It was a repeat of the 2009 embarrassment at Lord’s but this was arguably an even more abject display against a side blown away for 39 by Sri Lanka but gradually building to this unlikely act of giant-killing ever since. England were far from flawless in the field, guilty of at least two clear drops and one botched run-out by Jos Buttler, but their batting was littered with errors and complacency.
Chasing Holland’s mark of 133 for five victory, Stuart Broad’s side – who had won the toss and opted to chase – mustered a risible 88 all out, just eight more than their worst-ever score in the format.
Broad and England coach Ashley Giles and both blamed a chronic case of complacency for their humiliating defeat.
The ‘c’ word is virtually anathema in top-level sport, denoting as it does a lack of professionalism and pride in the job at hand. But, when groping for ways to explain a calamitous defeat to an Associate nation who do not know where their next competitive fixture will come from, both men agreed that England had taken their task too lightly.
The description certainly fit an execrable batting display, a series of lazy shots, incompetent running and dreadful decision-making culminating in 88 all out with 14 balls left unbowled. Giles, who can now expect a tricky final interview for the vacant position of head coach, cut a particularly forlorn figure at the end of the match.
“How do I explain that? Only with a couple of words: complacency would be one of them,” he said. “There’s no hiding place.
“I’m not sure there’s anything more we can say other than it was unacceptable and embarrassing. You can’t choose when to turn it on and off and I felt we thought we could today. Every time you put on an England shirt and bowl a ball, field a ball, hit a ball, you have to have everything in it and we weren’t doing that. There has to be some personal responsibility but we stick together and we have all lost that match. It should hurt those guys as much as it hurts me and I hope it does.”
Broad certainly gave the impression that he was sharing the burden of what is probably the lowest ebb of a miserable few months of touring travails. In his own frustration, he saw similar issues as Giles. “We talked before the match about complacency not coming anywhere near our game, but if I had been watching that then I’d look at that batting performance and say it was complacent,” he said. “No-one seemed to have any hunger to go and get any runs and there was obviously some soft dismissals in there with no-one making a telling contribution to chase a low score. 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.
“A lack of commitment in the shots, a very disorganised chase. No-one got going, no-one took responsibility and fair play to the Netherlands, they took their chance.”
The coronation of Giles as Andy Flower’s full-time replacement in charge of team affairs was expected to be little more than a formality prior to this game. Indeed, although a semi-final appearance was already off the table, there were signs in the win over Sri Lanka and narrow defeat by South Africa that things were heading in the right direction. Now, he admits his own future is far from certain.
“We should all be worried shouldn’t we? We are talking about all our jobs,” he said. “It wouldn’t be the ideal way to go out (as coach). The sun will still come up tomorrow but sometimes it feels like it won’t when you have days like that.”
There is likely to be limited appetite among fans for ‘finding the positives’ after this debacle, but Broad tried his best nonetheless. He said: “We have a bit of time now where we can sit back and try to find the way forward. It is a bit of a new era for English cricket coming. There are opportunities that will arise from it being such a horrendous winter. We’ve lost a lot of key players, the likes of KP (Kevin Pietersen) and Swanny (Graeme Swann), so it has been an awful winter for us as a cricket side, but we’ve got to get better and sometimes that is exciting.”
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka bowled New Zealand out for 60 to secure a semi-final spot with a 59-run win. Chasing a modest 120 in Chittagong to reach the last four, New Zealand were undone as slow left-armer Rangana Herath claimed extraordinary figures of 5-3 and off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake 2-3.
Sri Lanka, as Group One winners, will play West Indies or Pakistan in the semi-finals on Thursday.
ENGLAND’S WINTER OF DISCONTENT
England’s miserable 2013/14 ended with a shocking 45-run defeat against Holland in Chittagong. Here are the lowest points of a winter of discontent.
England arrive with confidence high and their 3-1 Ashes victory at home still fresh in the mind. But they run into a spiky home press and a rampant Mitchell Johnson, and after starting well on day one of the first Test, are rarely competitive again on the way to an Ashes whitewash.
Within hours of a 381-run defeat in Brisbane, it emerges inked-in number three Jonathan Trott is on his way back home with a stress-related illness. Trott had twice succumbed cheaply to Johnson and would not play again until the start of the English domestic season.
England lose the services of another double Ashes-winner, Graeme Swann calling time on a 60-Test career which – containing 255 wickets – made him his country’s most successful off-spinner of all time. The urn is already lost after Australia open up a 3-0 lead in Perth, but it is another damaging mid-series blow.
Most definitely not. England spend it trying not to save the Ashes, but merely further embarrassment. They do not even come close as defeats four and five are inflicted in Melbourne and Sydney. Team director Andy Flower and captain Alastair Cook insist they intend to remain in situ. It transpires, however, the former will not do so for long.
GILES TAKES OVER
England’s limited-overs coach Ashley Giles receives a hospital pass, with horribly predictable consequences. An aggregate 7-1 drubbing follows in one-day internationals and Twenty20s, Australia slipping up only in Perth and then with the 50-over series verdict already in safe keeping.
FIRST FLOWER, THEN PIETERSEN
Contrary to previously-stated intentions, Flower is gone by the end of January, having decided he can no longer lead England back in the right direction without again combining his roles both for Test and limited-overs campaigns. More controversially, the England and Wales Cricket Board – following the January appointment of Paul Downton as its new managing director – calls time on Kevin Pietersen’s career. Detailed explanations, largely for legal reasons, are thin on the ground but ECB eventually releases a statement, citing a breach of trust and team ethics.
WEST AND EAST, STILL NO LET-UP
Giles’ hopes of succeeding Flower rest on just a modicum of success, given low expectations, in two limited-overs series in the West Indies and then the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. England recover from opening defeat to win their only series of the winter in Antigua. But after Twenty20 defeat in Barbados and then a patchy performance in Chittagong, culminating in a hapless hammering at the hands of fellow also-rans Holland, the coach may have to fine-tune that CV and interview well to land the lead role.