London, Delhi, Mumbai (28/10 – 10)
England’s title defense in the 2023 Cricket World Cup is practically over, after their fourth defeat in five group-stage matches. Jos Buttler and Co. are coming to the tournament in India as the defending champions, having won their first title in history with the 2019 edition. The 2023 Cricket World Cup turns out to be a disaster for Matthew Mott’s team.
From day one onwards, England’s show in the tournament has been painfully dismal, losing by 9 wickets at the hand of New Zealand in the 5 October opening match. They seemed to have gotten back on track after a 137-run win over Bangladesh, in their second match on 10 October.
Alas, the world number three got humiliated by Afghanistan, who won by 69 runs in their third match on 15 October. England put in another poor performance on 21 October when South Africa won by 229 runs over them – marking one of England’s all-time worst defeats.
“It is a real low point for us. It felt like a bad dream,” said England coach Matthew Mott after the record loss. “It’s really clear for us now. We just need to win every game we’re in. We’ve got a lot of work to do; we know that. We are not happy with where we are at, but we’re going to have to turn it around.”
Instead, England’s World Cup is all but over after an 8-wicket defeat by Sri Lanka on 26 October. England is not mathematically out but now must win all of their remaining games. – facing unbeaten host India on Sunday, in the fond hope an unlikely set of results go their way.
“It’s incredibly tough, an incredibly disappointing tournament. As captain, you feel that a lot,” said Jos Buttler. “We’ve been short of our best by a very long way. I’m disappointed for myself and the boys that we’ve not shown a good account of ourselves. I can’t fault the guys’ efforts; we’re just a long way short of our best. A captain must lead from the front and play well. I’ve been a long way short of my best and that’s filtered through the rest.”
While a full half of the 2023 team are veterans of the 2019 winning squad, the likes of Buttler, Mark Wood, Ben Stokes, Adil Rashid, and Moeen Ali could not save England from their first-ever loss to Afghanistan, their biggest-ever defeat by runs to South Africa, and an 8-wicket hammering by Sri Lanka. Note that England has an ageing team, with 11 of its 15 players in their 30s.
Former Captain Nasser Hussain called it “the end of an era” – an appraisal hard to argue, given all the signs. “I wouldn’t have changed the side before this tournament but I would definitely be thinking about changing it now, because it does feel like the end of an era,” said Hussain.
Interestingly, England did win the 2019 Cricket World Cup after overhauling their team from the 2015 edition, which they got knocked out in the group stage. Is it not time to repeat that shuffle, changing players ahead of the next World Cup?