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England are playing some utterly terrible cricket, some of their worst in recent memory. Both players and management are responsible for that.
Yet, and although it is defeatist to say so, there is very little England can actually do in the immediate sense to halt this slide. They have changed the personnel—but quite simply Australia are not relenting in their dominance. They are bowling too well to allow England back in.
The door to redemption has been slammed shut, nailed to the door frame, and a 60' deep, fire-proof wall manned with RPGs and lasers has been built in front of it.
You can look at Kevin Pietersen’s slightly loose drive, Ian Bell’s tentative push and, of course, Alastair Cook’s leave and rightfully question whether they could have played better shots; and yes, they could have in theory. But in reality right now this is a set of broken players, stuck in a cycle of defeat.
England will, of course, keep going onwards; they will, of course, keep trying—they are professional sportsmen—but success and victory, that will have to wait until after this series.
Then and only then is when the inquest can begin, and changes—changes that the management and players can have faith will actually make a difference, rather than random changes for the sake of change—can be made.
Players can take a break. Players can train away from the looming presence of another match. Tactics, strategies and methods can appropriately be reassessed.
New opposition will come around—Sri Lanka are England’s next Test opponents—and England will go onwards again; they will try again and then perhaps success and victory will arrive again.
But not now. Not now.