Sense of inevitability to England's toil and trouble

Vaughan: No swing, no seam, no spin, no express pace (3:14)

Michael Vaughan and Melinda Farrell dissect England's bowling woes after the third day in Perth and whether they can escape Perth with a draw (3:14)

And people wonder why they drink.

It must have been days like this that persuaded Douglas Jardine to adopt the Bodyline approach. Days like this when the seeming inevitability of Don Bradman's vast scores persuaded Jardine to try something different. Days like this that persuaded Joseph Conrad to write and Edvard Munch to paint.

Unfortunately for Joe Root, he has no Harold Larwood or Bill Voce to enforce the tactics employed by Jardine. He has no spinner like Hedley Verity, either. And while it may be stretching a point to compare Steven Smith to Don Bradman, the basic principle is the same: Australia have developed a batsman who, in these conditions at least, renders their bowlers impotent. Really, for much of this series, it's been like trying to kill an elephant with insults.

We can pick fault with some of England's tactics - the use of one slip at the start of the day, the lack of short balls, the one maiden in the first session - but it's doubtful any of that would have made a difference. It is increasingly hard to avoid the conclusion that Australia are simply better than England. And in Smith, in particular, they have a player for which England have no answer. He's just too good for them. They have been outplayed.

The most depressing aspect of the day from an England perspective was the apparent inevitability of proceedings. The tactics that have at least slowed Smith on previous grounds could never work on this pitch and with this outfield. Instead it seemed England's only hope was that, one day, Smith would grow old and retire.

In such circumstances, any criticism of the England attack should be measured. There was no lack of effort from any of them. Craig Overton deserves a special 'mention in dispatches' for playing on despite a cracked rib but really, nobody can ask more for them than their best, and they gave that. And, as James Anderson and Stuart Broad got through 57 overs between them without taking a wicket - a record for them - the thought dawned that, while England require 16 more wickets to win this match, you wonder if they'll take 16 more in the series. Really, Burke and Wills had a better trip through Australia than England's bowlers. They just haven't been good enough.

Those bowlers might well be forgiven for looking at their batsmen, however, and asking: 'You only managed 400? On THIS?' England's total of 403 looked about 403 too few by lunch on day three and, bearing in mind they reached 368 for 4 on day two, they should feel they let a chance slip.

England's issue - one of England's issues - is that they have a glut of fast-medium seam and swing bowlers in a land where pace rules. Like being violinists in a war zone, they found their subtle skills irrelevant at a time when henchmen were required. Anderson is an artist but, if you want to knock down a wall, a violin isn't much use. Sometimes you need a hammer.

There are few simple answers for England. There are no fit fast bowlers lurking in the shadows of county cricket who would have made a difference here. Yes, the likes of Olly Stone, George Garton and Jamie Overton are promising. But two of them are still recovering from injury and Garton is still at the stage of his career where he may slip a beamer in between the yorkers. While Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett are more viable options, it might be remembered that Wood underwhelmed with his pace in two Tests against South Africa while Plunkett featured in just two Championship games for Yorkshire in 2017 and is not considered fit enough for a Test by the England management.

If England really want to avoid days like these - and days like these are happening rather too often at present (even before this, they had bowled an average of 155 overs in the first innings of their most recent seven overseas Tests - see table) to be dismissed as an aberration - they have to look at the underlying reasons. They have to reflect on the marginalisation of the County championship campaign which has diminished the need to produce fast bowlers and spinners (why bother with such skills, if 70mph medium-pacers can hit the seam and bowl unplayable deliveries?), they have to look at the lack of technical coaching throughout the English game and look at why Bluffborough, for all the millions invested in it, produces nothing but jobs for former players.

Really, if all the money pumped into Bluffborough had instead been spent on donkey sanctuaries in Suffolk, English cricket would be no worse off. And donkeys in Suffolk could wear tiaras and Gucci saddles.

But you know this already. And the ECB know this already. But their priority - not entirely unreasonably - is T20 cricket which they see as the vehicle for growth in the game. While they insist that a mid-season window is an essential part of that agenda, while they prefer coaches who won't rock the boat to those that could engender change, any success abroad is going to be rare.

Amid such barren displays, it might be unfair to highlight the performance of one bowler. And it is true, Broad bowled no worse than anyone else and there are no obvious replacements that are better than him. As ever, really, he ran in hard, he put the ball in good areas and he demanded respect. It's a long, long time since he bowled poorly in a Test.

But we have to set the bar a little higher than that. And all the evidence suggests Broad's ability to shape games would appear to be diminishing. His last five-wicket haul came in Johannesburg in January 2016 and his last four-wicket haul in November 2016. In 2017, his bowling average in Test cricket is 38.28 and his best bowling figures are 3 for 34. That is not a small sample size.

There are some caveats. Broad has suffered more than most through dropped catches - 11 went down off him during the two Test series in the English summer of 2017 - but, bowling on the same surfaces with the same new ball, Anderson has taken his Test wickets in 2017 at a cost of 17.63.

There's been an element of denial about some of Broad's comments in recent times. When he now says he was never really one for swinging the ball, he swung it enough when taking 8 for 15 against this side in 2015. And when he says he was never one for generating outright pace, he looked pretty sharp when he took 6 for 50 against them in Durham in 2013. The truth is, he has lost just a bit of pace and just a bit of his ability to move the ball away from the right-hander. As a consequence, he isn't the bowler he once was.

He's no scapegoat for this performance, though. For it wasn't the English team that was thrashed around the WACA, it was the English system.