Although Australia have played very well in the first three Tests of the return Ashes series, there can be no hiding the fact that England have been utterly dismal; brief periods of competitiveness have been interspersed among whole days of inadequacy. The natural reaction to such poor performance - in any sphere of human endeavour - is to identify those responsible, remove them from their positions and expect that their replacements will do better. A political party heavily defeated in an election may change its leader; the headteacher of a school judged to be failing is likely to be out of a job soon afterwards. Such replacements are often made on impulse - they will be taken as evidence that a determined effort is being made to improve, whereas leaving the same people in their positions will be construed to be treating the poor performance as acceptable. Thus it is in cricket too: whenever a team underperforms, the press and fans invariably demand that heads should roll.
In the rush to make such decisions, though, important factors are overlooked: is the poor performance necessarily an indicator of terminal decline, or simply a temporary loss of form? Is there an obvious replacement, and is he likely to do better than the current occupant of the position? It is these questions which England need to consider before making drastic changes to the team.