It was close… but not close enough for England, as they lost their second game in the World Cup to the surging West Indians, leaving them level on zero points from two games, at the bottom of the table with Bangladesh and Pakistan.
How much trouble are England in? Mathematically speaking, not that much: if they win all their remaining games, they still have a c. 99%* chance of qualifying. But that 1% is crucial – as things stand, their destiny is not in their own hands, so that even if they win all their remaining games, they could still find themselves missing out on a spot in the semi-finals.
More significantly, they’ve lost their “insurance policy” – with 3 of the big 5 still left to play (New Zealand, South Africa and India) if they lose again, they really are in a much more precarious situation. They would then very-much be dependent on other results, with only a 57% chance of qualifying even if they finished with 4 wins and 3 losses.
How did we get here? The general consensus against Australia was that England played pretty well – certainly their best ODI performance of the winter… though arguably that isn’t saying much after their Ashes drubbing!
But there were a few warning signs against Australia – they bowled 9 wide deliveries, conceding 21 runs (more than Australia’s margin of victory) in the process and the front-line seamers (Brunt, Shrubsole and Cross) took only 1 wicket, with Nat Sciver chipping in two more.
Against the Windies, the wides got worse – 13 wide deliveries, conceding 23 runs – and again the seam attack struggled to take wickets. After these two matches, the combined figures for the front-line seamers are 1-292.
The runs conceded to wides are a little bit of an occupational hazard of Amy Jones standing up to the stumps, which comes with some big advantages – not just the obvious one of more stumping opportunities, but because it forces the batters to be constantly worrying about being stumped, restricting their shot options coming out of the crease.
Nonetheless, 22 wide deliveries in two games is too many – Australia bowled just two versus England, and that should be the benchmark.
The inability to take wickets though is more worrying, because it has been “A Thing” since at least last summer – remember the last day of the Test v India? Yes, there were dropped catches; but they were mainly tough chances. (Nasser Hussein is very good – he is really leading this commentary team from the front, as he did so often when he captained England – but he was a little harsh on Lauren Winfield-Hill’s first-ball drop of Dottin – she had a long way to move, and only got anywhere near it because she was so sharp.)
Kate Cross can point to a spinner-like Economy Rate of 3.6 from 10 overs in mitigation; but the justification for playing her as well as Brunt, Shrubsole and Sciver – meaning England have a very samey, right-arm, medium paced, seam attack – is that she has been taking wickets in ODIs, not her economy.
Surely something has to change now, especially after Lauren Winfield-Hill failed again? As I’ve said before, LWH one of the BEST people in the game, but she’s not scoring runs in a spot that could be given-over to allowing England more bowling options, which they clearly need because Heather Knight was reduced to bowling herself for 7 overs, while clearly looking physically uncomfortable.
Here’s what I’d do for the next match, from the players available. (Remember, Lauren Bell is not available – she can’t be subbed into the squad unless someone gets COVID.):
Yes Davies is another right-arm medium, and Farrant’s left-arm would add a bit of Salt’N’Vinegar to the variety pack; but Davies does give you more control, which England also need.
England’s World Cup isn’t over by any means, and the result against Australia shows that they can mix it with the best on their day, but the current bowling line-up is looking stale. It’s probably unfair to single out Anya Shrubsole… but I’m going to do it anyway: she was getting a lot of swing, but it was the same swing every delivery, even the slower balls, and the batters know it’s coming, so it didn’t trouble them.
And now it’s England who are in trouble.
* The exact maths employed here assumes no games are rained off (because there are still too many scenarios remaining (about 10.5 billion!) to do the numbers including rain on my little laptop!) but the percentages will be broadly correct.
There is a slight ‘trick’ you can use to avoid massive computing processing.
If we take the simplified case of ignoring washouts, then I think there are 167 final standings possible (ie 14-12-10-8-6-4-2-0 or 12-12-10-6-6-6-2-2 or 8-8-8-8-6-6-6-6 etc etc) – at the outset of the competition. Clearly this can reduce as matches are played – most notably if all teams lost a match because all the cases starting ‘14’ would become invalid.
There are only two cases where 10 pts lands the team in 5th place and in both those cases the top 4 teams are also on 10 pts so NNR determines the places.
The above fact can also be established by pure logic. If a team ends up 5th on 10pts then there are 4 teams above them. If those 4 teams collectively acquire more than 40 pts then the top 5 teams collectively acquire more than 50 pts leaving less than 6 pts for the last 3 teams – but that is impossible because the bottom 3 teams must acquire at least 6 pts collectively from the 3 matches they play against each other.
So, the top 4 teams can’t acquire collectively more than 40 pts so they all must be on 10pts as well because if any are on more than 10pts then one other must be on less than 10pts which violates the fact they are placed above a 5th placed team that is on 10pts.
