England invented many of the sports that the world knows and loves. Shame it’s not very good at most of them any more.
Yesterday, England were knocked out of the cricket World Cup by unheralded Bangladesh—by 15 runs (read this to understand more about how cricket works). As the BBC put it:
A fourth defeat in five games is the latest episode in 23 years of World Cup failure, since [England] reached the final in 1992.
This latest trauma comes after England were trounced 5-0 by Australia last year in the Ashes, a regular series held between the two old sporting rivals for cricket bragging rights. That led to England ejecting its best player in an unseemly fashion—a decision that may soon be reversed, given the squad’s travails.
You better believe that the Australians are enjoying England’s latest cricketing embarrassment.
England won the rugby World Cup in 2003.
Following a second-place finish in 2007, during the 2011 tournament England suffered from a series of embarrassing revelations and the trip to New Zealand ended badly. England were recently outclassed by Ireland 19-9 in the Six Nations tournament, a bad sign for the World Cup later this year, which England is hosting.
Association football is the most popular sport in the world and England hosts the richest league by far. So the national team should do well, right? Except for a World Cup win in 1966—involving a dubious goal awarded on home soil—England has consistently underperformed.
At the World Cup last year, England fans went in with low expectations and their team failed to meet them. Roy Hodgson’s appalling England team were knocked out within a week—failing to win a single game before boarding the plane home.
But when it comes to sitting down…
England isn’t bad at all sports; the country—when teamed up with Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland—won its largest ever haul of gold medals at the London Olympics in 2012, especially in resolutely middle-class sports like cycling, rowing, and equestrian events. That led some wits to call Great Britain king of the “sitting-down sports.”