Eoin Morgan has pointed out before that form and momentum in T20 cricket can change as fast as a poor delivery flies over the boundary rope.
After a chastening defeat to South Africa confirmed a 2-0 series defeat in the format just a month out from the World Cup, the England captain sorely needs that theory to ring true.
Under the naturalised Irishman’s guidance England’s young side has transformed the perception of the team in white ball cricket. No longer are the Three Lions regarded as old-fashioned, one-dimensional bores.
But if the nine-wicket loss at the Wanderers confirmed anything, it was that there are still some ways to go before this unit can be considered consistent enough to challenge for major honours.
In both T20s against Faf du Plessis’ side, but most startlingly in Johannesburg, England collapsed with the bat.
With such a deep lineup, their commitment to keeping the accelerator pressed firmly to the floor is both understandable and admirable. However, the number of failures that strategy will bring is likely to rival the successes, if not outweigh them. Many of the batters have become desperately short of form in T20 cricket as a result.
A bowling unit that lacks a steady hand to clog the opposition’s run rate brings a great deal of pressure to even the coolest of customers. Chris Jordan – the hero of a ice-cool super over performance against Pakistan in November – experienced that first hand against South Africa, conceding 48 runs in 2.4 overs at the Wanderers.
Unfortunately for Morgan, there is precious little game-time to correct these shortcomings before the World Cup campaign kicks off against the West Indies on March 16.
The squad have just two warm up fixtures scheduled before that World Cup opener in India, during which confidence could easily fall further.
As a first international tournament since the formation of Morgan’s new, youth-centric era, this World T20 is likely to come too soon for England.
It would be far better to treat the competition as a vital teaching tool used to help develop the side into future 50 and 20-over champions.
England are rated as 6/1 chances to prevail in the tournament.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.