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

England reach their Netherland

There had been some encouraging signs in the their first three World T20 matches that things were on the up after a hideous winter but England positives were taken away from them by a hot blast of Dutch courage

After a winter of lows, England have reached their Netherland. Handed a generational thrashing in Australia, little was expected of the players selected to contest the World T20. Little is just what they delivered. The day after Ashley Giles had put forward his manifesto to become England's new head coach, the players he has coaxed and chivvied around the Caribbean and Bangladesh for the last six weeks put in a performance to suggest their bags had already been packed.

The mental baggage is likely to test the flight allowance. England have lost to Netherlands before, at the game's spiritual home, in the opening match of a major tournament. But defeat at the 2009 World T20 at least came down to the final ball. Here, the green shoots of a campaign that suggested tentative promise were mown down by a performance that resurrected and amplified the post-Ashes #pomnishambles jeers. Giles' chances of being ushered into power by the ECB as England's new head coach may have been damaged irrevocably.

Deprived of Joe Root and Ben Stokes by injury, not to mention the self-inflicted wound that is Kevin Pietersen's exclusion, England's batting during the tournament had provided surprising encouragement. They went into their final group game with an average and scoring rate higher than at any previous World T20; the lowest-ranked team left in the tournament exposed the lie to the damned statistics.

Alex Hales' century against Sri Lanka in a record run chase; Moeen Ali's delicate promise at No. 3; the return of Eoin Morgan to something like his best; Ravi Bopara's composure in the finishing role - England positives were taken away from them by a hot blast of Dutch courage. No one in the top seven managed to score at a run a ball, let alone stay at the crease for long, as Netherlands produced another diligent display and finally claimed the scalp they have craved ever since Peter Borren berated his team's poor form on the eve of the World T20.

England managed just four boundaries in their innings, one more than Netherlands amassed when dismissed for 39 - the lowest ever score in T20 internationals - little more than a week ago. There was no question about whose embarrassment should be more acute.

The pain for England's captain, Stuart Broad, must have been agonising. With his injured knee in need of lengthy rehabilitation, he elected to marshal his troops for one last time, perhaps hopeful of gleaning first-hand some more pointers as to England's way forward. There has been talk of learning more from defeat from victory; England can publish volumes after this. Broad hinted afterwards that the captaincy may not be in his possession for much longer.

"I'm not sure," he said of his future in the role. "We've got a few months and I've got an eight week rehab period with my knee to get right for Test cricket this summer. There are going to be decisions made right at the top over the next month or so and discussions will go on from there. I've thoroughly enjoyed doing the role over the past couple of years but today is extremely disappointing. It is a game we should have won."

England have now won just three from their last 13 T20s, to go alongside other grim readouts from recent months. Their record chase against Sri Lanka looks like a sudden, final spike on the heart-rate monitor.

Poor fielding was the most obvious of England's deficiencies in their previous World T20 games, the nadir being when they dropped four catches against Sri Lanka. Here, a couple more went down, to go with Jos Buttler's amateurish dislodging of the bails before he had the ball in his gloves, which butchered another run-out opportunity. There were also preventable byes conceded standing up to James Tredwell and, after a dreadful missed stumping in the South Africa game, it is clear Buttler's glovework still needs a fair bit of polish.

When holding forth about the future for England on Sunday, Giles talked about working hard on catching and ground fielding, citing AB de Villiers as the standard for his players to reach. Here their level of athleticism has been more on a par with Abe Simpson.

Netherlands scored 47 for 1 in the Powerplay and it could have been worse but for Broad's spell - he bowled at the beginning and end of the innings for his 3 for 24, showing himself to be a class above the rest of England's largely worthy attack. Jade Dernbach may already have bowled himself out of international orbit for some time, while Tim Bresnan has been worryingly inconsistent. Tredwell was tidy once again but his lack of wicket-taking threat is backed up by a T20 average of 57.83 after 15 games.

Somewhat embarrassingly, Ravi Bopara was the bowler to offer most control but England did tighten up, limiting the total to 133. That became the lowest score successfully defended at the tournament so far and such was the margin of Netherlands' victory, England were only kept off the bottom of the group by a net run rate margin of 0.09.

