Coach Matthew Mott has struggled to explain England’s “shy” approach to losing to Ireland, but thinks channeling the uninhibited spirit of the boys in green can resurrect their T20 World Cup campaign.
England now have to win their remaining three Super 12 games to secure a place in the semi-finals, starting against tournament hosts and reigning champions Australia at the MCG on Friday.
They left little room for maneuver in their group and morale is low after a largely sad performance with ball and bat in a shocking five-run defeat to Ireland by the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.
While England will once again have to keep an eye on Melbourne’s skies with rain forecasts, Mott has urged his team to focus on what they can control and take a leaf from the Irish playbook.
“We were a bit stunned,” Mott said. “We knew we weren’t playing at our best level. I think we were shy.
“I can’t explain it, but I thought that instead of being flat, I think there was just a little bit of nervousness going on. We have to recover very quickly because we have a lot at stake.
“We cannot afford the luxury of losing another match, we play against the hosts and the reigning champions. Ireland had a small free hit against us in a match with little rain.
“They went out and played with a really free spirit. And that’s what we need to do from here on out when we find ourselves in situations where there is a decision to make. We want to take the aggressive option. “
Captain Jos Buttler, his test counterpart Ben Stokes and paceman Mark Wood all spoke frankly in what Mott later called a “dark” England locker room, their first defeat in six completed T20s.
A bad batting lineup so far has only reached 15 limits in two games, but Mott believes they could be smarter if it’s hard to find four and six and take advantage of the bigger backcounters here.
“The intent was there, we just didn’t hit the ball very well,” Mott said. “In those conditions maybe two are a better option. We need to take our meds and make sure we overturn the strike.
“I think we’ve been playing really solid cricket over the past month. We’ve had a bad day, but we’re not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater. “
England are unlikely to make any substantial changes to their XI and the prospect of changing the batting order seems remote despite the suspicion that Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone are too short.
Stokes, beating at four, didn’t hit double digits against either Afghanistan or Ireland, but he was reliable with the ball as his economy rate of 4.26 is the best of an Englishman.
“I think Ben is an incredible player for our team and a true leader in our group,” said Mott. “It was fundamental for us, I think he did some big overs, particularly in powerplay.
“He hasn’t come out with the bat yet, but his career would suggest that at some point someone will pay the price and hopefully it’s Australia. He is a world-class player, (in) T20 you miss a lot but you need match-winners and he is one ”.
Australia are in a similar position to England in needing to win, but the possibility of landing a possible knockout blow is not of the utmost concern for Queenslander Mott.
“I don’t need any motivation,” added Mott, who left her position as Australia’s women’s manager to take a spot with England’s white ball teams earlier this year.
“I have a lot of friends in that group, both in the play group and on the staff, but when you find in cricket you love who you are with. Being part of this group is very special for me.
“We are incredibly motivated and (Ireland’s result) adds to that motivation. You very rarely go through these tournaments undefeated. I expect that we will recover really well. “