Tuesday, June 25, 2024

What has gone wrong for England at T20 World Cup and can they recover?

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Defending champions England are under early pressure at the T20 World Cup after a rained off game against Scotland and a heavy defeat by Australia.

Here, the PA news agency looks at how things have gone wrong and what comes next for Jos Buttler’s side.

How badly have they started?

Six months on from their dreadful performance at the 50-over World Cup in India, all the talk was focused on a new beginning in a different format. But they have resolutely failed to lay down any kind of marker. Although frustrated by the weather against Scotland, they were far from impressive in the 10 overs that were possible, going wicketless as their lower-ranked neighbours racked up 90 without loss. Against Australia, they were outclassed in all three facets. Laborious in the field, with curious captaincy decisions and a faltering middle order – the portents were not good.

Can they reach the next round?

There is still a path to the Super 8 stage and it starts with beating associate nations Oman and Namibia in Antigua this week. It would be a calamity if they fail to win either of those games, but mere victory may not be enough. With Scotland already on five points, qualification is likely to come down to net run-rate. The Scots gave their tally a big lift with a quickfire win over Oman on Sunday and England will know they must win by heavy margins to swing the numbers in their favour.

Do Australia have a role to play?

Australia, led by Mitch Marsh, could help decide England’s fate (Jason O’Brien/PA)

With net run-rate highly likely to become a tie-breaker, there is a possible scenario where Scotland and Australia go into the final Group B game knowing the exact equation which would send both teams through at England’s expense. While there is no question of sporting integrity being undermined, it is equally difficult to see many tears being shed in either dressing room if England found themselves ousted.

What can England change?

Jonny Bairstow walks off the field after being dismissed in a T20 international.
Jonny Bairstow could find himself under pressure for his place (Nick Potts/PA)

One of the side’s most experienced campaigners, Jonny Bairstow, has come under scrutiny following a painfully scratchy innings against Australia. He also looked a shadow of his former self in the field and suspicions continue that he has never quite recovered from a horror leg break. Ben Duckett stands by and would bring a left-handed option to a batting line-up that could use one. The decision to leave out Reece Topley must also be revisited. As a tall left-armer he brings a different angle of attack and is a reliable white-ball performer. Expect him to get the nod next time.

Are jobs really on the line?

Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott (right)
Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott (right) could find themselves in the firing line (Andrew Matthews/PA).

Make no mistake, improvements are needed to keep the leadership regime in place. Back-to-back World Cup blowouts would not be acceptable, with director of cricket Rob Key effectively saying as much after India. Regardless of circumstances, not progressing from a group containing three associate nations would represent humiliation from one of the game’s financial powerhouses. Head coach Matthew Mott appears to be in most immediate danger, but Buttler’s captaincy stock is waning too. The group needs to be galvanised before it is too late – for the team and the men who front it.

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