Ashes 2021-22: Botham attacks 'gutless' England as Cook says team have hit rock bottom

By Sports Desk January 16, 2022

Ian Botham led an onslaught of criticism for England's Ashes failures after Joe Root's team capitulated pitifully to lose the final Test in Hobart.

Botham was joined by fellow former England captains Alastair Cook, Michael Vaughan and David Gower in picking apart another wretched display, with Australia tying up a 4-0 series victory.

England sit at the foot of the World Test Championship, and Botham said the culture of English cricket needed to change, with the heavy emphasis on domestic limited-overs competitions harming the five-day team.

Speaking on Channel 7, Botham said: "It's been embarrassing, if I'm honest. Gutless.

"The way they performed today disappointed me and will have disappointed everyone back home."

England went from 68-0 to 124 all out, the final ignominy from a shambolic tour performance as Australia won by 146 runs.

"The one thing we need to do right now is take our heads out of the sand and pull together and prioritise red-ball cricket," Botham said. "If we're not careful, the eskimos will be beating us."

Cook, Joe Root's predecessor as captain, found it a jarring watch as England went from building a solid foundation to outright carnage, unable to hold back Australia's victory charge.

"There was no resilience there. As soon as they get under pressure, you seen how much resolve there is," Cook said.

"That was very, very tough viewing and that has to be our rock bottom. There cannot be any worse a place in terms of getting bowled out in an hour and a half."

Speaking on BT Sport, Cook added: "As a batter and a professional who plays games of cricket, you get bowled out in a session once or twice in a career.

"You see a batting line-up devoid of all confidence and belief, that once you lose one wicket or two wickets, nobody's going to step up and stop that slide.

"You can talk all you want about it in the dressing room, but until some people grab this team by the scruff of the neck and move it forward themselves, I can't see what's changed."

Vaughan, on Twitter, said England had carried through 2021's "year of the batting collapse" into this year, adding: "You can cope with losing but not when you throw the towel in."

Gower suggested the positive messages that Root and coach Chris Silverwood attempted to deliver were misleading.

"I think we understand very easily that neither Joe Root or Chris Silverwood are going to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth under these circumstances," Gower said.

"Both are under pressure for different reasons. Joe has handled it well, kept a smile on his face. When you see him run out to bat today you can see there is a man who wants to do his best to finish on a high note, but he is not being supported.

"Silverwood's role is a different one because he is fully implicated in selection, and selection's been one of the huge talking points on this tour, right from Brisbane onwards."

For the first Test at the Gabba, England went into the match and series with star bowlers Stuart Broad and James Anderson mystifyingly left on the sidelines.

"There were jaws dropping at home and in Brisbane when the team was announced and when events unfolded," Gower said.

Also speaking on BT Sport, Gower said he had "genuine sympathy" for Root given the focus on white-ball cricket. Although England won the World Cup, in Test cricket they are firmly in the doldrums.

"This is the oldest, most important form of the game," Gower said. "We need to defend it, we need an England team that plays it well, that is not languishing at the foot ... barely even at the foot of the World Test Championship.

"These things really annoy people and apparently it's really annoying me at the moment.

"When you're going to try to be constructive, you look at personnel for sure, so there will be people fearing for their position in the side. Then you also have to consider who else is there to take over. There are players out there who would hope they might get a go as a result of other people's failures, but they've got to show character."

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    Backs

    Henry Arundell (London Irish), Orlando Bailey (Bath Rugby), Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby), Fraser Dingwall (Northampton Saints), Owen Farrell (Saracens), Tommy Freeman (Northampton Saints), George Furbank (Northampton Saints), Will Joseph (London Irish), Louis Lynagh (Harlequins), Alex Mitchell (Northampton Saints), Harry Randall (Bristol Bears), Marcus Smith (Harlequins), Freddie Steward (Leicester Tigers), Manu Tuilagi (Sale Sharks), Jack van Poortvliet (Leicester Tigers), Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby).

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