London: Serious questions need to be asked about the England cricket team following their demoralising Ashes defeat, but administrators should resist a knee-jerk clear-out, the country's newspapers said on Wednesday. (Click here for full Ashes coverage)
The urn slipped from England's grasp for the first time in over four years on Tuesday with a 150-run defeat at Perth, putting Australia three up with two to play and Wednesday's headlines pulled no punches.
"England's rocks reduced to rubble", said the Times, while the Sun splashed "We're tr-Ash" across its sports pages.
There have been calls to dump some underperforming senior players, including Kevin Pietersen and wicketkeeper Matt Prior, but Fleet Street argued that England must hold its nerve when rebuilding for the home return series in 2015. (Also read: Boycott slams 'selfish' Pietersen)
"The idea that there is a rival XI just waiting to make the step up to the intensity of Ashes cricket is as misguided as the call for the kids that follows every World Cup failure in football," said the Daily Mail's Martin Samuel.
"Quite often, at international level, your best team is probably the XI that are already in the field," he added. "Those players just have to find a way of proving that again, as Australia did this winter." (Related read: Ashes win justifies Arthur's sacking, says James Sutherland)
The Guardian's Mike Selvey said England had 14 Tests "to assemble and give experience to a team that can compete with Australia."
"This does not, or should not, involve a whole root-and-branch sack-them-all approach," he argued. "The Australians know as much as anyone that England possesses quality cricketers." (Cook facing toughest time of his career, says Nasser Hussain)
He backed under-fire captain Alastair Cook and coach Andy Flower as the men to lead the rebuilding process, but called for a change of strategy.
"There is certainly a case for bringing about a change in the culture of the side, where micro-management has been taken to excessive degrees," he said.
"A greater emphasis on players taking full responsibility for their own games will also be high on an agenda." (It hurts like hell: Cook)
The Telegraph's Derek Pringle said an inquiry may be needed to assess why the team was "found badly wanting".
"One reason England have struggled to raise their spirit is that back-to-back Ashes series are seriously demanding of mind and body," he suggested.
"When England needed to raise their game, several players, such as (Jimmy) Anderson, Matt Prior and (Graeme) Swann, looked unable to do so."
The one bright spot was the scintillating 120 scored by 22-year old Ben Stokes on a badly-worn wicket. His performance suggests a brighter future for the team, the pundits said.
"England...have been pulverised by a rampant Australian team, although in the maiden Test hundred from Ben Stokes there was promise of a more competitive tomorrow," wrote former captain Michael Atherton in the Times.
"He announced himself not just as a player of special talent, but as a player of heart and spirit as well," he added. "It does not come tougher than facing this attack on a pitch this cracked, and Stokes, in his second Test, played a truly remarkable innings."