If England are going to lose the World Cup final, this is how they should do it

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2 minute read
A focused Eoin Morgan (via YouTube)

We’re an optimistic sort of person and that’s how we’ve come up with a positive spin on England’s inevitable World Cup final defeat.

Here’s how it goes.

The world has, somewhat belatedly, cottoned on to what we’ve been telling you all along: England have a really good one-day bowling attack.

Well, the world’s sort of cottoned on. Back when England were scoring and conceding loads of runs and winning, everyone thought England had a great batting line-up and a terrible bowling attack. Now that they’re scoring and conceding fewer runs, they think the bowling’s improved.

It’s almost as if people think runs have a fixed, constant value – which of course they don’t.

Let us tell you about England’s bowling strategy

The greatest strength of the England one-day bowling attack over the last four years has been variety. Even now, when it’s admittedly a little less varied, they’re still covering a lot of bases.

They have fast bowlers and a leg-spinner and a Liam Plunkett who consciously distinguishes himself from other right-arm seam bowlers by only very rarely pitching the ball nearer to the batsman than himself. Sometimes they play a finger spinner too.

This variety is no accident. At the last World Cup England went into the tournament with somewhere around 27 near-identical right-arm fast-medium bowlers. The opposition batsmen thanked them for keeping things nice and consistent and predictable and they got knocked out before the quarter-finals.

So now they’ve gone the other way and the other way’s definitely better. Except when it isn’t.

When isn’t this way better?

From time to time, right-arm fast-medium is the most threatening form of bowling there is. It doesn’t happen too often in one-day cricket because not much one-day cricket is played on challenging pitches in British weather conditions.

But the final might be.

Bit of cloud, bit of seam, bit of slightly variable bounce. You don’t want one or two steady fast-medium bowlers in these conditions – you want as many as possible. You want resolute batsmen too.

You want the 2015 England World Cup team, basically.

With Trent Boult, Matt Henry, Jimmy Neesham and Colin The Big Man, supplemented by the rather-too-quick Lockie Ferguson, New Zealand probably have a better conventional fast-medium attack than England.

With Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor alone, they definitely have a more resolute batting line-up.


England are the ultimate flat pitch one-day side partly because they don’t put all their bowling eggs in one basket.

Variety is ideal when you want to ask the batsmen lots of different questions. It’s less good when conditions favour one particular type of bowling. When that happens in a 50-over game, all you really want to do is ask the exact same question as many times as possible, and that’s much harder to do when you have your eggs in so many different baskets.

You said this was ‘a positive spin’ on England getting beaten

Well it’s funny, isn’t it? They’ll be beaten because of how successfully they’ve moved away from the batting ploddery and bowling sameyness of 2015.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. The positive spin on an England loss is that it would be a NZ win. And who doesn’t like NZ? They’re just a nice group of nice people from a nice country who are very nice (and not Australian).

    Although I do have my misgivings about their refusal to play TGNW in ODIs.

    1. You have misgivings about the fact they hold The Great Neil Wagner back solely for Tests?

      1. Should he not play at all times?

        I follow ODI cricket so little I didn’t even realize he’d never played an ODI until NZ’s first match of this tournament.

  2. With terrestrial TV coverage starting at 9 am, Special Correspondent Dad and I are wondering how we will avoid the sitting equivalent of bed sores.

    1. You could watch the TV in bed, thus getting the bed sore equivalent of bed sores.

      Hope that helps.

      No mention in my 1975 diary of sitting sores, btw, but one of my school pals reports (on Facebook) that a couple of my schoolmates bunked school that day, went to the match and got acute sunburn for their trouble. The matches were 60 overs a side in those days of course.

      1. I don’t remember the 1975 final, due to not existing at the time. I seem to remember having a swimming lesson during the 1992 final (it was a day/night game, no?)

        ( I definitely had a French lesson where the teacher couldn’t be bothered to teach us and wheeled in a TV to watch the 1989 Ashes. All I remember was DeFreitas getting out. Must have been the First Test)

      2. “Not existing at the time” seems to me, daneel, a very thin excuse for not remembering a match. With all due respect, sort yourself out.

  3. Sorry everyone, I have (1) worn an England cricket polo shirt today and (2) brought forward my planned purchase of a new portable DAB radio in order to listen to as much of the final as possible, thus guaranteeing that New Zealand will win – the bookmakers are sure to trim the Kiwis’ odds from 11/4 to 1/1000 as soon as they hear of this.

    Still, probably worth watching anyway, even if you don’t have a ‘cut-out-and-wear captain’s ginger beard’ of the sort being given away with today’s NZ Herald on Sunday.

  4. What’s everyone doing today? Hoping for lots of stories of people following the match while obliged to do something else and just making the best of things somehow or other.

    1. Nope, I’m sitting in the same chair that I was sitting in when Harmy took the last wicket at Edgbaston in 2005, and no bugger is moving me.

      10 minutes to go.

      Come on England.

    2. Sitting in front of the telly while wife tries to cope with three poorly and grumpy children. I’ll pay for this, but I don’t care.

    3. I’m trying to decide who to cheer for now that you lot knocked the Aussies out. I’m still going to stay up to 4am watching it though, this only happens once every 4 years!

    4. Rather conventionally sitting on the settee, eating a tomato, being occasionally harassed by small girls and concluding that I don’t like Michael Clark any more than I used to.

