There are some worrying similarities between the events of the last week and England’s previous tour of Australia, which ended in a crushing 5-0 whitewash.
Distractions keep cropping up, the latest being Ben Stokes’s arrival in New Zealand which quickly followed the Jonny Bairstow headbutt incident, and there is the slight sense that things are heading in the wrong direction – although it is early days.
During the victorious 2010-11 Ashes there were no such distractions or outside influences affecting the team and we were able to move on from a drawn Test at the Gabba in Brisbane with a positive momentum, but that wasn’t the case four years ago.
The 2013-14 tour was littered with stories that took the focus away from the team. Whether it be Kevin Pietersen and Joe Root coming back late from a night out, all the fuss surrounding Stuart Broad because he had refused to walk despite edging the ball at Trent Bridge four months earlier, or Jonathan Trott going home with a stress-related condition; all these became talking points and diverted our attention away from the cricket.
We’ve seen over the last few days how quickly a story can snowball and players and management don’t want or need to be heading into a press conference in the days leading up to a Test match having to answer questions which are not cricket related.
With the growth of social media, it is almost impossible for players to switch themselves off from these distractions, but it is so important that they try and ensure that negativity does not permeate the dressing room.
The Stokes situation was always going to be a problem, but Baristow “headbutting” Australian opener Cameron Bancroft is a prime example of an unwanted and unnecessary furore, especially coming in the aftermath of England losing the first Test.
I’ve toured with Jonny and he’s a lovely guy and not aggressive in the slightest, but he can be awkward at times and be a bit strange. I can completely believe that’s how he greets his rugby league mates in Leeds.
Hopefully England can brush such things under the carpet because a vital day-night Test in Adelaide, which starts in the early hours of Saturday morning, awaits.
Things can go downhill rapidly in Australia and it would be almost impossible to come back from a 2-0 deficit, especially with Perth the venue for the third Test where conditions will be really alien and England will face a barrage of pace bowling.
Test cricket played under the lights and with a pink ball is still an unknown quantity and England can take confidence from this being relatively new to Australia too, although they have played two day-night games in Adelaide since November 2015.
But there remains uncertainty about how the pitch and the ball is going to react as well as the quandary of what tactics to use in the twilight period. If the ball starts moving about a bit that is likely to bring England’s bowlers more into play.
In terms of bowling personnel, I would like to see Craig Overton replace Jake Ball. I wasn’t impressed with Ball, who struggled and looked undercooked. Overton will also offer more with the bat.