38th over: England 204-6 (Stokes 41, Woakes 7) This is pretty hard to watch. Great teams lose confidence all the time, but rarely if ever to this extent. The last boundary they scored was
on 24th October in the 29th over.
“Rob,” says Gareth Wilson, “is it cowardly to pray for rain?”
37th over: England 200-6 (Stokes 40, Woakes 4) Woakes edges de Leede safely for a single to bring up the England 200. They could yet, despite everything, post a matchwinning total.
“Buttler struggles when he has to think,” says Dean. “When he plays T20, he just goes out and swings at everything, which is basically what everybody does. Fifty overs sees him in two minds – it’s the same problem that saw his ejection from the Test team.”
I don’t agree with that. He certainly thought too much for most of his Test career, though that was down to self-doubt rather than any lack of tactical awareness. He’s like a great internet writer who clams up when they are asked to do something for Big Paper, and yes I am talking about (redacted). Buttler’s ODI record is extraordinary, full of innings that were as intelligent as they were brutal. He’s just in horrible form. They all are. We all are: look at the state of the world!
36th over: England 194-6 (Stokes 37, Woakes 1) The new batter is Chris Woakes, who – and you’ll like this – has a problem with his helmet strap. He’s smiling as he talks to the umpire and Scott Edwards shows no interest in appealing. I’m pretty sure Woakes was ready inside two minutes anyway.
Another meek dismissal. This time it was a languid, one-handed drive that was well taken by de Leede at long on. Moeen goes for four from 15 balls.
35th over: England 191-5 (Stokes 35, Moeen 4) Stokes pulls de Leede to deep midwicket, where O’Dowd saves two runs with a deft bit of work.
Sky Sports have apparently had enough of England. The coverage cuts to a Vodafone advert just as Moeen Ali is lining up a pull, though he’s still at the crease when we return to Pune. The squeeze continues: 59/4 in the last 15 overs.
34th over: England 188-5 (Stokes 32, Moeen 4) Colin Ackermann continues to eat up overs with his occasional offspin. He’s doing a fine jobo: 6-0-23-0, and he still hasn’t been hit for a boundary.
“Would England winning here be an upset in the context of this World Cup?” writes Onno Giller. “I am half Dutch/half English, and happy to say that I am finally able to watch a match in the World Cup as this is one of two free-to-air matches, with Dutch commentary, available in Netherlands. The rest of the matches I have avidly followed through live texts. At this point my frustration with England is high, yet enjoying this one as a neutral of sorts.”
I’m not sure we’re at the point where an England win over the Netherlands would be an upset. England are a much better team, all things being equal, so they would really have to stink the place out to become outsiders. Wait, hang on.
I suppose there has been enough of a swing in this tournament that a win for either side today wouldn’t be a shock. And that in itself is extraordinary.
33rd over: England 186-5 (Stokes 31, Moeen 3) Another quiet over from Van Meekeren – two singles and a wide. Looks like Stokes and Moeen are trying to build a platform for a slogorama at the death. How the hell has it come to this?
“The sun has set on a great white-ball team – but does the past month suggest the shadows are lengthening for the current Test team?” says Max Williams. “Root, Stokes, YJB, Woakes, Wood all had stinkers. I’ve always had a nasty hunch that this summer’s Ashes signified the end of something rather than the start.
“Incidentally, how do we reckon the World Cup would’ve gone had we literally just played the Test team? And more pertinently, recruited the Test coach? We play Test matches like ODIs and ODIs like T20s – so you have to assume the Bazball mentality would’ve done OK, provided we brought Baz along. Obviously there’s a lot of player overlap but the camaraderie, joy and fearlessness that define the Test side has been sorely lacking here. Or maybe everyone just needed a break and this disaster was inevitable. Who knows?”
Well, quite. I think you’re right in that we’ll never see an England Test team with more than six or seven of the XI that beat Australia at the Oval. But though it’s unlikely, it’s not beyond the realms that the England team for the first Test at the Gabba in 2025-26 will include Duckett, Crawley, Root, Stokes, Brook, Bairstow and Wood.