    5. I am just sat in a chair watching the TV, with no other expectations for the day (which is nice).

      (Right at the start of the day, we did have a scare suggesting one of our dogs might need emergency vet treatment, but this seems to have been a false alarm)

      1. Almost too nervous to watch. Just did some hoovering. Is it me or is it hot in here?

    6. My mother – in – law (actually my own mother, but she prefers my wife) was visiting through the week but she went back today morning, so I’m in my most natural state – glass of whiskey, shirtless (TMI?), remote in my hand switching to Wimbledon during the all-too-frequent ad breaks, only to switch back to chirp advice to NZ bowlers.

  5. Daisy & I played tennis this morning as usual thus missing the toss and the first few overs.

    We heard the Guptill wicket on the radio while driving home.

    Now watching on TV …

    …YES Williamson gone!…

    I won the tennis 6-4 if anyone wants to know. I’m not sure even I want to know that any more.

      1. Modern tennis, Sam. Daisy & I have played “lawners” regularly since we first met, whereas Daisy is only a reluctant, very occasional player of “realers”.

        Meanwhile, I have three challenges remaining today (to use the modern tennis parlance):

        1) Daisy is finding my “England in Cricket World Cup Final” nerves a little disconcerting. Problem is, we haven’t been together all that long: we met in August 1992 (lawners was involved that day: http://ianlouisharris.com/1992/08/08/kim-and-mickys-party-8-august-1992/ ), so Daisy and I hadn’t met yet the last time England were in a Cricket World Cup Final;
        2) There is a high profile game of lawners going on in SW19 while the World Cup Final pans out in NW8 – for the moment Daisy seems far more interested in watching the cricket – long may that continue;
        3) We’re going to a jazz concert at the Wigmore Hall this evening – I know, I know, I should have looked before I booked – so if the final goes down to the wire we’re going to have a wee tussle between getting ready/getting out the door to the concert and watching the denouement of this massive cricket match.

        Jason Roy out first ball? You’ve got to be kidding…phew – not out.

  6. Saurav Ganguly really seems to hate England. Half expecting him to whip off his shirt and start twirling it around the commentary box.

  7. i assume they base that win % they show every now and then purely on the tone of Ian Smith’s commentary.

  8. Everyone hated this match preview and now it’s proving to be correct as well. No redeeming features.

  9. Aargh. All this is missing is the ignominy of a Mike Gatting reverse sweep. Shades of 1987 I’m afraid.

  10. …erm, so, anywaaaaaaay, I see Lancs are going well against Sussex…?

    Wiese to Croft, 6 no balls

    1. Sick like when the kids say “have you seen that new Minecraft Love Island Instagram Tik Tok? It’s sick”, or sick like you’re about to vomit up a litre of bile and regret?

      Currently I’m in the latter camp, on balance.

      1. Overthrows!


        Ties in tie breakers!

        Family members ringing to ask why England have ‘won’!

        (I am still dead, by the way)

  11. Can’t stand it. Gonna have to mix some concrete and set that manhole cover in.

  12. England win by multiple technicalities! Truly, they have changed ODI cricket forever.

  13. Caught the super over on TMS driving home from work.

    Surprisingly badly wanted NZ to win. England were always going to win the World Cup eventually – and if T20 eventually displaces the 50 (ex 60) over stuff, and the way both formats coexist presently becomes a historical curiosity, then I guess they already have. NZ might never. So many ducks need to line up in a row for a country with less than half the population of London, or a quarter of the population of Mumbai, to be crowned the best cricketing nation. Many of those ducks preferably appearing in the opposition batting order.

    Semifinalists 2011, losing finalists 2015, tying finalists 2019. Won’t get out of the group stage in 2023, then.

    (Oddly I suspect I wouldn’t have minded England winning so much if the Wimbledon result had been reversed. Might have fulfilled my stereotypically English “gallant underdog” quota for the day.)

    1. No spaking here either

      Can’t even summon a “shove it up your arse”. Just doesn’t seem appropriate.

      1. Yeah, there’s no shoving up nobody’s arse, unfortunately. Maybe Australia’s. That, I can get behind.

  14. Congratulations boys and girls, and the general citizenry of England! Well played 😀

  15. We ripped up our jazz concert tickets as we were in no mood to drive into central London & miss the ending of this match.

    Never mind can’t spake, neither of us felt able to drive safely.

    Feel so sorry for the Kiwis because they came so close and still lost, but I think England were the best team in the tournament, although perhaps not on the day. The luck went with England today.

    Great news for English cricket. Great news for cricket generally I feel.

    1. Hear, hear. Although ‘we ripped up our jazz concert tickets’ sounds like a rather painful euphemism.

    2. Will ripping up your tickets increase the tide of comment on empty seats at jazz concerts?

  16. I feel sorry for NZ too. They bowled really, really well… and that’s a horrible way to “lose” a match, never mind a tournament, but… fuck it, a win is a win.

    And hey, Stokesy gets to be a hero at last! Wonders will never bleedin’s cease. (Bayliss needs to get someone following Stokes for the whole of the next week, making sure he doesn’t end up in any student nightspots after one too many)

  17. Ultimately, bless (and curse) the weather, and consequently the pitches, this was a good old 250 world cup.

  18. I too feel really sorry THEY WON for the Kiwis. Couldn’t have asked for THEY WON better more deserving semi-finalists, and on THEY WON another day I’d have been happy to see SHOVE IT UP YER BRYDON CARSE them life the trophy. What a game of cricket.


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