Considering that four teams wiped the floor with England in the World Cup, the verdict of the team’s captain was perhaps slightly surprising.
“There are no regrets,” said Eoin Morgan. “We have given it everything, and certainly myself. Have we been adventurous enough? I think we have when we have earned the right to be adventurous. When you have bad days you can’t afford to be adventurous.”
His team had just defeated Afghanistan by eight wickets in their final pool match of a tournament from which they had already been eliminated. It was perfectly straightforward, apart from the rain interruptions which convoluted the target, but the damage had long since been done.
Yet Morgan additionally insisted that England had chosen the right team and that he could see no reason for any of the squad members to consider their futures as one-day players. His bosses have already indicated that they will be carrying on, so perhaps everybody should simply ignore the wretched nature of England’s cricket and pretend it never happened.
“I think there is going to be a review and I can’t determine whether I will still be captain,” said Morgan. “But the hunger is still there to do it. I have learnt a lot throughout this tournament, particularly when things haven’t gone so well.
“You learn a lot about yourself and the team. Looking ahead, the personnel we have are the right personnel. It’s important to realise that we haven’t clicked, we haven’t had guys in form, so to speak.”
England came here to find that other teams were playing one-day cricket on another planet, but such deluded remarks perhaps tend to suggest that England themselves are on a different planet. Poor Morgan could hardly dish out too much criticism, however, since he scored 90 runs in five innings.
“I think we have the right calibre of squad,” he said. “Guys on the outside need to be banging down the door. It’s an easy thing to sit here while we’re not doing well and say somebody outside the squad is obviously better suited. We considered everybody when selecting this squad and I still believe we had the right group of players here.”
The door that England have erected in the past few months could be knocked down with a feather. The point is not that anybody could have done better but that nobody could have done worse.
England finished off matters in some style but it was meaningless stuff. They won the toss and bowled on an overcast day on which the ball moved around appreciably. They were ideal conditions for English bowlers and even this lot were not about to look this gift horse in the mouth.
Afghanistan were suitably horrified and did not have the method or the will to cope. The ball was four times edged behind and too many other shots were uncontrolled in reaching 111 for 7 from 36.2 overs when rain terminated their innings.
Their fielding fell part as England romped to the target. Alex Hales was belligerent if clumsy and Ian Bell was classy in compiling his 39th score above 50 in one-day cricket. It might well have been his final innings, if England ignore Morgan and start rebuilding now for the next World Cup.
Morgan defended the coach, Peter Moores. “All the responsibility should fall on the players,” he said. “It’s important we realise as a side where the responsibility lies, of where we want to be and how we want to get there.”
For four weeks they had gone precisely nowhere.