England’s hopes of retaining their title at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 are hanging by a thread, with a potential early exit looming.
England’s Title Defence: A Downward Spiral
England’s title defence is teetering on the brink of disaster, with a sixth defeat – potentially at the hands of their long-standing rivals, Australia, or in their upcoming matches against the Netherlands and Bangladesh – set to seal their fate. “The defence of the title has been disastrous,” commented Atherton on the latest episode of The ICC Review podcast.
While it’s accepted that even the best teams can fall short, the manner of England’s defeats has been shocking. Five of their losses have been by staggering margins, a situation that Atherton admits is hard to comprehend.
England’s Campaign: A Rocky Start
England’s campaign got off to a rocky start with a crushing defeat in the tournament opener against New Zealand, a rematch of the thrilling 2019 final. Although a convincing 137-run victory over Bangladesh seemed to put England back on track, four consecutive losses have left them with a single win from six matches and a mounting list of issues to resolve.
According to Atherton, a combination of factors, including the toss, team selection, and the announcement of central contracts, have contributed to England’s poor performance.
England’s Record-Breaking Defeat
England’s largest defeat in terms of runs in an ODI occurred against South Africa, where they fell 229 runs short of the 400-run target. This crushing loss, along with several others, has left England with the worst net run rate at the tournament and at the bottom of the standings with three matches remaining.
Key Mistakes in England’s Campaign
Atherton pointed out some key mistakes in England’s campaign, the most significant being the decision to put South Africa in to bat on a scorching hot day in Mumbai. He also mentioned questionable team selections, although he expressed sympathy for the changes made due to the team’s poor performance.
England’s Batting Woes
England’s batting lineup has struggled to make an impact in a tournament dominated by big hitting and record-breaking totals. With only one century from opener Dawid Malan and four half-centuries across the team, England’s batting has been lacklustre. Even Ben Stokes, England’s hero in the 2019 World Cup final, has had minimal influence, scoring just 48 runs in three innings.
Loss of Form Among Key Players
According to Atherton, the lack of form among key players like Root, Bairstow, Stokes, and Buttler has been a major factor in England’s downfall. “Confidence drains away much quicker than it builds up. It takes a long time for a team to become dominant, but it doesn’t take much for it to whittle away. A few players not hitting form, a couple of defeats, and suddenly you’re in crisis mode,” Atherton concluded.