32nd over: England 183-5 (Stokes 30, Moeen 2) England have scored 53/4 in the last 12 overs.
“I’d imagine England would prefer not to throw out the baby and the bath water, so how does this look as a sort of interim post-WC ODI XI?” says Mike Jakeman. “Duckett, Malan, Crawley, Root, Brook, Buttler, Jacks, Ahmed, Wood, Atkinson, Archer (or Tongue).”
I like it, though I wouldn’t have Root lower than No3 and I might move Duckett down to play against the spinners. I would personally include Rashid and rotate with Rehan Ahmed, or play both in certain games, though I can see both sides of that argument. The only other thing is that ideally you’d like a new-ball expert who swings it.
All that said, for the Caribbean series in December I would rest Root, Buttler, Wood and probably Rashid. Play a new side in that series, bar maybe Malan, and go from there.
31st over: England 180-5 (Stokes 25, Moeen 1) Under normal circumstances that would be an excusable shot from Buttler – right idea, bad execution and all that. But given how much he has struggled, maybe he needed to be a bit smarter and give himself 20-30 balls to get his eye in.
Or maybe it’s just one of those spells than even the greatest players have to endure. As he walked off he throw his bat up in the air as if to say, well, fuck it.
Another horrible dismissal for Jos Buttler. He tries to drive Van Meekeren over mid-off, a shot he has played hundreds of times during his career, and clunks it straight to Nidamanuru.
30th over: England 178-4 (Stokes 27, Buttler 5)
29th over: England 174-4 (Stokes 25, Buttler 3) Buttler, England’s greatest white-ball batter, has had an inexplicably dreadful tournament, with scores of 43, 20, 9, 15, 8, 10 and 1. He has a small moment of fortune when a flashing cut bounces not far short of third man. Netherlands have to attack Buttler here, because one of these days he will get his eye in, and when that happens somebody is going to suffer.
Stokes, who looks as fluent as at any stage in this World Cup, swivel-pulls de Leede smoothly for four more. He has 25 from as many balls, Buttler 3 from 7.
28th over: England 167-4 (Stokes 19, Buttler 2) A quiet over from Ackermann. I’m spending too much time editing emails and not enough time watching the amtch, though there is an end-of-term feeling to the whole thing. Dr Butler said we can get the Subbuteo pitch out.
“I think the age thing around this England lot is a bit of a red herring: early 30s really isn’t that old these days – loads of successful teams are in this age bracket,” says Phil Harrison. “I just think this has been a hideously misconceived and poorly executed campaign. I’m sure this’ll be the end of Stokes, Malan, Woakes, Moeen, Willey, Wood and possibly even Bairstow as ODI players. But personally, I’d like Buttler to stick around – and I also think Rashid should be encouraged to carry on too, if only to help with Rehan’s development. But he’s actually bowled pretty well here and doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with the general catastrophe.”
Yes, it’s worth reminding ourselves that Australia and New Zealand have squads with an identical average age to England. Experience suggested one of those squads would have a poor tournament, but nobody expected to have an all-time shocker.
As you say, it’s a combination of things. That said, some of these players have a lot of miles on the clock, whether that’s physically, mentally or both. Of the thirtysomethings in this squad, I would keep Buttler and Rashid for future ODI squads, plus perhaps Malan – to smooth the transition, because you need to win games to maintain confidence – and Root. Livingstone might come back in the future.
27th over: England 164-4 (Stokes 18, Buttler 0) Netherlands are right back in this game. The last seven overs have brought three wickets and only 32 runs. “Root and others have been so emasculated,” says Ian Copestake, “that I think they no longer have middle stumps.”
Harry Brook is the answer for England – but not today. He top-edges a hook towards deep square, where Ackermann takes a well judged catch. That was a clever bounce from de Leede: higher and wider, which meant Brook had to fetch it more than he would have liked.
It’s a soft dismissal, like a few of Brook’s in this tournament, but that’s all part of an ODI education that is just beginning.
26th over: England 163-3 (Stokes 17, Brook 11) Stokes looks in good touch after that long, slightly torturous net against Australia on Saturday. He drives Van Meekeren for four and muscles a pull that is excellent stopped on the boundary by Ackermann.
