Poor losers. That's the only way to describe England after Pakistan burst their bubble in the ICC World Cup at Trent Bridge this week.

You see, South Africa, even after two consecutive losses, haven't resorted to the hosts' exercise of looking for scapegoats when they succumbed to Bangladesh the day before, on the heels of an opening defeat to the West Indies.

To suggest Pakistan were scuffing the ball is rich when umpires Marais Erasmus, of South Africa, and Sundaram Ravi, of India, had warned England skipper Eoin Morgan and his counterpart, Sarfaraz Ahmed, after players were bouncing back balls to fellow fielders in an act of gamesmanship.

However, in England's 14-run loss on Tuesday you can comfortably find just as many, if not more, reasons why they didn't succeed.

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If anything, England should accept it as a timely wake-up call because there's still every reason to feel confident about making the top-four playoffs although Morgan's poker face suggested otherwise.

Perhaps what sticks out most is the argument that prolific run scorers will necessarily clinch matches in the world cup in the next few weeks.

It must feel like a kick in the guts to England to have Joe Root score 107 runs from 104 deliveries and Jos Butler 103 runs from 76 balls and still lose the game.

Juxtapose those tons with Pakistan's contributions from Imam-ul-Haq (44 runs), Fakhar Zaman (36), Babar Azam (63), Mohammad Hafeez (84) and Ahmed (55). The mathematics is simple — five half or near-half centuries from the top six batsmen eclipse two tons.

And no, Jason Roy's dropped catch of Hafeez on 14 runs wasn't the turning point that cost England the game, any more than Root's overthrows that took Ahmed to his half century.

Just as South Africa had dropped their fielding standards in the 21-run loss to the Banga Boys at the Oval, London, the day before, so had the Poms the day after.

Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis had dropped a catch at slip early in their innings and Morgan had no right to glare at Roy or any other fielders after suffering a bout of butter fingers himself in the opening over.

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis comes under scrutiny, akin to England counterpart Eoin Morgan, after gut-wrenching losses that stem from poor examples on the field. Photo/AP
South Africa captain Faf du Plessis comes under scrutiny, akin to England counterpart Eoin Morgan, after gut-wrenching losses that stem from poor examples on the field. Photo/AP

In fact, the signs were ominous from the first match against South Africa when an out-of-position Ben Stokes resorted to acrobatics in catching a ball on the boundary before turning to the crowd for adoration. It didn't help the British media lapped it up and rapidly turned him into a match-defining hero although he also had scored 89 runs.

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Cruelly, the same media — perhaps still reeling from big boy Andy Ruiz Jr decking home-boy Anthony Joshua four times for the heavyweight boxing bragging rights — didn't have the stomach for another shock upset over England.

Nevertheless, Chris Woakes was culpable when he, in Stokes fashion, over exerted himself in taking a diving catch near the boundary before turning to the vociferous Pakistan spectators to rile them into silence with a finger over his pursed lips.

That Stokes and Roy were derisively clapping in the direction of the rival fans during a team huddle soon after only reaffirmed the assertion that England have a culture of individualism and Morgan needed to nip it in the bud because it was detracting from the collective cause.

Dare I say it, if they don't get their egos in check, the Poms are capable of straying into the Lord of the Flies culture Australia had developed.

The English should take a page out of the Black Caps' way of celebrating on the park — that is, beaming with satisfaction but almost embarrassed about becoming the focus of attention. Ditto fielding.

Despite 11 consecutive defeats before that emphatic victory, Pakistan pride themselves in a sense of parochialism England must yearn for.

Morgan and his men must, surely, recognise that teams such as India, Pakistan, West Indies and, to an extent, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have a devoted fan base in Britain due to the host nation's imperial history. The England cricketers must feel like the Kiwis — underdogs on their own turf — when Tonga steamrolled them during the Rugby League World Cup test in front of a sea of red supporters who had invaded Waikato Stadium in Hamilton in 2017.

Just as some teams go into the Rugby World Cup with mediocre records to cause upsets, nations in the ICC World Cup simply lift their games rather than dwell on meaningless statistics.

Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (centre) still talks shop with Mohammed Hafeez (right) and Babar Azam after beating England in the Cricket World Cup at Trent Bridge. Photo/AP
Pakistan captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (centre) still talks shop with Mohammed Hafeez (right) and Babar Azam after beating England in the Cricket World Cup at Trent Bridge. Photo/AP

Pakistan, for argument's sake, are bona fide mercenaries in cricket due to the ban imposed on them in hosting games on their home soil after the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009, although minnows Zimbabwe toured there early this year.

When push comes to shove, the Pakistanis have developed a mental fortitude of tenacious tourists capable of adapting on myriad platforms.

In receiving the man of the match award, batsman Fakhar Zaman praised "Almighty Allah" before accepting any individual or team accolades, akin to Fiji who have built their sevens supremacy on a pious platform.

New Zealand also will be mindful of the potency of the religious faith that drives Bangladesh after the fatal Christchurch massacre in March will still be vivid in the minds of the devout Islamic followers who have just ended their month-long fasting. Nothing puts life in perspective better than a brush with death.

Back at the crease, it was again hard to miss how Pakistan opened with leg-break merchant Shadab Khan, in the mould of South Africa's Imran Tahir, in the opener against England, with impact.

In the land of Robin Hood, tweakers Khan, Hasan Ali and Shoaib Malik had the audacity to merrily take four wickets between them to become outlaws upstaging the resident folklore hero.

Just as Du Plessis was guilty of bringing in Tahir too late and employing JP Duminy reluctantly against Bangladesh, it seems Morgan isn't game enough to open with Moin Ali or the world-class Adil Rashid, who seemed to be an afterthought on Tuesday.