Early exit puts Champions Trophy at risk – England’s dismal World Cup defence

By Sports Desk October 30, 2023

England’s fifth defeat of their World Cup title defence continued their abject slide towards elimination.

Matthew Mott and Jos Buttler’s side would become only the third defending champions to exit at the group stage, and the first in 24 years, and are on course for one of the worst ever records for an established cricketing nation after defeat to India.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how they compare.

Champions Trophy trapdoor

An additional alarming element of England’s losing run is the possibility they could fail to qualify for the 2025 Champions Trophy – a secondary event in importance but an embarrassing one to miss out on.

A change in format tying qualification to World Cup performance means England will need to climb from 10th to eighth, putting pressure on remaining games against Australia, the Netherlands and Pakistan.

Bangladesh, also on two points, face Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia while the Dutch, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are all on four points.

England’s path to the Champions Trophy, therefore, surely involves at least two wins including beating the Netherlands by a sufficient margin to swing the net run rate in their favour – Pakistan, as Champions Trophy hosts, will qualify automatically.

To that end, England’s heavy losses so far put them in an even more difficult position. They suffered their heaviest ever defeat by runs, by 229, against South Africa and lost to India by 100 runs – not to mention Afghanistan by 69 – while their nine- and eight-wicket losses to New Zealand and Sri Lanka came with, respectively, 82 and 146 balls remaining.

Indeed, England are the first team to be bowled out in under 35 overs three times in a single men’s World Cup.

Worst defences

The West Indies won the first two World Cups then lost the 1983 final to India, who went on to reach the 1987 semi-finals.

Australia finished fifth of nine teams in the 1992 group stage as defending champions and co-hosts, missing out by a point after Pakistan got a fortunate no-result against England having been bowled out for 74.

Sri Lanka, surprise champions in 1996, finished fifth in Group A in 1999. Their record ranked 10th of 12 teams overall, ahead of only Kenya and Scotland and behind Bangladesh on net run rate, so is the nearest comparison to England’s efforts so far – though even then, Sri Lanka won two games and lost only three.

Australia won that tournament, their first of three in a row before reaching the 2007 quarter-finals. They and India have since reached semi-finals as defending champions.

Unwanted company

There have been 32 instances of a team losing five or more games in a single men’s World Cup, including England and Bangladesh this year.

Zimbabwe have suffered that fate five times and Bangladesh four, with three occasions each for Sri Lanka – all prior to their 1996 win – Kenya and the Netherlands.

Scotland, Canada, the West Indies and Afghanistan have done so twice apiece with one each for India, South Africa, Namibia, Ireland, the United Arab Emirates and now England.

While the World Cup is a limited-overs tournament, Test-playing status has traditionally been the measure of the leading cricketing nations and six of those teams, accounting for 12 five-loss campaigns, have never played a Test.

Ireland and Afghanistan have played only seven apiece and Sri Lanka, while now established, had played only 39 up to the 1992 World Cup. Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have played fewer than 150 each and have always been among the lower-ranked Test nations, leaving only India in 1992, the West Indies in 2007 and 2019 and South Africa in the latter tournament as close comparisons for England.

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