England v India, Champions Trophy, final, Edgbaston June 23, 2013

England architects of own downfall

With 20 to win from 16 balls and six wickets in hand, England choked like a consumptive goat wolfing a bucket of marbles

And so the wait goes on. England have now lost in the final of five global ODI tournaments - three World Cups and two Champions Trophies - and remain the only side who were involved in this event not to have won a global ODI competition.

This result will hurt. It will hurt not just because they came so close, but because they will know that they were, to a large extent, the architects of their own downfall.

With 16 balls remaining, England required only 20 more runs with six wickets in hand. They will never have a better opportunity. But then they choked like a consumptive goat wolfing a bucket of marbles to lose four wickets for three runs in 14 balls. England are in no position to chuckle at South Africa's reputation as "chokers".

There will be a temptation to blame umpiring decisions, the shortened nature of the game and the absence of a couple of key players for this defeat. It is true that some of those factors might have been relevant - Kevin Pietersen making a century for Surrey even as England were collapsing provided a reminder, should any be required, of his value - but none of them inflicted the fatal blow.

The truth of the matter is that when the pressure was at its greatest, England crumbled. An old failing against the spinning ball was exposed once more as England looked, for a time, as if they were back in Colombo last October or in the UAE groping in the dark against the turning ball.

The batsmen will, as ever, bear the brunt of the criticism. Probably rightly so, too. The bowlers had performed admirably to keep India to an under-par total with Ravi Bopara sustaining his fine form in his latest incarnation as an international player. James Anderson, whose figures suffered for mis-fields and edges, was also excellent.

Yet it was telling that the eventual margin of defeat - five runs - was exactly the same number of runs that England gave away in overthrows. Twice a failure to back-up adequately was punished, with Eoin Morgan failing to back-up an errant throw from Tim Bresnan that cost England four and then Morgan throwing wide when the batsman was comfortably home and conceding another single. England also conceded four wides. You do not have to be a mathematical genius to work out the avoidable damage that caused.

There were other factors. Jonathan Trott's failure to cling on to a catch offered by Virat Kohli, Trott's stumping off a leg side wide and an Asian-style pitch that offered so much turn that India could hardly believe their fortune. The British really are a hospitable bunch.

But perhaps the incident that will provoke most debate was the stumping of Ian Bell. Replays suggested Bell, dragging his back foot, was unfortunate to be given out. Certainly Alastair Cook was unimpressed with the verdict of TV umpire, Bruce Oxenford, stating: "I felt it was a poor decision. Maybe the umpire saw it differently. It looked pretty clear that it was in."

But on reflection, England may recall that a close no-ball call went their way in the crucial match against New Zealand. Besides, Bell had never settled and was far from certain to lead England to victory had he survived. It did not look a good decision, but to pinpoint it as a turning point may be wishful thinking. It was the fifth-wicket partnership that should have led England to victory and the Bell incident is, largely, a red-herring. The best sides tend to encourage a "no excuses" culture.

It is no coincidence that India were the only unbeaten side in the tournament. They were not at their best for much of this game but, at key moments, they held their nerve better than England. It is often such factors that define these games.

They could hardly have asked for more familiar conditions, either. Cheered on by a full house crowd overwhelmingly dominated by their supporters - "we didn't have much support out there," Cook said afterwards - their spinners gained sharp turn from the dry surface and exploited it very effectively.

Still, it will frustrate England that they had earned themselves a position from which they should have won. India may have proved themselves the best team in this competition, but England will know that they squandered a wonderful chance to take this competition.

Afterwards Cook admitted that the defeat represented his "lowest moment" in his career as England captain so far.

"We were almost there," Cook said. "It was in our hands. From the position we were in, you back yourself to win more times than you do to lose. We had high hopes of achieving something really special. We had the opportunity. It's a tough pill to swallow. Clearly, us as a batting unit, we'll be looking at ourselves going, what could we have done better?"

But Cook also expressed his faith in his side and his pride in their achievement in reaching the final. Most of this squad, he said, will be involved when the next global ODI event comes around, in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.

"The majority of the squad will be pretty similar in 2015," Cook said. "There were six other teams involved in this competition that would have liked to be in the situation we were in at the start of the day.

"I'm proud of the way the lads have fought. We've been under a fair bit of pressure in this tournament. A lot of criticism and flak have flown our way, yet we got to the final. We played some good cricket; we just couldn't quite get over the line."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Naresh on June 26, 2013, 14:32 GMT

    I believe England lost because they (1) Had a team which was not T20 prepared although it was an ODI (2) Eng coach/captain took the view that lower half of the team was good enough to knock the winning runs (3) instead the lower half panicked (4) Dhoni was great and his team fought till the end, they certainly wanted to win. (5) they began their batting innings with a view that the target was not that great. (6) The IPL had already played its part in that Indian players were ready. Next time dont underestimate the opposition.

