England ponder future after Ashes whitewash

England AshesEngland's captain Alastair Cook (L) reacts next to his teammates during the presentation after they lost the fifth Ashes Test against Australia (Reuters)

Just how an England team which arrived in Perth last October confident of winning a fourth straight Ashes series ended up capitulating 5-0 will be subject of much soul-searching over the next few months.

The dispiriting defeat at the hands of an Australia team which even their most ardent supporters would not describe as among the greatest to have worn the baggy green marked the distinct end of an era of success for England.

Coach Andy Flower and captain Alastair Cook both want to, and have been told they will be allowed to, keep their positions but there can be few of the other 17 players used in the five Tests who feel secure after such a humiliation.

Spinner Graeme Swann has already decided to retire while batsman Jonathan Trott's stress-related illness makes him an unlikely tourist in the future.

The other two spinners, Monty Panesar and Scott Borthwick, as well as paceman Boyd Rankin, who took his first wicket with his final ball on debut, may also have played their last Test cricket.

Flower on Monday declined even to confirm Kevin Pietersen - England's fourth highest run scorer of all time and their second highest in the series - was safe.

"This was a bad loss for the England cricket team and as part of our review, we'll be looking at playing personnel and support staff and making sure we have the right people in place," he told reporters.

"But this will be a new start, and so it should be. It does feel like the end of some type of era.

"We might have to take a little more pain before we have sustained success again. And we might have to ask for a little patience in that regard over the coming months."

England's successes in recent years have included two of the most difficult achievements in Test cricket - a series win in India in 2012 and the 3-1 Ashes triumph in Australia in 2010-11.

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