‘Atrocious’: England reacts to Cup shocker
England headed into its home World Cup as favourite for a reason but confidence among the country's cricket fans is starting to shake after the Poms suffered a second straight loss and third for the tournament.
Australia was too strong for Eoin Morgan's troops at Lord's overnight, claiming a 64-run win to not only put serious doubts in England's title hopes, but also threaten its position in the top four.
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After conceding 348 in a loss to Pakistan then being on the end of a shock upset to Sri Lanka, the defeat to the Aussies at the home of cricket has sparked serious concerns about England's Cup credentials.
If England wins its remaining two games against New Zealand and India, it will qualify for the top four and even if it loses both, it's still possible to advance to the semis.
But if Morgan's men lose their final games and results involving Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan fall the wrong way, the campaign that started with so much hope could come to an early exit.
ANOTHER 'ATROCIOUS' WORLD CUP AWAITS
England has revolutionised one-day cricket with its approach of all-out attack when batting. It was a philosophy designed with the goal of winning this World Cup in mind and has been hugely successful over the past couple of years as the Poms showed they were capable of putting up massive scores.
It's why 500 was talked about as a possible target in the build-up to the tournament but former England skipper Michael Vaughan believes if his countrymen don't figure out a way to adapt to different conditions and game situations, then another "atrocious" World Cup awaits the nation with a dismal record in cricket's showpiece event.
"Unless they can read the situation better and think, 'Wait a minute, we've just lost two wickets, we need to go back to Plan B and maybe C. Just see off Mitchell Starc, just see off Pat Cummins for a few overs," Vaughan told the BBC.
"Give yourself a chance when the third, fourth, fifth string bowlers are on. Not when you've got the best bowlers in the world running in with the new ball.
"You've got to be able to adapt and unless they adapt quickly over the course of the next few days this is looking like turmoil for England.
"From what I've seen already, this is turning out - we've had some bad World Cups, and I've been involved in a couple of atrocious World Cups - this could, if they're not careful, turn out to be top of the tree."
In commentary, Vaughan added: "You wonder what damage this will do to the confidence of the England side. They froze, they didn't play the right way. This is a hammering … on the big stage."
Australian cricket broadcaster Jim Maxwell said the loss to Sri Lanka - when England went too hard with the willow and was bowled out chasing a modest target of 233 - was proof of what Vaughan was talking about and believes the weight of expectation is a factor.
"I don't see how you can go out and play the same blazing way all the time," Maxwell told the BBC. "I'm sure the pressure of expectation has built too."
'SEISMIC BLOW' CREATES ROOM FOR DISASTER
The British press - so used to disappointment when a Cricket World Cup rolls around every four years - started to express fears that everything could go horribly wrong once again.
Daily Mail cricket writer Paul Newman pulled no punches, saying this latest blow by Australia may be what England looks back on as the moment it all fell apart if it doesn't hold the trophy aloft in mid-July.
"It's hanging by a thread now. The best and probably last chance England will ever have of finally breaking their 50-over World Cup duck is rushing agonisingly away from them," Newman wrote.
"This was a seismic blow to the tournament favourites and No. 1 ranked one-day side in the world. Not quite the day their dream died but one that has left them needing to win every remaining game to be near certain of averting one of the most crushing blows in even their cock-up laden history.
"Clearly the weight of expectations England vowed they would cope with ahead of a tournament they have spent four years planning for has got to them. How else to explain this 64-run defeat by an Australian team who really do know how to win the big games?"
Writing for The Guardian, Barney Ronay described how quickly worries had turned from a tournament with too many dead rubbers to one that might not even feature the host nation come crunch time.
"For all the fear of dead rubbers, we are instead being treated to the equally gripping spectacle of an uncrowned champion team losing their nerve, cracking and flaking a little as the end game approaches," he wrote.
"England will be called brainless, feckless, flat-track and all the rest. But the key note of the last two defeats has been detachment, an inability to read the day, the game, the forces acting on them."
The Telegraph's chief cricket writer Nick Hoult added: "So far in this World Cup they have not been able to handle the extra level of tension.
"Eoin Morgan needs to galvanise a team that has frozen with the bat (against Sri Lanka), in the field (against Pakistan) and with the ball (against Australia)."
Morgan said he's not concerned because England's destiny is still in its hands, which is how he wants it. But with nervous times to follow, that destiny may not have the happy ending he wants.