Alastair Cook conceded his England side had been outplayed in every department as they surrendered the Ashes to Australia this morning.
The hosts completed a 150-run win in Perth on the final afternoon (5.44am BST) despite a maiden century from Ben Stokes to go 3-0 up in the five-Test series and claim the urn for the first time since they inflicted a whitewash on Andrew Flintoff’s men four series ago (2006).
Cook said: “We’ve been outskilled in all aspects. It’s hard to say that as a player, but that’s the honest truth. We’ve got to keep looking at ourselves, keep doing what we can do, which is work as hard as we can to turn things around.”
Cook insisted his side had not been taken by surprise by Australia. “We knew what a good side they were in England,” he said. “Any side coming to Australia, you have to be at the top of your game. We haven’t been there. They’ve been ruthless – ruthless in never letting us back in any game when they got ahead of us.
“But there’s a lot of talent in the dressing-room. Everyone’s hurting now. It’s an incredibly tough place to be. That happens in sport - there’s a winner and a loser and at the moment we’re in the losing dressing-room and it hurts.All we can do is work as hard as we can on our games and come out on Boxing Day and try and put in a better performance.”
Stokes’ 120 in 353 all out was at least a crumb of comfort to England as built a partnership of 76 with Matt Prior (26).
Cook said: “It was a fantastic innings – full of character on a tough wicket with those cracks. It’s always daunting to see them. He put them out of his head and I thought it was an outstanding hundred. That partnership was just starting to build, but, as always, just when we’ve got a partnership going we haven’t managed to continue.”
Former England opener Geoffrey Boycott believes the national team “have cocked it up big time” after they surrendered the Ashes with two Tests still remaining.
With Tests in Melbourne and Sydney to follow, there is cause for concern that the tourists are heading for a 5-0 whitewash defeat.
Boycott told BBC Radio 5 Live: “The planning and the prep of the team - it’s all gone haywire. In all areas they have been better than us.
“They have had good plans and executed them really well while we’ve cocked it up big time.”
Boycott was particularly critical of England’s coaching staff and has demanded team director Andy Flower leave his position if he is not up to the challenge of leading the side any more.
“Some of our coaching staff should have a serious look at themselves because we are on the down and Australia are on the up,” added Boycott, who scored 8114 runs in 108 Tests for England.
“We should be thinking and planning for 2015. Is our coach up to it?
“The top people have to decide - Andy Flower, are you going to be here next year? Are you staying or going? If you’ve had enough, go now.
“We have to be up for the challenge - we have to have the balls to do something.”
Flower rued his side’s performance with the bat in particular although he was quick to pay tribute to Australia’s bowling attack.
“Of course the guys are very disappointed to have lost the Ashes with two matches still to go, but there are still two matches to go and we’re going to have to focus on that pretty soon,” he told Sky Sports 2.
“I think it is fair to say with the bat we have underperformed badly. We’ve only got one Test century to six or seven of theirs and that’s from a young all-rounder playing in his second Test match.
“We haven’t handled the pace that well and I think the pace of (Mitchell) Johnson has been really well backed up by (Ryan) Harris and (Peter) Siddle,. They’ve been very accurate and skilful. And their off-spinner has bowled nicely too.”
Flower’s future has been called into question for much of the last 12 months and that will now come under further scrutiny following this comprehensive defeat.
But the 45-year-old was coy over his plans following this series, simply saying: “We’ve got two Test matches left in the series and I am absolutely hungry to do well in those games.
“That is as far as I’m looking at the minute.”
Flower was defiant when asked whether England had enough desire in the remaining two matches.
“I would say certainly, yes,” he said.
Stokes’ century did give England some consolation and Flower is pleased the Durham all-rounder has grasped his opportunity at number six, which has been a problem position for England in recent times.
“In the main we’ve always played a specialist batsmen there and those specialist batsmen at number six haven’t done particularly well for England recently and it’s actually a really good place to bat in Test cricket,” Flower said.
“I thought Ben handled himself well in Adelaide and he’s done brilliantly here. He showed a lot of maturity and a lot of talent.
“He’s only two Test matches into his career but that was a brilliant performance from him.”
Paceman Johnson has been instrumental in Australia’s success and it was perhaps fitting that he removed James Anderson - his 23rd wicket of the series - to seal the Ashes for the hosts.
It is perhaps most significant given the left-armer was a figure of fun for England’s fans in the 2010/11 series while his international career was called into question due to a foot injury last year.
“I came back from injury and I had a lot of doubters there. I knew I’d done a lot of hard work, I just had the opportunity and grabbed it with both hands,” he said on Sky Sports.
“This team that we’ve got here, we’ve just performed so well as a unit, everyone’s just done so well and we all deserve it.
“It means a lot. To finally win the Ashes for the first time after being a part for a couple that we’ve lost is very special.
“I want to just thank the crowds that we’ve had around Australia. Friends and family supporting us, that’s been the big difference as well, just having all that support, so this is for everyone.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to win the Ashes. Three-nil up and an opportunity to go 5-0 - it’s amazing.”