“Going back to our Pink Floyd discussions,” says Krishnamoorthy V, “I tried to match each team in this tournament to one of their albums. I can’t find one for Bangladesh. Nick Hornby or Simon McMahon could chip in.”
This is Krishnamoothy’s list. Pink Floyd are a foreign language to me but I assume/hope/pray it will mean something to some to you.
A saucerful of secrets – India
Ummagumma – England (because it makes no sense)
Atom Heart – Mother Australia
Meddle – Pakistan
Obscured by clouds – Netherlands
Wish you were here – Sri Lanka (the 1996 team)
The Wall – New Zealand
A momentary lapse of reason – South Africa
The Piper at the Gates of Dawn – Afghanistan
25th over: England 156-3 (Stokes 11, Brook 10) Stokes drives his county team-mate (sort of) de Leede straight down the ground for four. That’s a lovely shot. This looks a really good pitch, especially when the 80-85mph seamers are bowling.
“Hi Rob,” says Gareth Wilson. “It would be hugely ironic and very much in keeping with England’s muddled selection strategy if they drop Livingstone, an excellent T20 player, for a T20 tournament based on how he played in ODIs.”
Yeah that distinction is really important. But it can also be quite slippery because poor form in ODIs must affect confidence in T20s, and Livingstone’s T20 performances have also declined of late. I’d give him as many chances as possible, mind, and he’s one of the few players in this squad who I’d take to the Caribbean next month. Not sure you can take both him and Moeen to the T20 World Cup though.
24th over: England 149-3 (Stokes 5, Brook 9) Harry Brook, who has escaped the scarring of this tournament, gets goung with sumptuous, back-to-back boundaries: a pristine on-drive followed by a beautifully placed cover drive.
“Just looking at your list of young players who could/ should be at the core of a revamped white ball squad,” says Geoff Wignall, “and though they’re younger than the incumbents, Ben Duckett is 29 and Jofra Archer will be in April. For sure they both deserve places if fit, but they’re hardly in the first flush.”
That’s why I wrote younger rather than young. At least that’s what I intended to do. If there’s a typo or a literal, it’s not my fault – my brain isn’t young enough!
23rd over: England 141-3 (Stokes 5, Brook 1) At one stage Logan van Beek had figures of 4-0-44-0. Now they are 6-0-49-1 and he has played a part in the runout of England’s best player as well. See, it’s never too late to turn your life around.
22nd over: England 139-3 (Stokes 4, Brook 0) Running between the wickets is a window into the soul of a team, and England have had some stinking run-outs in this tournament. That was a tight single, so you could apportion blame either way. “It’s almost as if Malan forgot Root was no longer in,” says Ravi Shastri.
Either way Malan goes for a very good 87 from 74 balls, with 10 fours and two sixes. His detractors will point out that over 60 per cent of his runs have been scored against Bangladesh and Netherlands, and that’s fair enough, but he has still had a really good tournament. Same with David Willey. It must be so hard to summon the mental strength to play close to your best when you think or know you’re unloved; to do so when your team is also a complete mess is thoroughly admirable.
Malan pushes Dutt into the covers, set off and was sent back by Stokes. Van Beek got the throw very quickly and, though it reached the wicketkeeper Edwards almost on the half-volley, he dealt with it brilliantly and broke the stumps with Malan’s bat on but not over the line.
Run-out referral against Malan! This looks close.
21st over: England 135-2 (Malan 86, Stokes 1) Ben Stokes is the new batter. Root has had rough spells in his career but I’m not sure he has ever looked as out of touch as he does right now. He needs a holiday.
Oh dear. Even the trusty reverse scoop has let Joe Root down. He jumped into position to launch Van Beek to third man, missed and was bowled between his legs. The ball zipped through to peg back middle stump. That dismissal is an instant meme, I’m afraid, and Root stomps off with a face like thunder. I don’t know whether it would have been more or less embarrassing had it hit the other middle stump.
