England’s familiar exit leaves ECB’s dream scenario out of reach

There will be a temptation to paint England’s semi-final defeat by Pakistan as a failure but that would be unfair on many levels

Oh, England. Plus ça change, plus c’est the same bleeding thing all over again. Engines revving, back seat loaded with buccaneering white-ball heroes, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s grand, musical Champions Trophy carnival float stalled decisively in Cardiff, undone by some familiar foes. For all the talk of adrenal new eras and white-hot modernity it was the old uncertainty batting first against nagging bowling on a grippy pitch that derailed England’s campaign against a Pakistan team who produced a wonderful all?round performance in victory by eight wickets.

In one sense we have been here before, most notably four years ago at Edgbaston in the final of the previous edition of this competition. That defeat came on a pitch that might have been airlifted in from the subcontinent, just as the slow grip of Cardiff might have been prepared as a tribute to the desert tracks of the Emirates on which Pakistan have occasionally thrived in recent years.

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