The English assault on the Cricket World Cup is officially over. It was probably over before it begun in all honesty, but after the defeat to Bangladesh the other day, their campaign is now totally over. In five games so far England have beaten just one team. Scotland.
Just let that sink in.
Defeats to Australia and what is an exceptionally strong New Zealand team were expected. Beating Sri Lanka was probably a slightly more realistic aim, but they got smashed in that. They then did what they had to against Scotland by making sure they won the game, before capitulating to a 15 run defeat against the Banglas.
So what went wrong? Put simply, everything. Muddled team selections. Muddled build up. Jettisoning the captain two months before the tournament. There’s just a few.
First of all, team selection. James Taylor had played at 3 in all the build up games prior to the tournament and made a super job of it. Fast forward to the first World Cup game and Taylor is dropped to 6, with Gary Ballance (a fine player, but with no recent games under his belt) placed at 3. Therefore England went into the tournament with two ‘proper’ test players in the top three; Ballance and Ian Bell. Ballance barely made a run and was dropped for the game against Bangladesh. He was replaced by Alex Hales, a man most people wanted in the team and an opener through and through. Where did he bat? 3.
The build up wasn’t great either. Having four years to prepare for the tournament would lead you to assume, quite rightly, that the management would know who their best leader is. Alistair Cook is many things, but he isn’t one of the best 11 one day players in England. So why stick with him for so long? Dropping him two months before the tournament and replacing him with Eoin Morgan (a good replacement I believe) was hardly an indication that the management did know their best team, or strategy. This was duly born out by the results, performance and selections.
So where do they go from here? Well, home, initially. After that, back to the well-worn drawing board. They need to catch up. You can’t look to just rotate the strike. The top teams are rotating the strike off good deliveries now and hitting anything that isn’t a ‘jaffa’ out of the park. England are too ‘classical’ in approach, generally spending their time rotating. A clean sweep is required, with new faces brought in.
This leads to the obvious question; If I was in Peter Moores’ shoes, who would I pick? Well I’d look for something like this…
Eoin Morgan (c)
Jos Buttler (wk)
I’d also have Moeen Ali, Alex Lees, Chris Woakes and James Harris around the squad too. It’s perhaps hardly revolution, more evolution, but surely it has more attacking intent to it? It’s just my two pence worth anyway.