Let’s get straight to it – this England side is a poor ODI side. It’s organised poorly, led poorly, administered poorly and playing poorly. On paper, this side equals a lot less than the sum of its parts.
It is to be expected that poor sides lose to better ones. No one will have been surprised that England lost to Australia and New Zealand, two of the tournament favourites. What has been surprising, though, is the manner of the defeats.
Defeat to Australia arrived in a blizzard of inept fielding, poorly construed and poorly executed bowling plans and poor batting. The ineptitude of the batting was cranked up to 11 for the New Zealand game*.
If I’m sounding like a broken record, it’s because I’m watching one.
The management has dressed its decisions as ‘brave’. It was ‘brave’ to sack Kevin Pietersen; ‘brave’ to return to Peter Moores (the “coach of his generation”!!!), ‘brave’ to stand by Alastair Cook, ‘brave’ to sack Alastair Cook. At some point, one of the clowns at the ECB is going to have to take his red nose off, wipe away the face paint and admit they were ‘WRONG’.
We keep hearing about a ‘fearless’ side that will ‘enjoy’ its cricket. Try ‘feckless’ and ‘confused’, instead.
Watching the so-called minnows so far at this World Cup, they are playing better cricket than England. They have their plans, they are sticking to them, they are here for the ride, they are enjoying the experience. England look chastened. They look clueless.
The problem is, England are looking for something that is not there. They are not as good as New Zealand, Australia, India and South Africa. At present, you would not be surprised if Scotland turn them over in their next game.
Given that, they need to lay down some plans and they need to stick to them. They need some foundations upon which to build. The structure has to change. The ineptitude at the top has seeped through the entire system.
They don’t have the players to challenge for a World Cup in this system. Players like Stuart Broad and Jos Buttler have slumped alarmingly of late. Eoin Morgan, too. James Taylor, who was thrust into the side by mistake, only to make himself undroppable, was shunted from a steady spot at three, down to six, to accommodate Gary Ballance on the morning of the tournament. It’s hair-brained at best. There is no defence; there are no positives.
The very worst part of all of this is that everyone, everyone except the ECB, could see this coming. You can label things as ‘brave’ and ‘fearless’, but the only people the ECB are left to try and fool are themselves.
By Miles Reucroft
*If you haven’t seen it, Stuart Broad’s innings with the bat was comically bad. I haven’t seen anyone bat that badly who isn’t called Chris Martin or Monty Panesar. He looked a genuine bunny.