We find ourself humming Roscoe H Spellgood rather a lot at the minute. This is because of the sheer number of match previews saying that England have come a long way in a short time.
It strikes us that if you go to the trouble of being as bad as England were at the 50-over World Cup, you do leave yourself plenty of room for improvement. What would be truly miraculous would be a half-decent team improved by a similar amount.
So of course England bounced back. Not to disregard the strides they’ve made, but it would have been an even more extraordinary feat to have remained as bad as they were. It would arguably have constituted art. A complete rejection of the surrounding world in favour of a private exploration of inadequacy.
However, after a giddy, sugar-crazed run-chase against South Africa and two shonky wins against Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, things now get tough for England. New Zealand are unbeaten and seem like one of the few sides in this tournament unconcerned by how anyone else might be approaching the game. They’ve their own methodology and they’re happy with it.
England’s strategy is simple, even if they do occasionally forget it. They ease their batting aggression slider over further than anyone else would have it in the knowledge that they have more batsmen than anyone else. They then try and bowl tight, and when that doesn’t work, they inject a bit of chaos and try and buy a wicket. It’s nice. At least nowadays they have a plan to try and be better than the opposition. Previously they just aimed to be average and were baffled when that wasn’t enough.
New Zealand, by contrast, seemingly have a multitude of plans. McCullum’s side were a bit one-note, but Kane Williamson has thus far kept the positivity while adding a few more options in terms of how they go about things. It’s worked well for them so far, but we suppose only having one note to play can also bring clarity. Doubt can arise from having choices as much as from lack of faith in your own ability.
That last point seems like the kind of thing we should expand upon, but instead we’re going to slam on the brakes and bring the article to a grinding, unsatsifactory halt.