England cricketers slump to new low

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The Independent Online

England’s selectors gave their batsmen the opportunity to redeem themselves last night in Hamilton following an inept and thoughtless batting display in the first one-dayer in Wellington. But rather than reward the gesture with a much improved performance they chose to make an even bigger hash of it, being bundled out for 158 on a faultless pitch, and falling to an emphatic and embarrassing 10 wicket defeat.

It is hard to believe but this was a worse display than that in the New Zealand capital on Saturday. It was possibly one of the most dismal England have ever produced in one-day cricket, and that is saying something.

In the end it took the Black Caps just 18.1 overs to pass England’s Duckworth/Lewis revised total of 164. Brendon McCullum smashed an unbeaten 47 ball 80 whilst rookie opener Jesse Ryder struck a slightly less destructive 79 not out. Paul Collingwood’s side looked as though they had done ten rounds with Mike Tyson as they left the field.

Afternoon rain reduced the match to a 36 over affair but New Zealand treated their run chase as though they were playing Twenty20 cricket, striking 19 boundaries and seven sixes as they savaged England’s bowlers. The defeat leaves England needing to win the final three matches to triumph in the five match series. On this performance it seems highly unlikely.

In Wellington England could portion some of the blame for their inadequacies on a difficult pitch but here they had no excuses. Indeed, when rain came along at the end of the 15th over England were well positioned on 85-2. Phil Mustard and Ian Bell had fallen in consecutive deliveries to a lively Chris Martin – Bell, attempting to leave a ball was superbly caught by McCullum behind the stumps diving high and wide to his right - but Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen were looking good, unbeaten on 40 and 29 respectively.

It was then that the wheels came off. Pietersen was trapped lbw working Mike Martin to leg and next ball Paul Collingwood stupidly ran himself out trying to take a second run to Jacob Oram on the third man boundary. Owais Shah was bowled by a nip backer in Mason’s next over, pushing at a delivery he should have been trying to block, and suddenly England were 97-5.

Ravi Bopara is a very talented young player but his confidence, after a disappointing tour of Sri Lanka, currently looks shot. His running between the wickets was dreadful. Panic is the only way of describing it, and it came as now surprise that he was involved in a run out.

Cook was absolutely stuffed by Bopara, who struck a ball from Daniel Vettori to Ross Taylor, New Zealand’s best fielder, at extra cover and set off for a single. Cook, who had just completed his third one-day fifty, did not have a chance and was beaten by a throw to the wicket-keeper.

Graeme Swann was next to go, top edging a cut at Vettori through to McCullum and Bopara soon followed when he carelessly slogged a knee high full toss from Kyle Mills to deep square leg.

Ryan Sidebottom took England’s tally of run outs in the match to three for the second consecutive game when he attempted a suicidal run to short fine leg and Stuart Broad was last to go when he was caught on the cover boundary with five balls of the innings remaining. In 18.4 overs England had lost eight wickets for the addition of just 68 runs, a pretty pathetic effort.

If England were to defend their total they needed early wickets but both McCullum and Ryder were dropped before they had reached double figures. Mustard grassed McCullum behind the stumps whilst Shah failed to hold on to a low chance at slip.

In an attempt to create chances England’s seamers bowled aggressively but on too many occasions, without thought. Bowling bouncers when the fielding restrictions are in place and with just one fielder on the deep square-leg boundary is not to be advised, and Ryder, in particular, collected too many easy runs.

No bowler was spared a mauling with James Anderson, Broad and Swann each conceding more than 10 runs an over. McCullum struck five huge sixes, all over the leg side. Ryder hit two and his performance won him the man-of-the-match award. England have plenty of thinking to do before Friday’s third game in Auckland. It will take more than two days to get this dismal display out of their minds.