England v Netherlands, World T20, Group 1, Chittagong March 31, 2014

England's final humiliation

There is no cause to analyse England's defeat against the Netherlands, no need to search for explanations. It was beyond all that. All that is needed is a simple recognition that it was unacceptable

Perhaps England's winter was always destined to end like this. After a pitiful collapse in the Ashes series in Australia and a motley collection of ODI defeats came the greatest ignominy of all: a failed challenge in World Twenty20 completed with an overwhelming defeat against Netherlands.

Make no mistake, this was a defeat entirely lacking in energy, nous and mental strength. England make a habit of losing to Netherlands, but surely none have been as bad as this.

Eighty-eight all out with only four boundaries and a 45-run defeat, monumental by Twenty20 terms, a shameful margin against an Associate nation which had to do little out of the ordinary to win the match and which now faces a lengthy absence from international cricket after failing to qualify for next year's 50-over World Cup in Australia.

And all ended with a ridiculous run out which would not have looked out of place in the lowest levels of village cricket.

For Ashley Giles, this truly dreadful defeat must have been more difficult to bear than for most. It is possible to advance a persuasive case that England need to plan for the long-term, that there will be blips along the way, and that Giles' temporary role as England's coach has never been about lodging a job application.

But can that still be insisted after the winter ended with one of the most humiliating episodes in their history?

What do we make now of all this talk of England playing fearless cricket? What does it say about the mental strength of England sides that when presented by sides that logic suggests they should beat with ease they so often seem to freeze on the job? How much more investment does English cricket need to ensure such unacceptable displays never happen again?

Confidence collapses during losing runs, we all know that, but not to this extent. We also know that any pretence at long-term planning was ruined by the spat with Kevin Pietersen, an injury or two and a few selections which can only be described as punts in the dark, but that is largely irrelevant when it gets this bad.

This was far beyond a side just lacking in confidence. There was no hunger and no pride. There was no common sense. There was no aptitude. Talk of a powerful team ethic just looked like blind loyalty. England were on auto-pilot. They cannot get much worse than this.

What was so concerning about this dreadful England display was the lack of fervour. From the outset they bowled and fielded shabbily, their energy and focus lacking, as if the entire side had been struck overnight by a mysterious virus. Without a shrewd spell by Ravi Bopara, the target could have been even higher. Presented with a total slightly more challenging than it appeared, they never remotely addressed it.

The Chittagong pitches, shorn of the dew that had kept them lively, suddenly looked tired, but the pitch was not as tired as England. It was a dead rubber, too, but it was not as dead England's thought processes. Supporters have a right to expect commitment to the end.

It is important not to draw knee-jerk conclusions from such an appalling display. Preparation is important. Data can be a useful support. But it never replaces the requirement for players to think on their feet and do the job on the field.

How could England so singularly fail to adapt to conditions in day-time matches in Chittagong when the pitch was predictably slower than on the dew-freshened surfaces under lights that they had previously encountered? They have weaknesses on such surfaces, we all know that, too - but this was not India or Sri Lanka at the height of their game, this was the Dutch. The Dutch, who do not know where their next match is coming from, not just sneaking a win, but dishing out a thrashing.

The future is disturbing. But it can't be any worse than the present. For once, an angry response, a simple statement that this is unacceptable, a refusal to countenance any explanation is the only way to respond.

"Complacent," said England's captain, Stuart Broad and Giles in turn. Perhaps England are so low in self-belief that it is the wrong word. But their lack of character was mind-boggling. It was brain dead. England funked it.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 1, 2014, 14:43 GMT

    I've seen a lot of players, including Cook, say that Ashley Giles is the right man to be the next coach. If this is true then we HAVE sunk to an all time low in English cricket. Get rid of the captains and put them back in the ranks. Keep a nucleus of Bopara, Bell, Cook and Root for the tests and bring in new players who haven't had a run in the team. Broad isn't fit and Anderson looked very tired. As for the limited overs format - lets try and keep as many of the test players in these teams as possible to keep up with the continuity. Us poor supporters will have to suffer many years of defeat and ridicule now anyway.

