Wobbly win for England against toothless Scots
After two humiliating defeats, England's cricketers recorded their first win of the World Cup – in unconvincing style
They can be cruel, those Australian newspapers. "Another World Cup upset!" screamed the homepage of the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday. "England win."
Then again, who can honestly say that their mockery is misplaced? England's cricketers suffered two calamitous defeats in their opening World Cup matches Down Under so when they took on Scotland in Christchurch on Sunday night a victory was by no means guaranteed.
Indeed, nothing is certain with this England team save for the fact that they will always make life difficult for themselves. They managed that even against Scotland, recording an unconvincing win that involved another world famous collapse.
Moeen Ali and Ian Bell shared an opening stand of 172 with the former dominating the partnership, cracking a superlative 128 in 107 balls. But when Moeen fell with the score on 201 for 1, England failed to kick on, losing six wickets for 102 runs to finish on 303 for 8 in their 50 overs against the lowest-ranked one-day international side in Pool A.
Only captain Eoin Morgan made a worthwhile score, the Irishman smashing two sixes and four fours in a quickfire 46. Elsewhere, however, Gary Ballance, Jos Buttler and James Taylor fall failed again, the trio managing just 51 runs between them.
Thankfully for England, Scotland were incapable of mounting a serious challenge to the total and were bowled out for 184 with only Kyle Coetzer offering any resistance with an innings of 71.
It was Scotland's 10th defeat in as many World Cup matches – meaning they now share with Holland the record as the worst side in the tournament's history – and they remain without a win against a Test-playing side.
Although most of the England bowlers got among the wickets, Steven Finn was the pick of the attack, the Middlesex paceman taking 3 for 26 in his nine-over spell. Those figures were in marked contrast to the humiliating hammering he endured against New Zealand on Friday when he was smashed for 49 runs in his two overs.
Yet despite the size of the victory – it was their biggest winning margin in a World Cup match since they thrashed East Africa by 196 runs in 1975 – England don't look like a side capable of lifting the title.
Nonetheless, modern cricket is all about taking positives as well as wickets, and Eoin Morgan was a relieved man following the result. "The win means we are more at ease with ourselves and there's more confidence … even among those who didn't perform," he said of his team, whose next opponents are Sri Lanka on Sunday.
"We want more consistency and to be ruthless and simple in how we approach things," was Morgan's response when asked what England must do to beat the 2011 runners-up.