Is it the obsession with white-ball cricket? Is it that techniques are being diminished by the modern game? Is it because, as Sir Alastair Cook says, the ball is doing more in English conditions now than he can ever remember?
England desperately need to find the answer because what we saw on Friday was an accident waiting to happen.
To carry out a technical analysis for Sky on the way England collapsed on Friday was to highlight the real concerns we must have about the way our red-ball game is going.
What we saw on Friday was an accident waiting to happen and there is no miracle cure
Yes, this is an outstanding Australia attack and, to give England’s batsmen a little bit of leeway, CricViz stats say the ball was moving around in the first two days of this third Test more than at any time since their records began.
But why were England’s batsmen trying to drive through the covers so often when there was so much movement against high-quality bowling? They just should not be doing that. They should be letting the ball come to them.
Did they not absorb anything of what went on during the first day, when they saw that ball move around so much? Did they not look at the way Marnus Labuschagne left the ball outside off-stump and realise that’s what you had to do here?
And when England are playing the cover drive, they are doing it with a strong bottom-hand grip and closed bat face. Jason Roy, Joe Denly and Rory Burns have all been guilty this summer.
I looked at Roy yesterday and, from the first ball, it seemed he had changed his approach to an even more attacking mind-set. He was not trying to apply himself to Test cricket at all.
Jason Roy walks off the pitch after Josh Hazlewood managed to get the England opener out
He just seemed to think, ‘I’m going to try to get a few here before the ball gets me’. There was no attempt to learn from Labuschagne and David Warner on the first day.
He might hit a couple of boundaries that way, but to go even harder at the ball when it was doing more meant it was only a matter of time before an edge came. It doesn’t help, perhaps, when even England coach Trevor Bayliss is saying he thinks Roy would be better off in the middle order.
I don’t know if there is a problem between Bayliss and the selectors, but if I was a captain like Joe Root (right) who had just moved up to three in the order, I wouldn’t like to see my opener teeing off the way Roy is