Opinion: If this isn't a 'low ebb', then what is?

Blog Opinion

England's Hiems Horribilis ended the way it started. With a humbling defeat. The difference between this 45 run loss to the Netherlands and defeat in the first Test in Brisbane is that this one was in no way a shock.

England's Hiems Horribilis ended the way it started. With a humbling defeat. The difference between this 45 run loss to the Netherlands and defeat in the first Test in Brisbane is that this one was in no way a shock.

Perhaps the most concerning thing is that despite only winning one game and being dumped out of the World T20 at the group stage, and in the processing snuffing out favourable <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>online cricket betting odds</b></a>, England have in some ways exceeded expectations.

Despite what Giles Clarke protests, England cricket is in a mess and expectations prior to the tournament were so low that it wouldn't have been a surprise if England had lost all four of their matches.

As it was, they were arguably unlucky against New Zealand and pulled off an unlikely victory against Sri Lanka albeit thanks to one of the best T20 international innings ever played.

Relying on one of your batsmen to play the innings of his life does not a winning formula make. Take out the innings of Alex Hales and Eoin Morgan in the Sri Lanka match and England's weaknesses were horribly exposed.

The bowling attack is woefully inadequate. Whilst some leeway can be given to the less experienced guys and to the spinners who were bowling with a horrible wet ball, Tim Bresnan and Jade Dernbach had a terrible tournament. Economy rates of 9.7 and 11.0 respectively simply isn't good enough.

Bresnan bowled 10 overs for 97 runs taking just 1 wicket. Pariah Dernbach 9 overs for 99 runs taking just 3 wickets. Even Broad, the supposed leader of the attack (albeit one with tendonitis) went for 102 off the 12 overs he bowled.

England's senior spinner Tredwell was at least a bit more economical but still took just one wicket. England's most effective bowlers were Ravi Bopara, who was inexplicably only trusted with 6 overs (which only went for 4.66 an over), and newcomer Chris Jordan, who took 4 for 76 off his 10 overs.

It's not good enough. Even in unfamiliar conditions, it's not good enough. England lack pace, guile, mystery and control. And if you haven't got any of them then your bowling attack is no better than an average county cricket bowling attack. It simply isn't going to cut it in an international tournament.

Broad tried his best to use his bowlers in the most appropriate ways but when you don't feel comfortable to bowl yourself at the death and your other options are Bresnan and Dernbach there isn't a great deal you can do. Even given AB De Villiers obvious class, allowing South Africa to score 53 runs from the last 3 overs is catastrophic.

The fielding was, on the whole, 'hide behind the sofa' ugly and the batting was flattered by the conditions which allowed the ball to skid on to the bat more than it would have had they played day matches or played in Dhaka.

Most pertinently, they didn't know how to get themselves out of the match situations they got themselves into. They had no plan to halt the assault when in the field or to stop the rot with the bat.

Even the players not scarred by the horror show in Australia seemed dragged down by the malaise of the winter. Apart from a few hours of joy following Alex Hales's supreme innings, this team looked broken, battered and bewildered.

Even the post-match 'taking the positives' cliches were said with weary tones. By the end, they couldn't even be bothered to try and take the positives. You can't blame them, there weren't really any.

Broad's admission that he has to have a think about his future as T20 captain betrayed a sense of exasperation. Perhaps, the same sort that caused Swann to retire and for Ben Stokes to punch a locker.

In a fortnight's time, Ashley Giles may well be offered the position of England head coach and quite understandably England supporters will wonder on what basis he's been given the job.

His record as England limited overs coach doesn't make for pretty reading although to cut him some slack, the only time he's been given a full strength team he took them to the Champions Trophy final. But there were only eight teams in that competition and it was on home turf, the final was probably exactly where they should have been and, in fact, not going on to win it was a failure.

Giles may well get the job in the absence of anyone noticeably better who actually wants it. (Although his chances have considerably lessened after this defeat and Michael Carberry's explosive interview in The Guardian).

Other than a few county coaches (Peter Moores, Mark Robinson, Mick Newell) no one actually wants this job. Why would they? They're away for 290 days a year, on a salary that they can earn for a few weeks coaching in the IPL and CPL.

Plus they can't pick England's best player and they have to work for Giles Clarke. Why would anyone worth their salt actually want the job? It doesn't sound very attractive does it?

So here we have a David Moyes shaped problem. Is the problem the coach or is the problem the players? Is Ashley the man for the job or will England just regress under him (if that's possible)? Or is it that he needs to be given time to shape and develop the emerging and young players and forge his own 'Giles Era' which could well be successful?

For many supporters, Giles just represents more of the same. England under Giles may well be no different. It will continue to be safe and uninspiring. He isn't by any means a universally popular choice to take over the top job.

Given the options he probably is the right choice but he'll need to take some tough decisions over the coming weeks and months. England are in a mess across all three formats and given the World Cup in year's time, he'll need to decide what his priorities are and which particular problem he tries to solve first.

<b>What now?</b>

There's not going to be an easy fix. England are ranked 8th in the world in T20 cricket and even that seems flattering. There are no quick answers but it's time to chuck out the 'English way', time to throw off the shackles and reinvent the way we play limited overs cricket. England play T20 cricket like it's still 2005. The cricket world moved on and England didn't.

Transformation has to start at domestic level with better pitches. There must be an acceptance of things that are unorthodox be that maverick batsmen (no one specific who's name begins with K and P) or spinners who aren't simply traditional offspinners – although finding a good one of them might be a start.

England need to find and encourage pace bowlers. Even if they aren't going to be of Test quality, there's nothing wrong with finding some limited-overs specialists, which could be unearthed in the County Championship. Perhaps particularly in Nottinghamshire, who <a href='http://www.paddypower.com/bet/cricket/county-championship' target='_blank' class='instorylink'><b>popular cricket

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