London: England’s Ben Stokes defiantly stated “This is our World Cup” after a thumping defeat by Australia cast doubt on the pre-tournament favourites’ hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.
Set a target of 286 to beat the reigning champions, England were dismissed for 221, going down by 64 runs to their arch-rivals at Lord’s on Tuesday.
The reverse meant England had lost two straight pool matches — their first back-to-back defeats in one-day internationals since January 2017 — after also falling short in a run-chase in a 20-run defeat by Sri Lanka.
Stokes made 89 against Australia but, as with the all-rounder’s unbeaten 82 against Sri Lanka, it was not enough to secure victory, with England now having lost three pool matches in total following an earlier defeat by Pakistan.
“Look, everybody’s obviously disappointed in the last two games but, you know, this is our World Cup and we are going to go about it the way we know how we play best,” Stokes said
That way has been to bat aggressively but in their past two matches some ill-judged strokes have caused the downfall of their batsmen, with England slumping to 26-3 against Australia after left-arm quicks Jason Behrendorff (5-44) and Mitchell Starc (4-43) both struck telling early blows.
England may now have to beat both in-form India and New Zealand in their final two pool matches if they are to keep alive their hopes of winning the World Cup for the first time.
In common with Australia, they are teams England have not defeated at a World Cup since 1992.
Nevertheless, a defiant Stokes said: “That’s what’s made us so successful in the last four years. Two back-to-back losses can sometimes make you as a team think differently, but we are not going to go away from our method of playing.
“We just need to adjust to situations and then conditions, but we are not for one minute going to take a backward step, especially in these last two (group) games.
“It’s one of the biggest times and greatest times to be a cricketer, which is to represent your country at a World Cup.”
Stokes, asked how hard it was to strike the right balance between attacking and managing a run-chase, replied: “I think in terms of the progression we’ve made, we make better decisions now.
“Obviously when we’ve been bowled out quite cheaply in the last two games, it won’t look like that but we are a very, very confident team in terms of our batting line-up and these last two games aren’t going to knock our confidence at all.”
Both of England’s two recent defeats have coincided with the absence of in-form opening batsman Jason Roy, suffering from a torn hamstring.
James Vince, Roy’s replacement, was bowled for a second-ball duck by Behrendorff after managing just 14 against Sri Lanka.
“Obviously, losing a player of Jason’s class and obviously his form as well, it is tough,” said Stokes. “But James Vince coming in, he is a phenomenal player.
“It’s a tough place to be when you are on the fringes and then all of a sudden someone gets injured to then come in.”
India have yet to lose at this World Cup but England did win a home ODI series against Virat Kohli’s side last year.
“We’ve got a great record against India in England, but they are another team who are in good form, so hopefully we can bring our best game,” said Stokes.