Dubai: Defending champions England had a terrible ODI World Cup where they were languishing at the bottom of the table before winning the last few games to move to the middle of the table.
It was a shock to the fans when the champions of 50-over and Twenty20 World Cups capitulated with ease, questioning their ability to spring back.
However, all-rounder Moeen Ali, while acknowledging that it was a bad World Cup show, said he was confident of the team bouncing back strongly.
“We didn’t play well throughout the World Cup. The batters were out of form and it happens in cricket. We’ve been so good over a long period of time now, but it is just one of those things that we just didn’t perform. It is a World Cup and a special one where all teams were good, but we weren’t just good,” the 36-year-old all-rounder, who is playing for Morrisville Samp Army in the Abu Dhabi T10, told Gulf News.
A very balanced team
The expectations were sky-high and England were the favourites to retain the title after winning the T20 World Cup in Australia less than a year ago. A very balanced team were humbled by Afghanistan and Sri Lanka during the league stage of the quadrennial event. With just the next Twenty20 World Cup less than 10 months away in the West Indies and the USA, Ali exuded confidence that the Three Lions will roar.
“We want to try and win again. I feel we are a better Twenty20 side. I’m sure we will come back stronger,” the left-hander said.
England batting ran deep, almost till the end, but none of them could make a valuable contribution to the team’s cause and the frequent chopping and changing did not help the team’s cause.
Another reason attributed to England’s downfall was that they were relying heavily on the aggressive brand of cricket, the Bazball way, which even helped them win the Test matches.
Not enough runs on board
“I think the confidence was very low and nobody was in form. And to some of us, it was becoming more internal. Sometimes the harder you try, the worse you get. I think we’ve been playing so well for 10 years before that. If you look at the best teams, India, who played well, were aggressive, South Africa were generally aggressive and so were the Australians. We just couldn’t do what we normally do and the timing was really bad,” he clarified on the team’s dismal show.
Moeen Ali also didn’t feel that the pace-heavy bowling attack was a problem. “We have played a lot in India before. All depends on the wickets and the ground etc, So we had the spinners but didn’t have enough runs on the board. Everything went wrong,” he said.
Things were looking ominous for England when they lost the first One-Day International against the West Indies. Skipper Shai Hope’s century helped the hosts chase a big target at North Sound.
However, Sam Curran took three wickets and Jos Buttler scored a half-century to help England claim a six-wicket victory over West Indies in the second ODI on Wednesday, levelling the three-match series at 1-1.
Set a target of 203 for victory in North Sound, Antigua, England romped home in less than 33 overs to set up a series finale in Barbados on Saturday.
Opener Will Jacks scored an assured 73 off 72 balls before being trapped lbw by Sherfane Rutherford, while Buttler made 58 not out in a 90-run partnership with Harry Brook (43) to get the tourists over the finish line.
Captain Buttler’s knock made him the fifth England batter to cross the 5,000-run mark in ODI cricket. The half-century was his first since September, prior to England’s disappointing exit from the World Cup.
“Really pleasing,” said Buttler, who scored just three runs in England’s four-wicket defeat in the series opener.
“I’ve been playing for a while now so it’s great when you get to those milestones after playing for a long period of time. It’s been a frustrating time recently.” Gudakesh Motie was the pick of West Indies’ bowlers, picking up the wickets of Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett in back-to-back overs.
Earlier, Curran (3-33) decimated the hosts’ top order in a devastating spell, claiming the wickets of Brandon King, Keacy Carty and Shimron Hetmyer.
Curran’s haul was a measure of redemption for his performance in the first ODI, in which he was hit for 98 runs in 9.5 overs without picking up a single wicket, the worst-ever figures for an England bowler.
“It was a tough day the other day, but you need to keep moving forward and bounce back,” Curran said.
“We did so many things right in that first game. The messages from the coaches and captain was just that. We had to come back today and put things right, which we did.” West Indies lost wickets cheaply early on in their innings and were left reeling on 23-4, but captain Shai Hope (68) and Rutherford (63) put together a partnership of 129 runs to help them to a respectable total.
— With inputs from agencies