England slumped to one of the most humiliating defeats in their one-day history in St Lucia, where Eoin Morgan’s World Cup favourites were routed for 113 by the West Indies then brutalised by Chris Gayle.
Just three days after posting 418, the third highest score in their history, and four games on from their record chase of 361, the tourists’ high-risk batting style exploded in dizzying fashion as the hosts’ seven-wicket thrashing secured a 2-2 series draw .
England offered wafer-thin resistance against a rampant seam attack, lasting less than 29 overs in a collapse that belied their hard-won status as the format’s world number ones.
Gayle then rounded on his punch-drunk opponents, flogging 77 off 27 deliveries as the humble target was breached in just 12.1 overs.
In terms of balls unused, 227, it was England’s heaviest loss.
England’s troubles began early, Jonny Bairstow playing on as Sheldon Cottrell found early swing and Joe Root upper-cutting Jason Holder tamely to third man.
A powerplay score of 55 for two was less than expected, and hardly in keeping with a high-scoring series, but it barely hinted at the carnage to come.
Lessons went woefully unheeded as a succession of batsman failed to read the bounce or departed in senseless fashion.
Carlos Brathwaite bowled a skilful spell, using his height and an obligingly springy surface to discomfort England and leave them cramped for room as they tried to hit their way into the match.
Alex Hales had already offered a half-chance at point when he went for another full-blooded cut too close to his body. This time it took a thick edge off the neck of the bat and settled safely in Shai Hope’s gloves.
Morgan miscued a pull to fine leg to give Oshane Thomas his first success of the day that ended with career-best figures of five for 21, while Stokes botched the same stroke in his own way – swivelling to brush Brathwaite through to the keeper.
By now it was 88 for five and heavy burden lay on the lower order. Instead, they buckled in the face of Thomas’ growing momentum.
Moeen Ali might easily have bagged a golden duck, a weak nudge just clearing the close catcher, and soon nicked an irresponsible drive with feet planted.
Chris Woakes was next, lobbing messily to mid-on, and England’s only real hope of salvation, Jos Buttler, turned one anxiously off his pads and straight down Cottrell’s throat.
Holder returned to snare Adil Rashid’s outside edge but Thomas was allowed to wrap up his maiden five-for, scattering Tom Curran’s stumps as he backed away to leg in unbecoming fashion.
With 131 deliveries unused, play had not even been going long enough to warrant a full mid-innings break. Gayle swaggered back out and, despite having the luxury of time, decided to unleash from the off.
Woakes, enduring a miserable 30th birthday, was his target and the damage was vicious. His first two overs cost a wince-inducing 39 as the veteran Jamaican clubbed three fours and four sixes.
He had been caught on 31 top-edging to fine-leg but Gayle appeared to question the height and third umpire Bruce Oxenford agreed that Woakes had exceeded his allocation of bouncers, calling a no-ball.
A brace of sixes off Mark Wood saw Gayle reach 50 in just 19 deliveries, the quickest of his 20-year career and a national record. By the time his onslaught was over, cleaned up by Wood, victory was assured.
Hope and John Campbell fell along the way but Shimron Hetmyer hit the winning boundary from the first ball of the 13th over, putting England out of their misery.
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