Monday, 9 March 2015

Crashing out again

Monday, 9 March 2015
There was a sad inevitability about England's loss to Bangladesh today. It was the pressure match, the one they needed to win to progress to the quarter finals, and instead they find themselves already knocked out with a match still to play, against Afghanistan. They have lost all their matches against test nations, their sole victory being against Scotland, and really it's obvious to see that they don't deserve to be in the next round.

And who couldn't be happy for Bangladesh? It was a well deserved victory, a performance with both bat and ball. Mahmudullah scored Bangladesh's first ever world cup century, coming in with the team under pressure at 10/2. Mushfiqur Rahim nearly scored the country's second, scoring 89 before falling in the closing overs. And the bowling was even better - Rubel Hossain took four wickets and was the fastest bowler of the match; Mortaza and Taskin Ahmed took two apiece; the spinners held England back. And the celebrations were brilliant for what became one of Bangladesh's biggest and best days of international cricket.

But it was yet another tale of woe for England. Their bowling was better - incision at the start with two wickets, and more at the end to restrict Bangladesh in the last five overs. The result was a total of 276 runs to be chasing down - certainly gettable (and especially by the standards of this tournament), but also enough for the nerves to kick in if the wickets were to fall. Which, of course, they did. But at least they mixed it up - rather than collapsing in the middle overs to spin, they did it to pace instead for this match. What a treat. Several batsmen made starts but didn't go on, some just didn't get in at all - Morgan, again. Bell made it to 63, once again getting a start but not going on - an all too common theme in his career, and an especially bad problem for a senior player in a struggling team.

It was another case where the batsmen in the lower order were left with too much to do. Buttler is one of the leading lights of the team but he can't do the whole job by himself - and really, for him to have the full impact he could have, he should be higher up the order. He made 65 from 52, and Woakes was left stranded on 42*. They did a good job, but the top order let them down, left too much to do with too few overs and too few wickets. Like a bad dream, happening again and again and again and again.

England have simply been substandard throughout the whole tournament. With the bat there have been too many collapses, and the general mentality has been so far behind the other teams. With the ball, they've let themselves down as well: the big names of Broad and Anderson not living up to their reputations; Finn took wickets but more backward steps; bowlers generally just averaging around fifty or more. In the field, they've not been at their best. And the captaincy has turned out as conservative and disappointing as it was before.

And to think, we went in to the World Cup with a slither of optimism. They'd given us some hope, some signs of promise in the tri-series beforehand that gave us some cause for belief that they might, might just surprise us. But then it was more of the same. Another World Cup, another failure. Better luck next time.

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