No, I don't mean sodomy, beating children, binge drinking, football hooliganism, crap teeth or questionable personal hygeine, rather the real English disease: an inability to sustain excellence of performance.
Twice now in the last decade England have been up and around the top spot in tests (in 2005 when we defeated the ATG Australian line-up of McWarne & Co and last year after whitewashing India to catually move to #1), but once the side reaches this level it seemingly gets a bad case of vertigo and things head south rapidly.
Why is this?
After the 2005 Ashes when Fletcher's England established themselves as the clear #2 test side one can point to a few mitgating factors as to why the side didn't kick on: never again would the awesome foursome seam attack of Flintoff, Harmison, Jones & Hoggard play together again, Vaughan's knee would mean he missed as many tests as he played thereafter, Trescothick's depressive illness would soon come to the fore & the lack of a quality spin option could only be papered over for so long.
This time things are perhaps harder to explain: we have a settled and capable (at least on paper) top seven, two decent spin options, at least half a dozen serious seam options to perm two or three from & arguably the best lower order we've ever fielded.
Ultimately tho the same result to follow the greatest triumph: an away defeat against a Pakistan side the tourists were strongly fancied to beat.
Can't just be co-incidence can it? Is there something in the English sporting psyche that means years of sustained success can never be grasped. As Dr Cameron Burge, emeritus professor of the Peter Stirling chair for Australianism at the Parramatta Institute would have it: