England's World Cup title defence is officially OVER
England’s World Cup title defence is officially OVER after a 33 run defeat to Australia… as Jos Buttler’s side lamely fail with the bat again in India
- Jos Buttler’s men have endured a miserable campaign, winning just once
- Australia’s victory increases pressure on Buttler and head coach Matthew Mott
- Buttler has struggled with the bat throughout the tournament averaging just 15
England have finally been put out of their World Cup misery after their hopes of a consolation win over Australia fell foul of another lame effort with the bat.
Realistically, of course, they were already out. But it was in keeping with what must go down as one of the worst World Cup defences in any sport that their fate was mathematically sealed by the old enemy. The pressure that was already mounting on captain Jos Buttler and head coach Matthew Mott has just gone up another notch.
The whole thing has been a giant embarrassment, made worse by the failure of anyone in the dressing-room to adequately explain what on earth has gone wrong.
If any moment summed up both this latest defeat – by 33 runs – and the general haplessness of the last month, it came when Jos Buttler lofted Adam Zampa straight to Cameron Green at long-off, and trudged off for a single.
England’s captain has cut an increasingly careworn figure in India, unable either to diagnose his team’s travails, nor to prevent them. His latest misadventure left him with a tally of 106 runs at an average of 15 – a travesty for a player of his talents.
Jos Buttler (right) and his England side have been knocked out of the World Cup
Australia officially ended England’s dismal campaign by earning a 33 run win over their rivals
The defeat will pile more pressure on England captain Buttler and head coach Matthew Mott
This tournament’s black mark now sits alongside the gold star he earned at last year’s T20 World Cup. It remains unclear which competition more accurately reflects his standing as a leader.
Chasing a gettable 287 to maintain a theoretical interest in retaining their title, England lost Jonny Bairstow first ball, caught behind down the leg side off Mitchell Starc, and Joe Root soon after.
Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes responded with careful fifties, but Malan top-edged a hook off Pat Cummins, and Stokes paddle-swept leg-spinner Adam Zampa to short fine leg for 64, shouting ‘oh no!’ as he played the stroke. The expression will go down as this team’s epitaph.
Frankly, they did not deserve to be bailed out by another Stokes special, and all that remains now is for England to sneak into eighth place and qualify for the 2025 Champions Trophy.
To achieve even that lowly goal, though, the Netherlands must first be beaten in Pune on Wednesday, then – in all likelihood – Pakistan vanquished in Kolkata. They may yet be dancing in the streets of Amsterdam and Islamabad.
Back at the venue where their nightmare began with a nine-wicket defeat by New Zealand, England played as if they have learned little in the meantime.
Even with Malan hoicking the last ball of the 10th over from Josh Hazlewood for six, a powerplay score of 38 for two was their lowest of a tournament in which they have consistently promised to attack – and consistently failed to deliver.
Bairstow’s duck took his haul here to 141 at 20, Root’s innings of 13 – after he was badly dropped by Stoinis at cover on eight – to 188 at 26. With Buttler not reaching 50 even once, three of the central figures in their 2019 triumph have vanished almost without trace.
England have struggled with the bat during their dismal defence of the World Cup title in India
England were given a faint hope when Pakistan earned a miraculous win over New Zealand
Stokes played carefully, determined not to give it away as he had against India in Lucknow, yet even the 112 runs he has made in his four innings have chewed up 181 balls. He scores more quickly in Test cricket.
Moeen Ali came and went for a run-a-ball 42 before providing the superb Zampa with his third wicket, and England had turned down the faintest of chances offered them by Pakistan’s miraculous victory over New Zealand earlier in the day.
A New Zealand win – which would have guaranteed England’s elimination even before their game was over – looked certain after they racked up 401 for six in Bangalore. But Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman thrashed 11 sixes in an 81-ball 126 not out, taking his side ahead on DLS when rain arrived.
England’s bowlers did their bit, with Chris Woakes removing Australia’s dangerous openers David Warner and Travis Head cheaply on his way to four wickets, and Adil Rashid producing another tidy spell of leg-breaks and googlies.
But they allowed Zampa, little better than a rabbit, to bash 29 off 19 balls, and 247 for eight became 286, which felt like too many for a side whose previous four totals had been 215, 170, 156 and 129.
Above all, perhaps, this game confirmed a curious stubbornness in England’s set-up. They have now lost nine of the last 10 ODIs in which they have chased, and they keep refusing to pick Harry Brook.
England have spent much of the last eight years showing the world how to play white-ball cricket. The sadness is that no one in India will miss them when they fly home next weekend.
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