Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting says England must make significant changes to their batting order if they are to compete in the remaining three Tests of the Magellan Ashes series.
England lost the second Test by 120 runs to go 2-nil down in the series after being blown away by Australia’s rampant bowling attack in less than 23 overs on day five.
Entering the day at 4-176 and needing a further 178 to win, England lost overnight batsmen captain Joe Root and nightwatchman Chris Woakes in the space of the three overs before the tail collapsed and the tourists were all out for 233.
England’s misfiring batting unit has now been bowled out for scores of 302, 196, 227 and 233 in the Ashes, and Ponting says a batting-order reshuffle must take place if they are to put up a fight for the rest of series, which resumes in Perth eight days’ time.
"I think they’ll make a lot of changes for the next Test,” Ponting told cricket.com.au on Wednesday.
"They have to, because what they’ve done so far has not been competitive.
"Joe (Root) has a lot to think about and so does (coach) Trevor Bayliss and just a lot of their players.
"They’ve got to have a good look at themselves and work out how to be competitive in this series.
"You look at their batting. (Opener Mark) Stoneman has looked OK but he looks OK then gets out. (No.3 James) Vince is a bit the same; they play a couple of nice shots but can’t sustain any kind of period of dominance over the bowlers and have a brain fade and play a bad shot.
"(No.5 Dawid) Malan has been the same, he’s occupied the crease but he never looks like he’s going to hurt you.
"And Moeen (Ali) has looked ineffective with the ball and Nathan Lyon has got his measure.
"They’ve got a lot of areas of concern and I still don’t think their batting line-up is right.
"Even again today, Jonny Bairstow looks like their second or third best batsman, as far as I’m concerned, and he’s batting at No.7 and with the gloves on.
"We hear a lot about Ben Foakes being a good player so I wouldn’t be surprised if they move Bairstow up the order next week and bring Foakes into the side and maybe one of Vince or Malan misses."
However, England coach Trevor Bayliss confirmed after play there will be no changes in personnel to England’s Test squad, saying “there is no real need to panic”.
But Ponting says England’s bowlers also failed to fire in the first innings of the match after Root controversially won the toss and elected to bowl.
While England’s seam attack – led by veteran James Anderson – dragged the tourists back into the match with an inspired display of swing bowling using a new pink ball under lights on day three, it only denied the inevitable after the poor showing on day one.
"You can look at (Root’s decision to bowl) a lot of different ways,” Ponting said.
"He decided to give his best bowlers the best of the conditions to bowl in and when the captain does that you need the bowlers to back you up.
"He just didn’t have his bowlers turn up at all on that first morning.
"They were way too short, didn’t look like they were really in for the contest, to be fair.
"His bowlers have let him down badly.
"Saying that, the only reason England got back into it was because of the conditions they got to bowl in during the second innings.
"If they hadn’t got that new ball under lights they would have got blown away in this game a lot earlier than they did.”
While Root’s brave call backfired, opposing captain Steve Smith had a controversial call fall in his favour.
Having obtained a first-innings lead of 215 after bowling England out for 227, Smith declined to enforce the follow-on.
That decision came under intense scrutiny when Australia were bowled out for 138 but Ponting backed Smith’s “gutsy” call that was in the best interest of the hosts.
"When you make those calls you put a lot of thought and time into it and you’re trying to do what you think’s right for your team at that moment," Ponting said.
"It’s not about Steve Smith, it’s about what he thought was right for his team and his bowlers and giving them the best chance to win the game.
"I’ve got no problem with those sorts of decisions because the thing about our game is you get 100 of them right and one of them wrong and if you get one wrong you’re the worst in the world.
"But as it’s turned out it might still have been the wrong decision but it’s irrelevant, they won the game by 120 runs.
"Smithy will sleep a lot more comfortably than he did last night, I’m sure."
2017-18 International Fixtures
Magellan Ashes Series
Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Mitchell Marsh.
England Test squad: Joe Root (c), James Anderson (vc), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook, Mason Crane, Tom Curran, Ben Foakes, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ben Stokes, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Chris Woakes.
First Test Australia won by 10 wickets. Scorecard
Second Test Australia won by 120 runs (Day-Night). Scorecard
Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Tickets
Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Tickets
Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Tickets
Gillette ODI Series v England
First ODI MCG, January 14. Tickets
Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Tickets
Third ODI SCG, January 21. Tickets
Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets
Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets
Prime Minister's XI
PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets
Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series
First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets
Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets
Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets
Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 14
Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16
Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18
Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21