looks back to 2007, when they at least made it out of the group stage for the first time since 1996 © Getty Images
In 2007, England at least made it out of the group stage for the first time since 1996 © Getty Images

England were runners-up three times and losing semi-finalists twice in the first five World Cups; in the six further tournaments since then, they have failed to reach the last four again. In the fourth part of the series, Michael Jones looks back to 2007, when they at least made it out of the group stage for the first time since 1996 — but the results were remembered less than the drunken escapade of their vice-captain after the first match.

Not for the first time — nor the last — England had hit a dreadful run of form in the run-up to a World Cup: after arriving in Australia with the Ashes in their possession for the first time in a generation, they meekly surrendered the urn on their way to a 0-5 whitewash, then lost five of their first six matches in the Commonwealth Bank Series which followed the Tests. READ: England and World Cup Cricket — the same old story: Part 1 of 5

Just for once, though, a ray of light appeared at the end of the tunnel: they beat Australia in the penultimate group match, edged out New Zealand in the last to qualify for the finals — where they beat Australia twice more to take the best of three series. A team which had won three out of eight group matches had, somehow, pulled off victory in the tournament over one which had won seven out of eight. The question which remained was which England team would turn up for the World Cup: the smoothly functioning unit which had won its last four matches, or the rabble which had subsided so abjectly before that? READ: England and World Cup Cricket — the same old story: Part 2 of 5

The format was somewhat different to the two previous tournaments: instead of two groups of six or seven teams, with three from each progressing to the next stage, this one started with four groups of four, from each of which two sides would qualify for the Super Eight. It made for fewer matches at the first stage, and fewer possible permutations in the table. There were only two top tier teams in each group, and it made little difference who was paired with whom, since all the qualifying teams would play each other in the Super Eight anyway. READ England and World Cup Cricket — the same old story: Part 3 of 5

Any team which lost to the other top eight-ranked team in its group — in England’s case, New Zealand — could still qualify. The crucial factor in each group was the identity of the third highest-ranked team: some of them posed a greater threat than others of upsetting the form book and qualifying for the Super Eights ahead of their more fancied opponents.

England would have been glad to avoid Zimbabwe — who had qualified at their expense in the previous two tournaments — and Bangladesh; instead they had to contend with Kenya, who had stunned the world with their run to the semi-finals in 2003, including victories over Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, but had done little of note since: two wins over Zimbabwe in 2006 were their only ones against Test-playing opposition in the period between World Cups. The fourth team in the group was Canada, who had upset Bangladesh in the first match of the 2003 tournament — when Austin Codrington’s 5 for 27 had made him the most famous dreadlocked Jamaican plumber in the game — but had little else to suggest that they might make an impact in 2007.

The match against New Zealand was scheduled first, and England got off to the worst possible start. James Franklin’s first delivery was a no ball, but the second was legal; Ed Joyce slashed at it outside off stump, Brendon McCullum took the catch and England were one for one. Ian Bell hung around for eight overs, scored only five and eventually got frustrated by the slow scoring, chose the wrong ball from Jacob Oram to drive and edged another catch to McCullum.

England were 31 for 2 after the first 10 overs, and in the 11th New Zealand missed a chance to make it 32 for 3. Kevin Pietersen called for a single despite hitting the ball straight to a fielder; an accurate throw to the keeper, never mind a direct hit, would have been enough to strand Michael Vaughan in the middle of the pitch, but Daniel Vettori’s throw was wild, McCullum failed to collect it and Vaughan escaped.

Pietersen attempted to get the scoreboard moving, with three fours in two overs from Oram, but at the other end Vaughan bottom-edged a pull against Franklin onto his stumps to leave his team 53 for 3. They received another let-off soon afterwards, Lou Vincent failing to hold on to a tough chance in the covers as Pietersen drove at Franklin; it went for four instead.

New Zealand turned the screw after that — Vettori and Jeetan Patel using the pitch to their advantage to send down eight consecutive overs without a boundary — before Pietersen broke the shackles by smashing Patel over long-on for six. He survived another near-miss when McCullum collected a wide from Scott Styris and whipped the bails off, but the third umpire Peter Parker gave Pietersen the benefit of the doubt. Two balls after dropping Paul Collingwood off his own bowling, it was Styris who finally got the breakthrough, having the same batsman caught behind to end a partnership of 81.

