ENGLAND’S lamentable winter lurched to a new low as they bowed out of the World Twenty20 with a shambolic 45-run defeat to Holland.
It was a repeat of the 2009 embarrassment at Lord’s but this was arguably an even more abject display against a side blown away for 39 by Sri Lanka but gradually building to this unlikely act of giantkilling ever since.
England were far from flawless in the field, guilty of at least two clear drops and one botched run-out by Jos Buttler, but their batting was littered with errors and complacency.
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Chasing Holland’s mark of 133 for five victory, Stuart Broad’s side – who had won the toss and opted to chase – mustered a risible 88 all out, just eight more than their worst-ever score in the format.
The Ashes whitewash either side of new year will always stick in the craw of English cricket fans but at least Down Under they were beaten by the brilliance of Mitchell Johnson.
Here, they were made to look like amateurs by Associate stalwarts such as Mudassar Bukhari and Logan van Beek, who took three for 12 and three for nine respectively.
In their entire innings, England only scored four boundaries in their 17.4 overs – a scarcely believable statistic in the shortest format of the game.
Holland, meanwhile, will celebrate their second success over England for a long time and Wesley Barresi (48) and Stephan Myburgh (39) can take their share of the credit.
Having scored 172, 190 and 193 against New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa, England’s target of 134 looked entirely straightforward.
But nothing has been plain sailing in recent months and by the end of the powerplay it was clear the squeeze was on.
Both openers departed without asserting themselves, Bukhari having Michael Lumb held at cover and then sneaking through an inviting gap to clip Alex Hales’ bails.
Holland, scenting blood, inserted a slip to Eoin Morgan who duly obliged by nicking Timm van der Gugten to the waiting Borren.
In between the dismissals there was virtually nothing to cheer, with a paltry 26 runs at the six-over mark.
The scoring continued at a listless rate – Bukhari’s threeover spell taken for just nine – and Moeen Ali was soon joining his top-order team-mates in the pavilion.
He popped Borren’s loosener straight to short cover for three, leaving Jos Buttler and Ravi Bopara as the last recognised batsmen.
But the Buttler did not do it, lobbing Van Beek tamely to deep midwicket leaving his side needing 92 from the last ten overs.
England were missing a run-out from their collection of errors but quickly rectified that when Bopara and Tim Bresnan attempted a brainless second that saw the latter fall woefully short.
Bopara chiselled out 18 before heaving Van Beek high into the sky and straight into the hands of Pieter Seelaar.
The game was probably gone when Chris Jordan and Broad added to the hauls of Van Beek and Bukhari and when the end came it was fittingly farcical.
James Tredwell was nearly caught chipping over the infield but England would not accept their luck and Stephen Parry was run out by a mile following a dreadful mix-up.
Dutch joy was heartfelt and immediate, while English humiliation was complete.
The first innings, by comparison, was a model of care and restraint by the batting side.
Holland came out the blocks breezily, plundering 32 off England’s first three overs.
Myburgh was the aggressor, forcing Moeen for three boundaries in his first four balls at the crease, while Jordan’s opening salvo yielded 14.
Broad opted to break with tradition by using himself and Tredwell for the three remaining powerplay overs and got the required result.
He sent down two overs for six and also drew Michael Swart into a soft dismissal.
Tredwell was typically tidy, bowling his allocation right through for 23 and giving up just two boundaries.
But his hopes of a wicket were dashed when Buttler’s attempted stumping of Barresi came a fraction late.
Fellow spinner Parry, in for the dropped Jade Dernbach, endured a tougher time.
He went for two sixes – one a clean blow from Myburgh, one a potential catch on the ropes that Lumb instead palmed over to Barresi’s relief.
The second-wicket pair put on 50 but then Bopara applied the handbrake with four overs at a cost of only 15, as well as the fortunate wicket of Myburgh from a full toss.
The catcher Hales, also dropped a chance off new man Tom Cooper, but Jordan showed him how to do it as he made a wonderful one-handed over-the-shoulder grab.
It was the best moment England managed during a dire day and, although they can scarcely have known it, the 133 for five Holland eked out was more than enough for a famous victory.