England’s World Cup in tatters after suffering record 229-run defeat to South Africa
The reigning champions were absolutely dismantled in Mumbai.
The holders had already lost twice in the tournament so far, to New Zealand and Afghanistan, but briefly looked primed to bounce back when Quinton de Kock was removed with the second delivery of the day.
Rassie van der Dussen and Reeza Hendricks – a late replacement for unwell skipper Temba Bavuma – initially struggled to score but accelerated in the second half of the power play, hitting 60 and 85 respectively, with England hampered by an injury to the dangerous Reece Topley.
They did manage to eventually remove the duo, but a bigger assault was still to come as an outrageous 109 from a sweating, injured and dehydrated Heinrich Klaasen – and an almost-as-impressive 75 not out from Marco Jansen – set England a score of 400 to win the match.
In their prime, this England side might have been licking their lips at the prospect of chasing down such a target but Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root, Dawid Malan and Ben Stokes all lost their wickets cheaply to leave the side 38-4.
With England having switched up their squad for the match, that left Jos Buttler and Harry Brook as the last hope of an improbable fightback but both fell in the 12th over to end any still lingering hopes.
England’s long tail initially looked like they would offer little resistance, but Gus Atkinson and especially the big-hitting Mark Wood – who hit 42 off 16 deliveries – showed up the batsmen with a riotous and entertaining partnership.
Ultimately that late flurry was in vain and the team were all out for just 170 runs, marking a 229-run defeat – their worst ever in ODI history, while it ranks 21st among the biggest defeats ever.
Their previous biggest defeat came against Australia at the MCG in November 2021, when they were thrashed by 221 runs and slumped to a 3-0 series loss, but this will be infinitely more painful.
England could have moved up to third place in the table with a win – with the top four all qualifying for the semi finals – but are now extremely unlikely to progress after three defeats in their four matches and a hugely negative run rate, while they still need to face unbeaten India and Australia.
A rather dumbfounded Nasser Hussain was at a loss to explain England’s woeful showing on commentary, saying on Sky Sports: ‘Very odd display from England, very odd.
‘Three changes to the side, very unlike England to make three changes. Yep, to lose a game, but then to move away from all their all-rounders, to go for a load of batters and bowlers with no all-rounders in between.
‘Then the decision at the toss. South Africa are a side that like batting first, in those conditions, and now it’s doing more under the lights.’
England are next in action at the Cricket World Cup on Thursday against Sri Lanka while there is a chance for immediate revenge over South Africa in the Rugby World Cup when the two nations meet again at the Stade de France later on Saturday night.
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