With England’s two biggest hitters together at the crease, Stephen Fleming brought back his strike bowler. Shane Bond had been economical in his first spell, but failed to take a wicket: in his seventh over he delivered to perfection. Pietersen failed to score off the first two balls of the over, and hit the third in the air to long-on where Franklin took the catch comfortably; his 60 had been the mainstay of the innings.

Jamie Dalrymple took a single off the fifth ball; the last delivery of Bond’s over was a slower ball, which Andrew Flintoff failed to pick and dollied a catch to Styris at extra cover. Dalrymple hung around for a few overs before giving McCullum his fourth catch of the innings. From 133 for 3 England had slumped to 138 for 7.

For once, the tail did not continue the procession: Paul Nixon and Liam Plunkett saw off Bond’s remaining overs before cashing in against the spinners. Plunkett deposited Vettori into the crowd. Nixon picked up two boundaries in an over from the same bowler and added two more off Patel. England finished on 209 for 7; the eighth wicket partnership had added an unbroken 71, including 47 off the last five overs. Nixon was unbeaten on 42, Plunkett 29. The wickets were shared around, with two each for Bond, Franklin and Styris.

England’s attempt to defend a target of 210 started promisingly, as James Anderson conceded only one wide in the first over before Vincent edged the last ball and Nixon took the catch.

Plunkett started with another wide; Fleming missed his first legal delivery, but ran a leg bye; Ross Taylor edged the next, Flintoff took a diving catch at slip and New Zealand were 3 for 2, yet to score a run off the bat.

Styris opened his account with a boundary, before Fleming survived a close LBW shout in Anderson’s second over. In his third, Fleming hit one straight drive for four before succumbing to Anderson’s bouncer trap; he skied the attempted pull and Joyce took the catch running back from midwicket.

At 19 for 3 England were completely on top, but Styris and Craig McMillan set about rebuilding the innings with a fifty partnership. Drinks were taken after 15 overs with New Zealand 72 for 3 and the match in the balance.

On resumption Vaughan threw the ball to Monty Panesar for his first bowl of the match; off his second ball McMillan mistimed a drive and was caught by Dalrymple in the covers to make it 72 for 4.

Oram joined Styris, and they began cautiously, adding only 29 in their first eight overs together. Once the score reached three figures, though, both batsmen opened up, Oram launching Panesar over mid-on for six and Styris adding a boundary off Dalrymple. If they were to stop the match running away from them, England needed wickets, and in the 26th over they could have had one when Oram edged Anderson to first slip; Vaughan had declined to place a fielder there, and the chance went begging.

The partnership passed fifty, the target was within range, and England’s last chance of a breakthrough disappeared when Pietersen dropped Styris at short extra cover off Panesar. Neither batsman gave another chance; Styris made his unhurried way to 87, Oram finished with 63 and their unbeaten partnership of 138 saw New Zealand home by six wickets with nine overs to spare. Although England could still qualify for the Super Eight by beating the two Associates, it wasn’t the start they might have hoped for to the tournament.

All that had gone before, however, was soon overshadowed by the following night’s events off the pitch. Several England players headed to a bar near the hotel; while some thought it prudent to comply with the official curfew of midnight, others went on drinking into the early hours. Bell, Nixon, Anderson, Plunkett and Jon Lewis — who was included in the squad but did not play a match in the tournament — were all fined for a breach of team discipline.

Flintoff, however, took things several steps further. When the others had called it a night, he found a pedalo on the beach and headed out into the sea, with the apparent intention of joining Ian Botham for a few more drinks on his yacht, moored a short distance away. That was the last thing Flintoff remembered before waking up in his hotel bed “still wet and… sand between my toes”, as he recounted it years later. Unfortunately for him, there were witnesses on hand to relay to the coach — and the press — what had happened after that. The pedalo had capsized, and Flintoff had had to be rescued from the sea.

That Flintoff liked a few drinks was hardly news to anyone; he had appeared very much the worse for wear on the open-top bus parade the day after the 2005 Ashes success, and admitted that he hadn’t been to bed that night. The management — and his fans — couldn’t grudge him that one: if he wasn’t allowed to celebrate with a pint or ten when he’d just played a leading role in his team’s greatest series win in a generation, when was he?

This, though, was different: it came not after a series win, but a defeat in the first match of a tournament, with another match scheduled two days later — and Flintoff’s personal contribution of a golden duck and no wickets hardly suggested that he could afford to relax.

