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Cricket World Cup: Jonathan Agnew column

TMS commentator Jonathan Agnew

Ragged England have work to do - Agnew

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent, Bangalore

There have been many famous sporting shocks through the years but in cricketing terms Ireland beating England has to rank as one of the biggest.

We've had a week of superlatives in Bangalore - the greatest matches, the greatest centuries in England's game against India, but clearly as a one-day innings Kevin O'Brien's magnificent 113 from 63 balls is up there with the best of them, it was an amazing match-winning innings.

Ireland had lost three wickets for eight runs to slip to 111-5 and the game was over. In many ways he was liberated by the situation, there aren't any draws in one-day cricket so he began to play his shots and before we knew it the ball started disappearing all over the place.

The confidence of England's bowlers is at rock bottom anyway and soon O'Brien had taken the game away from them, it was an absolutely breathtaking piece of hitting.

What was clever about it was once he had got them in the frame he calmed down, often having got so close the pressure has a negative impact but for sheer hitting it was absolutely brilliant and it was a terrible shame he was run out shortly before the end.

But England will be devastated by this result, they were at least 30 runs short with the bat and the bowling and fielding was terribly ragged.

There were lots of slower balls but none of them seemed to be accurate and there were hardly any yorkers.

I'd much rather have seen them bowling with some hostility, Ireland's batsmen are not used to balls flying around their noses, and although the wicket was flat the ball did go through. England bowlers should be trying to boss the game.

I don't want to take anything away from O'Brien - nothing could - but England look a completely different team from the one that clinically sealed a 3-1 Ashes series win in the Sydney Test less than three months ago.

Kevin O'Brien wagon wheel
O'Brien wagon wheel - the Ireland match-winner was prolific on the leg-side

There they bowled ball after ball in exactly the same place, to precise plans, and the fielding was consistently sharp and disciplined. They look a shadow of that now.

Ireland knew they had a chance of winning. They are a decent team, well drilled, with experienced county players but the fact is England should be beating them.

They should be able to see the lesser teams on their way just as India, South Africa or Australia would but England don't seem to be able to do that.

We don't know what this result means as far as the group is concerned but with four teams qualifying from seven for the quarter-finals the match between West Indies and Bangladesh in Mirpur on Friday is a big one.

England look like a team that will not go any further than the quarter-finals. They hoped it would be a smooth progression from the opening Netherlands match with the graph steadily rising in performance terms.

But that graph has crashed and they have got to pick it up.

The tie with India papered over the cracks but England have conceded 959 runs in three matches - most of those against the Netherlands and Ireland! It's six-and-a-half runs an over which is unacceptable. James Anderson is short of form and Stuart Broad is short of fitness but they simply cannot let the smaller teams dictate terms.

Kevin Pietersen should have made a century, he got to 59 without batting an eyelid and then with the field spread he played a silly little reverse sweep, lobbed up a simple catch and threw his wicket away - it makes no sense.

We always knew batting would be a problem. England are badly missing Eoin Morgan, someone at number six to come in and take the game by the scruff of the neck.

No-one said: "This is a good wicket and anyone can chase a big score so we're not going to settle for an average total".

The next match is against South Africa on Sunday and given the strange way things are going England will probably win it!

Another problem for them is that they will have so much time kicking around - the next three games are spaced over nearly a fortnight.

Paul Collingwood's place has to be looked at. He is in no form with the bat and bowled some pretty awful slower balls - some of which he was lucky to get away with. Ravi Bopara is the obvious man to replace him but England don't seem to be keen on bowling him and anyone coming into the side would have to contribute some overs.

But after that England performance you can pick holes in every aspect.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to Jamie Lillywhite. Join Jonathan and Geoffrey Boycott for the TMS podcast

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see also
Brilliant Ireland shock England
02 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Strauss stunned by England defeat
02 Mar 11 |  England
Hero O'Brien hails 'best innings'
02 Mar 11 |  Ireland
England v Ireland photos
02 Mar 11 |  Cricket
England v Ireland as it happened
02 Mar 11 |  Cricket
England & India in thrilling tie
27 Feb 11 |  England
Ragged England sneak past Dutch
22 Feb 11 |  England
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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