It is over for England, but it never really got started. The run up to this World Cup has been disastrous even by the appalling standards that the English have set for themselves at the last five World Cups. They have lost to all the full member teams in their group and their tournament is over before the final round of group games. This is as bad as it gets.
England vs Bangladesh happens very rarely. They have only faced each other 15 times in ODIs before today. They have not met in any format in four years, a game which Bangladesh won at the last World Cup. To give you some idea of England’s fixture priorities, in that same four year period they have played Australia 43 times in all formats. England won the first 12 of those meetings with Bangladesh, but England have now lost three of their last four games against them.
Throughout most of that the four years between these games it has been Bangladesh in the doldrums of world cricket, but coming into this game it was England who had to win to keep their World Cup alive. A loss to England would mean Bangladesh could still make the quarters with a win against New Zealand, although that seemed a remote possibility. If England lost that was that. Even a thumping victory over Afghanistan wouldn’t be enough. It was an accurate reflection of just how bad England have been at this World Cup.
It all started promisingly for England. A Test match field and James Anderson picking up two early wickets and regularly troubling the edge of the bat. Both Stuart Broad and Anderson pitched the ball up and got it to swing. Anderson seemed to have rediscovered his pace that had gone missing so often in recent years. The issues began when the lacquer had come off the new balls and the swing disappeared.
A solid partnership between Mahmadulluh and Soumya Sarkar brought the game back into the balance, but when Sarkar played an uncommitted stroke to a Chris Jordan short ball it brought Shakib-al-Hassan to the crease. Bangladesh’s best player lasted just six balls before he played a loose shot to a ball from Moeen Ali to be caught at slip. This could well have been the point where the Bangladesh innings became a procession, but the increasingly impressive Mushfiqur Rahim was the second man to combine with Mahmadullah in a partnership of note.
At one point the Bangladeshis would have been eyeing up 300, a total that England have had issues with over the years. As it was the departure of the two set batsmen within the death overs saw them reach 275, not a daunting total, but more than enough for the chase to be much more than a formality.
True to form England didn’t make pursuit of this total straightforward. They have now created a style of cricket that is both horrifying and hilarious. It is like the cricketing version of George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead movies. Laughing at it has become the only response available, or England fans would be weeping into their breakfast cereal every morning when they checked the scorecard.
The comedy was there right from the beginning in this England innings as Moeen Ali ran himself out setting off for a single that didn’t exist. A decent fifty from Ian Bell was enough to make you think that perhaps there would be few alarms in this chase, but when he departed in the middle of a cluster of wickets that fell to the Bangladesh seamers, normal service was resumed. Alex Hales and Bell both edged behind, James Taylor was caught at slip and Eoin Morgan departed for his fifth duck in nine innings when he was nonchalantly caught by Shakib on the boundary.
The most shocking part of this England display was it was the Bangladesh seamers that caused the most problems. England and their issues with spin are well documented, so when a side with four slow bowling options are picking up wickets with pace you know things are bad. When Mashrafe Mortaza brought himself and Rubel Hossain back on to bowl it caused some raised eyebrows, the wickets that the pair collected showed that he was right. England were outbowled and outthought by seam bowlers from Bangladesh.
As has been the case so often with England in recent times when chasing, they were left needing a Jos Buttler miracle, something that he is more than capable of doing, but he is being asked to pull one off far too often. Many have called for Buttler to move up the order, but that is missing the point. He has the perfect game for the last 10 overs of an innings. Rather than calling for Buttler to bat in the top six England need the top six or they have to perform or they need a new top six.
On this occasion Buttler couldn’t turn water into a quarter final against India, but Chris Woakes was doing his best to keep England in this. With Woakes batting at eight for England it is easy to forget that he has eight first class hundreds. He can bat. However he was left high and dry as Jordan was unluckily run out and Anderson and Broad were bowled by Hossain. England lost by 15 runs, but they never once looked to have this chase under control.
What Buttler and Woakes proved was that there was little wrong with this pitch. The problems with this England side have to be about attitude and culture. These well paid cricketers have every possible advantage in terms of coaching and facilities. Not even making a quarter final in a tournament that has a format that has been designed to make it as easy as possible for you to do so is a disgrace.
In March of last year the ECB Chairman, Giles Clarke, told us that "It's an utter nonsense to say we're at some sort of massive low ebb." It might be worth asking him if it is utter nonsense to suggest it today.
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