Business end could prove to be sharp pointy stick for England

England have been beaten by Bangladesh and Ireland. They have tied with India.

Graeme Swann’s pissed and moaned about having wet balls, Jonathan Trott’s been criticised for his scoring rate and been blamed for the national debt, global warming and the fact Wagon Wheels are not as big as they used to be, and Kevin Pietersen’s had enough and fucked off home.

If England do not beat the West Indies tomorrow, their 2011 World Cup is over.

It’s all gone horribly wrong. But to be honest, I’m having a real problem getting steamed up about it because that would presuppose I ever thought England had a real chance in this tournament anyway.

Paul Collingwood said the other day only 4 wins stood between England and WC glory. I love you, Colly, with an indecent passion reserved for gritty ginger Northerners, and am mourning what looks to be the last days of your England ODI career, but this is less a case of “cheerful optimism” as “having a fucking laugh”.

It’s not all bad, of course. Eoin Morgan marked his return to the side in the match against Bangladesh with a palate-cleansing 63. A batsman who thinks outside the box and takes the bowling on, it is good to have him back. His compadre in England’s only notable partnership in that match, Jonathan Trott, has proved England’s most consistent scorer, yet still receives criticism – unjustly – from some quarters for not scoring quickly enough.

Aside from that, it is easier to list where England have been woeful.

Jimmy Anderson has not just hit the wall: he has crashed into it full tilt and brought the whole edifice down on top of him. The seemingly endless stream of leg-side wides he bowled at the end of Bangladesh’s successful run-chase was excruciatingly tough to bear for an England fan; it was like watching a man whose foot is nailed to the floor but who has no idea why he is going round in circles. He looks gaunt, exhausted, and a shadow of the bowler he was in the Ashes.

Kevin Pietersen showed signs of starting to gel with Andrew Strauss at the top of the order, and his departure from the tournament to seek an early date with a surgeon to fix a hernia has seen Matt Prior return to the opening spot – with the result being as underwhelming as it was when he was in the role previously. There has been the suggestion that Ian Bell or Ravi Bopara may be pushed up the order.

And it’s not just fatigue that is sweeping through the squad – Stuart Broad is another who has shipped out because of injury, but not before being stricken down by the usual, delicately-termed “stomach complaint” and twice at that, losing 5kg in the process. Within the last couple of days Andrew Strauss and Graeme Swann have been similarly afflicted, and now Ajmal Shahzad as well.

Strauss is recovered, Swann was at training today though not yet one hundred per cent, and Shahzad is a serious doubt for tomorrow. This is a real blow, given that England got the ball to reverse swing at Chennai when they played against South Africa.

The form is dodgy, the omens  – and players – are ill; England have ensured that by failing to string together a convincingly coherent performance with both bat and ball that their fate is not only in their own hands but in those of others.

Ultimately, should day 27 of this World Cup prove to be their last, they will have no one to blame but themselves.

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