Questions, Questions

I think we can say with a fair degree of certainty now that when it comes to England and one-day cricket, normal service has been resumed. The consecutive victories which crowned the CB Series in Australia now look like an illusory mirage when set against the fact that they still haven't beaten a major nation at the World Cup and now require wins from each of their last three Super Eight matches to progress any further.

After some signs of life against Sri Lanka in midweek, yesterday's defeat was a familiar litany of problems - a poor start, encompassing Michael Vaughan's usual failure, a promising recovery which was never built upon, an inept but mercifully brief innings from Flintoff and some patchy fielding and bowling - all of which was never going to be good enough to defeat Australia, even on a poor day.

The only saving graces were that somebody finally made a century (and it was worryingly predictable that it was Pietersen) and that Ian Bell, opening, played a vibrant and occasionally brilliant innings of 77. It was a pity that he didn't progress to a hundred, but one day soon he'll start to realise how good he is and the hundreds will come. As for Michael Vaughan, one wonders where the next run is coming from and there must soon be a reassessment of whether or not England can afford to carry a player whose ODI record is, for a player of his unquestioned ability, shockingly mediocre.

As always with England in the one-day arena, yesterday's game threw up far more questions than answers. South Africa, West Indies and, perhaps especially, Bangladesh, will ask a lot more before the month is out.

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