England’s greatest achievement in recent memory, winning The Ashes on Australian soil, has all but been forgotten in recent weeks, after a series of disgusting, inept and simply embarrassing performances in the shorter version of the game.
Since retaining the little urn in January 2011, England have stumbled to just two wins from their proceeding 10 One-Day Internationals (ODI), a sure sign of an Ashes hangover.
It all started in the commonwealth Bank ODI Series when they were handed a 6-1 thumping by a resurgent Australian side, eager to win back some of the public’s respect after the Ashes defeat. The ICC World Cup was exactly what the doctor ordered, a fresh new series with everything to play for… Surely the real England would return? Unfortunately not.
England’s first opponent in the tournament were The Netherlands, a minnow cricketing nation who really, apart from some second-tier South African and Australian ex-pats, offer nothing threatening at all. Despite this, England conceded 6/292 off 50.0 overs, with Ryan ten Doeschate creaming 119 off just 110 balls. England did manage to sneak home with just 8 balls to spare, largely due to a sublime 88 from captain Andrew Strauss, however their bowling and fielding was sub-par, none more so than James Anderson who conceded 72 runs off his 10 wicket-less overs.
Game two against India, arguably the most dangerous side in the tournament, was a high-scoring thriller which ended in a tie. Once again Strauss saved the day, smashing 158 off 145 balls as England managed to match India’s impressive total of 338. The batting however once again covered over the bowling worries, with James Anderson once again being the main culprit, conceding a staggering 91 runs off his 9.5 overs.
Game three, against another minnow nation in Ireland, was a chance to regain some form, and after posting another healthy total of 8/327, all seemed in order. Things became even rosier for the Poms when Ireland collapsed to 5/111 in the 25th over, leaving an unlikey equation of almost 9 runs per-over needed with just 5 wickets in hand. Kevin O’Brien however had other ideas, as he smashed the insipid English bowlers all around the park on his way to an incredible 113 off just 63 balls, a World Cup record. Together with Alex Cusack (47) and John Mooney (33 not out), the Irish stormed home to a famous victory with 5 balls and 3 wickets up their sleeves. The main culprit this time was Stuart Broad who conceded 73 runs from 9 wicket-less overs, James Anderson was only marginally better going for 49 himself in 8.1 overs.
After three games, England’s chances of progressing through to the Quarter-Finals are slipping, with the bowling statistics page looking so poor that Darren Gough must be feeling excited for an International comeback. The disastrous statistics are below;
Kevin Pietersen – 2 overs, 0 wickets for 19 runs (9.50 rpo)
James Anderson – 28 overs, 2 wickets for 212 runs (7.57 rpo)
Stuart Broad – 19 overs, 2 wickets for 138 runs (7.26 rpo)
Michael Yardy – 17 overs, 1 wicket for 113 runs (6.65 rpo)
Ajmal Shazad – 8 overs, 0 wickets for 53 runs (6.63 rpo)
Paul Collingwood – 16 overs, 1 wicket for 92 runs (5.75 rpo)
Tim Bresnan – 30 overs, 7 wickets for 161 runs (5.37 rpo)
Graeme Swann – 29 overs, 6 wickets for 141 runs (4.86 rpo)
With the exception of Graeme Swan and Tim Bresnan, the English bowling line-up is severely out of form and together with some hap-hazard displays in the field, they simply will not progress past the first round, despite the strength in their batting.
The Ashes may be secure back at Lord’s for a few more years, however England’s performances thus far in the games biggest tournament have put a dampener on the celebrations. If England wants to be seen as a genuine contender for the best cricketing nation in the World, performances like this need to end and they need to find ways to return to the winners list.
Whichever way they go from here, back up North or further down South, it’s sure going to be exciting!