Alastair Cook has been trying to find positives from the drawn Test series in the West Indies while Andrew Strauss prepares to take over as the team's new managing director. Ralph Ellis fears things are not about to improve.
"I know that the Kiwis have not won a Test over here since 1999, but for the life of me on current form I can’t see why they should be 3.211/5 outsiders to win the two-match series – especially when they are now favourites at 2.526/4 to take the first Test when it starts on May 21st."
During the miserable Ashes winter of 2006-7 David Graveney was a regular on local TV around my home in Bristol. You'd wake up, catch up on the news of another batting collapse by England, or mammoth score by Australia. Then Graveney, the chairman of selectors, would pop up on the screen from the office where he ran his accountancy practice trying to explain it all away.
It always puzzled me because here he was, the man who was responsible for picking the touring party and ultimately the team, sat in the West Country while all the cricket was being played on the other side of the world.
Why, I wondered, was the man responsible not actually out there with the players, seeing at first hand what was going right or in most cases wrong?
When Graveney was removed from his job in 2008 I thought those days were gone. Since then successive England coaches, and especially Andy Flower during his time in charge, had far more authority over picking the sides and leading the team from the front line. It's no coincidence that England then became number one side in the world for a while.
Yet here we are, following on the back of another miserable Ashes winter, about to appoint a new director of cricket to oversee all things England, and it looks like the same mistakes are about to made.
Andrew Strauss has emerged as favourite to take the job. Yet reports suggest he only became keen on the role once it was established that he wouldn't have to travel all the time.
After the collapse in the final Test in the West Indies, you can't help but feel that the England cricket set up is becoming a bit of a dog's dinner. There are selectors, coaches, managing directors, chairman, performance directors, captains, Uncle Tom Cobley and all involved in the process. But there isn't, at the moment, any clear leadership.
When Ronnie Irani did the Betfair Big Interview before the Caribbean tour he flagged up many of the problems. England are a battered and bruised side with no confidence. It showed horribly on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon as wickets tumbled.
It would be nice to think that a home series against New Zealand would be a chance to put things right. Think again. I know that the Kiwis have not won a Test over here since 1999, but for the life of me on current form I can't see why they should be 3.211/5 outsiders to win the two-match series - especially when they are now favourites at 2.526/4 to take the first Test when it starts on May 21st.
They will have the new-ball bowling attack of Trent Boult and Tim Southee that routed England in the World Cup, and while they and several of their other big stars including captain Brendon McCullum will miss out on warm-up games because of IPL commitments, when they get here they'll be ready to go.
Meanwhile it seems both captain Alastair Cook and coach Peter Moores are in denial about the West Indies debacle, talking about how there were positives from a young side.
It's hard not to agree with Geoff Boycott, who fears a cosy partnership between the new MD and captain, and has been scathing of Cook in his Daily Telegraph column today. Our cricket team needs a whole new makeover, with a leader full of energy to be at every game for every minute wherever in the world it is being played, and not another absentee landlord.