The tour of India is not going the way England would have hoped – 2-0 down with two Tests to play doesn’t make for pleasant reading, while injuries have also struck.
It’s important that spirits are kept high and skipper Alastair Cook, together with the management and coaching staff, has an important job to make sure that happens and everyone keeps working hard.
I know that Cook will still be extremely positive. The 2013-14 Ashes series Down Under was a complete disaster from an English perspective and we were whitewashed, but Alastair remained upbeat throughout.
This tour is a long way from the depths of that Ashes debacle, not least because, at his stage, the series is still salvageable. Even if England win one of the two remaining Tests I believe they can come home with their heads held high.
But also there were a lot of senior players in that dressing room during the winter of 2013-14 and there were some who were demotivated. Graeme Swann went home when England were 3-0 down and others had given up.
There are a lot of young heads in the current set-up with a vast amount of their international careers ahead of them and it will be much easier for Cook to be the senior man. When he speaks they will listen.
Difficult tours happen and some can be harsh learning curves. The 2006-07 series in Australia, when England were again whitewashed, was exactly that for the likes of Cook and Ian Bell but they bounced back and have won multiple Ashes since.
These downs can often prove to be positives further down the line. Sometimes you have to learn from hard defeats in Test matches and tough tours in order to improve in the future.
For now, though, England do not play until the fourth Test in Mumbai on 8 December and that provides the players with some sanctuary from what has been a relentless schedule.
When these gaps come in the calendar it is imperative they get away from cricket, recover, get some rest and have a mental break. It’s crucial sometimes to remember there is more to life than cricket.
It would be counter-productive for players to go straight back into the nets and start worrying about form or the next Test. I’m sure there will be plenty on the golf course during their mid-tour break to Dubai.
It’s a massive shame for teenager Haseeb Hameed, meanwhile, to have to step away from the Test arena for the time being after severely breaking the little finger on his left hand.
England finally seemed to have solved their opening pairing conundrum. Hameed was Cook’s 10th partner since the retirement of ex-captain Andrew Strauss in 2012 and the combination was promising.
It’s a big blow but I’m sure he will step back into the side next summer once he’s recovered. In the meantime, Durham’s Keaton Jennings has been called into the squad.
Johannesburg-born Jennings, a left-hander, had a fantastic county season last term and was the leading run-scorer in the Championship. He scored 1, 548 at an average of 64.5 so he deserves a chance to throw his hat into the ring.