India Defeat Is English Cricket's Biggest Humiliation Ever

Daniel ReyFeatured ColumnistJuly 22, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 21:  England captain Alastair Cook after losing the 2nd Investec Test match between England and India at Lord's Cricket Ground on July 21, 2014 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

England have never been in a more humiliating state as a cricket-playing nation. There have been heavier losses, but the manner of the defeat to India at Lord’s has marked a new low.

The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) broke with their loftiest of traditions and provided England with a mail-order, tailor-made pitch at Lord’s. After testing conditions at Trent Bridge, it should have suited an English seam attack perfectly. Conversely, the state of the pitch on the first two days was as far away from an Indian equivalent as possible.

And yet it was India who made the better of it. Through a mixture of tactical ineptitude and short-pitched bowling, England were beaten at their own game by an India side who had not won away from home since 2011.

This debacle is even more humiliating than Mitchell Johnson running through the England batting order in the winter. Australia made life tough, hostile even for the tourists, but India, playing in England, do not pose such a threat.

In the fallout from the Ashes, the ECB chose the mild-mannered Alastair Cook over the combative Kevin Pietersen. It should never have come to an ultimatum, but now the batting order lacks the counter-attacking fight it once had.

Pietersen may have holed out stupidly when England needed him to play sensibly, but he could also change a match in a flash. As it was, Ravindra Jadeja played a Pietersen-esque innings on Sunday to leave England on the brink.

With the bat, the positives have been Gary Ballance, batting two places higher than he was used to at Yorkshire, and Joe Root. Moeen Ali showed great composure in one innings this summer, his 108 at Headingley against Sri Lanka, but he looks prone to carelessness.

It was right that coach Andy Flower should depart after the 5-0 loss in Australia, but given all the attention on captain Alastair Cook, new coach Peter Moores has been spared criticism in his second stint in the role. He is neither motivating the players, nor helping them tactically.

It will take new blood and a breath of fresh air to bring some life to England’s play. Jos Buttler, likely to come in for the injured Matt Prior, might well provide it.

However, Buttler is inexperienced in the four-day game and has never played a Test. He had to leave Somerset because he was behind Craig Kieswetter as a wicketkeeper. His batting can be explosive, but his work behind the stumps does not bode well for an England team who need to take their catches.

England have a very tough few years ahead in international cricket. The World Cup in Australia is less than a year away, and in the Test arena, they face Australia at home in 2015, before tough away tours to Pakistan and South Africa in late 2015 and early 2016. The winning habit needs to return quickly, or England could face the further humiliation of losing five major series in a row.