20th over: England 132-1 (Malan 84, Root 28) The offspinner Aryan Dutt replaces Van der Merwe, who may change ends to force Malan to hit to the bigger boundary. Seven from the over, all in ones and twos.
“When I moved to Spain in 2020 I always thought that, although following cricket would be harder (having to install VPNs and what have you), I’d at least be free from teasing by other people,” says David Govantes-Edwards. “At the end of the day, nobody here has the slightest clue about what’s going on in this most wonderful of games…
“Naturally, I had to move next door to a bike-rental shop that’s run by Ali, from Pakistan. He’s the loveliest of chaps, but you can imagine how sneakily I’ve been leaving the house these last three weeks, not always successfully. At the beginning I could at least make a little of a fight-back, but that’s gone for good now… Mother Cricket never lets you go, does she?”
18th over: England 125-1 (Malan 82, Root 24) Malan charges Van der Merwe and blooters another six to cow corner. Slow left-armer bowling to left-hander who is hitting to the short boundary = bish-bosh. Malan is 18 away from his second century of the tournament; no other England player has made one, not even the bowlers.
“Have the England batsmen considered throwing themselves head first off golf buggies?” asks Pete Salmon, a reference to yesterday’s astonishing innings from Glenn Maxwell.
18th over: England 117-1 (Malan 75, Root 23) The last time people spoke about England having a chance to improve their net run-rate, Jos Buttler had just put Afghanistan into bat, so maybe this isn’t a bright idea. But if England find themselves in a winning position, the margin of victory is important. Their net run-rate is inferior to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Netherlands, the challengers for the last two Champions Trophy places, and if England win today they will join those teams on four points.
This slightly tedious digression comes to you in association with some boring middle overs, the latest of which, from Ackermann, yielded six singles.
17th over: England 111-1 (Malan 72, Root 20) Malan slog-sweeps Van der Merwe’s first ball for the first six of the innings. The heavy lifting done for the over, he and Root collect four low-risk singles. That’s drinks.
“Urgh, do we have to,” says Alistair Connor, quoting today’s already award-winning preamble. “Yes, you damn well do. Bear in mind, Rob, that there is a significant and colourful minority among your readership who are not England supporters, and who are here today for the schadenfreude.
“Personally, I have a great love for this England side, and it’s mostly your fault (along with all your esteemed OBO colleagues). Following the epic exploits of a legendary line-op over the past decade or so has been quite a journey, and it’s on the OBO that it’s all happened, for me anyway.
“Also: England gave the world Shakespearian tragedy. There is always a rich comic element in the best tragedies. Play on!”
Believe me, England batting collapses are part of the scaffolding of my life. Every scorecard triggers a precise memory, usually involving the abbreviation FFS.
16th over: England 101-1 (Malan 64, Root 18) Colin Ackermann comes on to bowl his occasional offies. A single from Root, one of five in the over, brings up a low-key fifty partnership from 54 balls.
15th over: England 96-1 (Malan 61, Root 16) Here’s the left-arm spinner Roelef van der Merwe. He played against England for South Africa at the 2009 Champions Trophy, the match in which Eoin Morgan first demonstrated his coruscating brilliance in an England shirt. Four singles from the over; despite a sedate last half hour, England are still going at more than a run a ball.
“In terms of where we go from here. I think jettisoning a lot of players who aren’t performing, no matter how long they have done well for us, is the best thing to do,” says Stephen Brown. “There is a case to be made (by someone better informed and with more time than me) that part of our problem is the likes of Malan have come into the set up too late because we showed too much loyalty to Jason Roy even while he was having an extended barren run.
“Liam Livingstone is another who doesn’t seem to offer a consistent value to the team. Two half centuries in the 10 innings he batted before the World Cup is not mind blowing and while I accept the need for spinning options in India, again his figures do not jump out.
“I think Moeen’s column recently suggested we should be switching to the younger players, which is a fine idea, but doesn’t go far enough. We need to be more ruthlessly in picking on form as well. But perhaps we should just get through these next two games and hope some dignity can be restored first…”
I suppose there are few points to make – how much crossover is or should there be in selection for the two white-ball codes, and how can you judge form when hardly any of these players were ODI regulars from 2021-23? I wouldn’t necessarily agree that Malan suffered from excessive loyalty to Jason Roy because they generally opened together in the absence of Bairstow (and Roy played pretty well in the 12 months before the tournament).
