It's just as well the England bowlers have names on the back of their shirts: it has become pretty much the only way to tell them apart.

All four of their seamers are right-arm, quite quick, quite tall and quite good. In conditions where the ball swings or seams, they are dangerous. In conditions where it doesn't, they take on a homogenised appearance that provides the captain with no options and the batsmen with no surprises.

In theory, they offer different weapons. James Anderson, for example, is meant to offer swing and Steven Finn is meant to offer pace.

In practice, Anderson hasn't swung a ball in this tournament and Finn hasn't been a fast bowler since England remodelled his action a couple of years ago. Stuart Broad bowled one excellent over but appears to lack the strength to sustain the pace required to excel at this level - if he always bowled as he did in his Ashes clinching spell at Durham, he would have developed into a great - and Chris Woakes seems to have an allergy to the yorker.

The previous day, the World Cup had seen two left-arm seamers claim 11 wickets between them in 19 overs. It had seen Mitchell Starc, in particular, succeed by delivering fast yorkers.

But England had no such option. It would be disingenuous to suggest that Harry Gurney, the last left-arm seamer England utilised, would have made much difference. It would be disingenuous to suggest that Mark Footitt or Tymal Mills - England's quickest left-arm bowlers - are ready for ODI cricket. It would be disingenuous to suggest there are quick-fix solutions to England's problems.

In retrospect, the inclusion of James Tredwell might have helped. But whether it would have turned this result is debatable. As is the choice over who would have made way for him.

The days when Anderson could be excluded from such debates are gone. After four matches in this World Cup, he has taken just two wickets - both against Scotland - at a cost of 91 apiece and he is conceding his runs at a cost of 6.27 an over.

It is a mediocre record. And for an England team that were relying on Anderson's potency with the new ball, it is disastrous.

Anderson's World Cup record is a major stain on a fine international career. In his fourth World Cup, he has claimed 24 wickets in 23 games at a cost of 42.41. Which sounds pretty modest.

But when you exclude his first three games - played in 2003 when he was 20 years old - from the statistics, his record is truly gruesome. He has taken 15 wickets in 20 matches at an average of 61.33 and an economy rate of 5.60. And even then, nine of his wickets have come against Bangladesh or Associate nations. He has not claimed a wicket in his last four World Cup games against Test-playing opposition. A young England side require far better from their senior players.

It is the lack of swing that is Anderson's greatest concern. He moved the new ball consistently in the tri-series, often striking early, and forcing the opposition to proceed with caution. Now, sans swing, Anderson - and England - appear toothless.

Other bowlers are still managing to make these Kookaburra balls swing. This game took place at the same ground and on the same pitch on which Tim Southee destroyed England with swing a week ago. Even in this game, Angelo Mathews gained some movement off the seam on the way to bowling his first nine overs for just 30 runs. Starc and Trent Boult found swing in Auckland on Saturday.

England's plan was to take pace off the ball by hitting the pitch hard and forcing the batsmen to generate power. But that mentality accepts that the bowlers are going to be hit

It will not do to blame the conditions. Not only is it disputed that atmospheric conditions make any difference to the movement of a cricket ball but, if it keeps happening, then the player has to look to their own game.

It is not the first time in his career when Anderson has struggled to find swing. On the tour of New Zealand in early 2013 he was unable to gain the movement available to the home bowlers. And in India in 2012 - perhaps his finest Test series - he had to rely on excellent control and a tiny amount of assistance off the pitch.

So there was a time when Anderson had the tools to compensate for days when the ball did not swing. There was a time when he had the pace or the seam movement or the yorker to keep batsmen honest.

But here he maintained an average of 83.4mph, with a top speed of 88.2mph. About half his deliveries to the left-handers failed to reach 80 mph. On flat pitches, without horizontal movement, that is medium-pace.

His length was intriguing, too. He attempted only one yorker - it turned into a full toss - and hardly another full delivery. Generally he aimed for a back-of-a-length method that minimised the opportunity to drive him. But bowlers like Anderson are meant to encourage the drive and look for the edge. If he does not have the confidence to pitch the ball up, it is hard to see his worth in the side. Only five out of the 48 deliveries he bowled would have hit the stumps.

England's plan - as much as there was one - was to take pace off the ball by hitting the pitch hard and forcing the batsmen to generate power. But the whole mentality of such a plan is poor. It accepts, for a start, that the bowlers are on the defensive and that they are going to be hit. It just tried to limit the extent of the damage.

It is unthinkable that Australia or New Zealand would take such a defeatist and sophistic approach. Instead they would seek wickets. They would look for their swing bowlers to move the ball and their fast bowlers to either unsettle the batsmen with the short ball or defeat them with the full. England's plans, as much as their skills, remain off the pace at this level. Either way, they do not reflect well on the bowling coach, David Saker. Has any bowler in his charge not deteriorated?

Ravi Bopara's inclusion might have made a difference. Not only did England miss another option - albeit another right-arm seamer - but they missed Bopara's ability to work on the ball.

Bopara has a reputation as a man who can "make the ball talk". With him in the side, England and Essex have managed to gain extravagant movement. Just as telling, they have often struggled to replicate that movement when Bopara is absent.

That is not to suggest that Bopara is doing anything untoward with the ball. With the number of cameras trained on international cricketers these days, it is hard to imagine any player could get away with ball tampering. But it does seem uncanny how much more the ball appears to move when he is in the side.

Either way, if the ball does not swing, Anderson appears to have few weapons. And without his bite, England are not so much in the field as out at sea.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo