Why does this situation keep occurring, they wondered?
Why do our batsmen keep struggling to score runs?
Listening to them ruminate reduced me to a mixture of tears of laughter on the one hand and tears of frustration on the other, but mostly to tears of frustration.
It is a bit like someone leaving their front door open at night and then wondering why, when they’ve woken up next morning, the television has gone, the sofa has disappeared, along with sundry items of sentimental value.
Er, might it have something to do with the fact that you left your front door open, inviting people to walk in and take your stuff?
Oh yes, thanks for pointing it out, I hadn’t thought of that.
I ask you.
Is it me, or has the world gone bonkers?
Surely it is blindingly obvious why England keep collapsing in Test cricket and are not scoring enough runs.
They do not play enough first-class cricket, their players do not play it at the right times of year when they do play it, those players barely feature any more for their county teams in first-class competition and the whole schedule is geared towards white-ball cricket.
Yet some commentators were actually wondering aloud whether the latest batting collapse at Trent Bridge might possibly have boiled down to a lack of preparation going into the series, and the fact that some players had not faced a red ball all season – and we are now into the week of the Glorious Twelfth.
Of course, little or no connection was drawn with concepts such as The Hundred, a tournament on which some of those commentators work and are too closely associated with to be taken seriously now, a tournament which benefits the Test team in the way that a quick splash of hydrochloric acid benefits the face.
On TV, there was the hilarious – actually tragic – juxtaposition of a discussion about England’s top-order failings and the reminder that you could catch live coverage of Phoenix versus Invincibles later that evening.
Thanks, but I would rather catch a tropical disease.
The problem, as this column has argued time and again, is the system. It is the crazy schedule, the creeping menace of franchise competitions, with their made-up teams and relentless pursuit of the bottom line. It is the way that the County Championship has been cut and shoved into the margins of the season, the way that counties are treated like doormats, never knowing who is going to be available from one day to the next, the way that administrators have allowed this to happen, the values held dear by the England and Wales Cricket Board.
Only a governing body utterly oblivious to players and supporters alike would respond to a disastrously jam-packed schedule, now almost impossible to comprehend, by shoving in another five-week competition at the height of summer, meaning that there is no Championship cricket for almost two months, with the One-Day Cup basically a youth tournament to boot.
That is not preparing players for Test cricket; it is setting them up to fail.
There is no mystery here to leave commentators surprised.
The ECB has turned its back on Test cricket and those who pay to watch it.