Dutch defeat was bad, but it's the wider context that makes it worse
Have you ever been to York? You have? Ah, so you'll know that street in the old city called The Shambles. It has old Broad the baker at number 1, Morgan the miller just over the road and a little further down you'll find Lumb's Plums, the most hit and miss grocer's in town. If you go round Dern Back Lane, then turn left into Moeen Alley, make sure you tread well or you might find yourself facing old man Boycott, who is liable to set his gran on you.
Massacred by the Aussies, crushed by the Windies, now utterly floor-wiped by the Dutch: shambolic is about as good as it gets. A brilliant Alex Hales century against Sri Lanka feels like an aberration. The only other England player whose reputation remains more or less in tact after this tournament is Ravi Bopara.
All that having been said, T20s remain mysterious beasts. A storm did for England against New Zealand; a dead rubber against the Netherlands was asking for trouble. In the two proper contests England pulled off a great win and were beaten by a decent South Africa. Their difficulty is that this World Cup will be viewed in the context of a disastrous winter. Inevitably, therefore, more will be read into it than would be the case if the Ashes had not been quite so badly lost.
The powers that be have to lighten up if England are to regain their mojo
Michael Carberry's comments in a Guardian interview about the inadequacies of England's man-management are troubling, coming so soon after the breach between the ECB and Kevin Pietersen. They paint a picture of a set-up that is inward-looking and unimaginative.
Management faults are always magnified by failure on the field of play. When a team is winning, there is little need to focus on questions about how the selectors are communicating with players or to what degree a coach is hindering, rather than helping, a bowler's progress by tinkering with his action.
Nevertheless, the recent history of English cricket has largely been characterised by a shift towards greater professionalism, a tougher team ethic and a generally more rigid regime. While it has brought great success, the ECB has to recognise that in a world where top players no longer rely on international honours to make a living, playing for England must be a pleasure as well as a privilege.
England’s women are in pole position for more silverware
While the lads carry on with their search for rock-bottom, England's women continue to scale the heights.
They remain too reliant on Charlotte Edwards and Sarah Taylor for runs but their performances so far in Bangladesh have been impressive. Cup glory is hardly guaranteed but few would argue against the notion that they are the best team in the tournament.
Given that the women’s set-up in this country is only now entering an era of full professionalisation, it is to be hoped that they will go from strength to strength – provided of course that they don’t become as seemingly inflexible as the men in their approach.
My encounter with a future England captain
True story: I once bought a bat off Charlotte Edwards. Amazing, I know. I was about fifteen, as I suppose was she, and I had gone to the Hunts County factory shop in Huntingdon, where Edwards was putting a shift in.
Edwards was already a regular fixture in the pages of our local paper – the Cambridge Evening News – and it was fairly obvious that she was destined for great things.
As I tried out a range of bats with a seriousness appropriate to a stalwart of the Cambridgeshire Under-15 squad, my mother, gauging Edwards' level of interest perfectly, turned to her and said: "there's nothing more boring than watching a boy choose a cricket bat is there dear?". Cue nervous laughter from the future captain of England, and red-faced embarrassment from the future Light Roller.
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