Cricket Expert & Columnist
Ashes 2013/14: England under-cooked after sub-standard warm-up games
England's latest first innings flop is in part down to the quality of their warm-up opposition, says Nasser Hussain.
Last Updated: 24/11/13 4:05pm
The tourists slumped to 136 all out on day two of the first Ashes Test and by the close trailed by 224 runs after David Warner and Chris Rogers shared an unbeaten stand of 65 before stumps.
In an 11-over spell England lost six wickets for nine runs - the sixth worst collapse in their history - as Mitchell Johnson (4-61), Nathan Lyon (2-17) and Ryan Harris (3-28) found their range.
The poor total continues a run of low first-innings scores in the first Test matches of overseas tours, a list that includes 192 against Pakistan in Dubai (2012), 193 against Sri Lanka in Galle (2012), 191 against India in Ahmedabad (2012) and 167 against New Zealand in Dunedin (2013).
Hussain says there are mitigating circumstances for the latest disappointment but stressed that England - who conceded a 221-run first-innings deficit at Brisbane in 2010 but went on to draw the match - must address the problem as soon as possible.
"It is largely inexplicable," said Hussain, "but in this case some of the opposition they've played on this tour hasn't been up to scratch; the bowling has been pretty ordinary.
"They've played on some pretty flat pitches and they would not have seen anything like Mitchell Johnson on this tour so far.
"They've come up against him here and it's come as a bit of a shock to them, to be honest. The chin music has worked them out.
"To make a mistake once is an error, to keep doing it is something that the management - and more importantly the players - have to put right.
"It was a really, really bad day at the office. England had a bad day at the office here last time and won the series 3-1; it was the same at Trent Bridge earlier this summer and England won 3-0. England know they are in a serious fight in this series."
Hussain's fellow Sky Cricket pundit, former leg-spinner Shane Warne blamed England's failure on Johnson's inspired spell and a negative mind-set.
"Sometimes when you address a problem all of the time, it makes everybody aware of it," he said.
"Some of the players might not have even been aware that that is what is happening and suddenly you start to address it all the time and the players then think 'we better not have a bad first innings' and they go into their shell.
"I think that's why both teams have struggled and lost wickets because they went into a negative mind-set and pure survival mode rather than turning the strike over and being mentally aggressive.
"England are a good side - they did that in the last Ashes series too, getting a low score in the first innings - and they ended up going on to win the series 3-1. But they are a long way behind here."
Opener Michael Carberry, playing only his second Test, was the only top-order batsman to emerge from the day in credit after scoring 40 off 113 balls before he edged Johnson to slip while attempting to leave the ball.
Hussain was impressed with the Hampshire hitter's temperament - and the manner in which Australia claimed his wicket.
"Carberry's looked like an old-fashioned opening batsman; he made the bowlers come to him. He left the ball really well outside off-stump and played late. He wasn't flashing.
"He was very composed right until the brilliant captaincy from Clarke, where he changed the plan and Johnson delivered it.
"From over the wicket Carberry was lining it up beautifully - getting under the short ball. From around the wicket with the ball coming in at his ribs, it just ruffled him up.
"It was good bowling and good captaincy to ruffle a man who was so composed in just three deliveries."
Alternatively, you can listen via Soundcloud...
Watch highlights of today's play on Sky Sports 2 and On Demand from 6.30pm before The Ashes Verdict (9pm) and Ashes Extra (11pm) hit your screens ahead of coverage of day three, from 11.30pm - also on Sky Sports 2.