With the Brisbane Test gone the way of all things it seems that the main question that should never be asked of an England cricketer at the moment is whether or not they think that they were under-prepared. It seems obvious to virtually everyone outside the squad that this was the case, yet they're having none of it.

Not that the ECB could have done much more amid the stifling claustrophobia of the current international calendar, but more - and more meaningful - warm-up matches would surely have given England a better chance of competing at the Gabba, especially when the number of long-term casualties in their attack is taken into account. Giles? Out injured for a year. Anderson? Out injured for the majority of the 2006 English season. Flintoff? Ditto. Harmison? Fit, but with his outstanding bowling at Old Trafford during the summer fading from memory and seeming more and more like a mirage.

To clutch at straws, the signs on the fourth day were better, and, with some adjustments in selection (Panesar for Anderson to start with, which would hardly lengthen the tail) and a miraculous rediscovery of form from Harmison, they could yet compete at Adelaide and in the rest of the series.

Personally, though, I wouldn't bet on it.

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