England’s heroic victory in the final of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup will live long in the memory as one of the greatest sporting moments ever.
Jos Buttler taking out the stumps and sparking wild celebrations, beating New Zealand by the slimmest of margins, was the peak of England’s one-day cricket history. Fast-forward four years, it feels like England have reached one of their lowest points.
Fast-forward four years, it feels like England have reached one of their lowest points.
After five games, England have won only one match, beating Bangladesh by 137 runs, and have lost other four. Two thrashings, inflicted by New Zealand and South Africa, and two embarrassing defeats to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan mean an early exit is all but certain.
So what has gone wrong for England?
Joe Root has suggested that England don’t play enough 50-over cricket, both domestically and internationally. In the build-up to this year’s World Cup, England played 42 one-day internationals (ODIs), compared to 88 before the 2019 tournament.
The team has also been destabilized by multiple issues both before and during the World Cup. This started with squad selection uncertainty. Harry Brook, one of England’s young talents, was initially left out before later being brought in.
This lack of stability, consistency and assurance has shown in their performances.
England have changed their team and tactics from game to game, starting with a team majorly made up of all-rounders, and then quickly switching to a team of batting and bowling specialists. This lack of stability, consistency and assurance has shown in their performances, with Jos Buttler’s captaincy and decision-making also being questioned following a peculiar decision to bowl first against South Africa having won the toss, despite the sweltering Mumbai heat and humidity.
England advancing to the knockout stage of the World Cup is now all but impossible, with too many results needing to go their way to reach the top four finish needed for qualification. Overall England have lacked the clinical edge, with both bat and ball, that led to their success four years ago. Many questions will need answering once the tournament is over.