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  • England v Netherlands, World T20

England humiliated by Netherlands

The Report by George Dobell
March 31, 2014
Is this the lowest point of English cricket? © Getty Images
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Netherlands 133 for 5 (Barresi 48) beat England 88 (van Beek 3-9, Bukhari 3-12) by 45 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

There is a great deal of competition for the lowest point in the history of English cricket. They have been defeated by Ireland and Netherlands, bowled out by a chicken farmer in Zimbabwe and whitewashed by India, West Indies and Australia. They were even knocked out of the World Cup they hosted in 1999 before the theme song was released.

But defeat at the hands of Netherlands - the second time they have lost to them in two meetings following the result in the 2009 World T20 at Lord's - in Chittagong ranks among the worst of England's defeats. In a winter stuffed with setbacks and disappointment, England left the most ignominious moment until last. The term double-dutch has rarely seemed so appropriate.

Ashley Giles' face said it all after England's shameful defeat © Getty Images
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It is a defeat that might also prove a fatal blow for Ashley Giles' hopes of gaining the England coaching job.

While those at the ECB charged with appointing the next coach might have been expected to take a sympathetic view towards some modest results in light of the transitional phase in which the team find themselves, it may prove harder to overlook a defeat at the hands of Netherlands: a team that were beaten by Zimbabwe early in the tournament; a team that were bowled out for 39 by Sri Lanka a few days ago; a team that recently lost their ODI status.

Those same men charged with appointing the coach might also like to reflect on the wisdom of dispensing with Kevin Pietersen weeks before the tournament, too. Whether he is disruptive or not in the dressing room - and the evidence of those who shared it with him is mixed - there is no doubt that, without him, England are a weaker team on the pitch.

This was a wretched performance. While Netherlands hit three boundaries in the first over of the game, England managed only four in their entire innings. While Holland took 47 off their six Powerplay overs, England managed only 26 for the loss of three wickets off theirs; their second lowest in T20 history. Their final total - a pathetic effort of 88 - was the lowest ever recorded by Full Member nation against an Associate.

It summed up England's awful performance that defeat was sealed by a shambolic run-out. Had an unknowing spectator sauntered into the ground, they could have been forgiven for concluding that England was the Associate nation and Netherlands were the Test regulars.

But it is harsh to focus on England's shortcomings when Netherlands performance warrants praise. Certainly their bowling - intelligent, disciplined and calm - was highly impressive and their fielding calm and assured. They deserve huge plaudits for defending a target that looked some way below par, albeit on a pitch that rendered stroke-making difficult.

Timm van der Gugten bowled with pace and control in taking the key wicket of Eoin Morgan, falling to an old weakness and edging one pushed wide of his off stump, while Mudassar Bukhari's control and variations preyed on an England batting line-up chronically lacking in confidence on a sluggish surface. Logan van Beek also claimed three wickets in two overs by virtue simply of maintaining and decent line and length and preying on England's increasing panic.

However, the key difference was the composure of Netherlands compared to England. While the Dutch played to the conditions, England attempted to play as if on a quicker surface. With the ball not coming on to the bat as England might have liked, the batsmen were encouraged to hit the ball in the air and presented a succession of chances to Netherland's grateful, and sharp fielders. Only three men made double-figures and none made more than 18.

Earlier, it seemed as if England had clawed Netherlands back to a manageable total after a bright start. Stephan Myburgh and Wesley Barresi put on 50 for the second wicket in 43 balls, with Stephen Parry, playing in place of the much-derided Jade Dernbach, punished for 23 off his two overs.

The fielding lapses that have marred England's winter were prevalent once again. Michael Lumb, mistiming his leap, was unable to cling on to a pull stroke by Barresi on 8 off Parry's first delivery - a long-hop - and instead of catching it, tipped the ball for six. Tom Cooper, on 4, was badly dropped by Alex Hales, while Peter Borren might have been run-out had Buttler not dislodged the bails with his elbow before collecting the ball.

But, having made 84 from the first 11 overs, Netherlands scored only 49 from their final nine as Ravi Bopara, in particular, bowled with excellent control and variation. Only 27 came from the final five overs and it seemed they had squandered their fine platform.

It proved to be more than enough, though. England's run-chase never gained any momentum. Nobody took responsibility for their chase, no-one had the composure for the job at hand. Complacency is one potential excuse, but how a team that has been thrashed all winter can be find room for complacency is hard to say.

Either way, while the result may prove a hammer blow to Giles' chances of gaining the England job his counterpart, Anton Roux, must have given himself an excellent chance of gaining the Netherlands job on a full time basis.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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