England have gone from kings to kaput in less than 12 months and suffering the worst of all their miserable World Cups. The big question: who’s to be blame?
- Head coach Matthew Mott is under pressure following a dismal World Cup
- England look a shadow of the side which won the T20 World Cup last year
- England slumped to a 100-run defeat against World Cup hosts India on Sunday
It was less than a year ago that England, under the same captain and coach, were thrashing India by 10 wickets in Adelaide on their way to winning the Twenty20 World Cup.
How glorious that semi-final humbling was from an English perspective. How masterful England’s white-ball cricket still appeared to be. ‘Whatever happens in the final,’ I wrote in Mail Sport, ‘we will always have Adelaide.’ Then England beat Pakistan in Melbourne too.
Nothing had happened, it seemed, to stop England’s continued domination of limited-overs cricket, not even the sudden retirement a few months earlier of the biggest architect in their transformation from no-hopers to two-times World Cup winners, in Eoin Morgan.
But fast forward just under 12 months and, against all expectations and out of nowhere, England are suffering the worst of all their miserable World Cups — and there have been a few — and India were the ones on Sunday handing out a thrashing seemingly on their way to winning this world title.
England slumped to a 100-run defeat against World Cup hosts India in Lucknow on Sunday
England look a shadow of the side which won the T20 World Cup last year
It was instructive and fascinating, then, to see Morgan back in the commentary box for Sunday’s role reversal in Lucknow after a brief spell back home on paternity leave.
Nobody saw this humiliation coming but the former captain’s take carries more weight than most. Morgan remains close to the England dressing room and he will already know where the bodies of this World Cup are going to be buried.
Perhaps it was to be expected that Morgan would defend his successor and former lieutenant Jos Buttler out of loyalty but clearly, in his comments on Sky and in an interview with Al Jazeera, he attaches no blame for this shemozzle to the man at the helm.
What is more intriguing is Morgan’s suggestion that something other than form is responsible for a showing so bad it cannot just be dismissed as one of those things, and must now be treated with the same seriousness as the 2015 debacle. ‘I think there’s something else going on. There has to be,’ said Morgan, and that comment will set the hare running when the inevitable inquest into this sorry saga begins.
Could Morgan be referring to the increasingly important analytical advice England get? Or, as seems more likely, might more and more question marks be emerging against the name of coach Matthew Mott, T20 World Cup winner last year or not?
Mott appears to already be reaching that prickly stage which comes with English under-achievement and he said last night he would seek out Morgan to discover exactly what he meant. And how good it would be to be a fly on the wall for that meeting.
For now it has all gone spectacularly wrong for England and who should be waiting in Ahmedabad to apply the finishing touches to England’s demise on Saturday but Australia. It really is impossible to see England, in this frame of mind, getting anything out of that game.
So England really should start looking to the future, decide who is going to be around for the next 50-over World Cup in 2027 — as long as it has not been cannibalised by T20 franchises and the Hundred by then — and pick their side accordingly.
England’s white-ball coach Matthew Mott is under pressure following dismal World Cup
Surely Harry Brook must play against the Aussies, even if the suggestion of dropping Joe Root or Ben Stokes would have been unthinkable ahead of this tournament. And surely Gus Atkinson must play to give a rare fast bowling talent as much 50-over experience as possible on the highest stage.
Instinct still tells me, from a distance at least, that Buttler and Mott have earned the right to lead England’s defence of the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and USA next June.
But how both could do with a vast improvement over the next three dead rubbers in India. The ICC have suddenly decided Champions Trophy qualification will depend on England finishing in the top eight of this World Cup but, embarrassing as it would be to miss out on a 50-over tournament in Pakistan in two years, that does not really matter.
What matters is whether England’s demise is permanent or, like form, just temporary. And, with so much white-ball talent both in the squad in India and at home, Buttler and Mott have to prove they are still the right men to get the best out of the riches at their disposal.
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