Johannesburg: Too much time off over Christmas was probably to blame for England's cricketing failure against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, former captain Paul Collingwood said on Monday.
"The defeats came out of the blue in many ways and in trying to see, from the outside, what they have done differently, the only thing I can think of is that it was probably the team's longest ever break heading into the series," Collingwood told Reuters.
"Normally we'd only get three or four weeks off at the end of our summer and we didn't spend many Christmases at home.
"But this time there was a three-month break which meant they went into the series a bit cold. Especially in the first Test, which did the damage because they didn't play spin very well, which meant their confidence levels were down and they never recovered."
England were beaten 3-0 by Pakistan in the Test series that ended last week and play the first of four one-day internationals on Monday in Abu Dhabi.
Collingwood, who is in South Africa to play in a domestic T20 competition starting on Wednesday, said he was sure England would put up a better showing in the limited-overs games.
"The good thing about this England team is that there's a really good culture in the dressing-room engendered by Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss. They obviously won't be happy with the performance, but there won't be any panic stations.
"They're still a very good cricket team, they just didn't adapt quickly enough to the conditions. I expect them to turn things around in the one-dayers."
Collingwood said he had not yet given up on his international career, despite retiring from Test cricket 13 months ago.
"Even though I'm 35, I still have ambitions to play for England and if I can produce six to eight months of good cricket then I might get back in the team. Playing here in South Africa is a big stage for me.
"I still have a three-year contract with Durham and my ambitions are still with England. Playing for your country is the ultimate and it's important that we get that through to the next generation - Test cricket is the big stage, not trotting around on the T20 circuit," Collingwood said.