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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