So we now know that a 5th placed team on 10pts ties with the top 4 on 10pts each. Given there are only 2 permutations for the results of the matches involving the bottom 3 teams (ie 4-2-0 and 2-2-2) we have now proven that there are only 2 finals standings where a 5th placed team ends up on 10pts and these are 10-10-10-10-10-4-2-0 and 10-10-10-10-10-2-2-2.
What about a 4th placed 10 pts ? Well the above proves that there are only 2 cases where a 4th placed 10pts does not have more points than the 5th placed team. Therefore except for those 2 cases a team ending up 4th on 10pts qualifies.
So, I agree, England are not yet in trouble but they have used up a lot of their slack and clearly not taken to heart the message from T20 World Cup by putting themselves at the mercy of the rain Gods. One more loss ramps up the risk of needing NRR to qualify so they need to bear that in mind (at least their 2 losses caused minimal NRR damage).
Top mathsing! Weirdly, I had already done something similar to prove that you could qualify with only 3 wins, but didn’t make the “leap” to using that to prove the scenarios more generally.
Yes a team can qualify (without needing NRR) on 3 wins (eg 14-12-8-6-6-4-4-2) and can qualify via NRR on 2 wins (12-12-12-4-4-4-4-4 – the only possible combination).
Here’s the complete set.
If you get 12 pts, you qualify (not relevant to England!)
If you get 10 pts there are 108 of the 167 combinations that contain a team on 10 pts and the team qualifies absolutely in 106 cases and requires NRR in 2 others.
If you get 8 pts there are 116 of the 167 combinations that contain a team on 8 pts and the team qualifies absolutely in 66 cases, requires NRR in 45 cases and fails to qualify in 5 cases.
If you get 6 pts there are 116 of the 167 combinations that contain a team on 6 pts and the team qualifies absolutely in 5 cases, requires NRR in 45 cases and fails to qualify in 66 cases.
If you get 4 pts there are 108 of the 167 combinations that contain a team on 4 pts and the team qualifies absolutely in 0 cases, requires NRR in 2 cases and fails to qualify in 106 cases.
If you get 2 pts, you fail to qualify
Don’t you just love symmetry in Maths !
I agree that Winfield-Hill is a problem. But is replacing her with a bowler the solution?
Also, Amy Jones is another problem.
I take your point that standing up can make batters concerned about being stumped. Yet in recent matches Jones hasn’t been performing any stumpings (except in the Test match – one stumping). So why is she continuing to stand up, when that tactic is leaking so many runs?
Jones’s recent batting has also been sub-par. I know she did well in domestic matches last English summer, but her batting in more recent international matches has been disappointing.
Whoever ended up succeeding Sarah Taylor was always going to find her a hard act to follow. But Jones played for England for years as a specialist batter, so her recent batting woes are maybe just as surprising as Winfield-Hill’s.
As for the West Indies, anyone who thinks that they’re just a trio of superstars and an octet of support actresses should take note that the player of this match was not one of the trio.
Unfortunately, too many not at the top of their game too often!
LWH totally misread Dottins lob, crucially taking 2 steps to the right too early causing her to be out of position and making a pigs ear of it! More worrying was her ( seemingly) laughing about it afterwards?
However, the loss is not all her fault. Still too many wides, what are the coaches doing to stop it? It is just the wide ball, but the added extra runs which go from them.
Personally, I think we are in a bit of trouble to get through.
The fact Jones hasn’t performed many stumping suggests that either (a) she is missing chances or (b) the batsman is not leaving the crease. Given its not (a) then it suggests the tactic is working and the batsman is staying put. This restricts the range of shots a batman can play and increases the chances of an LBW. The downside is that certain edges will go past the keeper that would otherwise be taken. There is no absolute right and wrong but if the keeper is up then the bowler must bowl straight !
Trying to work out who is or isn’t batting well is complicated. Based on their last 11 (because Dunkley has only batted 11 times) ODI innings Winfield-Hill has scored 267 runs, Dunkley has 229, Wyatt has 213 and Jones has 194. This tells one story but the context of each innings, batting position and quality of opposition (and even dropped catches) complicates matters no end. Thankfully I’m not a selector.
This was a disappointing performance from England, that really left much to be desired. There were elements of England’s game that were simply unacceptable, and just not good enough, albeit against a buoyant WI side who performed well on the day. There was not enough early intensity in the field and England let the early dropped catches nag away at them. The opening bowlers have offered little threat, and yet have been persisted with for too long on each occasion, bowling 4 or 5 overs come what may. There didn’t seem to be a viable plan – what were those 2 fielders deep on the leg side in the powerplay for – and if there was it was executed poorly.
