Five areas England must improve to get back on track at the World Cup

Don’t rely on Ben Stokes, exploit Reece Topley’s height and left-arm angle and make a fast start in the powerplay – five areas England must improve to get back on track at the World Cup

  • England cannot afford another stumble against Bangladesh on Tuesday
  • Mark Wood has called on England to ‘prove people wrong’ after crushing defeat
  • Mail Sport’s new WhatsApp Channel: Get the breaking news and exclusives here 

After their humiliating nine-wicket defeat by New Zealand on the opening day of the World Cup in Ahmedabad, England cannot afford another stumble against Bangladesh in Dharamshala on Tuesday. 

Here, Mail Sport’s Lawrence Booth sets out the five areas where they need to improve. 

Make full use of the powerplay

Jonny Bairstow provided a turbocharged start by taking 12 off Trent Boult’s first over, but England slowed down so much that only 39 came off the next nine: a sluggish 51 for one in the powerplay was put into context by New Zealand’s 81 for one at the same stage. 

Dawid Malan deserves his place at the top of the order after a strong ODI series against the New Zealanders at home last month, but his 24-ball 14 — including 16 dots — deprived England of early momentum. 

Dawid Malan’s sluggish start against New Zealand put pressure on Jonny Bairstow

And that put pressure on Bairstow, who lost the strike and his rhythm.

Remember what made you world champions

There were flickers of adventure about England’s batting: Joe Root’s reverse-ramp for six off Boult, Harry Brook’s 14 off three balls against Rachin Ravindra, and a pair of straight sixes by Jos Buttler. 

But the victorious 2019 team did this as a matter of course. 

And there was something unusually tentative about the dismissals of Bairstow, chipping to long-off, and Buttler, nibbling behind. It’s more than three years since England batted out 50 overs for a lower score than their 282 for nine. 

Buttler promised they would attack their way to another World Cup succcess. That message seemed lost on Thursday.

Don’t rely on Ben Stokes

There’s every chance Stokes will miss the Bangladesh game too after suffering soreness in his left hip, though England will know more on Sunday. 

But they played against New Zealand as if diminished by his absence. 

Other players will have to fill the void if Ben Stokes (above) fails to recover from injury

As Mark Wood put it: ‘He’s not Superman. He’s obviously one of our best players, if not our best player, but all the lads have to stand up as well. It’s not all just about the Messiah Stokesy coming back and him doing everything.’ 

If Stokes fails to recover in time for Tuesday, others will have to impose themselves on Bangladesh instead and help England get back on track.

Stop overthinking

The decision not to pick Reece Topley felt wrong when it was announced, and only got worse as Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra destroyed England’s bowlers. 

Topley has had rotten luck with injuries but he’s raring to go — and England need his height and left-arm angle. 

Against New Zealand at the Ageas Bowl and The Oval recently, his five wickets included Ravindra and Conway for single figures. 

The overthinking extended to promoting Moeen Ali to No 5 ahead of Buttler in a bid to keep a left/right-hand combination. 

Ali has batted there only three times in his nine-year ODI career. Why experiment in the first game of a World Cup?

…and don’t panic!

Joe Root called for calm as England bounced back to lift the trophy in 2019 and 2022

There was a sense far too early in the brilliant partnership between Conway and Ravindra that England were powerless to do anything to stop them. 

But the message conveyed after the game by Root, urging calm, was exactly right. 

England stumbled during the 2019 World Cup, losing group games to Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Australia. And they went down to Ireland during the 2022 T20 tournament. But they ended up winning both. 

‘A great trait of the group is that resilience and bouncing back and calmness,’ said Wood. ‘I trust every member in there: they’ve been through good and bad times. We know we can do it.’

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