When news of the previous night’s goings-on reached Duncan Fletcher, he summoned the errant all-rounder to his hotel room to explain his actions; the upshot was that Flintoff was stripped of the vice-captaincy, dropped from the following match, and hauled in front of a press conference to apologise. The press had a field day, with headlines including “Prats of the Caribbean” and “Legless Before Wicket”.

England took to the field against Canada barely 24 hours after the news of Flintoff’s nocturnal escapade had broken, attempting to divert the public’s attention from the beach to the pitch. Joyce and Vaughan added 101 for the first wicket in 20 overs, Collingwood scored 62* off 48 balls and Nixon applied the finishing touches with 23* off 8 to boost England’s total to 279 for 6; Sunil Dhaniram, with 3 for 41 off his 10 overs including Pietersen caught and bowled for 4, was the pick of the bowlers.

Canada never threatened the target; Geoff Barnett and Ashish Bagai fell early, then Anderson snared John Davison for 21 to ensure there would be no repeat of his heroics against West Indies four years earlier. Abdool Samad and Ashif Mulla gave the innings a semblance of respectability with a partnership of 96 for the fifth wicket, but both were dismissed in the space of four balls — Mulla for a 60-ball 58 — and the tail could only take Canada to 228 for 7 and a 51 run defeat.

It was hardly the most inspiring performance ever seen from an England team, but it did what was required — and only a day after Ireland’s victory over Pakistan, and India’s defeat at the hands of Bangladesh, had shown that the higher-rated teams could not take qualification for the Super Eights for granted.

The news which had emerged from Kingston while England were playing at Gros Islet, however, overshadowed that result and most of the rest of the tournament: Pakistan’s coach Bob Woolmer had been found dead in his hotel room, the morning after his team’s elimination from the tournament.

It was initially thought that his death was due to natural causes, before the Jamaican police announced that he had been strangled — at which point conspiracy theories abounded, implicating everyone from bookmakers to an irate Pakistani fan or even a player in his murder. The remaining matches were played under a shadow, which was only partially lifted when — long after the tournament had reached its conclusion — the police changed their minds and reverted to the original verdict of natural death.

In the final match of the group stage, Steve Tikolo chose to bat. As was often the case, Tikolo himself was the only one to offer any resistance: coming in at 35 for 2 after Anderson had dismissed both openers cheaply, he stood firm while his team-mates fell around him. When he was finally bowled by Flintoff — returning to the team, but not as vice-captain now — it was for 76 off 97 balls; no-one else in the innings reached 20, and Kenya totalled only 177.

Anderson, Flintoff and Collingwood took two wickets each. Peter Ongondo put an early dent in England’s chase by dismissing Vaughan for a single, Thomas Odoyo followed up with the wicket of Bell, but Joyce and Pietersen put the result beyond doubt with a century partnership for the third wicket. England eased home by seven wickets, and for the first World Cup in three they were through to the second stage of the tournament. Thanks to the initial defeat to New Zealand, they started the Super Eights with no points, along with South Africa, Bangladesh and Ireland; New Zealand joined Australia, Sri Lanka and West Indies in taking forward the points for beating the other qualifier from their group.

The absence of India and Pakistan meant that millions of fans lost interest in the tournament before the Super Eights had even started, and England’s first fixture of the second stage was a low-key one against Ireland. Joyce opened against the country of his birth, and was bowled by Boyd Rankin for a single; years later they would both change sides, with Joyce playing for Ireland against England in the 2011 World Cup and later Rankin for England against Ireland.

Rankin also snared Vaughan in single figures, but Bell and Pietersen revived the innings with a stand of 66, Collingwood hit 90 off 82 and Flintoff contributed 43, taking England to 266 for seven despite Rankin’s 2 for 28. Ireland’s reply got off to an even worse start, with Anderson claiming Jeremy Bray for a golden duck and Eoin Morgan — another who went on to change sides, captaining England in the 2015 tournament — caught short when Sajid Mahmood picked up and threw off his own bowling to break the wicket at the non-striker’s end.

William Porterfield never got going, taking 68 balls to score 31, and by the time he was dismissed the required run rate was already climbing. Andre Botha and Kevin O’Brien also failed to get on top of the asking rate, and after Vaughan had Niall O’Brien stumped for 63, the rest was a formality; a few late blows from Trent Johnston and Andrew White could not change the result, and England wrapped up victory by 48 runs. Flintoff, with 4 for 43 to go with his earlier contribution with the bat, went some way towards redeeming himself for his earlier misdemeanours.