England relied on, and indeed lived off, that “miracle” over from Ecclestone which yielded 3 wickets and should have restricted the WI innings to sub-200 levels, for too long. England let the somewhat unlikely partnership of Nation and Campbelle blossom, again allowing things to drift and failing to execute their plans well enough in the final few overs. It was a very sloppy bowling performance from all but Ecclestone and Knight, and possibly Cross as she bowled well, but gave away lots of wides. What have England been working on and why has there been such a lack of impact from the bowlers, Ecclestone excluded? A lack of options is a factor – another spinner is needed in the side as well as an alternate opening bowler.
The batting was barely much better. England’s top order showed a lack of innovation, patience and played too many risky aerial shots. They flattered to deceive. Jones looks completely shot of all confidence. Beaumont again played well, as did Dunkley and Wyatt, both bringing urgency when it was needed, but where were England’s sweep shots today? There weren’t many on display and England got caught inside the circle too often. There were some unlucky dismissals like the non-striker run out of Cross, and Dottin’s one-handed screamer, but I still think too many wickets are being lost and I’ve said before, batters need to be more selfish and preserve their wickets until a later stage of the innings (almost irrespective of the run rate). England at least have a few days to work all this out. I expect an improvement after the little break, but at the moment it’s difficult to envisage the performance bump that will be needed to overcome NZ, Ind and/or SA.
We can talk about the mitigation all day long, of West Indies playing unexpectedly well, of England having just played a demoralising Ashes series then getting locked up in quarantine again and not having much warm up, then having to play the Aussies again first up. And let’s face it, it was always going to be an ask to win back the Ashes in Aus then go back-to-back at the World Cup, a bridge too far and almost certainly not happening. And that’s fine. But the manner of the defeats has been poor, and demoralising for fans. England will just be playing for pride soon enough if this continues. Even Pakistan and Bangladesh may offer too stiff a challenge. That really would be a hellish World Cup for England, but it’s a stark reality that may have to be confronted if big improvements aren’t quickly made. Then will come the inevitable reckoning. I have little confidence that England can qualify from here on in I’m afraid. CricketHer’s continued assertions that England definitely are the world’s 2nd best team (which I was never really that certain about!) are starting to look like a flight of fancy.
Without a win for our sides in such a long time, it’s a depressing time to be an England fan right now. And I thought 2022 as a year couldn’t be any worse than 2021. It’s not going well so far!
I think rain has to be added into the equations, sorry. Its not a wet time of year but this is a wet year here, if that makes sense. And in March the wet doesn’t dry as well. No more games in Dunedin, but believe it or not it rains less there in March than it does at Mt Maunganui.
Really just need Australia to lose a match or have one rained out somewhere (or both), to make it a really intriguing round-robin
Also of note – I see if India make the semis, they play in Semifinal 2 no matter which position they qualify (presumably for TV purposes). That’s another wrinkle
Speaking of maths, it would be fascinating to see some of the serious statistical analysis applied to mens’ cricket also applied to womens (or made public, I suspect it already is done)
Reading “Hitting against the Spin”, they id 3 things that influence performance at a World Cup tournament: A winning record; Batting strength; Experience (total caps).
In terms of England – are they perhaps erring on the side of bowling strength vs batting? And especially type of batting – given the pitches, climate etc it seems to be a slow bowlers’ tournament
(Personally, I’m heartened that NZ have partially followed this, they are usually picking batting heavy XIs now. But leaving experience in the form of Kasperek and Ebrahim is a problem – especially as they are both slow bowling options.)
Play poorly and you will, and deserve to, lose. Too many games in the summer were lost in shoddy fashion. The Ashes ODIs were painful. And now this.
Am I going mad or has England’s fielding got worse in recent years. I remember sitting in the stands at Worcester when England lost that game against India, and thinking what.the.hell.just.happened. The way England closes out a game, whether with bat or ball, has been concerning for a while.
The full team performance has been lacking for years. Feats of individual brilliance have been the difference that have dragged England over the line in almost every victory. That can never work as a long term strategy. You need a functioning unit, who look like they are on a journey together, reading the same roadmap in the same car, rather than all arriving at a destination from different roads and having a game old crack at it.
I can’t remember many games where England won convincingly against opposition who played WELL! So it’s hard to gauge where the team is truly at.
The coach, the skip, the leaders in the team… what are they saying and doing for the team right now I wonder. They really need to find that next level within themselves as a team because fans are losing hope, and opposition has absolutely no fear.
I don’t want to single out players too much at this stage but I gotta say it hurts to see Amy Jones so bereft of batting form. Probably my favourite England batter, to watch her scoring freely is like watching a painting coming to life in a casually brilliant artist’s hands. Being the preeminent keeper must be an albatross round the neck when you can’t score runs and seem not to know how to find them again.