England’s disastrous Cricket World Cup defence

Cricket Thursday November 2, 2023 By: Harry Howes

Following a wonderful summer of cricket that included one of the best Ashes series in recent memory and another thrilling campaign in The Hundred, fans were eagerly anticipating the World Cup in India.

As reigning champions, England went into the tournament with reasonable expectations, particularly after an emphatic ODI series win over New Zealand.

But it’s been nothing short of a disaster. England have lost five of their six matches so far and sit rooted to the bottom of the table. With three matches to go, Jos Buttler and co. have a job on their hands to avoid complete embarrassment.

England drop the ball

Despite coming out on top in their warm-up ODI series against New Zealand, England failed to continue their form in India. Matthew Mott’s side met the Kiwis in the opening game of the tournament in a repeat of the 2019 World Cup final.

But they couldn’t repeat history and were humiliated, losing by nine wickets. Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra barely broke a sweat as they combined for an unbeaten 283 to chase down England with 13.4 overs left.

England bounced back in their second game, scoring an impressive 364/9 to beat Bangladesh by 137 runs. The top order showed their class, as Dawid Malan hit a stunning 140 while Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root both notched half centuries.

But things went downhill after that and England have suffered four successive defeats. They narrowly lost to Afghanistan before a pitiful display against South Africa saw them bowled out for 170 in just 22 overs.

Not even the return of 2019 World Cup hero Ben Stokes could inspire them, with the all-rounder notching just five in his first game back from injury.

Whether they’ve now given up or are simply in a horrendous slump of form remains to be seen, but they’ve since added to their woes with defeats to Sri Lanka and India, being bowled out for 156 and 129 respectively.

England will finish their World Cup campaign with matches against Australia, the Netherlands and Pakistan and they’ll be targeting three wins, for pride if nothing else. The Aussies started the tournament poorly and looked to be the whipping boys but they’ve turned things around, allowing England to claim that title.

India have won all six of their games on home soil so far and look in good shape to win their third World Cup title. Meanwhile, South Africa currently top the table, although they’ve played a game more than the hosts.

Where has it gone wrong for England?

It’s more complicated than just saying ‘England haven’t been good enough’, but they’ve not helped themselves. England haven’t just lost the majority of their World Cup matches – they’ve been demolished.

Not only have they failed to reach 200 runs in three of their games, they’ve only recorded one century and four half centuries in six games. These figures don’t scream ‘defending World Cup champions’ and they demonstrate a lack of players willing to take a game by the scruff of the neck, much like Stokes did four years ago.

This may boil down to poor preparation. Joe Root has already demanded England put more focus on 50-over cricket if they want to enjoy future success. They played just 16 ODIs in the year leading up to the World Cup and even in those matches, a large proportion of the final squad weren’t involved.

Compare that to unbeaten India, who played almost double the amount of matches, with nine of those taking place in September of this year to ensure momentum going into the World Cup.

Elsewhere, the make-up of England’s squad needs refreshing. Eight of the current squad were also involved in 2019 and are all the wrong side of 30, as are Dawid Malan and David Willey. That’s 10 players that likely won’t be in contention for the 2027 squad, meaning a huge overhaul is on the horizon.

Only four players in the current squad are under the age of 30, which doesn’t give much hope to up and coming youngsters. Harry Brook forced his way into the side following a strong run of form in The Hundred and perhaps more players need to be rewarded for their performances, rather than being an automatic pick due to familiarity.

Remarkably, England aren’t mathematically out of the World Cup, meaning a bizarre set of circumstances would see them progress to the semi-finals. Realistically, it’s only a matter of time before they’re eliminated.

With three games left, England have the chance to forge where they see their future in white-ball cricket. And with the T20 World Cup getting underway in just seven months, it may be wise for them to start their preparation early in order to avoid another disaster.

Despite the disappointment of the World Cup, there’s still plenty of cricket to look forward to in 2024, including England’s Test series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka, The Hundred, the T20 Blast. Join us for another year of thrilling action from the best seats in the house with Engage’s exclusive hospitality packages.

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