  • Allan on June 25, 2013, 9:50 GMT

    The presumption that England gave away the match with 16 balls remaining and 20 runs to get is a fallacy to begin with. Not on this pitch, with this Indian spin attack. Providing India with THIS pitch was gifting the match on a platter. From that point forward, the only way England stood a chance was if the game was shortened to a T20. It was, and they still managed to loose. Bottom line: the best team won. Best by a country mile. Plain and simple.

  • Harsh on June 25, 2013, 6:39 GMT

    England simply batted in the end as they knew how to lose a game.From the clutches of a famous win they snatched defeat.It was ironic that the pitch turned like a 5th day crumbling test wicket.Without the spinners like Jadeja and Ashwin at the end England may well have romped home.

    Ian Bell's decision of being given out stumped was most erroneous and changed the complexion of the game.Overall an enthralling contest with the ebb and flow changing till the end.More than anything it proved that cricket is ultimately played in the mind.

  • Harsh on June 25, 2013, 6:32 GMT

    India deserved to win the title as they outplayed every team in the tournament.It is ironical that the match was on the verge of being banned and only 5 mins were left before they would have called off the match.No other team played consistently well in the tournament and India were head and shoulders above ever opponent outclassing every one with disdain.

    In this game India pulled of a win from the clutches of defeat and Dhoni's inspirational captaincy played a major role.England were cruising home at one stage and finished as though they knew how to lose a game..This match was a testimony to the role of temperament in cricket and a great contest .Amazingly the pitch played like a 5th day turning test match track with spin playing the trumpcard.

    Overall it is a shame that the final was reduced to a 20 over game and there should have been a reserve day.India could hardly prove it's true merit.

  • Dummy4 on June 25, 2013, 1:29 GMT

    Scorecard says Cook made 2 off 9 balls & Bell made 13 off 16 balls. So they made 15 off 25 balls. They were always going to lose this with that effort. SNAILS as I call them. This is is why England cannot win any ODI tournament because players play test in ODI, today they played test in T20. This is not the way you play in ODIs - while chasing you got to attack & take the game away from opposition in 1st PP itself which England never do. Very few people have noticed this fact, had it been some player like KP or Hales then he would have taken the game away from opposition by attacking fast bowlers which was India`s strong point. There was no way England were going to do it against the spinners in the last few balls. England were outplayed & rightly so because they never deserved to win this trophy. No team has ever won any ODI competition with the defensive approach & no one will. England`s method of playing this defensive & conservative cricket was going to get exposed sooner or later.

  • John on June 24, 2013, 22:36 GMT

    Loads of the predictable comms here. Started responding to them but the realised there were too many so just responded to a few This thread was supposed to be about England and where they could have improved but instead has predictably become a "You're making excuses/You didn't deserve this..." thread So before I go further India are fully deserved winners and the few points below are just how I think Eng could improve things in shorter fmts 1 - Cook's captaincy in general and the tactics as a whole are way too rigid and IMO overly cautious 2 - Would not have the top 3 as it is and would have KP replacing Bell to IMO improve the team balance 3 - Swann and Tredwell have by and large been the most consistent shorter fmt bowlers for Eng regardless of conditions so why not play both together?

  • John on June 24, 2013, 22:35 GMT

    @Shan156 on (June 24, 2013, 17:04 GMT) You could have just left it at the 1st sentence and then used that sentence for future responses

  • John on June 24, 2013, 22:35 GMT

    @brusselslion on (June 24, 2013, 13:58 GMT) Absolutely spot on re your last comment - it's sad that fans can't just enjoy their success without any other agenda.

  • Sammy on June 24, 2013, 20:58 GMT

    @Shan156 - I was just responding to one of the english poster's comment that IF this were a 50 over game and IF Anderson had gotten 10 overs, it would have been carnage. I was merely pointing out that IF Anderson was so good, how come he got only 1 wicket in 4 overs (Indian batsment being watchful or not, that's a different matter) and how Jadeja had more wickets than him in the tournament. He conveniently forgets England's weakness against spin which was brutally exposed by Jadeja and Ashwin. We all have fantasies, but would help not mixing them with facts.

  • Anand on June 24, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding "I know some cannot comprehend this attitude but the Ashes and beating Aus is more important to English fans than an ODI troph" -- so why care about having to wait at all for winning an ODI trophy?