Two indications that summer has finally arrived in the UK: It's warm and sunny - no doubt by the end of the week we'll be in the midst of heatwave of which we ungrateful Brits will complain as vociferously as we do about the more typical lack of warmth - and the England cricket teams is once again performing like a bunch of one-legged budgerigars.
After an early season series win over a poor New Zealand side, word was that England would come unstuck against the recently much improved proteas. And so it has come to pass. For the first two days of the Lord's test, England batted well, albeit on a (very) flat pitch. But they then failed to bowl out South Africa taking just three wickets in the last two days. For those of you not well-versed in test match cricket, that's twelve hours of play.
As I write, England are one wicket away from an innings defeat in the second test at Headingly, having been comprehensively outplayed in every department.
So why are England so consistently inconsistent. It's not just at cricket that we fail to live up to expectations and to deliver the kind of team performance of which such a good (on paper) collection of individuals should be capable; the same happens routinely on the soccer and rugby fields.
We Brits seem to have lost the ability to excel at team sports. Our football teams may do well in Europe, but then they field very few home grown players.
The two sports at which we are currently able to punch above our weight are golf - look how many Brits (including the amateur, Chris Wood) did well in the Open at Royal Birkdale which concluded yesterday, and cycling, in which we are phenomenal. And these are both individual rather than team events. On the other hand, we perform very badly at tennis, compared, for example, with the French.
I don't have an explanation for these continuing failures - especially those on the cricket field - but it is getting a little tedious. The Australians are back next year, and a home whitewash is surely on the cards.
ps: thanks to Stuart Broad, at least South Africa are having to bat again, but with just nine runs required, it hardly seems worth the bother.