Whatever it is that England have in mind to become a crack one-day unit is lacking a certain something. Indeed, on the basis of what happened here, it may be bereft of everything and anything.
India took an unassailable 3-0 lead in the Royal London series, gaining a crushing nine-wicket win with superior batting, bowling and fielding. It is difficult to offer any reason why England might gain a strictly consolation victory in the final match at Headingley on Friday but if they turn up they will at least match their endeavours so far.
Having been asked to bat in the fourth match (and what a blessing it was in terms of the scoreline that the first was washed out), England were bowled out for a wholly inadequate 206 in the last over of their innings. India responded by scoring at will, achieving their target in 30.3 overs to the delight of a crowd that made Birmingham seem like Bangalore.
Alastair Cook, the England captain, was compelled to give the kind of press conference which has become almost statutory in the last nine months, in which he declared his intention to stay but would be prepared to accept it if the selectors want him to go.
“It is a really tough place at the moment,” he said, reminding his audience of the location of where he has spent a goodly part of the summer. “But you can turn it round, we have to stay true to our belief as a team and the belief you have as a player.
“I’ll continue as captain if I’m allowed to be. I am proud to be England captain but if they say they don’t want me then that’s their decision.”
This was as miserable as it has been for England in this series if not this year. Ajinkya Rahane made a scintillating 106 from 100 balls with 10 fours and four sixes. His mastery of all the bowling seemed complete – he drove and pulled furiously yet daintily – until he spooned a full toss to cover, which was the most astonishing thing to happen all day.
Rahane’s opening partner, Shikhar Dhawan, dashed to the finishing line, which he reached with his fourth six drilled disdainfully down the ground to take him to 97no.
Only Moeen Ali’s 67 from 50 balls for England, their first half-century of the series, provided the remotest comforting aspect. Ali did what too few of his colleagues have been prepared to do, letting the bowlers know he meant business, though even his departure, dashing aimlessly down the pitch, was disappointing.
The Indian expatriate community of Birmingham and its environs turned out in force, and a tuk-tuk parked outside the main entrance embodied the flavour of proceedings. Such was the fervour for the tourists that England must have felt they were playing an away match. After it, they might have wanted the tuk-tuk to take them as far away from it all as possible.
England have been defeated 12 times by India in the last 14 ODIs between the sides since late 2011 and this year have lost 11 of their 17 matches against all opponents. Old regime, new regime, old coach, new coach, it is all going one way, which is down the plug hole.
In the past fortnight, the style of play has attracted the most derision, but if England suddenly came up with a clever, innovative way of playing, the theory of relativity of one-day cricket, there would be no certainty that these players could implement it at present.
Being defeated, even at home, by India, world champions and back to No 1 in the one-day world rankings, is neither a disgrace nor a sensation. But England have singularly failed to compete, as losses by 133 runs, six wickets with seven overs to spare and this one amply demonstrate.
There is no easy remedy and sacking this lot to bring in an array of bright young things from the counties would be the stuff of panic not design. It may be seriously worth considering.
With the World Cup beginning in February it is looking distinctly glum, as it usually does for England before and during World Cups. The past fortnight has shown their execution is as defective as their concept. Perhaps one is causing the other.
The siren calls for something, anything, to be done will not be easily silenced after the manner of the latest hammering. The batsmen were again ineptly timorous and were swiftly in trouble against a revitalised Bhuvneshwar Kumar. From 23 for three, this time against the seaming ball, there was to be no recovery, and the contributions of Joe Root (44) and Eoin Morgan (32) were improved but insufficient.
Such a total was never enough and when Jimmy Anderson was imperiously dismissed in his third over, four fours coming in five balls, the one-day differences between the sides resembled a chasm.Reuse content