It’s a particular type of recent ODI experience Jos Buttler’s England lacked – the experience of playing together, winning games

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England haven’t played this format much recently, so you can forgive them for looking at bit rusty against a guy who hasn’t bowled in an ODI for almost four years.

“It’s raining cats and dogs in Sri Lanka so I’ve not been able to play much,” said Angelo Mathews after taking 2-14 in five overs of painful, dibbly-dobbly, nibbly-nobbly strangulation. “It’s mainly been indoor training.”

Is match practice overrated?

It’s maybe not so much that England lacked recent one-day experience going into this World Cup; it’s that their recent one-day experiences generally involved losing.

England won the 2019 World Cup, but their series results over the last couple of years didn’t give much cause for internal confidence. It’s not been unremittingly dire, but they lost to India, they lost to Australia and they lost to South Africa.

Rest, rotation and all that, but you can only play the “it’ll be all right on the night” card so many times before it starts to scuff and crumple.

Pretty much everyone in the England setup said that 2022 Australia series was irrelevant, but there were only four more series between it and this tournament – one of which the World Cup squad sat out.

Given their results since 2015, it’s also worth highlighting that England are a white ball team unfamiliar with losing series, which perhaps gave those more recent results a greater impact.

There’s been a bit of a gap between where England hoped they could be and where they actually were ever since.

In the captain’s own words

“We lacked being a bit clinical with our execution,” was Jos Buttler’s take on his team’s batting performance against New Zealand in the first match of this World Cup, when they lost by nine wickets.

Then after beating Bangladesh, he said the team was, “Always trying to look for that perfect performance,” which was nothing if not ambitious given what followed.

After losing to Afghanistan, he concluded: “It was a bit of bad execution, both with the bat and the ball. It was not at the level we wanted it to be consistently enough. That was the area where we lost the game.”

Then, for good measure, he added: “You’ve got to let these defeats hurt. Let it hurt, try to figure out where we need to get better.”

If they did figure out where to get better, they weren’t able to actually do so. After the South Africa walloping, Buttler could only offer: “You come in with hopes of playing well, but we were short of that and were well beaten.”

He also said that, “throughout the first innings, lots of things didn’t go to plan,” and that, “bowling first was potentially a mistake.”

The team has changed, the strategy has changed. England haven’t at any point seemed like a well-drilled outfit.

As for this latest loss, in which Sri Lanka chased 157 in barely half their overs, Buttler said: “We’re not just losing, we’re losing by a long way and playing well short of our best. A huge disappointment.

“It’s never for a lack of effort, hard work or preparation. Look around the room, it’s not a lack of talent. We’ve got a lot of fantastic cricketers. It’s a huge frustration. This tournament has gone nowhere near the way we wanted it to.

“If there was one golden egg that we were missing then you’d hope to see that. But there is no secret, no one else can score your own runs or take your own wickets.

“That starts with the captain and I’ve been a long way short of my best. As a leader, you want to lead through your own performance and I’ve not been able to do that.

“You get on the plane to come to India in a really good position as a team, everything going to plan and it’s just not worked at all.”

Is that right though? Was everything really going to plan?


It seems to us England started this World Cup with no real weight of confidence – not genuine confidence; the kind borne of performance. They then quite quickly lost what little they had and uncertainty seems to have filled the void.

At times they’ve sounded like they fancied their chances, but they’ve been the kinds of noisy proclamations that smack of being a message to yourself rather than the opposition.

“I don’t see us as defending champions,” Buttler said at the outset. “We’re not defending anything. I want us to attack, so I don’t like the word defending.”

All very brash and positive, but it did rather sound like he felt the team needed a bit of a nudge.

In 2019, Eoin Morgan’s side were past their peak, but they had four years of feats and victories to buoy them when times got tough.

In the absence of consistent 50-over results since, Jos Buttler’s team have been trying to lean on the exact same stuff.


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. They’ve played more ODIs in the past four years than most teams have. I think there are other problems.

      1. I know, but as you mention, that’s what others have been saying. I think, as you think, that they are wrong.

  2. Well, there have been a lot of brain-fades, really big, fat ones, Rashid’s dismissal being one of the prime examples of recent decades.

    This suggests that the problem is more psychological than physical/lack of game play/etc. The players are at the top of the talent pile, but their brains just haven’t engaged singularly or collectively. You can get away with the occasional former, but not the latter.

    Thankfully, I just enjoy the cricket and don’t follow any one team. Good for one’s mental health that way.

