CRICKET: Russell critical of England's tactics in Australia
GLOUCESTERSHIRE legend Jack Russell said England’s batsmen ‘lacked brain power’ during their 5-0 Ashes defeat in Australia.
The former England wicketkeeper, who was part of the touring party to Australia in 1990-91, also believes the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior will have their Test careers brought to an end if they do not learn from their mistakes soon.
England went into the series as favourites on the back of their 3-0 triumph at home last summer, but they were beaten heavily in all five Tests, going down by 381 runs in Brisbane, 218 runs in Adelaide, 150 runs in Perth, eight wickets in Melbourne and 281 runs in Sydney.
Russell said: “It’s been coming for a while. We didn’t play well last winter (drawn 0-0 series in New Zealand) and got away with it in the summer but we got found out.
“The batting has been disappointing. We want to play a fast game and be dominant but sometimes you need to be patient. When we have, it’s not been for long enough to cause any damage.
“Sometimes we seem to have fallen into a trap where we think we need to smack it around to be dominant.
“I couldn’t play Test matches now because I didn’t hit enough sixes.
“Ben Stokes played well and sensibly, Alastair Cook’s done it in the odd period, and Kevin Pietersen a couple of times but he’s got 50 or 70 and lost patience. We’ve been out-thought and haven’t had the mentality to come through it.
“We spent three Test matches trying to hook bouncers. There’s nothing in the rules to say you have to do that, just leave it.
“There have been good balls that have got batsmen out, so it’s half that, but the other half is a lack of brain power. We haven’t got the mentality to get hundreds in singles.
“Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. We’ve been playing the same way for two or three years. If you look at the tours we’ve struggled in the first Test match in the last four or five years because the batsmen haven’t adapted to the conditions.
“We haven’t had the brain power to adapt. If you can’t do that, you’ve got no chance.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a team constantly play so badly.”
England coach Andy Flower and captain Cook have received heavy criticism following the whitewash, but Russell thinks wholesale changes are unnecessary.
He has also backed wicketkeeper Prior to be given another chance to rediscover his form with Jonny Bairstow failing to impress when he took his place for the final two Tests.
Russell said: “He needs to learn to bat a different way but he averages 40-odd so deserves to come back in.
“Cook is still learning and we don’t want to go down the football route where the players don’t do their job and the manager gets sacked.
“Some of the field placings were odd but Cook will be a better captain and Flower will be a better coach.
“The senior players need to work it out fast otherwise their careers will be over.
“Unless they improve mentally, do the hard yards and work out what is happening, Prior and Pietersen will be left out.
“They’re still good players technically, it’s just mentally they haven’t got it right.
“One or two youngsters came in so I think we can look on with excitement and work out how to get the Ashes back.”