Sports, Cricket

England end of a long and winding English winter with defeat

Published : 15 Mar 2023 09:42 PM

As Hasan Mahmud's full toss scudded into Chris Woakes' front pad to seal Bangladesh's whitewash-clinching 16-run victory in Mirpur, it marked the end of a long and winding English winter. Exactly six months prior, the first squad of the offseason boarded their plane to Karachi via Dubai for the first of six tours; on Wednesday, the last men standing will return home from Dhaka.

Little wonder, then, that England's performance in Tuesday night's dead-rubber T20I lacked focus. They were slipshod in the field, with Rehan Ahmed and Ben Duckett both dropping straightforward catches; the first prompted Jofra Archer to put his hand over his face, while the second drew a resigned laugh. Only a substitute teacher wheeling a VCR player onto the outfield could have added to England's end-of-term vibe.

The gap in intensity between the sides was most apparent in the run chase, when the game turned on Jos Buttler's run-out. The ball after Dawid Malan fell, slashing Mustafizur Rahman behind, Buttler ran through for a single after Ben Duckett had chopped into the covers. Buttler scampered through, but was ball-watching just long enough that Mehidy Hasan Miraz's athletic pick-up-and-throw caught him just short of his crease.

"I'm really disappointed in myself for not diving," Buttler said afterwards. "You should be fully committed to making that run… it potentially cost us the game." From 100 for 1 after 13 overs, England managed 42 runs off the next 42 balls to fall 16 runs short.

It was, Matthew Mott admitted, England's worst performance out of three bad ones in the T20I leg of this tour. "I thought our first 15 overs in the field were nowhere near the level we'd expect," Mott said. "We really wanted to finish well here… the lead-in was good, everyone was up and about.

"But for whatever reason, we just couldn't get clean hands on the ball, either in the air or on the ground. We showed a bit of ticker at the back end… [but] they were still at least 15-20 over par on that wicket. That one hurts today. To finish the way we did today will leave a bit of a sour taste in our mouths."

Mott's defence of their decision not to bring a sixth batter echoed Buttler's own comments after the second game, and underlined the sense that England saw results in this series as an irrelevance. "If you look at how many players we've exposed this year alone, we've gone a fair way down the depth charts," Mott said.