NASSER HUSSAIN: England are guilty of standing still

NASSER HUSSAIN: England are guilty of standing still and their rivals have cruised past them at the World Cup… but Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott deserve the chance to put things right

  • England won just three of their nine matches during shocking World Cup
  • It didn’t help that one-day cricket has taken so much of a back seat in England
  • A reset of the 50-over team is needed with a blend of old and new players  

England are on their way home following a disastrous defence of their 50-over World Cup title in India, which saw them lose six of their nine group games.

They looked undercooked and complacent, making a succession of poor decisions while failing to play to anywhere near their best. 

Wisden Editor LAWRENCE BOOTH spoke to Mail Sport’s NASSER HUSSAIN after England’s World Cup came to an end in Kolkata.

England performed poorly in their defence of the 50-over Cricket World Cup in India 

Jos Buttler’s side managed to win just three of their nine matches to exit the tournament early 

BOOTH: England finished strongly in the end but it made no difference to their chances of qualifying. How do you assess the first seven matches, where everything went wrong?

NASSER: They looked like a team that had stood still for a while and there’ll be reasons for that. 

Whatever they’ve done out here, we shouldn’t take away from what’s happened across the last seven or eight years because we’re produced some of the great white ball cricketers. 

I don’t think I would have picked anyone different from the squad they picked but because of the focus on Test cricket with Rob Key, Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes, I think Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott have had to take a backstage look at things.

When you do that and stay still and think that you’re fine because you won the tournament the last time, anyone in sport will tell you that the others are improving all the time and they will go past you. 

And the likes of India, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have all gone past them.

Coach Matthew Mott (left) and Buttler deserve the chance to put things right for England

BOOTH: Against Pakistan, England were 72 for none in the powerplay. That was their highest in the whole tournament. 

Eoin Morgan’s side were famed for those quick starts. Why were England unable to get that momentum going this time?

NASSER: Some of it has do with the toss actually and if you look at the last two games, Buttler definitely changed his policy. 

Up until then, they had seen themselves as a chasing side. They relied on the statisticians and looked at the stats at grounds and most of the grounds in India will tell you that the dew comes down, the ball gets wet and skids on and the longer the game goes on, the easier it is to bat. 

But in all of the games they won, they batted first. I think the New Zealand game on the opening day spooked them when the Kiwis chased down 280 with like a week to spare! 

So England thought ‘we’ll just chase every time’ and that put their openers under pressure because under the lights, the ball has zipped around here, like we saw against India and South Africa. 

England’s World Cup defence began with a heavy defeat to New Zealand in Ahmedabad 

The Kiwis chased down their victory target of 283 with 82 balls left, losing only one wicket

I think that change in policy could have come a little earlier. When you go on IPL stats, you have to remember that those games are all night games and finish at around 11pm local time. 

All of these games start early afternoon and are done by eight or nine in the evening when the conditions are different. 

That’s something Buttler can look at – just going on gut feel as a captain and not always on what the stats are telling you.

BOOTH: It’s less than a year since England won the T20 World Cup in Australia, under Buttler and Mott. Where do you see that pairing, in terms of the four-year cycle leading up to 2027?

NASSER: Well with all of the criticism, you have to remember that two months ago Rob Key’s stock could not be higher in world sport, with the way he had transformed English cricket and Test match cricket. 

No one was complaining about the World Cup winning captain and no one was complaining about Mott. 

Ben Stokes performed well  but it remains to be seen if he continues in one-day cricket

They were quite pleased that they’d taken a backwards stage to McCullum and Stokes but obviously now with how poor they’ve been here, they’re under pressure and they have to have a bit of a reset and a rethink and decide which of these players are going to go on the journey with them and which are going to be left behind. 

The interesting calls are the ones who haven’t been picked and deciding which of those senior players who have been world class are going to carry on with that journey. 

And I do think that Mott and Buttler should be the ones in charge of that journey.

BOOTH: If you were the white-ball captain planning for the 2027 World Cup, would you want a clean slate?

NASSER: I’ve never been one for a clean slate. It happened with me when I was captain. I heard things like ‘Get rid of Thorpe, get rid of Caddick, get rid of Tuffnell, get rid of Atherton, get rid of Stewart.’ And it was like ‘get all the youngsters in.’ 

Remember that some of these players are still world class white-ball players. Sometimes we go all in but now is the time to make calm informed decisions about who actually wants to carry on. 

England’s managing director Rob Key was honest about the team’s shortcomings in India 

Franchises will be offering these players all sorts too so it’s about who wants to go on that journey till 2027. I wouldn’t axe all of them. 

It’s about getting that blend of senior players with youngsters like Phil Salt, Will Jacks, Ben Duckett and co and going again.

BOOTH: If England looked at this tournament and thought what they could learn for next time, what would the biggest lessons be?

NASSER: It’s hard for England because of the timing of World Cup’s on the back of an Ashes series. There’s so much focus on the Ashes that come the end of it, you are mentally exhausted. 

You look at players like Chris Woakes and Mark Wood and both were mentally and physically exhausted. So it’s about planning across formats. 

There was a white ball reset under Morgan. Then there was a red ball reset under Stokes. Actually what we could do is have a reset across the board, which is what Indian cricket does really well. 

Mark Wood was among those who struggled in India having played in the Ashes series 

We need to give each format equal care and attention all the way through. 

It’s hard for England with the timing of a lot of these World Cup’s at the end of the summer so it’s about never taking your eye off any format because if you do, sides will go past you when you think that you’re okay. 

But that is not easy to do when you’ve got so many players playing all the time.

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