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Ian Botham
Cricket Expert and Columnist

Ashes 2013/14: England have to make changes for Sydney after fourth hammering

Timid tourists seem scared of their own shadows and unable to play their natural game...

Sir Ian Botham says England must make changes to their team if they are to avoid a humiliating 5-0 Ashes whitewash in Sydney.

Cook disappointed with loss

Alastair Cook's beleaguered side is 4-0 down after a chastening eight-wicket defeat in Melbourne, where they imploded in their second innings to set Australia a victory target of 231.

Opener Chris Rogers made the most of two lives - on 19 and 81 - to cruise to 116 as the home side, 30-0 overnight, got home in 51.5 overs.

Hammered

"We've had four games and we're 4-0 down," Botham told Sky Sports. "We haven't been beaten, we've been hammered in every single game. Nothing has been close - it has not even been close to being close.

"So change has to happen - you have to do something. I'm not saying change the whole team but if a football manager lost four games like that being hammered, he wouldn't even have a job.

"The one I think should have played - and he should have played in Perth, is Boyd Rankin. England have brought the big lad along, they wanted him for the extra bounce. Perth is where it was going to bounce and it did a bit here early on too.

What's gone wrong with England?

"I don't see the point in bringing these guys and saying 'we're going to take three tall, quick bowlers and give it a go' and then not play them.

"They discovered that Chris Tremlett's pace was down in the first game and apparently Steven Finn is having all kinds of problems with confidence, so Rankin is the man there. He's strong, he's big and he bowls as quick as Tremlett and Finn, why don't we give him a go?"

Timid

Before the series Botham confidently predicted that England would win the series 5-0 but the tourists have suffered a string of embarrassing collapses to make a mockery of the prediction.

After losing six wickets for nine runs in the first innings in Brisbane, and 4-9 in the second innings there, another four wickets fell for six runs in the first innings in Adelaide.

England then endured a double collapse in their second innings in Melbourne, losing 3-1 at the top of the order and then 5-6 as they were bowled out for 179 to let a promising match position slip.

"It's just not good enough - it really isn't," said Botham. "A lot of the batsmen come out and look as if they are scared to play a shot; they scratch around, they dig holes for themselves, they go nowhere and they allow the Australian bowlers to keep plugging away. No pressure is put on the Australian bowlers.

"Nathan Lyon took 5-50 on a wicket that hasn't turned. You've got to be kidding me! He bowled alright and he's done well but it's not a 5-50 wicket.

"England have no ideas - there's nothing positive. Only one or two players are standing up. They almost seem scared of their own shadows. They are timid. Why? Where has this come from? Where is this coming from?

"You've got to go out and play, be positive and believe in your own ability and go out there and play your natural game.

"These guys are not playing their natural game. Michael Carberry didn't, for example. There's no way that Nathan Lyon in a county game in England would be able to bowl to him as he did. The same goes for Joe Root, who is a good player of spin.

"What has been put in their heads before they get out there? Let these guys relax, let them play. They are obviously under some pressure from within because they are all scared to play a shot.

"I expected England to come and play cricket. They haven't done that. They've gone into their shells. I don't know what it is - stage fright?"

Watch day one of the fifth and final Test match between Australia and England from 10.30pm on Thursday on Sky Sports 2.