Excuses, excuses, excuses: diary of despair from a summer of lost hope

Third Test: The better side won, but much more quickly and more easily than they should have done
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The Independent Online

The first bad break

Shoaib Akhtar changed the summer with one lethal ball which hit England captain Nasser Hussain on the hand. Hussain missed the next Pakistan Test, England lost, the upbeat mood altered irrevocably.

The calf strain

Training for the one-dayers, England's best batsman – Graham Thorpe – pulled up in agony. He was out of action for six weeks – a winning team had become a losing one.

The one-day woes

Defeat in all matches of NatWest Series (one too far for Alec Stewart's stand-in captaincy) and lamentable performance in Manchester handed Australia a huge early advantage.

The wonky knee

Michael Vaughan, a bright new star, suffered a severe knee-strain, the latest in a sequence of injuries which cast doubt on England's treatment policy.

The shock selection

Nottinghamshire left-hander Usman Afzaal was suddenly elevated above Owais Shah, who had done well in the one-dayers, which spoke of selectorial muddle.

The Edgbaston toss

Hussain's filthy luck with the toss (13 from 13) continued. He might have batted anyway, but that Australia invited England to do so put England on the back foot.

Give Gilchrist a chance...

Having somehow kept in touch in the First Test, England were left trailing when Adam Gilchrist made a fearsome 152 – being dropped twice.

The second bad break

Nasser Hussain had another digit broken in Birmingham, by a fizzer from Jason Gillespie, and England were searching for their fourth captain of the year.

Give Gilchrist another chance

On the third morning at Lord's, four catches, of increasing straightforwardness, were dropped. The first, off Gilchrist in the second over of the day, set the tone for defeat.

And another bad break

Having lost their captain twice, England lost their best batsman for the second time when Brett Lee struck Thorpe.

The Atherton wicket

Rubs of the green often go against the weaker. Atherton did not hit the ball from Warne from which he was given out in the second innings at Trent Bridge. A revival was halted.

The Ramprakash slog

Ramprakash had batted serenely for 90 minutes. Then, incredibly, he charged Warne, missed and was stumped. Bowling pressure had told.

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