What an absolute disaster! For England. To be fair to England, I did not expect them to win, for I do not expect them to do well in this World Cup. Of course, history tells us that the last time England made it to the final was in 1992, in Australia and of course England fans will take heart from this history lesson. Back then, England won 5 out of 8 matches, with the round robin against Pakistan yielding no result when they were well ahead. Interesting, they failed to chase a modest total against the weakest side in the tournament, Zimbabwe. Their only other loss in the lead up to the semis was against New Zealand. Of course, Messrs Duckworth and Lewis played no small part in leading England by the hand into the final at the expense of South Africa.
Pakistan meanwhile had looked a side completely out of sorts with itself. I saw Pakistani fielding during the world cup and it was a little worse than the usual lackadaisical Pakistani fielding. The fact really is that Pakistan had no business being in the final, being driven along solely by Wasim Akram’s swing and Imran Khan’s date with destiny and personal pride.
In that final, England lost wickets into 2 clumps, 4-69 at the front and 4-47 at the dismal end.
In this game against New Zealand, England lost wickets in two clumps. 3-57 at the dismal front and 7-19 at the abject end. Let’s review the English innings
Bell: 8 from 17 scratchy balls ( oops, but I’m not going back to change that). What he is doing at the top of the order, in an ODI team, I fail to understand. Presumably, England have some plan for him.
Moeen: Slightly more comfortable than Bell. Lost the battle of wits with Southee early. Was set up beautifully once Southee settled in. A bouncer, called wide, a short of a length into the body and then a perfect yorker into the stumps. Moeen was unable to decide whether a short ball was coming or not and eventually, like the England cricket admins, made a decision to make do decision. End of Moeen.
Ballance: Why is he taking up James Taylor’s spot in this side? He looked ill at ease, survived 26 balls and was gone. Mercifully for him, for he just did not look like he belonged.
Root: Now he was the star of the England batting. Of course, England is not a team of learners so the others learned nothing from him. He was patient, correct and watchful, playing in the correct spot for him.
Morgan: Now here’s the thing. You’re the captain. You’re not getting runs. You’re not spending time in the middle. Here is your chance. Yes, you’re out of touch. Two horrible bottom edge square cuts that fell 3 feet from the stumps and went nowhere told us that. Your last few innings told us that. But what did it tell you? You’ve got Root at the other end in no trouble at all. You’ve got bags of overs to come. Southee can’t bowl for ever. You’ve managed to survive 41 balls. Why do you then play a nothing loft to Vettori, that canny New Zealander who has been playing since before you were born, it seems? Stupid! And don’t blame it on a fine catch by Milne. Blame it on a lack of nous and a stupid, unnecessary shot.
Taylor: He got a beauty of a second ball.
Buttler: Wasn’t quite sure what to do. Played and lost.
Off the rest, the only one that really sticks out is Stuart Broad. I was, frankly, appalled to see him backing away. And then the absolutely terrified shot he played! It was a “get me out of here, someone” shot. It makes me wonder if he’s suffering from the English player on tour syndrome that seemed to affect Trescothick and Trott. ( Don’t bother sending me abuse, I shall just junk it)
Now we come the New Zealand bowling:
Boult: Tight, even though he didn’t get the ball to swing around too much. Kept his line and length.
Southee: Got the swing right, the length right, the line right and most importantly got the brain right. His set up of Moeen was outstanding. He deserved the MoM award.
Milne: Not quite up to his best. Didn’t need to be, but kept it together. The weak link.
Vettori: The usual mix of speed, line and direction. He hasn’t changed over the last 5o years he’s been playing.
Anderson: Wasn’t tested. Maybe the other weak link with Milne, who I believe is carrying a niggling injury.
New Zealand fielding: Superb! A lesson for all youngsters. Watching Milne and McCullum throw themselves around was a fantastic sight. Brilliant.
New Zealand batting: McCullum let it all hang out with some homeruns a baseball player would have taken with a smile. It was all over before England even knew what had hit them.
The England bowling: England don’t like to modify plans unless a committee of lunch ladies has been properly convened and the minutes of the last meeting has been read and passed. Only then can they discuss new business : “Plan Modification Request from the Field.” They bowled short, they allowed McCullum to play shot after shot over cover. They had Anderson, the erstwhile Sultan of Swing, bowling from the other side from where Southee got all that swing. The he bowled too short to give it a semblance of a chance. Broad was taken off after 1 over. I would have sent him back to the pavilion and not given him the new ball just on the evidence of the way he batted. He was replaced with Finn. Hmm… his action seems to have changed since I last saw him bowl. He seems to have become all arms and legs and he did what the “Master Plan, Global, Challenge for ICC World Cup 2015, Bowling Sub Plan: Opposition: New Zealand” told him to do.
He bowled short.