Cow Corner

England’s constant collapses are no nostalgia trip

Joe Root run out

England have been a pretty good team in recent years. Therefore, when a heavy loss would occur, preferably featuring a batting collapse, people would say something along the lines of: 'It's quite nostalgic really, an England going from 200-2 to 250 all out. Just like the nineties!'

Those of us who came of cricketing age in that time hoped it would never return, the age when waifs and strays would wander into the team for just long enough to take part in the latest shambles, then wander back out again, waving another chancer in for his brief spell in a blue cap.

Alas, this series has felt very much like those years, and like The Big Breakfast, the band 'Shampoo' and those Global Hypercolor t-shirt things, there's little to be nostalgic about.

That's partly because all of those things were and are rubbish, but also partly because the England collapse has become the norm, rather than a brief sojourn into incompetence before 'normal' service resumed.

It's difficult to be nostalgic about a thing that is regularly and horribly happening before your very eyes.

In Brisbane, England went from 82-2 to 136 all out in their first innings, 130-3 to 179 all out in the second.

In Adelaide, it was 111-3 to 172 all out in the first innings, and in fairness they avoided anything too calamitous second time up. Which of course was slightly academic because they lost by 218 runs anyway.

In Perth, they clambered back on the collapsing horse, going from 207-6 to 251 all gone, then 336-6 to 353 all out.

In Melbourne, there were two collapses, just to mix things up a little, with three wickets falling for one run after Michael Carberry was out, then five for six to go from 173-5 to 179 all out.

Mitchell Johnson Australia Melbourne Day Three

Shambles barely covers it. At the start of day three, England were 91 runs ahead with one remaining Australian wicket to take, and were firm favourites.

Even after allowing Brad Haddin and Nathan Lyon to add 40 needless runs, England put themselves into a decent position by reaching 65 without loss, then 87-3, 138 runs to the good and with plenty of wickets in hand. It seems the only thing England have done in this series is throw away promising positions.

Kevin Pietersen is the frequent lightning rod for criticism - unfairly, especially when you ponder where England would be without his 120 runs in this Test, but his interview before play on day three was both curious and troubling. Pietersen told Sky Sports:

"I think people shouldn't forget, and it's never been done before, that guys have got to go and endure 10 back-to-back Ashes Test matches.

"I've been told that a number of Olympic athletes go into some sort of post-Olympic depression or a negative frame of mind – and I'm not saying we're in a depression or a negative frame of mind – but after you've competed at such a level, post that competition, mentally you're a bit fragile. To play an Ashes then another Ashes, and for us being away from home, it's a tough gig.

"It's been an incredibly pressurised situation. Playing back-to-back Ashes series and being away for the second leg, and not starting in the manner that we are accustomed to ... it's been incredibly difficult."

Of course, it's difficult to imagine the stresses and strains professional sportsmen are placed under unless you are one yourself, and Ashes Tests are highly-pressurised encounters, but there are another set of players out there playing under the same circumstances.

Australia seem to be dealing with said pressures rather better, and indeed they should be – Pietersen's quotes smacked of excuses.

Still, at least Pietersen offered an explanation for England's 'I heart 1997' batting collapses.

If a team is so collectively mentally fragile that one of their own admits it in public, it's hardly a massive shock that their batting line-up turns out to be just as brittle.

Nick Miller - @NickMiller79