As Ben Stokes dragged himself again to the dressing-room – muttering darkish ideas, shaking his head – it felt not a lot like the tip of England’s World Cup as the tip of a complete period.
Stokes had simply pulled Lahiru Kumara to deep midwicket, having made a painstaking 43 from 73 balls in an England innings ultimately put out of its distress for 156 – a complete which Sri Lanka brushed apart for the lack of two wickets. The entire match lasted 59 overs.
This was a end result which managed to be each England’s worst nightmare and totally consistent with the shambolic nature of their title defence. And it raises critical questions concerning the potential of head coach Matthew Mott and captain Jos Buttler to get probably the most out of a gifted however ageing bunch of cricketers.
By no means earlier than has an ODI crew been stocked purely by 30-somethings, as England had been final night time. The tip of some 50-over careers has simply been hastened. Even final 12 months’s T20 triumph in Australia feels an age in the past.
Managing director Rob Key mentioned on Tuesday that England wanted time to ‘let the mud settle’. However that was earlier than their newest horror present. As they collapsed towards a fired-up Sri Lankan crew led by the previous England coach Chris Silverwood, the mud gave the impression to be settling at an alarming fee.
England suffered yet one more dismal defeat within the Cricket World Cup to Sri Lanka at this time
That is England’s fifth successive defeat to Sri Lanka on the World Cup since 2007
A few of these multi-year central contracts look much less intelligent now. The truth is, the one England participant to hit a six on this sport or take a wicket was David Willey – the one member of the World Cup squad to be ignored of the brand new offers.
Ever since England misplaced to Afghanistan in Delhi, the speak has been about reconnecting with the white-ball giants who nonetheless – no less than for a number of extra weeks – have each World Cups of their cupboard.
Mott himself, Buttler, Stokes, Joe Root, Moeen Ali – they’ve all taken turns delivering a message that has been repeated so typically it has misplaced all which means and any relation to actuality.
As a result of let’s be sincere, England’s complete World Cup technique might be boiled all the way down to an expression of hope: it’ll be alright on the night time. It seems to be no form of foundation for a successful video games of cricket.
They performed 42 ODIs between the tip of the final World Cup and this one, having performed 88 between the catastrophe of 2015 and the triumph of 2019. They not often picked their finest XI, pushing the 50-over format into third place within the pecking-order behind Assessments and T20 – fourth place, for those who depend the Hundred.
They usually made a hash of their choice course of, leaving the gamers on tenterhooks when it emerged the World Cup 15 was not as remaining as they’d been advised. Even right here in India, choosing the crew has felt extra like a sport of pin the tail on the donkey.
The un-retirement of Stokes was affordable sufficient, vindicated by his England-record 182 off 124 balls towards New Zealand at The Oval. However it additionally mentioned one thing concerning the last-minute nature of the planning. Then, in fact, he injured his hip.
Chris Woakes of England scored a duck in his innings earlier than failing to take any wickets
Buttler had little alternative on successful the toss however to bat, having been badly stung by fielding towards Afghanistan and South Africa. And, briefly, Dawid Malan batted as if he had listened to the pleas for aggression, smashing six fours as England moved to 45 with out loss within the seventh over.
However when he offered the returning veteran Angelo Mathews along with his first ODI wicket for 3 and a half years, England reverted to the timidity that has typified their marketing campaign.
Root was run out for 3 after setting off for a non-existent single, and has now made 16 off 33 balls in three innings since starting with a pair of half-centuries. Bairstow performed an uncharacteristic smear to mid-on, and Buttler edged a booming drive. Stokes, in the meantime, may barely get it off the sq..
Liam Livingstone, fortunate to be recalled, performed spherical a full one from Kumara, and has now made 31 runs in 4 innings. Moeen, who had urged England to go down swinging, lower to backward level.
The fiasco was summed up when Adil Rashid dawdled out of his crease on the non-striker’s finish as wicketkeeper Kusal Mendis quick-wittedly threw down the stumps. For the primary time ever, England had been bowled out for under 200 in successive World Cup video games.
Willey raised a scintilla of hope with two early wickets, just for Pathum Nissanka and Sadeera Samarawickrama to waltz to victory.
4 defeats equals England’s worst haul at a World Cup, and their subsequent opponents – in Lucknow on Sunday – are India. The fast-improving Australians additionally lie in wait. Issues may worsen earlier than they fly dwelling on subsequent month.
Mathematically, England haven’t but been eradicated. By some other measure, they appear down and out.