Trescothick and Vaughan were massive losses in terms of runs and leadership/experience. Simon Jones however was an irreplaceable loss. The one bowler who really had it over the Aussies last time, and it's a shame we didn't get to see what he could do on the Australian pitches.
I don't know about the rest of you but I'm getting pretty sick of hearing this "we weren't well enough prepared" excuse.
FFS, who's fault is that? Someone has to be made accountable for that and heads must roll. After the Champions Trophy early exit, why the hell did everyone go back home to spend time with their families and f**k about ahead of the biggest seires, possibly in English test history and certainly in each player's career? Go to Australia early and use the extra time! Play more warm up matches. For example, Harmison finally started to look reasonable rather than abysmal in Perth, the 3rd test. It's well known he needs a lot of time, so why didn't we come early and have him playing in 5 or 6 proper warm up matches so he was fully up for the 1st test? Why was he left out of 1 of the 3 poxy ones we had? The lack of preparation excuse holds no merit. It's only the players and management's own fault, and someone has to be made accountable for it.
As for the selection issues, Fletcher has to go, as does Flintoff as captain. As does Bell, either drop down the order or not in the side. Not good enough to be at number 3, got a couple of scores but he gets too many 0s and single figure scores. He's sort of player who only makes less than 10 or 50+, and too high a proportion is coming in the less than 10 category. Must either be 6 or not in the side at all.
4 is too high for Bell. Pietersen has to be tried there, as he was albeit in vain in the last innings (3 and a half matches too late unfortunately). He needs to be the one to take control of the innings, rather than being stuck with the tail as he usually is. It's either 5/6 (preferably 6 where he actually has an average of 93 - it decreases as he moves up the order having batted at every postion from opening to 6 in tests) or nothing for Bell IMO.
I read a very interesting piece comparing Bell and Michael Clarke during the 1st test (while slacking off at work and following the cricket online instead). Both the same sort of age (1 year difference, can't remember which was which), and had similar sort of test careers so far being in the side for roughly the same amount of time with almost the same averages (before this series), although Bell was a bit worse if you took away scores against Bangladesh. Clarke had done slightly better (and a lot better now), main difference being he's never been 'thrown in at the deep end' so to speak. He hasn't had to bat at 3 in an Ashes series and come in at 1-1, or open the batting in India etc. He's never batted higher than 4 I think, with almost all of his time coming at 5/6 and his average is highest at 6. Again, like Bell it decreases as he moves up the order. During this series he's been coming it at scores like 457-4 and 380-4 etc, no pressure, job already done. Bell generally comes at 25-1, give or take 10, with the task of fighting off McGrath, Lee and Clark in intense conditions, then Warne if he's managed to survive that far. Put him at 5/6 for a long time like Clarke and he'd probably have stats that make him look a much better player. Sure he will have to come in at 70-4 and try to rescure the innings sometimes, but he will also occasionally get the chance to come in at much better scores where the mindset can be a little different and allow him to play a bit more freely.
Having said that, when everyone is back fully fit, I'd leave him out for now. Assuming Trescothick is finished, my ideal lineup would be something like:
Strauss, Cook, Vaughan (c), Pietersen, Collingwood, Flintoff, Read, S.Jones, Harmison, Hoggard, Panesar
Trouble is that's an exceptionally long tail starting at 7 (some might argue it begins at 6 given Flintoff's current form) and it's pretty hard to guess what order 8-11 would come in so it's probably not a lineup Fletcher would ever choose. If Trescothick does ever come back, then he's straight in opening for me, and not sure who to leave out. I suppose it would be Collingwood with the batsmen from Cook downwards moving down a spot.
Apologies for the exceptionally long rant, this is a copy and paste of 3 or 4 posts I posted elsewhere, and just combined them here into 1 long rant.