So far, so good for England in the Super Eights — but there were far tougher challenges to come. The first of them took the form of Sri Lanka, for whom Sanath Jayasuriya started off as if he intended to reprise his performance of eleven years earlier, when he had played the lead role in knocking England out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage.

Two balls after he had hooked Mahmood for six, though, the bowler had his revenge as Jayasuriya got an inside edge onto his stumps for 25, made off 26 balls. After Jayasuriya’s departure, his opening partner Upul Tharanga held the innings together with 62 and Mahela Jayawardene made 56 off 61 balls, but they received little support and the innings subsided from 160 for 2 to 235, with the tenth wicket falling to the last ball of the innings; Mahmood (4 for 50) and Flintoff (3 for 35) did most of the damage.

England’s innings was a stop-start affair: Chaminda Vaas had Vaughan caught behind for a duck and Lasith Malinga trapped Joyce in front, leaving them 11 for 2. Bell and Pietersen added 90 for the third wicket to guide the team into a promising position before Pietersen straight-drove Jayasuriya into the non-striker’s stumps. The third umpire was required to confirm that the bowler had got a hand to the ball in the process, but Bell was eventually adjudged run out and the innings lost its momentum.

Pietersen tried to keep the run rate up, but two balls after sweeping Muttiah Muralitharan for four, he went for one shot too many and gave a return catch. The asking rate had climbed above a run-a-ball when Flintoff failed to pick Dilhara Fernando’s slower ball, and spooned a catch; two balls later Collingwood was leg before, 126 for 3 had become 133 for 6 and the game looked over.

Nixon and Bopara hung on, but Murali and Malinga turned the screw, and although the same pair was still in the middle nine overs later, they had failed to hit a boundary in that time and the required run rate was rising steadily.

66 were needed off the last seven overs when Bopara finally broke the boundary drought by hitting a full toss from Malinga through mid-wicket. He added another four off Murali to reduce the target to 49 from five overs.

Some quick running and a four by Nixon off Fernando brought ten off the 46th over of the innings. Malinga kept things tight in the 47th, and when Murali restricted the batsmen to three singles off the first three balls of the 48th, the requirement had risen to 29 off 15 balls.

Nixon chose that particular moment to try out the reverse sweep: he got it spot on, hitting the fourth ball of the over clear of the ropes, then collecting another four from the same shot off the fifth ball.

With 19 needed off 12 balls, it was anyone’s game, but in the penultimate over Malinga went a long way towards sealing the win for Sri Lanka. Bopara and Nixon took a single apiece off the first two balls, then Bopara played and missed at the third before taking another single off the fourth.

With 16 needed off eight, Nixon went for another big hit, but this time failed to get hold of it and was caught by Jayawardene in the covers. The batsmen crossed, leaving Bopara to face the last ball of the over, and he cover-drove it for four to keep England in the hunt.

12 were required from the last over, and with Murali and Malinga both bowled out, it was down to Fernando to finish the job. Mahmood was on strike for the start of the over, but managed to snatch a single off the first ball to get Bopara back to the business end; he paddled it down to fine leg for four, leaving 7 required off 4 balls.

A two off the third ball brought up Bopara’s fifty, and left 5 needed off 3. He could only manage one off the fourth, bringing Mahmood back on strike for the penultimate delivery, which he nudged straight in front of him; Bopara was through for the single before the fielder could reach it, giving himself the strike for the last ball with three needed to win.

At his first attempt at bowling the last ball, Fernando lost his run-up and ran straight through without releasing the ball; when he tried again, it beat the batsman and hit the top of off stump to seal victory for Sri Lanka by two runs.

As the Super Eights reached its halfway stage, three of the four group winners looked set to continue their progress: Australia and New Zealand both had three wins out of three (including the one carried over from the group stage), Sri Lanka three out of four. West Indies were the exception: they had carried over the points for beating Ireland, but lost their following three matches and been overtaken by South Africa. England stood fifth, and would probably have to win three of their last four matches if they were to qualify for the semi-finals.

England’s next opponents were Australia — familiar ones after the CB Series. If England had hoped to resume where they left off, they faced a rapid reality check: in Shaun Tait’s second over, Vaughan got a bottom edge onto his stumps, then in his third Andrew Strauss — replacing Joyce in the team — was dismissed in identical fashion. After six overs, England were 24 for 2.

