Eoin Morgan’s forehead and top lip were shrouded in perspiration. He looked drawn, stunned, a man who now knew what it was like to be captain in dark times.
“These first two games we said were going to be difficult, playing against the two favourites in their home conditions,” he said. “But we shouldn’t be beaten by this amount, no way. Maybe today we were outskilled but certainly the first game we played against Australia we were way below par.
“We’re not doing the basics right, reproducing what we practise. We envisaged a future of having lost the first two games but not by this amount. We can still make the quarter-finals but the sooner the better we start winning and getting momentum into the next games. When we’ve not done the basics well we have been exposed by good teams and we have seen that today.”
In this tournament so far England have been defeated by Australia by 111 runs and now by New Zealand by eight wickets, in a match yesterday that lasted a little more than 45 overs. The Kiwis chased down their target in 12.2 overs. It was a humiliation to rank with any that have been inflicted on England anywhere.
The management – and that includes Paul Downton, the England and Wales Cricket Board managing director – the coach, Peter Moores, and the captain, Morgan, should all come under close scrutiny. It is as Morgan said: there is a difference between honourable defeat and a severe hammering.
“Things are pretty quiet in the dressing room,” said Morgan. “Naturally, they’re going to be very disappointed. We have to improve individually and collectively we have to produce a team performance.
“I can certainly see us a being a little tentative in the first game. Today I thought we were just outskilled. The cricket we’re trying to play doesn’t always mean playing the swinging ball. You have to play the ball in front of you but I didn’t expect it to swing for 30 overs.”
Morgan paid honest regard to the supreme endeavours of Tim Southee, whose 7 for 33 was the best ODI return by a New Zealand bowler. He swung the ball off a full length late and at pace and did so with unerring control.
Southee said: “It’s all a bit of a blur at the moment. I suppose we’ll appreciate what we’ve done when we’ve had a chance to take it in.”
No one in the stadium could quite take it in: a cakewalk in the Cake Tin. England, of course, rued their decision to bat but then last Saturday they bowled and still lost. Morgan said there had not been a cloud in the sky when he made his choice. In Morgan’s cricket world there are for the moment only clouds.
It seems inconceivable that England will keep the same team for the match against Scotland tomorrow night but, equally, they do not wish to be seen to panic. “That’s not what I’m about,” Morgan said. If there is a time to panic, this is it, here and now.Reuse content