In hindsight, winning the T20 World Cup was a mixed blessing because it cemented an it’ll-be-alright-on-the-night attitude and almost certainly created a subconscious complacency. It’s genuinely sad but these things happen in sport, and I don’t think it diminishes a pretty glorious legacy.
14th over: England 92-1 (Malan 59, Root 14) No matter how bad his form, Joe Root can always rely on his reverse scoop. He dumps Van Meekeren to third man, the first boundary of the innings from his 15th delivery, and a stylish flick through midwicket brings two more. It would have been four but for an excellent diving stop by O’Dowd.
13th over: England 82-1 (Malan 58, Root 6)
12th over: England 78-1 (Malan 57, Root 3) It’s a bit of a quiet spell, with just nine runs scored in the last three overs. Root is taking some time to get his eye in, a reflection of his low confidence. At his best, as Ravi Shastri says, he breezes to 20 off 25 balls without anyone noticing. Today he has 3 from 10.
“For all Bairstow’s failings lately, he’s not the only one by any means,” says John Starbuck. “Also, he has a value in being a very good second wicketkeeper if needed. Can Harry Brook keep well enough yet?”
Erm, I don’t think so, although with his natural talent he’ll probably turn out to be the second coming of Alan Knott. The scrap for places at the T20 World Cup will be fascinating. Eight of the XI who won last year’s final are in this squad. The exceptions are Alex Hales (who has retired), Phil Salt and Chris Jordan. Then you have all the younger players: Duckett, Crawley, Jacks, Rehan, Tongue, Turner and – please, please – Jofra Archer.
If the Caribbean pitches are as expected, spin will be really important. Rehan Ahmed looks the real deal in T20 cricket so may well leapfrog Moeen and/or Livingstone.
11th over: England 73-1 (Malan 53, Root 2) Bas de Leede replaces Aryan Dutt, who bowled a useful spell of 5-0-25-1. Malan leathers a straight drive that is well stopped by de Leede in his follow through. “This is such a good pitch,” says Ravi Shastri on commentary. “Flat, like the expressway just behind this ground.”
In other news, apparently the forecast for tomorrow’s game between New Zealand and Sri Lanka is dodgy, which could be a gamechanger. If that match is rained off, Pakistan and/or Afghanistan will move above them if they win their final game: Pakistan v England, Afghanistan v South Africa.
10th over: England 70-1 (Malan 50, Root 1) Paul van Meekeren comes into the attack and surprises Root with a bit of extra bounce. Root drops the ball safely on the off side, and the rest of the over passes without incident.
In other news, this is a longshot but if anyone reading a) is over 40, b) wants to play a regular game of football and c) lives near or in Bruton, Somerset, please get in touch. I’m trying to organise a regular game
, because I’m a community-facing person and that’s just what I do to get fit, have fun, etc.
9th over: England 69-1 (Malan 50, Root 1) Joe Root’s run of scores in this tournament is a mathematical puzzle not even Max Fischer could solve: 77, 82, 11, 2, 3, 0, 13.
He gets off the mark with a bread-and-butter single. Dutt undoes the good work of the last few overs with a long hop that is slapped for four by Malan. A work off the pads takes him to tranquil half-century from 36 balls with 10 fours. As Malcolm Tucker might say, England’s World Cup failure is NHFP.
8th over: England 63-1 (Malan 45, Root 0) Malan is playing superbly. He crashes a pull over midwicket for four, pings a square drive to the fence and belts a drive through the diving extra cover. Three boundaries in the over and nine in the innings already for Malan.
Seven of those have come off poor Logan van Beek, who has T20 figures of 4-0-44-0.
7th over: England 48-1 (Malan 31, Root 0) It looks like there are nine matches before the T20 World Cup – five in the Caribbean next month, then four against Pakistan in May. Trouble is, most of this squad will surely be given next month off, especially as it’s a perfect chance to launch a new ODI era.
