Cricket World Cup: Lessons still to be learnt for England
England’s World Cup campaign is finally underway thanks to the 119-run win they secured over Scotland in their third Pool A outing.
Moeen Ali was the star of the show with a brisk 128 that dripped with class, while Steven Finn exorcised the demons of his New Zealand nightmare with figures of 3-26.
There is, though, no reason to get carried away. This was, in summary, an important result over an Associate nation rather than a chest-puffing performance to make others take notice.
Lessons are still to be learned for the English if they want their campaign to extend into the knockout stages, three of which are detailed below:
Show batting-order flexibility
While Ali blazed a trail at the top of the order with a strike rate of 119 the rest of the England side looked rigid, worried and hamstrung in their approach.
Eoin Morgan and Jos Buttler are exceptions to that, with the pair both scoring at better than a run a ball, but Morgan only came to the crease in the 35th over and Buttler 10 after that.
Considering England were 172-1, then 201-2, the situation was perfect for either man to come up the order and accelerate the scoring rate, neither did and only 102 runs were added for six wickets after Ali departed.
Morgan maintains that his batting lineup is very flexible, but at the moment that feels like hot air.
Maintain faith in the bowlers
Steven Finn has been England’s best bowler since the side arrived in Australia to prepare for this World Cup, yet there was talk of him losing his place after his two overs in the thumping to New Zealand went for 49 runs.
He was offered a second chance against Scotland and honoured the trust shown in him with a fine spell and is the odds-on favourite to be England’s leading wicket-taker at the tournament.
Although the bowlers aren’t completely blameless for the poor start to the World Cup (their death bowling still needs work), it is largely the batsmen who need to find form quicker and dropping Finn would have been counter-productive. That they didn’t is a big positive.
Use the momentum
Although this wasn’t a performance with which to proclaim England’s new found confidence to win the World Cup, it was an important step in achieving their first goal: Pool A qualification.
Finding a winning streak at the right time is often enough to propel sides to World Cup finals and England will be right back at square one should their next fixture, against Sri Lanka on Saturday, ends in defeat.
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