England ‘at end of cycle’ in ODIs – Michael Atherton

Former England captain Michael Atherton said the current one-day side could be “at the end of the cycle” after another dismal batting display at the Cricket World Cup.

Defending champions England won the toss in a must-win group game against Sri Lanka but were bowled out for 156 in just 33.2 overs.

Sri Lanka raced to an eight-wicket win in 25.4 overs as England’s fourth defeat in five games was sealed in the shortest match of the tournament.

Sky Sports pundit Atherton said: “It’s all very saying what you want to do when you’re struggling and down on confidence, it’s not always easy to put those fine words and aspirations into practice.

“We’ve all been there in teams that are low on confidence and are struggling. No team has a divine right to be at the top of its game all the time.”

Ben Stokes (43) and openers Jonny Bairstow (30) and Dawid Malan (28) were the only batters to make any impression as wickets fell at regular intervals against a Sri Lanka side who had also won only one of their first four matches.

Atherton added: “We’ve looked at the factors over the last five games of this competition, but if you look a bit deeper you could argue this is a team at the end of the cycle.

“You could argue that the lack of 50-over cricket and the lack of England’s ability to put what they consider to be their best one-day team in 50-over cricket has camouflaged some of the weaknesses and decline that we’ve seen.

England v Australia – LV= Insurance Ashes Series 2023 – First Test – Day Two – Edgbaston
Former England captain Michael Atherton says this current ODI side could be at the end of its cycle (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s all come together in the performances we’ve seen in Mumbai over the last couple of days and this one here in Bengaluru.”

Fellow pundit and former England captain Nasser Hussain said it was a “lame excuse” to blame the structure of English cricket and not the players, several of whom lifted the trophy at Lord’s four years ago.

Hussain said: “What I don’t like is giving players a cop out and I think we sometimes do that in English cricket.

“When they win the 50-over World Cup and the 20-over World Cup (we say) ‘Aren’t they great? They’re brilliant’. And when the wheels come off ‘it’s the structure of English cricket (at fault). We’re a disgrace. We play 20-over cricket, we play 100-ball cricket, we don’t play enough 50-over cricket’.

“How much 50-over cricket domestically has Virat Kohli or Heinrich Klaasen played, or anyone out here. They just don’t play it domestically, they learn from T20 franchises around the world.

“It’s such a lame excuse. You’re giving the players a cop out when you blame the structure – the structure that made them world champions. It is exactly the same structure.”

England appeared under-cooked coming into the tournament with one warm-up game against New Zealand completely washed out and a win over Bangladesh affected by rain.

Hussain said: “Yeah, you may have taken the eye off the ball a little bit and not given them enough practice and games leading in to this tournament.

“But it was the structure that produced them so, when they mess up, it’s they who messed up and not the structure.

“County cricket makes the cricketers that we are, whether it be The Hundred, The Blast, 50-over, whatever and – when they fail – they take the responsibility in my opinion.”

England are back in action against tournament favourites India on Sunday, while they also have to play Australia, Netherlands and Pakistan.