    1. Psychological stemming from lack of results, we’re arguing. And lack of results from not taking any series seriously.

      There’s been barely any full on attempts to win a match in the last two years. The Australia squad was cobbled together – think there were three players from the first match who made this World Cup squad versus 10 or 11 of the Australians. The Bangladesh series was played at the same time as a Test series. The Netherlands series was played at the same time as a Test series. The whole squad sat out the Ireland series. Root’s routinely rested. Stokes retired.

      We get why and we don’t even necessarily disagree, but you can’t look at how many games “England” have played and gauge game time any more. It’s mostly just exhibition matches and B teams.

      1. Fair point, of course.

        At an almost complete tangent, the England team can at least take solice from the fact that their defeats haven’t been utterly sole destroying, not compared to the very recent T20 (women’s) series between Argentina and Chile. No crying for Argentina, but Chile…

        …I just want to group-hug them and tell them it’s all going to be okay.

        By date…

        I think by the third T20, they just wanted to go home – very quickly.

      2. Those Argentina v Chile scorecards are something to behold.

        Jessica Miranda scored more runs in the first match, 20-something, (the only half-decent batting performance by any Chilean player across all three matches), than the whole team scored in each of the last two matches.

        Most statistically bizarre is the last match, in which extras records more than 95% of the runs scored in the innings – or 21 times more runs than the batters. I don’t think I have ever soon that before on a scorecard.

        I hope the Chilean Women are taking as many positives as they can from the experience. Their statements, if along those lines would make fun reading.

        I couldn’t help thinking about Pedro, a Disney short about a baby Chilean mail plane, when reading your piece, Buttface.

      3. Incredible scorecards, Buttface. Thanks for bringing this series to my attention – so much to appreciate from a statistical perspective there.

      4. Thanks for the link Ged Ladd. It’s not much fun being an adult, so I appreciate chidren’s stories, and was pleased to see Pedro got home okay after his near-calamities just to deliver someone’s holiday postcard. There’s a moral there.

        As you say Mike, lots of nuggets to be found. You keep going back and finding more, such as Florencia Martinez in the first match being taken for 52 off her only over, not least due to the 17 no-balls. I guess the poor lady had to be rested after that mammoth spell.

  3. Certainly true that they have got out of winning habits in the 50 Over game, and that it was a very elderly side picked on promise that was mostly fulfilled in 2019 (and before that, to a great extent). It does not seem that any aspect of this campaign was attacked with the clarity of mind that Eoin Morgan brought to it. Mott and Buttler both seem to be earnest but dim, and their decision-making has been lamentable throughout (as well-chronicled en route). It does come to mind now that the criticism of Buttler for twice chosing to field in the midday sun was misguided, in that the team was quite as incapable of setting a target as of chasing one.

    1. We’d certainly agree with the lack of clarity but we’d cut them a bit of slack for how they’ve been hamstrung by unavailability and also a basic lack of useful information given no one they’ve been choosing from has been playing the format anywhere.

  4. “You get on the plane to come to India in a really good position as a team, everything going to plan and it’s just not worked at all.”

    This is a bold-faced lie. They came after an arduous journey in an economy class flight in utter chaos:

    Perhaps if the ECB had arranged a chartered flight for the players like the BCCI does for team India, things would have turned out better.

    1. Florencia Martinez bowled 17 no balls in her single over in the first match. That has to be a record for most no balls in an over, right?

      Remarkable stuff.

  5. I apologise for this being a long one, but I think my points are valid and maybe even require an article’s worth of intense analysis…(yeah actual analysis into trends etc) probably not something for this site though.

    I always have and will say that in my opinion whenever the white-ball team is good and doing well the red-ball team is useless and terrible and vice versa. Naturally, this is not always the case and there is a small overlap where both teams are good or both are terrible, but you look at the mental trends in your head and agree.

    Back in 2019, the white-ball team was doing well and the red-ball team was not as well (but not terrible). From then England won the world cup and clusterfucked into oblivion until the T20 world cup where they did a decent job. After that, they decided another clusterfuck would be awesome and have gotten to the massive lows we see currently. I often think this is something from the captaincy side and that is where the issue is, and I think that is right. Buttler has said that this was a continuation of Eoin Morgan’s side in the way they intended to go around the game and how they played. The problem with this is the fact that the end of the Eoin Morgan era was when he retired. From that point on there should have been a change of attitude, team and intention in every department but there wasn’t, it was a continuation of the Dad’s army that was already grey and wrinkle-faced by the 2019 CWC.

