Yet another atrocious performance from England as they lost their second cricket world cup match, this time to New Zealand by just the 8 wickets and with more than 37 Overs to spare.
England have now lost to arguably the two best teams in this world cup (South Africa might well contest that). Given the quality of the two teams, losing to Australia and New Zealand is not such a bad thing and no major surprise, but it’s manner of the defeat that is the real problem.
In both matches it was embarrassing. Everyone thought the defeat to Australia was bad enough, but the New Zealand one was arguably worse. Against Australia, the defeat was mainly down to the bowlers, against New Zealand it was clearly the fault of the batsman (although Steven Finn did himself no favours). Both disciplines have badly misfired so far in this tournament.
So where do England go now?
The main benefactor from the latest calamity will probably be Ravi Bopara. I’ve been a serious critic of his over the years, and if he is only in the team as a batsman, I would continue to question his involvement. The fact is that England haven’t used him as a bowler in recent matches, and if they are not going to bowl him, I believe he isn’t worth a place in this team (yes, even this team). I have no issue with Ravi playing as an all-rounder, my issue is simply with him playing solely as a batsman.
I would now bring Ravi Bopara back into the team, and I would use him as a bowler. England need something different, both Finn and Broad are too similar and batsmen can get set against them. Bopara will give Eoin Morgan a different option.
About 12-18 months back his bowling was a major plus point for England. He was taking wickets and was bowling with a reasonable economy rate.
Last year in England’s 4-1 ODI series defeat in Australia, Bopara bowled 25 Overs in five matches, taking three wickets, with an economy rate of 4.52 an Over. I know that’s nothing world beating, or it’s not anything to build your team around, but it isn’t a bad return for what is effectively a fifth-sixth bowler, playing as an all-rounder.
Another bowler who has done nothing wrong, but who will still not get the nod to play is James Tredwell. An experienced ODI performer and his economy rate for England is exceptional.
Due to negativity though, England just won’t play a second spinner. The space freed up in the team by Moeen Ali’s versatility gives England options, but they just use it as an excuse to pick an extra seamer to go to all parts of the ground bowling slower ball bouncers. If we didn’t have a guy with an economy rate like Tredwell, I could understand not playing him, but we do!
All this will be rendered irrelevant if you are going to bat like England did last night though. You can have Holding, Marshall, Gardner, McGrath, etc, and even they would struggle to defend scores of 123.
England’s saving grace is that this is a long tournament. Their hardest group stage fixtures are now behind them, and England can start focusing on qualifying from the group and rebuilding their confidence. By the time the quarter-final fixtures eventually come around (starting on 18th March), England could be in a totally different place.
Confidence and form can turn around very quickly in this game. And although I am not advocating running out and betting on England winning the World Cup, it’s not impossible that England could turn their form around and be in a totally different place come the world cup quarter-finals.