Is this England's most humiliating defeat ever?

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The Independent Online
The England cricket team was laid low yesterday by a chicken farmer from Zimbabwe in what must rank as one of the nation's most humiliating defeats ever.

Even hardened supporters, brought up on a diet of dashed hopes, batting collapses, false dawns and failure, watched in disbelief as the team ranked ninth out of nine in the world hammered England 3-0 in a series of one-day matches.

The chief destroyer in the final game yesterday was a farmer, Eddo Brandes, who took Zimbabwe's first-ever hat-trick as England crashed to a 131-run defeat.

What made matters worse was that the trip to Zimbabwe and the subsequent tour of New Zealand were supposed to be "morale boosters" in preparation for a gruelling summer series against Australia. But yesterday, Zimbabwe, who have only 10 professional cricketers, brought England down to earth.

Having only drawn the two Test matches against the African side, critics lined up yesterday to put the boot into the England team.

The former England skipper Brian Close said: "They want their backsides kicking. I don't know what you can do with them. It was sad and very disappointing - a disaster."

Bob Willis, the former England fast bowler, added: "Zimbabwe are at the bottom of the ladder and England are quickly replacing them. We are fast going down the cricketing plughole."

Although yesterday's defeat was in a one-day game, considered less important than Test matches, memories of recent humiliations flooded back. Who could forget England being bowled out for 82 by New Zealand in the 1984 Test match at Christchurch, or the 46 all out at the hands of the West Indies in the 1994 Trinidad Test?

The Tory MP Terry Dicks said: "They should be brought home in disgrace. I would sack the management and half the team."

Full report: Sport, page 24

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