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With the Ashes just seven months away, the recent performances of Joe Root’s team have taken a massive downturn.
Even Sam Curran, who was regarded as the team’s lucky charm, came a cropper.
The all-rounder debuted against Pakistan at Headingley last June last year where England won by an innings and 65 runs with a double celebration when Curran turned 20 on the final day.
Then came four successive wins over India at home by 31, an innings and 159, 60, and 118, with Curran a part of each victory.
Then came successive wins over Sri Lanka away by 211, and 57, leaving Curran as the only full-time member of the team to win every one of his seven Tests.
The West Indies, ranked eighth in the world rankings, with only Bangladesh and Zimbabwe behind them, gave second-ranked England a mother-and-father of a hiding in Barbados to the tune of 381 runs.
The bubble had burst alright, big time.
There were two shock digs, kick-started by England dismissed for 77, chasing the Windies first innings 287.
Windies skipper Jason Holder didn’t enforce the follow-on – “No way on this minefield, we don’t want to bat last”.
The Windies plundered 6 (dec) for 415 with Holder unbeaten on 202, and little keeper Shane Dowrich also unbeaten on 116, giving the home side a 627-run lead.
England was dismissed for 246 with the Windies cruising home inside four days.
Paceman Kemar Roach was the first big destroyer with 5-17 off 11 in the first dig, but part-time offie Roston Chase, all 195 cm of him, topped that with 8-50 off 21.4 in the second.
Bad as that was for England, it was the second major collapse in just 10 months with the Eden Park disaster even worse.
Batting first, England were crushed for 58, with Kiwi quick Trent Boult claiming a career-best 6-32 off 10.4, and his long-term new-ball partner Tim Southee 4-25 off 10.
New Zealand replied with 8 (dec) for 427, to romp home by an innings and 49.
In the 77 not one Englishman reached 20, four were in double figures, seven in single figures, with two ducks.
Craig Overton, batting nine, belted 33* in the 58 that featured nine single figures, including five ducks.
There was nothing wrong with the wickets at Barbados, nor Eden Park, so two humiliating collapses in 10 months rings alarm bells to a team that’s used to winning.
Especially as panic batting surfaced in both cases, so foreign to this very competitive England outfit that crushed India 4-0 at home.
Even Australia, in disarray after the ball-tampering saga, and missing its two best cricketers Steve Smith and David Warner under suspension as a result, hasn’t sunk to those depths.
It will be interesting to see how England responds in the second Test, and if selectors bring back veteran paceman Stuart Broad who was surprisingly dumped for Barbados.
Obviously selectors in both England, and Australia, are having problems picking teams at the moment that are in form, not hope.
They had better raise the bar by August.