Pre-match optimism and post-match excuses are a pattern we are all very familiar with, and one that has been known to reside in the roots of English Cricket for some time. Even the vilifiers might have been inclined to believe that the pattern had left its original home after what we saw in the summer, but it looks like it is reshoring back and that things could be about to get worse, a reflection of which was England's defeat in the first ODI (or the 2-0 loss in the test series?) - a performance so remindful of their disastrous World Cup campaign, and the state before that.
For all the progress England did make against New Zealand and Australia only a few months back, if that's what the Englishmen are away from home in such a high-intensity and demanding series, then we may as well assume they never made any progress. It may sound a bit harsh given the way this group has performed at times, showing glimpses of greatness, but no one cares about what they do "at times"; if they can't do it over a longer period and on a consistent basis, all that potential is a complete waste.
Inconsistency has often been England's problem. They play well in patches, putting up performances that cajole people into believing they are in contention for major trophies, and all of a sudden, England gobsmack everyone with such a dismal show that it's hard to make out who is more laughable - the ones who believed England could be the best, or the team itself who can't bloody set standards for themselves.
We often talk about why can't England be as consistent as some of the other teams like Australia and South Africa who generally play well both at home and away. Yet again, the answer turns out to be the mentality, which the coach has to impart into a team. At least momentarily, it feels as if Trevor Bayliss is failing to make this team a group of "winners". It is more a squad looking to improve all the time, and not bothering to get the results.
"We are constantly improving and still learning" is the most obvious excuse for England, and that's where they keep finding a shelter in, that's where the false sense of security is coming from. There's that famous excuse - "The New Era" - that England tried to defend every loss with after the Ashes humiliation, and now they have found another such excuse.
Everyone's aware of the fact that England still are in a learning phase, but no, they are not improving and the blame is to be put on the comfort Bayliss' England are deriving from the excuse of being in their early days. Even if the results are taken out of consideration, where's the improvement? a 133-run partnership and nothing to show either side in a total of 216 isn't improvement; the middle and lower order managing just eight runs between them isn't improvement as well.
There's a serious lack of urgency in English Cricket, and Andrew Strauss might need to intervene even if Trevor Bayliss doesn't like it. Surely, England can't carry on thinking it's perfectly okay to lose as long as you are willing to improve - that's utter bunkum. If England don't realise that the road they are travelling on is the wrong one, they will almost inevitably end up exactly where they were on the night when Bangladesh knocked them out, or the afternoon when the 5-0 drubbing was completed at The SCG.