Jonny Bairstow’s miserable tournament continues. He tries to hoick Dutt over the leg side and top-edges a simple catch to fine leg. That’s well bowled by Dutt, who had started to build some pressure with a series of dot balls.
6th over: England 47-0 (Bairstow 15, Malan 30) This is the sixth successive toss that Jos Buttler has won, which makes England’s failure even more surprising. Then again, they effectively lost the toss in the key games against Afghanistan and South Africa because they made the wrong decision. In hindsight, that brutal last hour and a half in the field against South Africa was when this team died.
Van Beek continues, conceding five singles from his third over. Bairstow has 15 from 16 balls, Malan 30 from 20. I wonder how many of this team will make next year’s T20 World Cup. They have to freshen the team up, but equally you can make a case for each thirtysomething individual geting another chance. It’ll only seven months away. I suppose it will depend on form in the preparatory matches, assuming there are some.
5th over: England 42-0 (Bairstow 13, Malan 27) A better over from Dutt, three singles from it.
“Where would the shock-o-meter register,” says Krishnamoorthy V, “should Pakistan trounce India in the semis and clinch the trophy after beating SA in the finals?”
It would register in my beating heart, that’s for sure. After the unforseeable surges of 1992, 2009 and 2017, Pakistan winning a major tournament should never be a shock. That said, I expect New Zealand to go through.
4th over: England 39-0 (Bairstow 12, Malan 25) On commentary, Eoin Morgan is talking about his golden duck when England made 498/4 against the Netherlands. “Bit two-paced that wicket,” he says. “Tinge of green… You know it’s time to go when your team nearly scores 500 and you can’t even get off the mark!”
Malan has started beautifully. A straight drive off van Beek takes him to 24 from 12 balls, all in boundaries, but he breaks that run by pulling the next for a single. In the context of England’s shocking tournament there’s something quite poignant about the performances of Malan and David Willey, who have waited so long to play in an ODI World Cup.
Bairstow continues England’s assured start with a crisp flick through midwicket for four. It would be just like this team to score 1000 today.
3rd over: England 29-0 (Bairstow 7, Malan 20) Malan makes it five boundaries in the first eight balls by slapping Dutt through the covers and edging the next ball wide of the keeper. England look in the moment to take out their frustration on the Netherlands bowlers.
“Morning Rob,” says Guy Hornsby. “This feels like a very cricketing hangover after the otherworldly feats of Glenn Maxwell yesterday. The can’t-walk-but-I’ll-slap-you-for-six-anyway section of that innings is barely believable. And it’s perfect that it’s England, of course, queueing up for another banana skin. Could you imagine any of that team today doing event 30 per cent of that? It’s hard to remember we were world-beaters, such is the slump. I’m glad Atkinson and Brook are in, but can anyone explain why Stokes isn’t flying home and preparing for a knee op now? Barney’s article seems very apt. Who is running the show here, exactly?”
I think that’s a bit harsh. I would have asked Stokes if he wants to go home, but in a situation like this England can’t really win. Imagine if he went home, then a batter got injured and a light top order (Livingstone at No5) was skittled today or against Pakistan. When you lose six games in a row, nothing you can do will stop the bloodlust.
There is part of me that wonders what Stokes playing at, as he seems very laissez-faire about his knee injury, but he’s England greatest ever cricketer (IMO) and has enriched our lives so much. I’d forgive him almost anything.
2nd over: England 19-0 (Bairstow 6, Malan 12) Dawid Malan vrooms serenely out of the blocks, timing Logan van Beek for three successive boundaries: a flick behind square, a sweet off-drive and an even sweeter cover-drive.
Malan is the only England batter who has had a half decent tournament: he’s on 298 runs, with Joe Root the next best on 188, although 140 of those came against Bangladesh. He and Harry Brook are the only batters with a strike rate in excess of 100.
