Cricket World Cup 2023: England badly need leadership – and worse could be yet to come

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The fireworks exploded in Lucknow in celebration of India’s victory, and England’s hopes of restoring any pride disappeared as they faded into the night sky.

India had secured a resounding victory against the double world champions and are on course to lift the trophy themselves in just a few weeks, while England crashed to yet another catastrophic defeat, this time by 100 runs.

England had hit rock bottom, or maybe the shelf just a fraction above that with a match against Australia scheduled for the following weekend. Another humiliation against the old enemy would just rub salt into already gaping wounds.

The blame cannot be pinned on a single figure – player or coach – it has been a complete failure to perform across the board.

It could be capped off if England are unable to finish in the top eight, something that even for the most pessimistic of fans was inconceivable before the tournament started, with only that top octet qualifying for the Champions Trophy in February 2025.

It does not help restore faith in the current leadership that Matthew Mott, England’s head coach, admitted in the post-match press conference that he only learned “an hour and a half ago” that the side had to finish in the top eight to qualify for that next 50-over competition.

Not qualifying may also have long-lasting repercussions when the ICC decide where to allocate funds for the next cycle, while the last edition of the Champions Trophy in 2017 had a solid prize fund of $4.5m, with the 2025 tournament’s likely to be even higher.

Eoin Morgan, who captained England to the title four years ago in 2019, said after the 100-run defeat to India that “something else is going on” and that the dressing room was “unsettled”. That seems more conceivable than the idea that some of the nation’s best-ever white ball players have suddenly all collectively forgotten how to score runs.

Mott and captain Jos Buttler do not seem to hold the answers either, with the latter admitting after one of the defeats he “could not put my finger on” why the loss occurred. The collapse in form has taken everyone by surprise.

As recently as the pre-tournament warm-up matches in India, Moeen Ali scored 50, Jonny Bairstow 34, and Buttler 30. Those were scores that could only have been dreamed of against India on Sunday.

Lucknow erupted in celebration of India’s win over England


Before departing for the tournament, England won their last two matches against New Zealand comfortably, one by 100 runs and the other by a mammoth 181.

There were some signs that everything was not perfect in those matches, England were too reliant on individual players to perform, Dawid Malan scored 100 and 97 in those matches while Ben Stokes hit a record 182, but there was no indication of what was to come.

Those old enough to remember have said it feels like the despair of England’s fortunes in the 1990s, while for the generation of fans born since, it is a completely new low.

Buttler spoke regularly ahead of the tournament of loyalty, insisting the team was not a “Dad’s Army”, and has kept faith with his ageing squad, but maybe too much faith was put into players past their prime.

Ultimately, a failure to qualify for the 2025 Champions Trophy would be an abject failure and may signify the start of a white-ball reset 2.0.


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