In Depth

Cricket World Cup ‘calamity’: Australia’s bowlers and the press rip into England

After Lord’s thrashing the pressure is on the hosts to win their final two games

ICC Cricket World Cup
  • Australia innings: 285-7 (50 overs) 
  • England innings: 221 all out (44.4 overs)
  • Australia won by 64 runs
Aussies annihilate abject England

Was it only three weeks ago that one UK national newspaper ran a flamboyant spread chronicling how England “became the world’s best cricket team”? 

In fairness to The Daily Telegraph, they weren’t the only ones getting carried away with the idea that England were shoe-ins for the Cricket World Cup. 

Captain invincible himself, Eoin Morgan, confidently declared last month that England are better equipped to deal with a crisis than ever before.

Captain crisis

Well, Morgan has a crisis on his hands right now, one that could well see England fail to reach the semi-final of their own World Cup. 

A limp defeat to Sri Lanka last Friday was followed yesterday by a humiliating 64-run annihilation at the hands of Australia.

And how the Aussies enjoyed pummelling the Poms at Lord’s. By the end of the massacre, in which England were dismissed for 221 in pursuit of 285, the famous old ground had fallen silent. 

Demoralised fans drifted home, leaving the small number of Australians - whose chances of winning the World Cup were dismissed by most of the English press and public a month ago - to celebrate becoming the first team to qualify for the semi-finals.

Fight for the top four

Will England join them? It will require a remarkable transformation in a team whose confidence looks shot to pieces. 

Having lost to Pakistan earlier in the tournament, England are fourth on just eight points, one more than Bangladesh and two more than Sri Lanka, who have a game in hand. 

They can both still qualify, as can Pakistan, but of course England will go through if they win their remaining two matches, against India on Sunday and New Zealand next Wednesday.

But given the way those two nations been playing this month, and the fact England are coming apart under pressure, the smart money suggests the hosts will be leaving their party early.

Outplayed

“Our fate is in our own hands in the next two games we play,” said a deflated Morgan, who conceded that his side “were outplayed” by Australia. 

Asked if it was the most disappointing performance he could remember with England, he replied: “I think all round probably with the bat, yes.”

Only Ben Stokes showed any grit with the bat, scoring a battling 89 before he was dismissed by a superb yorker from Mitchell Starc. Aussie bowling star Starc finished with figures of 4-43 while there were five wickets for Jason Behrendorff.

Otherwise it was a succession of failures from England’s batsmen and surely James Vince and Moeen Ali can no longer justify selection.

“We found ways to keep getting wickets,” explained Australia captain Aaron Finch, who anchored his side’s innings with a fine century. “You don’t win the tournament if you don’t reach the semis. That’s the first bit ticked off.”

England captain Morgan added: “We’re not feeling the pressure of being favourites. We are in charge of how we go from here on in. We win two games, we definitely go through. It’s a matter of producing that performance in one, if not both of those.”

Today’s back pages: England take a kicking

Pundit reactions to the Lord’s thrashing

Former England captain turned pundit Alec Stewart: “Poor. Very poor. It almost wasn’t a contest. It felt bigger than a 64-run defeat.”

Paul Hayward, The Daily Telegraph: “Mitchell Starc eats England for breakfast.”

Scyld Berry, The Daily Telegraph: “When England’s one-day cricketers are good, they are very, very good. When the pressure has been upon them on this world stage, they have been horrid.”

Lawrence Booth, Daily Mail: “Whisper it, but the stage is set for England’s biggest World Cup letdown of the lot. If you thought 1996, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 weren’t great, try stumbling in front of your home crowd because the favourites tag around your neck is starting to resemble a millstone.”

Barney Ronay, The Guardian: “Oh, England. For the last two years this blue machine has swaggered through its ODI cricket, playing only in the high gears, facing only forward, never taking a step that wasn’t forward: and aggressively forward, too, all the while talking about how step-like its steps are, how aggressive its aggression. Change the parts, change the brand, change the chat. Talk, by all means, with unsmiling defiance in press conferences about playing one way and not feeling pressure and fearing no one. But this is still England, a country of great but circumscribed resources.” 

Tom Fordyce, BBC Sport: “England’s World Cup - the one they came into as clear favourites, with bludgeoning batsmen, runaway fast bowlers and a thrilling, proven style - is teetering on the brink of calamity.”

ICC Cricket World Cup fixtures

All matches are live on Sky Sports

Group fixtures
  • Wednesday 26 June: New Zealand vs. Pakistan (10.30am)
  • Thursday 27 June: West Indies vs. India (10.30am)
  • Friday 28 June: Sri Lanka vs. South Africa (10.30am)
  • Saturday 29 June: Pakistan vs. Afghanistan (10.30am); New Zealand vs. Australia (1.30pm)
  • Sunday 30 June: England vs. India (10.30am)
  • Monday 1 July: Sri Lanka vs. West Indies (10.30am)
  • Tuesday 2 July: Bangladesh vs. India (10.30am)
  • Wednesday 3 July: England vs. New Zealand (10.30am)
  • Thursday 4 July: Afghanistan vs. West Indies (10.30am)
  • Friday 5 July: Pakistan vs. Bangladesh (10.30am)
  • Saturday 6 July: Sri Lanka vs. India (10.30am); Australia vs. South Africa (1.30pm)
Semi-finals 
  • Tuesday 9 July: 1st place vs. 4th place (10.30am; Old Trafford, Manchester) 
  • Thursday 11 July: 2nd place vs. 3rd place (10.30am; Edgbaston, Birmingham)
Cricket World Cup final 
  • Sunday 14 July: 10.30am at Lord’s, London

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