1st over: England 6-0 (Bairstow 6, Malan 0) The offspinner Aryan Dutt starts to Jonny Bairstow, who had had an increasingly desperate tournament: 141 runs at an average of 20, and 85 of those came in the first two games. He gets off the mark with a brusque sweep round the corner for four, then swaggers down the wicket munching his gum. A squirt past point brings two more.
“Good morning Rob,” writes Krishnamoorthy V. “There were a lot of discussions on Angelo Matthews in the OBO yesterday till the MadMax screening took over. The irony of the jump in focus from one for whom time ran out to one for whom time stood still can’t be ignored.”
Heh, very good. It’s the best ODI innings ever, right? Or, at least, it’s the best big ODI innings ever. It’s very hard to compare it to great innings in lower-scoring games, for example Graham Gooch against the four horsemen in 1986.
From the archive (and in urgent need of an update)
If you had the fortune to be born a cricket nerd, you might like this: a retro draft based solely on form in the 1999 World Cup. It’s not often Geoff Allott and Henry Olonga are picked ahead of Curtly and Courtney.
Anyway, back to today’s game. Here are Ali and Barney’s previews.
This is such a good interview with Stuart Broad by Donald McRae. A couple of highlights.
“It’s deeper than you think,” Broad says of McCullum’s philosophy. “He’s been incredibly disciplined with his language. At no stage has he ever been negative or critical. Rather than being like a head coach, he is more of a psychologist.
“He would say to Zak Crawley: ‘I don’t want you to average 40 by getting 40 every game. I prefer you to go nought, nought, nought, 70. Win me that game.’ Like Zak did at Old Trafford – bang, (189 – although England’s victory push was ruined by rain). So he really drives home the positive messages. I watched him before the Old Trafford Test. Jonny was having a tough time and so Baz played golf with him, sat next to him at dinner, threw him underarms at training. He spent a lot of time reinforcing Jonny’s strengths. And Jonny goes out and gets 99 (not out). It’s quite impressive.
McCullum hates the expression ‘Bazball’ but, as Broad says with a grin, “It’s made the dictionary. The Aussies spent the last six months denying the fact it exists. Every interview they say: ‘Bazball is not a thing.’ But I will win that argument 100 times out of 100. I just show them the economy rates of bowling figures.”
Two changes for England: Harry Brook and Gus Atkinson replace Liam Livingstone and Mark Wood. The 2027 World Cup starts here.
Netherlands make one change. The allrounder Teja Nidamanuru comes in for Saqib Zulfiqar.
England Bairstow, Malan, Root, Stokes, Brook, Buttler (c/wk), Moeen, Woakes, Willey, Rashid, Atkinson.
Netherlands Barresi, O’Dowd, Ackermann, Engelbrecht, Edwards (c/wk), de Leede, Nidamanuru, van Beek, van der Merwe, Dutt, van Meekeren.
“It looks a good surface,” says Jos Buttler. “We’d like to take advantage and post a good score.”
This is the saddest thing you’ll read today (unless you heard about it two days ago – it’s new(s) to me)
Eff Marhaba Sports India, eff YouTube, eff all of it.
Of course we have to. England are playing at a World Cup and societal norms dictate that, no matter how severe the ennui engendered by a tragicomic title defence, it would be poor form to ignore the game and liveblog repeats of Frasier instead.
And while this feels like the final Test of an Ashes tour gone bad, there is actually plenty to play for. England need to win at least one and probably both of their last two games to qualify for the 2025 Champions League, an important rite of passage for the next generation of ODI players.
Overnight reports also suggest Matthew Mott’s employment prospects may hinge on today’s result. My hunch is that he will stay regardless – he has a World Cup to defend next year – but you can understand the perception that defeat to the Netherlands would be a humiliation too far, even if it is a bit insulting to an impressive side who have enriched this tournament. And who, lest we forget, are above England in the table.
England butchered 498 for four against the Netherlands in Mott’s first game as white-ball coach. That was 17 months and a lifetime ago, when Eoin Morgan was still captain and England’s aura was intact.
It has disappeared forever in this World Cup, a genuinely sad way for England to exit a stage they owned for so long. Let’s see whether they have one last domineering performance in them.
Urgh, do we have to?