England are in big trouble. That was evident from near enough the first over against Afghanistan.

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Chris Woakes‘ first ball to Rahmanullah Gurbaz swung way down the leg side, through Jos Buttler and down to the boundary. When he came back to bowl his second over, he was thrashed for six over midwicket having pulled back his length. The next ball was another wide outside the leg stump before a short outside-off gimmee was slashed through the covers for four.

While Woakes travelled at one end, Reece Topley managed to keep it relatively calm at the other. His opening three overs went for fewer than half the runs of Woakes’, and he was kept on until the end of the powerplay.

When Woakes was taken off early, having gone at more than tens in his opening burst, Sam Curran was tasked with finding a breakthrough to stem the flow of runs. It’s the third different point at which Curran has been brought into the attack in as many games.

Against New Zealand, he opened the innings and took a wicket with his first ball before finishing up as the second-most expensive of any of England’s seamers. Against Bangladesh, he came on after the powerplay when four wickets had already gone down, and conceded eight runs off his first over. He finished the match as England’s most expensive bowler.

Today, against Afghanistan, the wheels truly came off in Curran’s second over. He was smashed for consecutive fours and a six and overstepped once to add a free hit into the mix. He didn’t bowl again until the 44th over of Afghanistan’s innings. Given his similar role in the T20I format, it seemed like a smart move from Buttler. Keep Curran out of the attack while the batters would be content to milk him for six or seven an over and hold him back until the batters are looking to have a thrash at the end.

But it didn’t pay off. After a good first over back into the attack Curran was slapped for consecutive boundaries by Mujeeb Ur Rahman and ended up bowling only four overs in the innings. Woakes was also six overs short of his quota at the end, having been smashed for a six in his only over outside the powerplay.

That’s a combined 12 overs England had to find from Joe Root and Liam Livingstone, instead of their two frontline seamers. It was an implosion that’s been brewing throughout England’s early campaign.

Woakes’ opening three-over spells in the tournament so far read 0-27 against New Zealand, 1-37 against Afghanistan and 0-31 against Afghanistan. Far from England’s Mr Reliable with the new ball in ODI cricket, as he’s been for so many years, Woakes has thus far been a liability. Couple that with a willingness to view Curran as a solution to their lack of depth with both bat and ball and England’s attack looks far short of one that could reach the semi-finals of a World Cup, let alone win it.

Their solution to the problem isn’t straightforward. England picked three left-armers in their squad, most likely on the basis that they could rely on Woakes to play nearly every game in the tournament, while David Willey could come in for Curran or Topley if necessary, and Atkinson when Wood needed a break. There was no back-up plan for Woakes to lose form.

If England drop Woakes, they would have to bring in David Willey, meaning having three left-armers in their attack if they persist with Curran. Either that or risk an untested Atkinson and find another option to take the new ball.

In some ways, their best option to solve the problem would be to drop both Woakes and Curran for Willey and Atkinson. But, playing Atkinson instead of one of their bowling all-rounders would leave their already precarious batting lineup even lighter. Their other combination could be to replace Curran with a fit again Ben Stokes but have to bank on Livingstone/Root to make up 10 overs of bowling between them. Against in-form batting attacks like South Africa and India, that’s a risky approach.

The best solution would be for Woakes, in particular, to find his form again. If he doesn’t, the pain will only get worse for the defending champions.