February 23, 2015

England embarrassed

As they lick their Wellington wounds, a look (from behind the sofa) at some other occasions when they were left red-faced

I miss, you run: England can never seem to get past the Dutch in T20s © Associated Press

Losing to Netherlands...
It was supposed to be a nice, gentle workout, an easy introduction to the World T20 at home in England in 2009. When Ravi Bopara and Luke Wright opened up at Lord's with a stand of 102, it looked as if Netherlands would be firmly put in their place. But wickets slipped away, and the eventual 162 for 5 wasn't conclusive. The Dutch scrapped hard and were always close, and with Ryan ten Doeschate keeping calm it boiled down to two off the last ball. Tailender Edgar Schiferli scuffed it away and galumphed off for the single that tied the scores - but Stuart Broad, the bowler, tried to run him out; he missed, and the ball sailed away for the winning overthrow.

... and again
The two sides met again in the 2014 World T20, in Chittagong. A Dutch total of 133 didn't look much - at least until England started batting. At the halfway stage it was 42 for 5, and there was no comeback: the eventual winning margin was 45 runs, a Grand Canyon in T20 terms. And the overall score in T20 internationals now reads like the result you might expect if they met at football: England 0, Netherlands 2.

Underestimating Sri Lanka
After a couple of months of being thumped by the rampant West Indies in 1984, an end-of-season Test against Sri Lanka - their first on English soil - looked like a good way for England to recapture some confidence. Possibly eyeing a day off, David Gower won the toss and stuck the new boys in... and had to field for more than two days, most of it spent bowling at Sidath Wettimuny, who made 190 in 642 minutes, the longest innings ever at Lord's. England conceded a lead of 121 but escaped with a draw.

Losing to Ireland
Despite a scare or two, England had never lost an official international to Ireland till four years ago. When they ran up 327 for 8 in Bangalore during the 2011 World Cup, that record looked safe. Indeed, when Ireland dipped to 111 for 5 just before halfway, even David "Bumble" Lloyd might have been tempted to start the car. But Kevin O'Brien flogged a once-in-a-lifetime century from just 50 balls - the fastest in World Cup history - and although he left with victory tantalisingly close, John Mooney had enough left in the tank to make Ireland's day, or possibly their year.

In the 1999 World Cup, England hit the sack early, at their own party Barry Batchelor / © PA Photos

Patronising India
Until the 1950s, England only picked full-strength sides when they went to Australia; senior players would pick and choose their tours to other places. The team that went to India in 1951-52 contained hardly any regulars, and the captain - Lancashire's Nigel Howard - was an amateur batsman with a first-class average of 24. Still, England had never lost a Test to India, and they duly went one up in Kanpur, thanks to Howard's Lancashire spinners Roy Tattersall and Malcolm Hilton, who shared 17 wickets. But India squared the series with a crushing innings win - their first victory in almost 20 years of Test cricket - in Madras.

Losing to Bangladesh
England's 2011 World Cup campaign was a curious affair: apart from the defeat by Ireland (above), England they done well to beat South Africa and, in a dramatic high-scoring affair, tie with India. And then they lost to Bangladesh, in Chittagong, letting a winning position slip away, and leaving qualification from the group wide open.

That No. 1 ranking...
A crunching Ashes victory in 2010-11 set England up to claim the No. 1 Test ranking, which they duly did by whitewashing India 4-0 at home in 2011. But hopes of a glorious long reign at No. 1 took a severe knock in the very next series, when Pakistan's spinners overwhelmed England in the UAE, setting up a 3-0 whitewash of their own. South Africa won in England in 2012 to take possession of the ICC mace, which they still hold.

Missing their own party
The 1999 World Cup started in low-key fashion, with a few derisory fireworks failing to light up a drizzly day at Lord's. And England failed to progress beyond the group stage, their exit confirmed by losing to India at Edgbaston, the day before the official tournament theme song was released.

From 3-0 to 0-5 in a matter of months © Getty Images

First defeat by New Zealand
By 1977-78, New Zealand had been playing England for 48 years, and still hadn't beaten them, in 47 attempts. That all changed in Wellington, the city where the recent World Cup shellacking took place, when England - needing just 137 to maintain the status quo - were shot out for 64. Richard Hadlee took 6 for 26, to finish with 10 for 100 in the match.

From the start of the Ashes...
In 1882 it was generally felt in England that, while these upstart Australians might have pulled off the occasional victory over below-strength visiting teams at home, they couldn't possibly cope with the full might of the Old Country, as assembled at The Oval in 1882. Why, even WG Grace was there. England looked in charge when they bowled Australia out for 63, but they then managed just 101 themselves. Still, they ended up needing only 85 to polish the Colonials off. But Fred Spofforth - enraged by what he saw as WG's poor sportsmanship in running out Sammy Jones while he was "gardening" - steamed in, living up to his "demon bowler" tag by adding 7 for 44 to his first-innings 7 for 46, and in an incredibly tense finish England fell seven short of victory. Stunned supporters staggered home, and one was moved to pen the mock obituary of English cricket which led to the birth of the most famous sporting rivalry of them all.

... to an Ashes whitewash
Australia had pulled off two previous Ashes whitewashes, but there were reasons for those: in 1920-21 English cricket had barely recovered from the Great War, while the 2006-07 one was part last hurrah for a truly great Aussie side, part payback for the 2005 Ashes upset. But 2013-14 was different: England had won the three previous series comfortably, the last one 3-0 just a few months earlier - the first time Australia had failed to win at least one Test in England since 1977. During the first day of the series in Brisbane, it looked like business as (recently) usual, as the Australians dipped to 132 for 6, and even though the tail more than doubled the score, it seemed just a temporary blip. But England hardly took another trick in the series: Australia won in Brisbane by 381 runs, and the steamroller was under way. It was arguably the biggest and most surprising Ashes turnaround of them all, vying with 1958-59 - Richie Benaud's first series in charge - when Australia won 4-0 after having lost the three previous Ashes encounters.

Steven Lynch is the editor of the Wisden Guide to International Cricket 2014. Ask Steven is now on Facebook

Comments