England have now won just three from their last 13 T20s, to go alongside other grim readouts from recent months. Their record chase against Sri Lanka looks like a sudden, final spike on the heart-rate monitor. Broad referred to "complacency" afterwards and the spectre of the Ashes that clings to England like evening dew.

"It sums up our winter as an England side. It was pretty similar to the batting displays we put in after we lost the Ashes in Australia," Broad said "A lack of commitment in the shots and a very disorganised chase.

"Before we knew it was a World Cup game with World Cup points. The bowling and the fielding was okay but we lacked hunger with the bat. No one got going, no one took responsibility and fair play to the Netherlands, they took their chance.

"It was always going to be a danger with us not being able to go through, but we said all the right things before the game and it was up to the players to deliver it. We have to take responsibility for that and it is hugely disappointing. There are no excuses from our side. We should have won with what was a relatively simple run chase but a shocking chase in the end."

England shoulders visibly slumped as each wicket fell, their tentative shot-making increasing the pressure with each passing over. The Netherlands strained every sinew for victory, while England hoped that someone might save them. Over the PA system, "London Calling" reverberated around the stadium, though the welcome waiting for England's players might be on the chilly side. After their experiences in Australia, perhaps this was a fitting end. Down and out in Alice and Chittagong.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ajit on April 1, 2014, 6:52 GMT

    Broad's statement about complacency takes the cake. A team which has lost pretty much everything they played in past few months should be anything but complacent.

  • disco on April 1, 2014, 6:21 GMT

    It is clear to no one how getting rid of KP has improved dressing room morale

  • Dummy4 on April 1, 2014, 6:21 GMT

    I wonder when the ICC will do the job it has been made to do...currently we have 8 powerful teams..with Bangladesh and Zimbabwe being the 9th and 10th strongest teams...but what icc needs to realise now is that we have Ireland,Afghanistan,Nepal,Netherlands as the 4 teams that have the potential to become the top test playing nations in 5-10 years if a properly planned map is put forward...teams like Kenya,Papua new guinea ,Scotland also have the potential to become key members of the cricket family...ICC needs to work to increase the popularity of the sport....t20 is a very good way to get it across people....

  • Dummy4 on April 1, 2014, 5:07 GMT

    it was poor selection (or lack of talent) to come here without a gud spin attack...only teams with gud spin attack have qualified for the semis...RSA is lucky that so far Tahir has performed for them...

  • Dummy4 on April 1, 2014, 3:49 GMT

    Now, everyone can think whether England deserve an automatic place in the future World T20 Global competition. They should go through a qualification before getting in to the group level. Will that be allowed with that new ICC restructuring where Ashley Giles is one pillar in commercializing Cricket and eventually selling England cricket.

  • Barrington on April 1, 2014, 3:02 GMT

    It has been a very disappointing tournament for England. This defeat today concludes wretched tours they have had to Australia and West Indies and now Bangladesh.

  • Dummy4 on April 1, 2014, 2:22 GMT

    At least Broad didn't offer an excuse this time, which is a 'positive' they can take from this game!

  • Rob on April 1, 2014, 1:03 GMT

    England are truly terrible - an injection of new blood is quickly needed, both on and off the field. A winter of never ending gloom. Giles must not get the job by default.

  • Pierre on April 1, 2014, 0:24 GMT

    The ICC are absolutely correct. This England thrashing by an Associate proves that. The T20 WC will now be played every 4 years says ICC. Perhaps it should have been every 8 years. This 2 year nonsense is over ! And the fewer Associates on the World stage the better. Elite Full Members are not to be exposed and humiliated by talented teams from a developing group of enthusiastic Associates who play their cricket in obscurity or anonymity.Lets support the omnipotent ICC and help them keep major cricket competitions Associate- Free. No more upsets, no more upstarts like HK beating hosts Bangladesh.This virus must be stamped out . Go ICC. Who cares what the world's cricketing public want to see.

  • sam on April 1, 2014, 0:01 GMT

    More thrashings await dear ol' Eng. Thats for sure!

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