Number One ranking at stake in Dubai
"Welcome to what I've had to put up with for most of the last 20 years."
These are the words with which Jonathan Agnew greeted me when I joined him for a drink on Saturday night.
Although Aggers was clearly speaking more than a little tongue in cheek, the nature of England's capitulation in Abu Dhabi did bring back some horrible memories of infamous England collapses.
Trinidad in 1994 when Ambrose and Walsh skittled England out for 46, The Gabba in 2002 where England were bowled out by McGrath and co for 79 or, more recently, Jamaica 2009 when Jerome Taylor blew away England for 51, all spring to mind.
That game in Kingston was actually the first Test under the two Andys, Messrs Flower and Strauss. But since that chaotic afternoon three years ago, they have brought considerable calm to England's Test side as well as great success.
Nobody said that this series against a much-improved Pakistan side was going to be easy and it was always more than possible England might lose. But it's the nature of the defeat which has been most striking.
Defeat in Dubai may lead to England losing their number one ranking if South Africa are able to whitewash New Zealand. Photo: Getty
Saturday is the sort of day in the Test Match Special box when the speed of events can make the producer's life rather tricky. The ends of games are always the most difficult to deal with because you have to worry about getting the programme off air, sorting out post-match interviews and servicing the numerous BBC outlets looking for reaction.
Then there are the practicalities such as organising transport for the commentators and de-rigging all the equipment.
This can be a challenge at the best of times but normally you have a little notice that the end is nigh. But when five wickets fall in 11 balls suddenly you have to react rather more quickly. So as England's batsmen were capitulating in the middle I was negotiating whether we could move the shipping forecast so Long Wave listeners didn't miss the end of the game, liaising with Five Live and the World Service, who both wanted Michael Vaughan for immediate reaction, briefing Alison Mitchell about possible questions for Andrew Strauss and organising our transport to get to the ground much earlier than planned.
I was also searching for Geoff Boycott so that he was in position ready to deliver his verdict on the TMS Podcast and, to be honest, I wasn't quite sure what mood he might be in. Firstly, Andrew Samson our scorer had found out that the only other time England had lost a Test chasing less than 150 in the last 100 years was Wellington 1978 - when Geoff had been captain. Then there was the little matter of what Boycott had said in the previous night's podcast. He was so confident of an England win he had staked his house on it. "Which one?" asked Aggers. "All three," replied Boycott. Now I was being flooded with Tweets and emails from listeners asking if they could have one of his properties while Dave Downing messaged me: "Will Geoff Boycott use a stick of rhubarb to knock in the "For Sale" signs?"
Fortunately Boycs took all this in great humour, but he was in no laughing mood when discussing what he thought of England's batting later.
Although huge praise must go to Pakistan for the way they have played in the first two Tests, it's a shame that when the third Test gets under way on Friday it's not a series decider. You can imagine a few more members of the Barmy Army might have made late bookings to come out here had the series been level. However, the performance of Misbah Ul Haq's side might encourage a large crowd from the Pakistani community here in Dubai on the first day. England's thre-day demise in the first Test denied the locals any play during their weekend.
But although the series is over England will be desperate to win the game for lots of reasons. They will obviously want to stop the rot after a deeply disappointing winter so far. But also their number one ranking could be at stake. If England lose in Dubai then South Africa will be able to overtake them with a 3-0 series win in New Zealand. This could be a costly business as well because the team which lies number one on 1 April will win a jackpot from the ICC worth $175,000.
Our coverage of the final Test gets under way on 5 live Sports Extra and Radio 4 Long Wave at 0545 on Friday where as well as our ball-by-ball coverage we'll be finding out what the secret is to Pakistan's recent success. Kevin Howells will present the second part tracing county cricket's greatest characters and Alison Mitchell will be discovering a corner of a foreign field which is forever England, Australia, Pakistan, through the amazing work at the ICC Global Cricket Academy.
Don't forget that if you miss our commentary you will be able to download the TMS Podcast and I must recommend our daily highlights show on 5 live Sports Extra.
But will we be bringing good news to England or Pakistan fans? As Aggers reminded me on Saturday night, I have been extremely fortunate to look after TMS during a golden period for the England Test team and the two Andys will be hoping the last fortnight is just a blip.