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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Why England deserved to lose...

Why England deserved to lose...

By Apostrophe Content and Entertainment
March 12, 2015 15:38 IST
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England coach Peter Moores talk with captain Eoin Morgan

England coach Peter Moores talk with captain Eoin Morgan to the players before an England nets session at Sydney Cricket Ground. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

England are out of the 2015 ODI World Cup. Bangladesh delivered the knock-out blow, after they lost to Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. Their sole victory came against Scotland.

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How did this happen? After all, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had made sure to tick all the boxes. They moved the Ashes one season ahead and only scheduled ODIs for their team since August 2014. If a six-month preparation leading into the World Cup couldn’t provide them a blue-print of how to chase down 275 runs in 50 overs in this current era, then what gives?

In defeat, they joined the UAE, Scotland and Afghanistan in going out of contention at this early stage, not India and Australia – their partners in the power-troika of world cricket – in the next round. Even as the ECB decided on the fate of associates – in cohorts with the ICC – about the format of the 2019 edition, Ireland are still in contention for a quarter-final spot. They are already more successful than their hallowed neighbours.

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“We came here wanting to give it a go and really play some exciting cricket, and we haven't done that. I'm not sure that we've really recovered from the first two games in the tournament. We got blown away in the first two games, and I don't think we've really recovered from that. There has been a lot said about, perhaps our nervousness, and the tension that we're playing with. I think it's hard to argue against that,” said assistant coach Paul Farbrace.

England coach Peter Moores talks to the players

England coach Peter Moores talks to the players before an England nets session at Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

For their rigidity, in booting Kevin Pietersen out of the team, in not getting rid of Alastair Cook when time warranted, for their obtuse tactics in the face of obvious solutions, England deserved to lose. There will be no easy solutions to this mess, but deep introspection is needed. For this embarrassment doesn’t come as a big shock. The only question remains, whether the powers that be care enough about limited-overs cricket to help their side climb out of this quagmire?

Coach Peter Moores wanted to ‘look at the data’ after their embarrassing loss to Bangladesh in Adelaide. That won’t help. The ageing Pietersen will not be the answer to this solution either, although his name has popped up as an early Ashes team was picked this past week. He will always be remembered as a different class to the current crop of English cricketers, one who could easily step outside his limits and succeed as a cricketer.  But his absence wasn’t the reason for their exit. He could not have papered over the many cracks in this English set up.

The problem for them is that they do not have enough enforcers to move the game along in limited-overs, more players in the mould of Pietersen. It is not that they do not have world-class players, just not enough players to force the issue. Having the likes of Alex Hales and Ravi Bopara sitting on the bench doesn’t help. Playing Gary Ballance, schooled in proper gentleman cricket, ahead of James Taylor and Jos Buttler in the batting order does them no favours. It is a wonder that Moeen Ali opens the innings for them.

Meanwhile, their bowling attack needs a re-look as well. Stuart Broad and James Anderson are world-beaters in the longer format, but it took them five matches to adjust their lengths in this World Cup. This, despite the fact that they have toured here many times, not to mention they did play a tri-series against Australia and India in January. Did they try hard enough, is a question that must be asked.

Finding answers by replacing their bowling line-up is easier said than done, but England have not made an impression in this quadrennial tournament since they reached the final in 1992. Surely there is no way easy path ahead.

It will be best seen in their last match on Friday as they take on fiery Afghanistan in Sydney. It could get worse for them, before it gets any better, for this minnow team never gives up. Bangladesh, Scotland and Sri Lanka will vouch for it, all teams that troubled England in their respective match-ups. It is very nearly a match-up based on the Twitter jibes, and there is much at stake. This is not an inconsequential game for English cricket.

“We've got to find a way to get ourselves in position to play well tomorrow and win. The boys are still hurting from the other night, and there is huge disappointment. If losing to Bangladesh was terrible we could not possibly imagine what it will be like if tomorrow goes against us. That would be horrendous,” added Farbrace.

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