Good morning. After five successive defeats, have England reached rick bottom? They are certainly bottom of the table, behind Netherlands on net run rate, and take on the Dutch today with two goals: to avoid the wooden spoon and try to scramble up to eighth with victories today and on Saturday at Eden Gardens to salvage a Champions Trophy spot for February 2025 in Pakistan.
England can still call themselves world champions in this format for another nine days but there will be little solace in that or in eking out some dignity in their final two games to maintain Australia’s performance in 1992 as the worst title defence in the tournament’s history (not simply because they were out after losing four of their first six games though they won two dead rubbers to gloss it but because they were at home).
Thousands of words have been written on what has gone wrong and you will not find a better forensic analysis than Nick Hoult’s ‘Death by a thousand cuts’.
For what it’s worth, having watched England at tournaments since 1975 and on Test tours for the same amount of time, it is depressingly familiar to note how quickly they are steam-rolled by a loss of confidence. They always used to talk a good game when down in series or heading into crunch games but in those situations have always been reliant on a messiah rather than collective excellence to turn their fortunes around and messiahs are vanishingly rare. We held this group to higher standards because of what they have achieved in white-ball cricket since 2015 but for too many of them it has proved a tournament too far and they have played too little ODI cricket in the past four years that it has hidden, from them and us, how steep the decline has been.
Nonetheless, they have beaten the Netherlands in all three World Cup meetings to date, even at England’s lowest ebb in 1996, and hammered them 3-0 last year in Amstelveen in Eoin Morgan’s swansong. Morgan has been critical of the language coming out of the camp but while his achievements are imperishable he is not unimpeachable after hanging around too long. Glenn Maxwell thrillingly showed us how you can defy immobility in one match to do remarkable things but Morgan was never the same batsman after his chronic back injury became a daily, debilitating concern and England should have been better prepared to move on.