  • Ray on April 1, 2014, 10:17 GMT

    @thozar: "Cannot wait for India's tour to England this summer:-) 5-0 on the cards." Here we go again. Same old tune that was being played the last couple of times we met. Remind me how that turned out?

    England are at a very low ebb, and there has never been a better time to play us, so if you can't beat us now, you never will. However, the problem for India is that you don't have Johnson, Harris or Siddle (or any fast bowler approaching their level). In the longer format, India have a few decent batsmen, couple of decent spinners and that's it. Basically, and apologies if this hurts: You're not very good at Test cricket, especially away from home so, 0-5, I think not.

  • Dummy4 on April 1, 2014, 8:13 GMT

    @ dixon fernando. it takes a rare individual to be the best batsman in a side and still manage to organise it so that no one wants to play with you. pietersen managed it. well done, sunshine

  • Dummy4 on April 1, 2014, 7:46 GMT

    Guess who is laughing his guts out? A certain Mr. KP!

  • Amit on April 1, 2014, 6:05 GMT

    Too much structure, not enough flair! Wrong call on KP! Wrong call on Broad - he has never been a smart player and only recently become a smart bowler! Wrong call on Giles - should have been PC, the only English captain to have won anything at a global tournament. And perhaps bopara bats too far down the order!

  • j on April 1, 2014, 4:51 GMT

    need to get a good, experienced English coach in. Cook should not be captain any more. the poor guy cannot cope with it. The Sri Lankans seem to pass the captaincy around the team, I guess because it is so stressful a job. I see nothing wrong with that. Let Bell take over for a couple of years. Robson and Taylor should come in. Quite like Jordan but we should see what happens at the start of the county season. everyone is on notice and no-one should be an automatic pick

  • David on March 31, 2014, 23:01 GMT

    Well, everyone is agreed that Dernbach must never play for England again. Congratulations to the Dutch.

    I always had a lot of time for Giles, who knew how to make the most of limited talents, intelligently applied, but he is clearly not the future as an England coach. However tired, the England team need to demonstrate a little more grit and pride, and discipline: they failed to show it in Australia, and have not recovered since. I don't think KP is the issue ... a second division county team ought to have despatched the Dutch, so it is not a question of missing stars. It is a matter of humility, discipline, determination, application, common sense. There is plenty of talent available in England, but there is a good deal of arrogance and indolence manifest as well. I actually like Broad's tactics, but I am not convinced he is a natural leader. Nor is Cook for that matter. Looking around for a gritty, intelligent captain might be a good start.

  • Derek on March 31, 2014, 22:41 GMT

    I hope Gibson gets the England job. The West Indies alsi need to move forward. One Andy Flower could make the difference.

  • Gavin on March 31, 2014, 21:50 GMT

    Surely there's no way Giles can be appointed now? It would make Downton look ridiculous. And the fact that there are only 2 serious candidates can't be used as a reason. Peter Moores must get the job.

  • ian on March 31, 2014, 21:29 GMT

    England can return from their winter misadventures with a sense of having returned to zero, for, in all formats, that is where they are. Who's responsible? It is everyone's responsibility. The selectors got virtually nothing right; the management lurched from crisis to crisis - from Trott's stumble from the Test arena with his head in a mess to Stokes' wanton damage to his own hand (and an innocent locker), England lost focus, lost belief and most damnably of all, lost pride. By the end, they just didn't care - and we saw it all. Indeed, they let us down and, lest they have forgotten, we actually matter. There are some residual crumbs. Jordan (as I have been saying long before all this mayhem began) looks the business. With Broad having voluntarily run himself into the ground (who manages him? Why was he captain In B'desh?) Jordan should be nailed on for the first Test. Ali is playing in the wrong format, but has ability. Bopara stood up better than most. Let the bone-picking begin!

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