    In regards to the Test side, a similar set of events has occurred. The end of the Alister Cook era was not a massive high, but they weren’t a bad test side, they were doing okay and getting good results. Root came along as captain and things brightened, but never blindingly shone, I think this was also down to a change in person but not a change in attitude and intention and method of playing as there often is with personnel change. Root’s time as captain was rarely headline-grabbing for the amazing success it had, but in the last 18-24 months, it was headline-grabbing because of the miserable, terrible, incredible ability to lose every game. I think the summer of ’22, before the Ashes in AU was the end of the era for him, but they persisted out of ego and total desire not to end his time in a position of power. I would add that Root was a good captain and a good leader who spent time on the job and was an overall improvement in English cricket. As stated by Mr King Cricket, it without a doubt been a massive accomplishment for him and an ambition for him. From personal opinion and experience when something goes wrong and you are in charge, you feel the personal responsibility to try and fix that, and I would think Root would have felt the same. He would have wanted to get England back to winning and winning well. But sometimes that is not possible, and I think he should have bowed out before they reached such a low.

    As I listened to an audiobook by David Mitchell, ‘Dishonesty is the second-best policy’, he discusses the political situation in the UK and covers Theresa Mays’s end of time as a PM, and I feel it applies to Root. He mentions that becoming PM was the peak of her accomplishments and aims in life and so when she was nearing the end of her miserable mismanagement of the UK, she kept saying she would resign tomorrow or soon so that she could enjoy today. She wanted to show she was going to step down, but she knew this was her one and only chance of being PM and she did such a bad job she will never be it again. And that is what applies to Root, I think he knew that he wasn’t a great Captain, but wanted to continue for as long as possible until he was so bad, even the West Indies were far too much for him. The last 18 months of Root’s time as captain were terrible and although he should have resigned at the latest after the Ashes he didn’t, even though they were the worst ones in my memory. (Yes, I know of the ’90’s but I am young, that was before my time). Root was just holding out for as long as possible as he knew this was his one and only chance as captain of England.

    But notice how the white-ball team wasn’t doing too bad in that time period, think of the T20 World Cup, and Pakistan T20 and ODI series. But as Root decided that he would bow out on the biggest low possible, Stokes stepped in and turned the test side around and was amazing in doing so. As a result of this, he was pretty much condemning the white-ball team to reach another massive low which we see the end result in now. From here I would like to see the dad’s army and Jos Buttler retire from service, or at least from being 1st team automatic picks and we move on to a new era and bring in a whole new side and captain. Now you might say this was a bit hasty to say the white ball side needs to change from now. But what other option is there unless we want to go further into the darkness of a bad, losing team?

    Part of the issue currently is an old team, look at the likes of Willey, Bairstow, Root, Rashid, Ali, etc, etc. they are old both in age and time spent playing, and out of touch. They are all absolutely capable of winning games on their own, but it is time for a new era. They have quite simply been around too long. I say bring in the likes of Salt, Jacks, Duckett, Mahmood, Ahmed, Carse, etc. We need a whole change in players to give them time to get their own 1st XI playing that is an improvement on what we have here, give them time to play, and make them play every game and form the new identity before the next set of CWC’s come along.

    I apologise for the ramble, but maybe there is something in there that interests and can be a point for discussion.

    1. Just on that last paragraph, it’s striking how many of those younger players have been partially brought in but then not made it into the World Cup squad.

      We mentioned the 2022 Australia v England series above as an example of how England managed their playing resources leading up to this tournament. These were the two teams for the first match. This is less than a year ago.

      Players who are in the respective World Cup squads are in bold.


      David Warner
      Travis Head
      Steven Smith
      Marnus Labuschagne
      Alex Carey(wk)
      Marcus Stoinis
      Cameron Green
      Ashton Agar
      Pat Cummins(c)
      Mitchell Starc
      Adam Zampa


      Jason Roy
      Phil Salt
      Dawid Malan
      James Vince
      Sam Billings
      Jos Buttler(c)(wk)
      Liam Dawson
      Chris Jordan
      David Willey
      Luke Wood
      Olly Stone

      It’s not so much that Eoin Morgan’s team had 88 matches of prep leading into the 2019 World Cup. It’s more that the 42 matches Jos Buttler’s team(s) had were mostly compromised in some way. Even after that match, we had the Bangladesh series with no Test players and the Ireland series with no England World Cup players.

