Ashes 2015: Awful England folded miserably - Agnew

Moeen Ali
England lost two wickets in the first over after tea

England's performance on the fourth day of the second Test at Lord's was desperately disappointing.

To be bowled out for 103 in 37 overs on a flat pitch is nothing short of awful, or "unacceptable" as captain Alastair Cook rightly said.

To add insult to injury, Australia batsman Steve Smith claimed that the pitch was even slower on Sunday morning than it had been earlier in the match.

And yet England's batting was so tentative. They knew they needed to bat for five sessions to save the game so they had be cautious but you can still be positive in defence.

You can leave positively, get forward positively and have a purpose and energy about yourselves at the crease.

The real crime was that England did not even make Australia's bowlers work hard for their wickets.

Third wicket stats

They allowed themselves to be softened up by the short ball and folded miserably in little more than a session of cricket.

Huge credit must go to Australia's bowlers. They did not allow the bad memories of recent defeats at Lord's to bother them in the slightest and totally outbowled England in what is supposedly our own backyard.

Mitchell Johnson ran in really fast and was brilliant, Mitchell Starc was not far behind, while Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Marsh and Nathan Lyon all chipped in with important wickets.

Australia just seemed to have a different mindset to England. When the pitch is flat and you lose the toss and you only get one wicket on the first day, you can get a bit negative about things but you've got to keep going. England just never seemed to believe they could get back into the match.

To follow such a tremendous win at Cardiff that created such momentum and positivity behind the England team with a performance like that is soul-destroying for England's supporters.

Michael Vaughan on Twitter
Former England captain Michael Vaughan hails Australia, grudgingly

In my post-match interview, I pressed Cook about the pitch to see whether there is some kind of plan to make them slow and he denied it twice.

But if the pitch at Edgbaston is anything like this England could be in serious trouble again because fast bowling will prevail.

I said months ago that if England were going to beat Australia they needed to produce pitches that are a bit green and damp on which the ball will nip about off the seam: English conditions that play to England's strengths.

As far as the make-up of the team is concerned, there should not be any knee-jerk reactions but they will have to seriously consider the top order.

They simply cannot keep getting blown away so cheaply and relying on the middle order to bail them out. It is a pattern that has to change.

Stuttering starts for England
In their past 14 innings, England have lost their third wicket for 52 or less eight times, and for 74 or less 11 times

Adam Lyth scored a century three Tests ago, and got out to a good ball in the second innings, so he probably clings on to his spot.

I can also see them persisting with Ian Bell. Edgbaston is his home ground and we all know what a good player he is.

The man who should probably be looking over his shoulder most is Gary Ballance, who just doesn't look in any sort of form at all. He is not moving his feet, is getting in bad positions and looks vulnerable against both short and full deliveries.

If the selectors do decide to drop someone when they meet on Tuesday, then Yorkshire's Jonny Bairstow may be in line for a recall.

He scored his fifth County Championship century of the summer on Sunday and is a positive, confident sort of bloke, who might just give the side a lift.

He is not cut out to bat at three, however, so it might mean shifting either Joe Root or Ian Bell up the order, a move that would not be taken lightly.

Whatever England team walks out at Edgbaston, they will enjoy tremendous support from a raucous crowd.

They have enjoyed plenty of success against Australia there, most famously 10 years ago in that incredible two-run victory.

It's 1-1 in the series, and there's all to play for. But England's players must pick their games up and get back to their best.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Sam Sheringham.

Listen to Geoffrey Boycott and Jonathan Agnew review the day on the TMS podcast, and watch a summary of of a dramatic Sunday with our Pint-sized Ashes video.

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