I couldn’t be bothered with the 5th ODI. Perhaps I subconsciously knew what was about to happen. I put the TV on, watched the first ten overs or so, and thought “this is incredibly dull”. The pitch was incredibly flat, the batsmen were cashing in, and England hadn’t even bothered to pick their best side. The game had ‘dead-rubber’ written all over it.
Because I had no appetite whatsoever to watch the game live, I retreated to my home office to do some work – desperate times call for desperate measures I guess. However, I still followed the match on Cricinfo. And what happened wasn’t entirely unsurprising.
When this England team wins it tends to win big. And when it occasionally loses (which happens about one in very five games) it tends to lose even bigger. There’s no doubt this England team deserves it’s No.1 ranking, but on Tuesday they looked like the worst team in the world. And it’s hard to put one’s finger on why this keeps happening.
No doubt many fans will simply shrug their shoulders and say it doesn’t matter. The players, who like to spin a good yarn and gloss over their failures, will certainly do so. They’ll simply say “it was a bad day at the office” or some other cliche.
The problem, of course, is that England won’t win the World Cup, or any other international tournament for that matter, if they keep having an off day every fifth match. What happens is that you become the bookies favourite early on but then lose in the semis. Which is exactly what happened in last year’s Champions Trophy.
In order to win major trophies England can’t afford days like they had today. They’ll go on winning series 4-1 or 3-1 but the big prizes will elude them. The best case scenario is that we’re lucky enough to play like muppets in a group match – when there’s time to put things right. But even then it’s not that simple. Momentum will be lost and we’ll end up with a tougher draw. Run rates can also be affected negatively in a big way.
This England ODI side has been so enjoyable to watch in recent times that it feels churlish to put the boot in now. However, neither is it right to completely ignore what was, after all, the biggest defeat in our ODI history.
That’s right folks. Tuesday’s capitulation was England’s heaviest defeat (in terms of runs) ever. The small matter of 219 runs. The players should be thoroughly embarrassed. I can’t see world champions in other sports (take football for example) being so thoroughly humiliated. France would never lose 6-0 against a team near the bottom of the rankings; a team written off as no-hopers by many pundits.
Yes there were mitigating factors today. When the opposition posts a big score you have to gamble a bit in an attempt to keep up with the rate – and this, of course, can lead to lost wickets. But England simply didn’t attack sensibly today. It all looked a bit desperate. And therefore they never justified their favourites tag at online bookmakers like www.novibet.co.uk. They batted as if they were taking a punt with someone else’s money.
Although Tuesday was a dead rubber, Bairstow was injured, and Morgan and Woakes were rested, the number one team in the world simply shouldn’t lose this badly. Professional pride alone should forbid it. I know there’s little point in doing an MS Dhoni (merely batting out the overs when you suspect it’s a lost cause) but at the same time there’s no excuse for capitulating so weakly. What’s more, it’s worrying that the lower order struggled so much against spin.
But perhaps there’s one way to make sense of it all? With the ODI series already in the bag, maybe our batsmen had already started thinking about the upcoming test series? Perhaps they thought it was best to get into ‘pitiful collapse mode’ now. At least they’re preparing properly for matches ahead I suppose. Good thinking lads.
Written in collaboration with Novibet