Eoin Morgan
England's Morgan leaves the field after being dismissed during the third cricket test match against Pakistan in Dubai. REUTERS

In the end, the spin did for England's batting line up - as it has done throughout this all-to-brief series. England held out until after tea on Day Four but when Monty Panesar was trapped LBW just after tea the world's No.1-ranked Test side had slumped to a 71-run defeat and with it, suffered their first series whitewash by Pakistan.

Instead of a free-scoring series it was the bowlers, and overwhelmingly Pakistan's spinners, who dominated these three Tests. Saeed Ajmal took 24 wickets, Abdur Rehman nabbed 19, while Monty Panesar was England's highest with a paltry 14 (albeit from one fewer match).

After losing this series 3-0, a chastised England now face the prospect of further humiliation in the form of four one-dayers and three Twenty20 matches before they moving to Sri Lanka and a two-Test run.

Today was the last chance for England's batsmen to cement their place for that tour. Set 324 to win, the top four were all undone by spin before Umar Gul (4-61) went to work on the middle order. Only Alastair Cook (49) offered any resistance before he was caught by Younis Khan off the bowling of Ajmal. The off-spinner finished with figures of 4-67.

England's top-order has struggled all series but there is sufficient goodwill from the exploits of 2011 to ensure Andrew Strauss, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell a stay of execution. For Bell, the best batsman in the world in 2011, this series has been particularly cruel. His dismissal for 10 off the bowling of Gul smacked of absent-mindedness rather than good bowling for, having weathered a tormenting session by Ajmal, he looped a straight-forward cut straight to point to complete a wretched series: 51 runs at an average of 8.50.

Eoin Morgan is unlikely to be afforded the same treatment, despite showing some colour in reaching 31 before edging to Akmal. The England batsman has now failed to get past 50 in his last 10 innings and will be replaced by Ravi Bopara after the one-day series. At the very least, Bopara cannot be expected to score fewer than Morgan's series average of 13.6.

England will take small comfort that Sri Lanka's spinners - with Muttiah Muralitharian retired - pose less of a threat than Pakistan's attack. Still, this is no time for complacency. This defeat is the first time England have been whitewashed since 2006-07 in Australia. Then, England were ravaged by injuries and the sudden loss of Marcus Trescothick on the eve of the first Test. But here they were comprehensively outplayed with a full-strength line-up. It remains to be seen to what extent this was a mere anomaly or a malignant slide back towards Test mediocrity. We will have a better idea after the Sri Lanka series in March.