first series he has lost as captain.

“But he will need to learn quickly from this defeat. His opposite number Michael Clarke was inventive and everything he did worked.

“There are changes to be made and this is what the selectors get paid for.

““If England want to move forward they should not chop and change, like they did when I played.

“They need to give players a decent run in the side.”