Bell (promoted to open in Joyce’s absence) and Pietersen added 140 for the third wicket, and for the second World Cup in succession, England looked to be dominating Australia. As in 2003, it couldn’t last. After Glenn McGrath finally got the breakthrough, with Bell caught in the covers for 77, England caved in: Collingwood was caught behind off Tait for two, Flintoff stumped off Brad Hogg for four, and England’s last eight wickets subsided for 83.

Pietersen made 104 — the first England batsman to score a World Cup century against Test-playing opposition since Graham Gooch made 115 against India in the 1987 semi-final — but he received little support: Bopara’s 21 was the only other double figure score of the innings.

A target of 248 presented Australia with few problems: Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden added 57 in 11 overs, before Gilchrist mishit Flintoff to Collingwood at point. Collingwood’s first ball of the innings bowled Hayden, but from thereon Ricky Ponting took command. His innings of 86 off 106 balls was perfectly paced, ensuring Australia were always ahead of the required run rate with wickets in hand, and although he was run out by Collingwood with 47 needed, they eased home by seven wickets with 16 balls to spare. England’s chances of progressing further in the tournament now looked remote.

From Antigua, England moved to Barbados for their last three Super Six matches, the first of them against Bangladesh — a match played in front of large numbers of fans in Indian shirts, who had been expecting to see their own team in action but stayed on to watch their conquerors instead.

For once, England’s bowling performance was clinical: Tamim Iqbal hit Anderson for two boundaries in the opening over, but Mahmood had him caught behind in the second, and soon the top four had all been removed in single figures. The most bizarre dismissal was that of Habibul Bashar, coming after Shahriar Nafees pushed a simple catch to midwicket, where Vaughan dropped it. He vented his frustration by flinging the ball in to Nixon — who noticed that Bashar had not bothered to make his ground, assuming that the catch would be held, and removed the bails with him stranded in the middle of the pitch.

When Anderson had Mohammad Ashraful caught behind Bangladesh were 47 for 5, looking a shadow of the side which had already beaten India in the group stage and South Africa in the Super Eights. Aftab Ahmed also edged behind to make it 63 for six, but Shakib al Hasan did his best to keep his team in the fight while Mashrafe Mortaza held up an end. They added 47 for the seventh wicket before Panesar finally prised out Mortaza for 13 off 43 balls; a late flurry of boundaries from Shakib and Abdur Razzak raised the total to 143. Shakib finished unbeaten on 57, while no-one else in the innings managed more than 15; Panesar and Mahmood claimed three wickets apiece.

While England never looked in serious danger of losing, their batting display was hardly inspiring. Bell used up ten balls to make a duck, Vaughan scratched his way to 30 off 59 before Collingwood outdid him in tedium by occupying 74 balls for his unbeaten 23. Only Flintoff, who took a mere 21 balls to match Collingwood’s tally, showed any sort of urgency; when Mohammad Rafique dismissed him and Bopara in the same over England were 110 for 6, still 34 short of victory, but Collingwood and Nixon saw them home with no alarms and a four-wicket victory kept them — just about — in the tournament.

Australia had continued their march with five straight wins in the Super Eights, while New Zealand and Sri Lanka both ensured qualification for the semi-finals with four wins each from their first five matches. At the other end of the table, Ireland lost all their first five, while Bangladesh and West Indies, with only one win each, had also been eliminated.

Only one place remained to be decided, and New Zealand gave England a helping hand by beating South Africa by five wickets. That left South Africa on three wins out of six to England’s two out of five, and they had still to play each other: a win for England would put them level on points, with one match to play. Defeat would see them knocked out.

For the third time in as many tournaments, when England needed to win in order to avoid elimination, they comprehensively failed to do so. Charl Langeveldt started the slide with the wicket of Bell, Vaughan, after taking 20 balls to get off the mark, eventually fell to Andre Nel for 17.

Nel soon followed that with the key wicket of Pietersen for 3 (as commentators and fans were quick to point out, the brief partnership between Strauss and Pietersen meant that for a while there were 13 South African-born players on the field). From 53 for 3, Strauss and Collingwood at least partially revived England with a stand of 58, but it was all downhill from there.

Jacques Kallis broke the partnership with the wicket of Strauss for 46, and the last seven wickets tumbled for 43. Andrew Hall was the destroyer-in-chief — trapping Collingwood leg-before, bowling Flintoff through the gate then mopping up the tail to finish with 5 for 18, still the best figures for South Africa in a World Cup match.

