Frail batting costs England again
The most frustrating aspect of England's chastening opening day was that, as feared, it was their well-publicised batting problems that cost them. Anyone can get out first ball, but it was the last thing Michael Vaughan needed today.
With questions now seriously being raised about the value of his place in the side as a batsman, he desperately wanted a score here, but was undone by the faintest of edges to the wicketkeeper, and the pressure on him will be ratcheted up another notch.
A team can just about accommodate one batsman struggling for form, but not two, and it was no surprise to see Paul Collingwood struggling so painfully. He has been in dreadful form all summer and this laboured innings of 45 minutes for his four betrayed his lack of confidence.
While we have not seen enough of Vaughan today truly to gauge either his form or state of mind, Collingwood's torment was on show for all to see. He faced 22 balls, and made one scoring stroke - he will have to produce something really special in the second innings to avoid being dropped for the final Test.
Andrew Strauss will feel some responsibility for starting the collapse having needlessly trodden on his wicket after 23 relatively calm overs. Andre Nel was the bowler, lumbering in with his usual enthusiasm and energy, but the ball was innocuously aimed at the leg stump. Strauss clipped it away for a run, only for his left boot to knock his bails off.
Vaughan followed next ball, and Kevin Pietersen's dismissal was also unusual. Apparently trapped lbw by Kallis, Pietersen was actually given out caught at point by Steve Davis after the ball had bounced off his pad. Pietersen had turned his back on the umpire, and it took an age for him finally to leave the crease. The outcome was the correct, albeit the decision itself was wrong.
Tim Ambrose has not done enough to give the selectors the confidence to play five bowlers at The Oval - or anywhere else for that matter - and the farcical run-outs of James Anderson and Monty Panesar at the end merely summed it all up.
The demeanour of the England team as it took the field would not have filled even its most loyal and optimistic supporter with confidence. Why? After one defeat, how have things unravelled so spectacularly? The answer to that can only come from within the dressing room.