The polite way to describe this was as a wake-up call. But after watching him, they lose their first World Cup warm-up match with 12 runs to Australia, and fast bowler Mark Wood leaves the field with ankle problems. The English coach Trevor Bayliss may have achieved something pithier.
This was a competition that England personally felt they didn't really need after massaging their self-confidence during a high-scoring 4-0 scrapping of Pakistan. Certainly, with just five days to go before the start of the World Cup, the ambivalence flowed into their cricket.
A century before Steve Smith, in his first innings against the old enemy since the farce of the sandpaper in Australia, was eerie enough. But an English batting unit missed the injured Eoin Morgan and the reassured Joe Root then made a mess of a 298 chase that seemed to be under control after the incumbent captain Jos Buttler slaughtered a 30-ball half-century.
England lost its first World Cup warm-up match to Australia on Saturday with 12 points
Instead, one player after the other missed the opportunity to win, while the Australians dared them. On a surface less pure than that of the Pakistani series, Buttler lobed fairly midfield, before James Vince aimed Jason Behrendorff straight for a short third man to end a pleasant 64.
Even then, they reduced the comparison to a more than manageable 59 that was needed 57 with five wickets in hand, only for Moeen Ali to push leg spinner Adam Zampa for too long. Chris Woakes did his best with a resourceful 40, but 15 from Marcus Stoinis & # 39; the last over proven behind the tail.
The real things start on Thursday, when England faces South Africa in The Oval. But that was no excuse for a curiously balanced performance from the character with the gung-ho approach that has made them favorites to win the World Cup.
The experienced off-spinner Nathan Lyon of Australia was allowed to send 30 dot balls in his 10-over-allotment and England skipped six before the 23rd, which is about 20 overs longer than normal. Ben Stokes has since responded to a promotion to No. 4 with a scratchy 20 of 32 deliveries.
It was a deflating display, exactly when England was to inflate their tires. Monday's second and final warm-up against Afghanistan in The Oval is now taking an unexpected interest.
There were other more physical concerns that were already underway before the game began. Morgan had disappeared after a slight finger break during training on Friday, although he remains on track for the game in South Africa.
A century before Steve Smith against the old enemy since the farce of the sandpaper was angry in Australia
Woakes played because Root was equipped after the death of his grandfather, but – in an attempt to control his long-term problem with the knee – only was chosen as a batter. Adil Rashid, who took care of a sore shoulder, also ruined the game, although he eventually had to braid as England's wounded list grew.
And when the cricket actually started, it got worse. Running to surrender the second ball of his fourth, Wood pulled up and inspected his left ankle, already the subject of three operations during a long and difficult career.
If a world cup were not around the corner, he might have blown through the inconvenience. Instead, he left the field – jogging, watch – and went to the hospital for a scan. England doesn't want to take a risk with one of their two fastest bowlers, but the chance that David Willey appears in this World Cup after being kicked out of the final is suddenly shortened.
Adil Rashid and Jofra Archer of England leave the field after their loss to Australia in Southampton
Moments later, Jofra Archer – their other fastest bowler – turned an ankle to keep a line after it was his turn. He also walked away and for a while the field workers of England were assistant coach Paul Collingwood, who turns 43 today. Archer later returned to the field – and even hit No. 11 in vain – but it was the kind of heart-in-mouth moment that management could have done without.
The accidents were not over yet. Liam Dawson, the left arm spinner who, like his provincial colleague Vince, missed the final defeat of Hampshire & # 39; s Royal London Cup by Somerset in Lord & # 39; s cut a finger while he was backing up and could not braid. With grim timing, the wounded threatened to surpass more than the able-bodied.
While England worried about their collective condition, Smith helped himself to a smart hundred, as if it were the axis of 2017-18 again.
Running to hand over the second ball of his fourth, Mark Wood moved from England
Both he and David Warner, one of his partners in sandpaper crime, had turned up to be the mockery of an 11,500-strong crowd from Southampton. But while Warner never got off to a good start and eventually became the first of Liam Plunkett's four victims when he committed himself to the deep midwicket for 43, Smith was idiosyncratic of his own – all shocks and nudges and a flash of class – at home.
If Wood's premature exit had some silver lining, it was that the responsibility was borne elsewhere. Stokes looked sharper with the ball than he had for a while, while Tom Curran showed his variations, and both Ali and Dawson proved hard to hit.
When bribe Smith ruled Behrendorff's first beech, it seemed like an expensive mistake. Australia snapped away instead.
England will reason that they were disturbed by absences and injuries. But Australia rested Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, their two fastest bowlers, and Glenn Maxwell, their most inventive batter.
The truth is that England was out of pace. At the edge of the tournament of their lives, they have one game left to get up to speed.
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