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London Bridge has fallen down...

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England_cricket_cartoonLondon Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, falling down,
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with wood and clay,
Wood and clay, wood and clay,
Build it up with wood and clay,
My fair Lady.

Wood and clay will wash away,
Wash away, wash away,
Wood and clay will wash away,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with bricks and mortar,
Bricks and mortar, bricks and mortar,
Build it up with bricks and mortar,
My fair Lady.

Bricks and mortar will not stay,
Will not stay, will not stay,
Bricks and mortar will not stay,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with iron and steel,
Iron and steel, iron and steel,
Build it up with iron and steel,
My fair Lady.

Iron and steel will bend and bow,
Bend and bow, bend and bow,
Iron and steel will bend and bow,
My fair Lady.

Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, silver and gold,
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair Lady.

Silver and gold will be stolen away,
Stolen away, stolen away,
Silver and gold will be stolen away,
My fair Lady.

Set a man to watch all nigh,
Watch all night, watch all night,
Set a man to watch all night,
My fair Lady.

Suppose the man should fall asleep,
Fall asleep, fall asleep,
Suppose the man should fall asleep?
My fair Lady.

Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
Smoke all night, smoke all night,
Give him a pipe to smoke all night,
My fair Lady.

This nursery rhyme, which so many kids have recited at least once in their life, captures England’s ignominious slide at this World Cup. Do what you want to, the London Bridge will fall down. Build it with iron, wood, clay, gold or silver, it won’t stand, like the English cricket team that could not arrest its downslide despite not having Cooks, Pietersens or with the Buttlers, Roots, Andersons, Broads and Bells of the world.

The world knows they invented cricket. The fine gentlemen from MCC were probably the brainchild behind organizing the World Cup. And the rich coffers of Prudential Plc, a British multinational insurance firm, brought life to the first three World Cups. But that is all that you can remember as the best of English cricket.

The nation of the erstwhile rule makers of cricket has never had their hands on the highest peak of limited overs cricket. Why? Various reasons, most clearly the outdated ways of running the sport. The culture of over-coaching at every level has shown its disadvantages in a way where the so called England lions have no place to hide now.

While introduction of a scientific approach to the game is a plus to any nation and team, it has actually ruined the natural talent that could have emerged otherwise. And in all this, the only people who are blamed for rotten results are the ones who are on the field and not those who are running the show from their glass paned offices.

They did become a force in Test cricket, albeit for a short time, but in global tournaments of limited overs cricket they have been an embarrassment of late. In fact, their 2010 T20 World Cup win can be called an aberration. Their losses to lesser-known forces of cricket have been a regular feature at World Cups.

Last edition, Ireland made a mockery of their total of 327 in Bangalore. England gave world cricket a new hard-hitter in Kevin O’Brien. And to add salt to their wounds, a loss to Bangladesh in Chittagong just made matters worse. What is worrying that despite these two losses, after four years, England still failed to solve the Bangladesh puzzle.

What’s hurting them is their preference for people who fit their culture. Perhaps that’s why flawed geniuses like Kevin Pietersen fell out of their favour. Having a close knit family isn’t bad, but their incessant efforts in building a homogeneous breed of players and support staff that the Board members deem suitable has hurt them the most.

What is perhaps even more shocking is that they are one of those countries who have it all: talent, infrastructure and money, but are still unable to produce a world beater team. If an 18-team county circuit can’t produce a world-class limited overs team, then what will?

No one remembers the last time they were favourites to win the World Cup. In fact, in 1999 when the World Cup was hosted in their backyard, they went back to their homes at the end of group stage itself. As of now, they can’t even be called the best team in Europe.

And if their attitude or culture doesn’t change, this will be the recurring theme. Surely after this World Cup, former England skipper Nasser Hussain will dare not ask any Indian commentator why India hasn’t featured even in a single Football World Cup final. Harsha Bhogle's famous riposte to this was, “It’s better not to participate rather than getting knocked out in the first round.”

In fact, Bhogle’s response now stands true for their cricketing history too. My fair lady, London Bridge has fallen down.



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