By the largest of margins – but Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra should be pacing themselves like, ooh, let’s say Dawid Malan

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2023 Cricket World Cup, Game 1, England v New Zealand

There’s not much sign that New Zealand have many batters in form, while two of the three we’ve seen are clearly peaking too soon. England, in contrast, are pacing their ascent to top form beautifully. Starting here at ‘dogshit’, they will smoothly climb to ‘invincible’ in 45 days’ time. Of course they may already have been knocked out by then.

There was a nice stat from Wisden’s Yas Rana earlier this week. In the 2019 World Cup cycle, England went past 350 on 17 occasions. Since then, they’ve done it just once. B-teams and experimentation go some way towards explaining that, but you do wonder whether they’ve also – perhaps as a byproduct of this approach to personnel management – simply forgotten how.

Once upon a time, England were a one-day team who didn’t know how to top 300 – didn’t even dare to try. Eoin Morgan then turned them into the best flat track batting side there’s ever been. Is this that team? There seems to be a belief that the knowledge and know-how is still in there; that it’s just dormant, primed to awake. Jos Buttler has been shrugging off defeats in the belief that when England finally put out their first XI on the big stage, it’ll all just click into gear and the scoreboard will once again whirl.

But mad as it sounds, Eoin Morgan’s team practised making big scores. They were drilled to do it. They did it unthinkingly. One time they made 481.

A team that has made 481 isn’t too fazed by the idea of making 350, whereas a team that doesn’t ever ordinarily make that many runs is surely less well equipped.

Not that New Zealand have been racking up giant totals either. We think last year against Ireland was the only time they’ve exceeded seven an over in all their flat hollow 50-over innings since that famous tie.

They’d have managed it yesterday though, if it weren’t for England.

“We lacked being a bit clinical with our execution,” was Buttler’s take on his team’s batting performance.

This is a phrase we might adopt.

“We lacked being a bit clinical with our execution and accidentally put a window through.”

“We lacked being a bit clinical with our execution and hammered our own thumb.”

“We lacked being a bit clinical with our execution and a number of guests contracted salmonella.”

“We lacked being a bit clinical with our execution and tanked the economy and the Bank of England had to step in to avert financial catastrophe.”

Better to lack being a bit clinical with your execution now though, rather than at the business end of the tournament. Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra are fools who are no longer ‘due‘.

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  1. If a team that has made 481 isn’t fazed by the thought of 350, what about a team that makes 498? Yas Rana has ignored it as it was against the Netherlands and not a full member. Despite that three of the bowlers in that match have just taken 6 wickets against Pakistan.

    There’s only been 19 opportunities for England to score 350+ since 2019 (bat first or chase a big enough score). England have gone past 350 twice in that time, the Netherlands and a few weeks ago against New Zealand.

    This year (before yesterday) England have averaged 313 batting first. That’s 9 innings failing to pass 300 three times. One of those occasions was the final ODI against Ireland where the innings was stopped by rain, England were 280 for 4 with 19 overs remaining. I accept the turnover of players point but England can still score decent totals.

    Incidentally New Zealand have also only made one 350+ score since the last World Cup and they have played 1 game more. The big difference is that they have played a lot more in sub-continental conditions. England have played 6 ODIs in the subcontinent since 2019, New Zealand have played 14 in the subcontinent this year alone.

    1. Suppose a lot depends on whether you think 313 is likely to be a winning score for this England team. By our count they went past that mark 32 times between the end of the 2015 World Cup and the end of the 2019 edition – a third of their innings, *including* run-chases, rain-affected games and washouts.

      They can certainly still make pretty big totals, but the previous incarnation generally made bigger ones. Depending on conditions, they may well return to that in the coming weeks.

      1. I think if 313 isn’t a winning score then maybe the problem isn’t the batting but the bowling. Both departments probably underperformed yesterday, will be interesting to see how both departments improve/decline over the rest of the tournament.

  2. Wouldn’t it be marvelous if, “our batsmen let fly huge bestial roars and marched off the field.”

  3. I think we are underpaying new Zealand’s shithousery. That was the dumbest Xi I’ve seen in some time and then they only used 2 batsmen. Glenn Phillips somehow ending up with 2/3 at one point was spectacular

  4. Malan vs the last batsman watch.

    Dawwiidd scored 14 runs at a strike rate of 58.33.
    Mark Wood scored 13 runs at a strike rate of 92.85.

    (This latest KC feature “Malan vs the last England batsman” is brought to you by Durex. For those days when you don’t feel particularly (re)productive.)

  5. One day cricket in most parts of India – if it is a day/night match win the toss, but second and most likely you’ll win the match.

    On Thursday, one of my mates at Lord’s said he thought England need to rethink their plans after that result. I think that rethinking is the last thing England should do at this stage. If poor performance becomes a pattern, then of course rethink.

    Daisy and I spent a whole day at Lord’s during WC 2019 watching a sub-standard England look distinctly second best to a rather ordinary Australia side during the group stages. It was probably the only truly poor performance by England in the whole campaign.

    Like many folk around here, I don’t think England look like favourites this time around but it would be a disappointing result if this squad fails to qualify for the semi-finals. THAT, for me, will be the benchmark.

    1. I recall England losing three games in the group stages in 2019 and squeaking into the semis thanks to YJB and his angry beard.

      There’s a long way to go, folks.

      1. Do you not feel like even when they’re the best team in the world they can only scrape through?

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