England claimed only their second victory of a hugely disappointing Cricket World Cup campaign, with a convincing nine-wicket win over Afghanistan in Sydney. Even in triumph (for once), there was little if any euphoria for the team and the fans, knowing only full well that they are on their way home after the group stages. The minimum requirement going into the tournament would have been a place in the last-eight stages, which should have surely been well within their compass, given that in all likelihood only three wins from six matches would have been sufficient to go through.

That they managed only the two wins, against Scotland and the Aghans, must surely lead to a major re-think of the game in this country, especially in the ODI format with the next World Cup only another four years hence. There will also be concerns about the immediate future of the side, with a hectic summer of fixtures lined up, and confidence hardly likely to be at an all-time high.

At least they were able to avoid the banana skin against the Afghans, however small a comfort that might be at present. The game became a rain affected match, which would have been an interesting scenario if qualification was still in the balance, but without that 'cherry' to aspire to, it was simply a matter of claiming the victory when the weather improved.

Prior to the rain stoppage, the Afghans had reached 20-2 as they batted first. On their return to the crease, they stuttered along to a disappointing 111-7 from 36.2 overs, which was then revised as a target for England to chase of a modest 101 from 25 overs after another delay.

Even then there were some alarms for the openers Alex Hales and Ian Bell, as the Afghans bowled a mixture of very bad and some good deliveries as if to confuse the batsmen.

Hales was dropped twice in his innings of 37, as the openers put on 83 for the first wicket, with some poor fielding by their opposition also aiding their run chase. James Taylor joined Bell to nudge Eoin Morgan's men over the line, with Bell scoring a pleasing 52 not out, as they finished the job with 41 balls still remaining on 101-1.

Bell was perhaps the only player in the squad who could hold his head high after the World Cup, with an average above 50 for the tournament, despite England's woes.

Earlier, during the Afghan's innings, Ravi Bopara took 2-31 on his first appearance Down Under and Chris Jordan claimed 2-13 in a particularly miserly spell with the ball. The conditions for once assisted and suited the England bowlers, as they were able to be both threatening and keep a control on the run-rate. James Tredwell also took his first bow at the World Cup, taking 1-25, as an indication of what might have been if he had been given more of a chance.

The inquest into England's failings can now begin, with many observers hoping against hope that the same scenario does not re-occur in four years' time, but many believe that unless things change, that it will do.