Thank god for that. I can finally fully enjoy this cricket World Cup. England are on the way home, and with them will hopefully depart all my feelings of angst when watching this tournament. The rest of the sides have played during the last month with a carefree attitude that has provided entertaining and gripping cricket. England have played with the archaic formulaic approach of a side at least a decade behind the times.
Their tournament finished with a comfortable rain-interrupted victory over Afghanistan. An anti-climax of a game that fitted perfectly with England’s bungled attempt at a World Cup campaign. Aside from Root, Buttler and perhaps Bell, none of the England team have left Australia and New Zealand with their reputations enhanced.
In the wake of Peter Moores’ and Eoin Morgan’s data driven post match comments, the media has been quick to deduce that a data and statistical driven mind-set has been the main contributing factor to their early exit. However, in truth, England are less reliant on stats in ODI’s than they are in Tests, and this World Cup squad was blessed with a good blend of youth and experience. Players such as Moeen Ali, Joss Buttler and James Taylor, should not have been weighed down by the previous statistics based form of preparation.
Players were given a chance to express themselves in this tournament, Moeen was given a licence at the top of the order, and Steven Finn was left to be the strike bowler he wanted to be. England’s biggest failing, was not their preparation, or their fascination with numbers, but actually the simplest answer. Most of the team were hopelessly out of form. Morgan could barely hit the ball off the square, and Moeen failed to kick on after the powerplay overs. The bowling department was equally down on form, as Broad and Anderson looked a shadow of their Test Match alter-ego’s.
Aside from poor form, if any blame can be apportioned to the management, it must surely lie with the ad-hoc selection policy applied in the World Cup and the preceding few weeks. Bopara was left out at the last minute, Taylor shifted down from his successful number three position, no frontline spinner was given a go until the final game; a total shambles. England simply did not know what their best XI was, or how to extract the best performance from the XI they eventually selected.
England are now left with yet another ‘re-building’ phase. The next limited overs tournament is the World T20 in 2016, and England should focus their energy on this trophy. ODI cricket in the last few years has taken a complete about turn. No longer do teams look towards their Test side for players that can be used in ODI’s, they now promote from within their T20 squads. England have to back their young stars, and there are many of them in county cricket, in the T20 game, and then blood them in the 50-Over format.
It’s going to be a long road for England to even compete at a major event , but to do so they must look towards T20 as the answer, not Test cricket. Other countries are developing their styles at pace, England are stuck in the past. This World Cup has ben a vivid visualisation of that sad fact.