England are seemingly surrendering The Ashes with a wimper after two performances in the last two tests that surely rank as their worst in recent years. Their abject displays have left the tourists 2-0 down in the five match series with three tests left to play.
England only need to draw the series to retain The Ashes but a drawn series is only a
pipe dream at the moment after the Adelaide second Test debacle.
Australia have ground England down with a brand of intense and hostile cricket which has
seemingly surprised the tourists and left them in a state of shock, like frightened rabbits in the headlights.
So what has gone wrong with our national side? After beating the Australians in the summer it appears, on paper, to be a huge turn around in fortunes for both sides but in truth England's victory in the summer was much closer than the scoreline suggested.
Ian Bell constantly saved England's fragile batting line-up and the bowlers were very consistent throughout the series, disguising the below-par scores from the batsmen. Now the bowlers are underperforming and the batsmen have still not upped their game.
Captain Alistair Cook and coach Andy Flower have not learnt from the summer and do not
seem to have a plan that will save England from defeat in this series. The Aussies sense a weakness in our ability to play the short ball, yet our batsman continue to get caught hooking and playing at other balls that they don’t need to.
Our key batsmen such as Kevin Pietersen, and Cook himself, seem unable to
build an innings that can give confidence to those less experienced players around them, such as Michael Carberry and Joe Root.
Other experienced players in the side, such as Matt Prior and Graeme Swann, are also suffering with their form and the departure of Jonathan Trott was a huge blow to the whole side.
England are severely lacking in confidence and possess a fear factor that reminds me of
previous visits to Australia, particularly in the 90s when England never came close to a series victory.
One characteristic that we do not want to see is the appearance that they are not fighting for their country, which from a supporters perspective is totally unforgiving.
Most of this England side have now won the Ashes more than once, so the question has
to be asked whether the desire to win has now gone?
As professional sportsmen that should not be the case but it could just be a case of human nature taking over.
No professional can maintain their game at the highest level continuously, they all suffer blips in form, but it cannot be coincidence that this England side all seem to be suffering.
There has been talk that Andy Flower will step down soon and this decision could be made sooner rather than later. Will the King of Spain, Ashley Giles, be the man to take over?
Could Cook also step down as captain? The problem I see is that there is no other potential leader in that side. Of the senior players Pietersen had an unsuccessful stint at the helm and Ian Bell just doesn’t strike me as captaincy material.
Prior and Swann could find their places under threat so that leaves one-day Captain Stuart Broad as a possibility. Root has all the credentials to be a future England Captain but he is still very new to Test match cricket.
Despite all the talk about England's problems the Australians actually deserve credit for producing some intense performances and by sticking to a game plan that has worked so well for them so far.
The players should be applauded for this but the real credit must go to captain Michael Clarke and coach Darren Lehman, for their bullish tactics and their ability to motivate an Australian side that will certainly not go down in history as one of the best.
However, they now look to have put any previous internal differences behind them as they move to Perth with a very good chance of regaining The Ashes after just three Tests.
Perth will suit the Australians, especially if they persist with their peppering of the England batsmen with the short ball and particularly in-form bowler Mitchell Johnson.
Will England fight fire with fire at Perth and bring in tall fast bowlers to try and turn the tables on Australia?
Will England's batsmen stand up to a barrage of short-pitched bowling or simply be crushed by an Australian onslaught once again?
Only time will tell but lets hope the England players take to the field with the warning from Geoffrey Boycott ringing in their ears, if they don’t find a way to combat this Australian side then they could face annihilation.
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