Just months ago, England were celebrating a 3-0 victory over Australia in the Ashes. Now they are staring down the barrel of a 2-0 deficit after just two matches played in the return series Down Under.
England's victory in the summer masked issues with the team and English cricket. A reinvigorated Australia have exposed such flaws,and England now face an enormous challenge to save face, let alone regain a foothold in this match and the series.
In this slideshow Bleacher Report assesses five reasons for England's decline.
Andy Flower's mentality has always been strongly embodied by the tactics and strategies of this England cricket team, and they have largely been enormously successful.
But even the best ideas have a sell-by date and there’s certainly an argument that, in the last 12 months or so, the England team has shown signs of needing fresh ideas and new impetus.
This is not so much a criticism of Flower as an observation of times changing.
It’s difficult to tell when sportsmen reach their peak; for some, it happens earlier than others.
While some of England’s players are not old by international cricketing standards, consistently declining standards from the likes of Jonathan Trott, Matt Prior and even Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell (the Ashes summer aside) in the last 18 months are perhaps suggestive of the fact that their peak has been reached.
It is worth noting, however, England have played on some very low and slow pitches in recent months, not conducive to big run-scoring.
The England squad has been excellently settled and balanced for some time now. The Kevin Pietersen saga aside, controversies have been minimal, surprising selections few and the captain transition was as smooth as could be hoped for.
While it’s hard to criticise such an environment, there’s a case to be made that one of stagnation and ennui has crept into the England dressing room.
Other teams play just as much, if not more, international cricket as England, but the nature of England’s management has been intensely focused and unchanging for some time now.
England have opted to produce slow, low pitches at home, and a tour of New Zealand, India and Pakistan have produced similar conditions.
Playing so consistently on such pitches played to England’s Graeme Swann-driven spin strength—and reverse swing—but batsmen’s returns have diminished and now, against genuine pace, they are rabbits in the headlights.
It should also be noted that relaxed work permit regulations and stringent central contracts have reduced the number of fast bowlers playing regularly in county cricket, thus hampering the preparation of players for such hostility.
For almost two years now, there have been few county players making irresistible cases for international selection.
This has made the incumbent Test players feel more comfortable and not given them the push to perform at a higher level.
Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior are perhaps the two most relevant examples. Although both have the saving grace of wonderful performances in international cricket in the past, had there been more options for selection, there’s a chance Trott would have been dropped before his decision to leave the team and that Prior’s position would be under greater threat than it currently is.