Five things England must do to avoid crashing out of the World Cup | Tim de Lisle

More imaginative selections are required, fielding must be ruthless and Joe Root given a new role

Make more use of the squad

Eoin Morgan is a fearless captain but quite a cautious selector. His response to a limp display against Sri Lanka was to pick an unchanged team. Liam Plunkett, the master of the middle overs, has been sidelined. Tom Curran, England’s most incisive bowler of the past year, has become the invisible man. Either of them would take more wickets than Moeen Ali and probably make more runs than James Vince.

Cast themselves in a new role

England went into this World Cup as the world No 1s (rightly) and the bookies’ favourites (wrongly, because they had been World Cup wallies ever since 1996). Now they have been toppled from both pedestals, which should suit them. They can come at India as underdogs, guerrillas, jokers tormenting the grandees. It may not work: Morgan’s England could be like Belgium’s footballers, all talent and no trophies. But they will have more fun playing David than Goliath.

Build a stronger platform

The best partnership-builder in this World Cup is an Englishman – Joe Root, who has added a hundred with five different partners, including Chris Woakes. That happened after Root opened in place of the injured Jason Roy, a simple fix which England then abandoned. Both openers must be able to score a century, so Root makes more sense than Vince, with his casual cameos. The same may be true of Roy, even if he is on one leg.

Stamp out the sloppiness

Fielding is the measure of a team’s morale and togetherness. England, usually top-class in this department, have been patchy in the World Cup. To drop the odd catch may be regarded as a misfortune; to drop a dozen looks like fecklessness. On Sunday, whatever else happens, Morgan has to coax his men into being predatory in the ring and prehensile in the cordon.

Fortune favours the brainy

Morgan’s mantra is “courage, unity, respect”. His England have been brave enough to keep on blasting. They still need that courage but they also have to be canny, as they were against India last summer when Root gradually decoded Kuldeep Yadav’s wristy allsorts. Those abstract nouns can give way to clear instructions. Bat first, make 250; pitch it up, keep a slip in. And do the sportsman’s favourite thing: prove the doubters wrong.


Tim de Lisle

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Alex Hales and Jofra Archer in focus as England prepare for World Cup
Alex Hales must pick himself up from his drugs ban while Jofra Archer is already flying high but it is to be hoped both can justify inclusion in the squad

Vic Marks

27, Apr, 2019 @9:59 AM

Article image
Ben Stokes magic conjures higher hopes of England success | Vic Marks
The win over South Africa could not have gone much better for England – and that catch galvanised an unexpected amount of interest in the Cricket World Cup

Vic Marks

01, Jun, 2019 @10:00 AM

Article image
Jason Roy sparkles again as England leave Bangladesh seeing stars | Andy Bull
Jason Roy smashed 153 to set the tone for a 106-run win for England against Bangladesh and make a point to the selectors with the Ashes looming

Andy Bull at Cardiff Wales Stadium

08, Jun, 2019 @7:29 PM

Article image
England’s world-beating cricketers are suffering the curse of nation’s gilded few | Tanya Aldred
As the subsequent fortunes of England’s football and rugby union teams of 1966 and 2003, and now the side that triumphed at Lord’s last year show, time is not always kind

Tanya Aldred

02, Feb, 2020 @8:00 AM

Article image
Welcome glimpse of England’s Cricket World Cup charge would still infuriate | Vic Marks
The bemusement of Liam Plunkett and co is understandable – England’s glory bid should be available to all on free-to-air TV

Vic Marks

06, Jul, 2019 @11:00 AM

Article image
Jason Roy century sets up comfortable World Cup victory for England
England put their defeat by Pakistan behind them as Bangladesh failed valiantly to match a huge score, Jason Roy hitting a brilliant 153

Vic Marks at Cardiff Wales Stadium

08, Jun, 2019 @6:05 PM

Article image
England and New Zealand battle to be Cricket World Cup trophy’s new name | Vic Marks
Black Caps are underdogs but the Lord’s pitch could offer bowlers the chance to disrupt excellence of Bairstow and Roy

Vic Marks at Lord’s

13, Jul, 2019 @5:00 PM

Article image
Eoin Morgan says England World Cup victory would inspire the nation
The England captain has called on his players to deliver a memorable sporting moment that inspires the nation by winning their first World Cup at Lord’s

Ali Martin at Lord’s

13, Jul, 2019 @3:59 PM

Article image
Champagne moments have popped up everywhere in an intoxicating summer | Emma John
A scrapbook of cricket memories would include the miracle of Headingley and much, much more

Emma John

15, Sep, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
Inflatables and influencers: Make Cricket Cool Again or make it free? | Emma John
The Cricket World Cup does not need McFly and Love Island to be cool. It is just lost behind Sky’s paywall

Emma John

24, Feb, 2019 @9:00 AM