LONDON – It is not often that I disagree with Eoin Morgan but he said after this defeat by Australia that England bowled well without luck at Lord’s. I don’t think they did.
Yes, England went past the edge a few times after winning the toss in perfect bowling conditions, but that was because they were bowling short of a good length.
How many of those balls would have hit the stumps? Not nearly enough.
Perhaps Morgan is just trying to back his bowlers up rather than chastise them because England are not out of the World Cup yet. But this leaves them very vulnerable.
It was left to Australia left-armers Mitchell Starc and Jason Behrendorff to show England how it should be done - pitch it up on a full length and get the batsmen coming forward to bring caught, bowled and lbw into play.
Australia adjusted to conditions while England could not. They went with Behrendorff ahead of Nathan Coulter-Nile and handed him the new ball over Pat Cummins. They knew they needed someone to swing it into England’s pads and Behrendorff obliged.
England, meanwhile, have gone with pace and hit-the-deck bowlers in this tournament and left out David Willey, who pitches it up and tries to swing it. But you can’t tell me the likes of Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Jofra Archer cannot adjust.
There are mitigating circumstances. Wood and Archer looked to be struggling with the footholes when it was a bit damp at the start of the Australia innings and it was noticeable how they got better when it dried out.
By then it was too late. The game was well on the way to being lost when England decided to bowl and then let Australia stroll to 123 before they lost their first wicket.
The loss of Jason Roy is proving to be a real blow because England have been used to getting off to flying starts.
That has given them confidence and left the opposition playing catch-up, but in these last two defeats they have lost early wickets.
England are also finding out the difference between bi-lateral series and tournament play. You face different sides with different strengths, going from the spin of Sri Lanka to the pace and swing of Australia in successive matches. They haven’t coped with either.
Aaron Finch impressed me yesterday. He is a very good man under pressure and has been perfect at this difficult time for Australian cricket. Yes, he wants to play the game in the right way but he’s a winner, too. Australia gave the captaincy to Tim Paine in the wake of Sandpaper-gate but that proved to be a hospital pass. He had to try to change the culture, win and prove that he was deserving of a place in their best one-day side, which he was not.
Finch is a very good one-day player - this was his seventh 50-over hundred against England - and has coaches Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting behind him, who know how to win tournaments and big games.
Australia are not the finished article and I cannot believe they sent in Usman Khawaja ahead of Steve Smith, one of the world’s great batsmen, at 123 for one. Also, Glenn Maxwell is better than someone who just smacks a couple of sixes and gets out.
But Australia can sort these issues out now they have reached the semi-finals. England do not have that luxury - they are into must-win territory.
Today’s game at Edgbaston is now absolutely vital. If Pakistan defeat New Zealand, they will ‘only’ need to beat Bangladesh and Afghanistan to crank the pressure up on an England side who would then have to beat India and New Zealand.
And we are talking about a clash against India at Edgbaston on Sunday on what is likely to be a turning pitch with the weather becoming hot. India are not invincible and are weaker for the loss of Shikhar Dhawan, but that is still a very difficult task for England.
Morgan will have to tell his side they are not out of this yet. He cannot change his ways and overreact to a defeat.
But he will know this is a bad time to lose successive home games for the first time in four years.
England have to make sure it’s not three on Sunday.Daily Mail