  6. There’s a really good point in there that I hadn’t really considered – in 2019, this team were already at the start of the downswing and not as good as they were for 8 months in late 2017 and 2018. But it feels like most of them have been pencilled in for this for 4 years. They knew that Plunkett and in all likelihood Morgan wouldn’t make this tournament, but what effort has been made to move on from any of the others?

    In fact, the only one that eventually was dropped was Roy, who it feels like was essentially dropped for playing TOO MUCH international cricket in the past 18 months. The vibe has very much felt like if you play and fail, you are in a far worse position than not playing at all. Surely that can’t be a healthy lead in. The Covid year and a bit is definitely a factor of course, but it’s just a struggle to work out the circumstances in which some of the players would have been dropped.

    What seems to have been fostered is an environemnt where ODI cricket is actually a bit of a chore. I obviosuly didn’t see this car crash coming, but I must admit the brief passages of play in the Ireland series had me yearning for a post WC clear out at the time – a group of youngish players that looked thrilled to be playing ODI cricket for England and where you weren’t quite sure of where the ceiling (or indeed the floor) was.

  7. One of the problems with this England team is that they do not play domestic 50 over games for their counties. I saw an amazing stat that Ben Stokes has not played that format for 9 years for his county, and Josh Butler 7 years. The rest of the team probably have not played domestic 50 overs cricket for their respective counties since the 100 competition was started.The 50 overs is really different from T20 and the hundred, and players have time to build an innings,and dare I say it is proper cricket.They are being bowled out with lots of overs left.
    You cant just mess about with formats without lots of practice and experiencing 50 overs during the season.
    I for one am not surprised with their performance .

    1. Think that’s of more significance for the next generation. International cricketers don’t generally play domestic 50-over – Kohli hasn’t played a game since 2013, for example. It’s similar for a good few of the biggest names.

  8. Is another factor that our ODI side differs far more from our Test side than most other nations in this world cup? There are maybe only 2-3 players who overlap. This has been necessitated by the amount of cricket we play, which is more than more countries. It seems we have taken the horses-for-courses separate squads approach much further than others have.

    1. With the way Bazball has pushed the Test and ODI games closer together, I wonder if the 2023 version of the the white ball revolution will see Test players (batters in particular) becoming the spine of the ODI team rather than it being seen as a “long T20”.

      Could quite easily see Duckett, Brook, Crawley and perhaps even Pope getting a good run depending on the level of clear out in a couple of weeks time. Probably too early to say with the bowling as I’m not sure we know what either the Test or the ODI bowling attack will look like in 9 months time, but not unreasonable that Potts, Carse, Mahmood and Tongue are challenging for both.

      1. Not sure about that, Mike.

        Brook, Root, Stokes, Bairstow, Woakes, Wood and Moeen all played Test cricket this summer and are in the World Cup squad. Crawley and Duckett are on the fringes of the ODI setup.

  9. TIL Lungi Ngidi’s middle name is True-man [sic].

    If he gets them through this chase he might live up to that outdated masculine ideal.

    1. Top 8 teams qualify in the World Cup table qualify for the ICC Champions Trophy so all is not lost for England yet. Bit harsh on Ireland, Zimbabwe and particularly the West Indies that they don’t even have the chance to go for it – their disastrous World Cup qualifying campaigns count doubly against them. But England, though tenth in the World Cup table, are still well in the race for the final qualifying slot – in hot competition with Bangladesh (ninth, also on two points) and the Netherlands (in that vital eighth position, but whose four points is the same as Sri Lanka, Pakistan and their next opponent, Afghanistan).

      Not sure that the thing most people were looking forward to about England’s World Cup defence is whether we can come back to snatch that eighth and final Champions Trophy qualifying place off the Dutch, but it’s a genuinely tight race, so gripping in its own little way if you’re prepared to temper expectations a bit. You definitely wouldn’t want England to miss out on the Champions Trophy and the chance for more 50-over fun in the subcontinent (2025 edition will be in Pakistan, all being well), would you?

      Astonishingly, despite their 309 run drubbing against Australia, the Dutch don’t just lead us on points but also on Net Run Rate, which shows just how serious their chances of getting to Pakistan are. Helps that they demolished Bangladesh quite comfortably themselves. Even bearing that in mind the dent that made, the only thing keeping Bangladesh ahead of England in the table is their NRR still being ahead of ours, which goes to show just how well England’s campaign has gone so far.

  10. So the only way to avoid the Champions Trophy is to finish 9th or 10th. It all makes sense now.

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