If England’s batting had been poor, their bowling was worse. Graeme Smith and AB de Villiers plundered 85 off the first ten overs before Flintoff had de Villiers caught behind for 42, but Smith and Kallis strolled home.

Smith reached his fifty off 34 balls and carried on to an unbeaten 89 off 58, the last ball Kallis faced brought him his 9,000th ODI run, and they took South Africa home by nine wickets inside twenty overs. Once again, England had produced their most pathetic performance when it mattered most — and not for the first time, nor the last, most of the players gave the impression that they would rather be anywhere other than on a cricket field.

England still had to play West Indies in the last match of the Super Eights, although with both teams already eliminated, there was nothing more at stake than the order in which they would take fifth and sixth places in the table.

Chris Gayle began the match by hammering 79 off 58 balls in an opening partnership of 131 with Devon Smith — including 4, 4, 6 and 6 off consecutive balls from Plunkett — but just when he was threatening to put the game out of England’s reach, he slashed Flintoff to third man where Broad ran in to take the catch.

That brought Brian Lara to the crease in his final international match, which the fielders marked with a guard of honour. He was beginning to show signs of his magic, smashing Flintoff through point for four and glancing Anderson down to fine leg for another boundary, when he lost his partner thanks to Collingwood plucking a catch from the air several feet above his head to send back Smith.

Lara’s swansong didn’t last long: Marlon Samuels called him for a single, changed his mind and left Lara stranded in the middle of the pitch as Pietersen was close enough to have no problem hitting the stumps.

Samuels went some way to atoning for the run out by carting Plunkett for a six and three fours in one over, and with Shivnarine Chanderpaul for company he took the total past 250 with only four wickets down. The partnership was broken when Vaughan dismissed Samuels, and West Indies failed to boost their total in the closing overs; wickets fell regularly and they were all out for 300 with one ball of the innings unused — still a higher total than England looked likely to chase.

Corey Collymore claimed the wicket of Strauss in the third over of England’s reply, at which point Bopara was promoted to No. 3 in an effort to make sure they stayed on top of the required run rate from the start. As it transpired it was Vaughan who did most of the scoring, taking only 33 balls to reach his first fifty in 14 ODI innings. The very next ball he hit straight to Samuels, who dropped it — although a wicket soon followed anyway when Bopara risked a single to Dwayne Bravo’s throw and was run out by a direct hit.

Bravo soon struck twice more, with another direct hit to send back Vaughan for 79 followed by bowling Collingwood for six. At 162 for 4, with the required rate climbing towards seven per over, England were on the back foot, and things soon got worse: Flintoff made 15 before holing out to Ramnaresh Sarwan, then Dalrymple called for a suicidal single after hitting the ball straight to Smith and became the third run out victim of the innings.

At 189 for 6, England needed eight per over, but Pietersen kept them in it with a flurry of boundaries. He and Nixon brought up a fifty partnership off the last ball of the 43rd over, and took the score to 263 by the end of the 46th.

38 needed off the last four overs, still with four wickets in hand. Pietersen smashed the first ball of the 47th over out of the ground over long-on, bringing up his second century of the tournament and causing a delay while the umpires sent for a replacement ball. Taylor’s first delivery with the new one bowled Pietersen, and Plunkett holed out later in the same over.

England needed 29 off the last three, seemingly improbable with only two wickets left. Nixon had been content to play second fiddle to Pietersen, but with Broad for company he took responsibility. Collymore bowled the 48th over; Nixon smashed the first ball over midwicket for four, then the third and fourth in the same direction for two more boundaries. The fifth ball of the over was short, beat both Nixon and Denesh Ramdin and went for four byes. A single off the last made it 17 off the over, leaving 12 required off the last two.

Another boundary and four singles in the penultimate over brought England within sight of victory, but there was time for one final twist when Bravo bowled Nixon with the second ball of the last over.

Three runs were needed off four balls, but with only Broad and Anderson to get them. Anderson scrambled a leg bye off his first ball. Broad failed to score off one but hit the next over the covers to seal victory. A win by one wicket was some consolation for England, and somewhat spoiled Lara’s farewell, but it failed to hide the fact that their overall performance in the tournament had been another poor one: two of their three victories in the Super Eights stage had been over Bangladesh and Ireland, and one could only speculate as to how they might have fared if they’d had to play India and Pakistan instead. Neither was it enough to save the hides of the coach and captain: Fletcher and Vaughan were both sacked after the tournament, to be replaced by Peter Moores and Collingwood, and Vaughan never played another ODI.