What a fine mess English cricket finds itself in. Yet for supporters of a certain age, the last two months in Australia have just been a return to normal service.

Oval Diary

Sad end for Monty but it's paradise for Milton

Change of pace: Less fiddling with field keeps bowlers content

Pietersen's consultation and encouragement are welcome change

Distraught Vaughan resigns in tears to open door for Pietersen

There was something different about Michael Vaughan's demeanour when he faced the media after England's devastating five-wicket loss to South Africa on Saturday evening. The series defeat signified beyond doubt that Vaughan's England side were a pale imitation of the team that triumphed over Australia in 2005, and were light years away from becoming the outfit he wanted them to be.

Vaughan's numbers add up to trouble for his men

Some facts about Michael Vaughan, which the selectors, should they ever bother to begin selecting again, may or may not consider pertinent. After his controversial first-ball dismissal yesterday, Vaughan's Test batting average as captain of England is 36.2. This is all right in its way, but is merely two-tenths of a run ahead of Nasser Hussain and four runs behind Michael Atherton, his most recent full-time predecessors.

Top players of spin: The inside story on cricket's press corps

A Lord's Test match means that cricket's press corps is obligedto work inside an extraordinary eyrie that has been dubbed 'Cherie Blair’s mouth'. Angus Fraser reports

Paul Collingwood: I am always under pressure. Everyone always said I was not good enough

The run-out controversy against New Zealand last month has capped a difficult year for Paul Collingwood but, out of form and with his Test place under threat, he tells Glenn Moore that he is confident he can respond in typically belligerent fashion

Collingwood's crew mistake toughness for simple bullying

England need to learn how to finish a fight, not start one

Selectors bowled over for choice but they must be bold

This needs to become Miller's team and if promotion for Onions and Co means the end for others then so be it

It's not right time for me to go, says Vaughan

England's captain always talks a good game but needs big scores to justify his place. By Stephen Brenkley

First Test, day four: Sidebottom turns match on head

Hat-trick gives England hope of remarkable victory but Harmison's future hangs by thread

Sport on TV: After a good stuffing, all I want for Christmas is a fit Freddie

The Test series in Sri Lanka has been like a throwback to the old days. Batsmen grinding out runs, slow over-rates, England playing badly. You wake up with a sense of dread at what has happened overnight, and your Christmas stocking is filled with dropped catches and ridiculous run-outs. That's if Santa hasn't got tangled up in the satellite dish on your chimney.

Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Tony and Rupe: don't be so shy ...

BT links with Sky to screen soccer matches

BT has entered the market to broadcast Premiership football for the first time, under a deal to broadcast "near live" games that it shared yesterday with the satellite group BSkyB.

Racing: Prescott makes a late switch to Curragh with Confidential Lady

In recent seasons, runners trained by Sir Mark Prescott have not tended to appear until long after the first swifts. While other trainers allowed their unexposed horses to race up the ratings with reckless haste, Prescott would bide his time at bull rings in the South of France before finally beginning to bait the handicapper with feints and flourishes of his own. This spring, however, it became imperative to follow a different schedule, thanks to the presence in his yard of Confidential Lady.

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