After the opening two games of the their World Cup Cricket campaign, there was widespread belief among supporters and journalists alike that the England had suffered two humiliating defeats against both Australia and New Zealand and that their hopes of securing a top four position in Pool A depended on a rapid improvement in both form and attitude. A subsequent 119 run victory against Scotland has silenced some of the doubters but it may also be a case of the English team now acclimatising to the conditions and pacing themselves for what appears to be a long tournament.
When England lost their first pool match by 111 runs against Australia in Melbourne, the critics were already accusing the coaching staff of poor preparation for the tournament, claims which appeared justified when a second defeat soon followed after an eight wicket loss was incurred against another of the hosts, New Zealand. It was the manner in which England capitulated during that game which warranted some of the adverse reaction directed at the players.
The English batsman amassed just 123 runs from 33 overs with only Joe Root compiling a decent innings when scoring 46 runs. That New Zealand only needed 12 overs to surpass the England total is indicative of the sub-standard performance of the team captained by Eoin Morgan.
Yet the England camp will argue that the World Cup is never won after the first two games of the pool matches and there is much cricket still to be played especially as the top four nations from each group qualify for the quarter-finals with six games eventually played by each of the participants.
England duly responded to the critics by comfortable accounting for Scotland by 119 runs with Moeen Ali compiling an innings of 128 with able support provided by Ian Bell and Morgan. Despite a decent 71 scored by Kyle Coetzer, Scotland never appeared likely to trouble the England total of 303 and finished well adrift on 184.
Although the match provided a first victory for England in the tournament, their total of 303 is by no means an impossible target for a decent batting team and more improvement will be required as the tournament progresses. However, such is the rather lengthy format of this World Cup that England only play once in the next 14 days when facing a crucial game against Sri Lanka.
Nevertheless, as per the football World Cup, the eventual victors are not necessarily the team which begins with the best form and England will hope that they will gradually approach peak performance in the coming weeks. Eion Morgan and the selectors will only hope that the weather does not intervene with victories still required to ensure further progress, especially as Bangladesh secured an unlikely point when heavy rain prevented any play in their scheduled match with Australia.
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