Has English cricket hit a lower point?

After this pathetic display, surely not even the manager, John Barclay, or the coach, David Lloyd, can find any more excuses for England to shelter behind. This was a humiliating performance by the batsmen after they had been put in on an extremely slow pitch.

English batsmen are no strangers to this type of surface and yet with the glowing exception of John Crawley and, to a lesser extent, Nick Knight, they simply did not have the stomach for the fight. As in Bulawayo, it was the sort of pitch which immediately told a story. It was soon obvious that this was likely to be a low-scoring match, and the very thick and holding outfield endorsed this point.

With the ball coming so slowly on to the bat it was unwise to try and drive anything but the full half-volley, and then only with the foot right to the pitch of the ball. It was the surface on which ones and twos, and not boundaries, were going to be the main source of income. They were conditions in which a three-and-a-half-hour 50 would be invaluable and a seven-hour hundred may be a match-winning innings.

Yet six batsmen were out driving and four of them at balls outside the off-stump without moving their feet across. This begs the question of what was happening in the dressing-room? What were all England's advisers doing? Were they making sure the batsmen knew how to play on this kind of pitch? Did they remind them that certain strokes were business strokes and others were too dangerous?

Was their advice ignored or was it never given? Whatever the answer to that, one is left wondering if English cricket has ever hit the low point it reached yesterday in Harare. It may have been that David Lloyd was so busy defending himself after his hysterical and ill-mannered remarks he made so publicly after the exciting finish in Bulawayo that he did not have enough time to attend fully to the cricket.

The lovely Harare Sports Club was seething with indignation about these unfortunate comments and the words he apparently exchanged with the chairman of the Mashonaland Cricket Association when he tried to congratulate Lloyd on the thrilling finish. The many England supporters were as upset as the Zimbabwean.

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