Napier: England must look on the bright side

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 21/12/2013
Graham Napier
Getty Images
GRAHAM NAPIER: "Well, it is not a whitewash but it is on the cards. I thought it would be a tight series and 2-1 or 2-2, but to have lost the series 3-0 already is desperately disappointing."

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These aren't great days to be an England cricketer abroad.

From being a benchmark of excellence, 14 days of Ashes cricket have turned the England cricket team into something of a laughing stock.

Batting, bowling and fielding? All look foreign concepts to Alistair Cook's men right now, which means hard times for every English export on the cricket circuit.

"It's a sore subject," former England wider training group member Graham Napier said yesterday.

Newly arrived in Wellington, where he'll lead the Firebirds attack in the domestic Twenty20 competition, the Essex fast bowler can't believe how his countrymen have fared in Australia.

"I did not think it would be a whitewash like that.

"Well, it is not a whitewash but it is on the cards. I thought it would be a tight series and 2-1 or 2-2, but to have lost the series 3-0 already is desperately disappointing from an England cricket point of view."

Napier felt it was clear during the first test at Brisbane that the balance of Ashes power was beginning to shift.

But it moved irretrievably in Australia's direction once batsman Jonathan Trott went back to England due to mental health concerns.

"You lose him out of the side and there's your backbone gone and it's put a lot of young players into a situation which they probably weren't ready for," said Napier.

It's difficult enough to lose a player to injury. But when someone goes home for reasons that are more difficult to understand or diagnose, or plot a recovery from, then that does shake a group, Napier said.

"He's part of your team and everyone looks after each other and he's found it tough.

"I don't know the reasons behind it all but everyone wishes him well because it's not a nice situation to be in.

"You do a job you love, but the pressures of everything else are getting on top of you and it's a horrible situation to be in and I really felt for the guy."

Napier's resigned to the remaining tests, in Melbourne and Sydney, being difficult for England.

However, he is hopeful that young players such as Joe Root and Ben Stokes will kick on from this disappointment and lead the England team forward in the years to come.

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- The Dominion Post

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