NASSER HUSSAIN: England's death bowling proves costly again

NASSER HUSSAIN: England’s death bowling hurts them AGAIN… they have never consistently got it right and it is NOT simply a case of Chris Jordan costing them the World Cup

  • England crashed to defeat in the semi-finals of the World Cup to New Zealand
  • Their death bowling cost them as it did in the final of the last T20 World Cup 
  • Tymal Mills was missed and in hindsight David Willey should have played
  • England though have been getting so much right throughout the tournament 
  • Things didn’t work out for Chris Jordan who got it wrong on the night in the 17th 

Just as England’s death bowling cost them in the final of the last Twenty20 World Cup when Ben Stokes went for four sixes so it did again here on Wednesday night. It is the one aspect of their game this England team have not consistently got right.

Everything had gone perfectly for England in this semi-final until the 17th over of New Zealand’s reply but Chris Jordan will be the first to admit he just got it wrong.

There is an old truism in cricket that you become a better player when you are not in the side but how Tymal Mills was missed in those closing overs.

Everything went smoothly for England until the 17th over of their defeat to New Zealand

Chris Jordan (left) got it wrong but it’s not a simple case where he cost England the World Cup

Equally, it is easy to say with hindsight that David Willey should have played once Jason Roy had been ruled out of the semi-final to give England another bowling option and a left-arm angle in the absence of Mills.

They could easily have needed Sam Billings and we should remember that what England have been doing made them, along with Pakistan, the team of the World before the knockout stages. They have been getting so much right.

All tournament England have been bowling back of a length and trying to hit the splice of the bat and they stuck to that here. But in that decisive over Jordan either bowled wide or in the slot and Jimmy Neesham changed the course of the game.

I have been saying Jordan’s death bowling has not been quite as good in the last year or so and that is maybe because Eoin Morgan has gone away from the plan of bowling yorkers. But It’s not easy and anyone can go for big runs if they are fractionally off.

This is not a case of Jordan costing England the World Cup and I hope people don’t interpret it that way. Someone has to put their hand up and bowl at the most difficult times when the opposition are coming at you. It just didn’t work out for him on the night.

This was a semi-final you could have almost scripted apart from the final twist. Captains rely so heavily on analysis and match-ups now that T20 cricket is becoming a bit formulaic and both Morgan and Kane Williamson are disciples of this numbers trend.

Jimmy Neesham (right) changed the course of the game for New Zealand in their fightback

Mitchell Santner has been one of the bowlers of the tournament but as soon as it became clear England’s left-handers were going to be their dominant force so the left-arm spinner was ignored for all but one over of the innings.

The same match-up rule applied when New Zealand batted. Their top order is full of right-handers so Moeen Ali did not bowl at all even though their left-handers in Neesham and Devon Conway both ended up playing a big part in the chase. And, as the Abu Dhabi ground has long square boundaries, so the seamers on both sides kept on bowling short into the pitch.

Maybe there needs to be more of a gut feel again because players are getting used to knowing what’s coming at them and can react accordingly.

To be fair this approach has been successful throughout this tournament so why would England move away from it now? Liam Livingstone for instance bowled ahead of Moeen, with his leg-spin to right-handers and off-spin to left, and he was exceptional.

David Willey (left) should have played while Tymal Mills was missed in the closing overs

Credit must be given to New Zealand. They were chasing 167 on a two-paced pitch and then they quickly lost their best two batters in Williamson and Martin Guptill.

But a batsman who had not opened for them in T20 cricket before this tournament in Daryl Mitchell played a match-winning innings and Neesham’s cameo sealed it for them.

Can you possibly begrudge New Zealand this after what happened to them at Lord’s in 2019? I don’t know a more popular side in world cricket and those scenes at the end, including Mitchell’s dad celebrating in the stands, were deserved after the agony, as Ian Smith put it, of their World Cup final super over defeat.

Fair play to them. New Zealand are a crack outfit and they pulled off a victory from the jaws of defeat here. They will take some beating in the final on Sunday.

Pakistan or Australia will face a tough test when one of the sides play New Zealand in the final

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