It was yet another disappointing outing at the ICC World Cup for England as Sri Lanka uprooted Jos Buttler’s men by eight wickets.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, the Three Lions capitulated from 45-0 to 156 all out, and despite having the Lankans 23-2 in their innings, Kusal Mendis’s side were relatively in control of the chase.
This has been the issue so far for England in this tournament, it’s the lack of clarity with bat and ball.
In 2019, the method to their batting was to go hard(play attacking) with the bat and let Joe Root be the glue at number three.
But for this tournament, they seem to be a bit indecisive, especially on the roles of each player,.Embed from Getty Images
In 2019, England went with a dynamic, attacking opening partnership of Johnny Bairstow and Jason Roy, who averaged 82.28. What was so good about that partnership, was their ability to adapt to different roles, where one would take on the bowling, while the other would try and see off the new ball.Embed from Getty Images
There is nothing wrong with having a left-hander and right-hander opening the innings. Still, Dawid Malan is a similar player to Joe Root, in the sense that their strength is to see off the new ball, while the others attack the bowling, and it seems as if Malan is doing the opposite, which is not really his strength.
With Jason Roy in the squad as a replacement for Reece Topley, perhaps it would be wise for England to return to their most successful opening pair in white ball cricket, and then decide between Root and Malan for the number three position.
Buttler opened the bowling with David Willey and Chris Woakes when maybe there could have been an opportunity to unleash Mark Wood right at the start.
As an opening batsman, it’s your job to play the new ball, but imagine how tricky it would be to face the new ball with someone bowling at 90mph or above.
Yes, there is the possibility of going for loads of runs, but had Wood been bowling with the new ball, there might have been a possibility of taking some more wickets with the new ball.
Adil Rashid was into the attack slightly later, when Pathum Nissanka was already set in his innings, perhaps if Buttler had started with spin from one end, it may have given the Sri Lankans something to think about.
But this is what happens when the batsmen don’t support the bowlers, by providing enough runs on the board, it doesn’t give the bowlers enough time to plan how they are going to take 10 wickets to win the match.
The England Captain was surprised with his team’s performance so far in this tournament.
“You get on the plane with high hopes and a lot of confidence and belief that we can challenge for the title, so to be sat here now with the three weeks we’ve had is a shock to everyone. “I’ll walk back in the dressing room after this, look at the players sat there and think ‘how have we found ourselves in this position with the talent and the skill that’s in the room?’Buttler: Sky Sports
On the topic of blaming the ECB for offering players central contracts, this is just ridiculous. most of these guys are from the 2019 World Cup winning squad, so they should be able to put the ECB contract issue out of their minds.
According to Reuters, “The system, which covers both red-ball and white-ball players, considers the likelihood of players featuring in England teams across formats over the next period while recognising performances in the preceding year,”
The likes of Buttler, Ben Stokes, and Root play in franchise tournaments like the IPL(Indian Premier League), which also gives out contracts to players, so pointing a finger at the ECB is a pointless excuse to make.
Buttler’s men are mathematically still in this tournament, but they will need to win their remaining fixtures against India, Australia, and Netherlands, and hope that:
- New Zealand lost their remaining four matches and stayed on eight.
- India win three of their four games, losing only to England, while South Africa beat all teams except India. Then, India (16) and South Africa (14) will take the top two spots.
- Australia beat New Zealand but lost their other matches, while Afghanistan beat the Netherlands and Australia. Then both Australia and Afghanistan will finish on eight.
- Sri Lanka beat New Zealand and Afghanistan, while Pakistan beat Bangladesh and New Zealand. Then Sri Lanka and Pakistan will finish on eight too.
- England’s 10 points will be enough for third place in this scenario, with five teams of eight fighting for the fourth spot.
Is this the end of England’s World Cup defence?