ICC World Cup: One bad day in office cannot ruin England’s campaign

The advantage of this format is that one bad day doesn’t ruin your tournament. I still think England can and will win this World Cup, writes Eoin Morgan

Eoin Morgan (in picture) feels Ben Stokes' return to the team will make a huge difference (photo: ICC)
Eoin Morgan (in picture) feels Ben Stokes' return to the team will make a huge difference (photo: ICC)

Eoin Morgan

As defending champions England recover from the crushing defeat against New Zealand in the ICC World Cup 2023 opener in Ahmedabad on 5 October, England's former World-Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan sees no reason to lose hope, as he writes in this special column.

I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 opener playing out quite like that. 

New Zealand had an incredible day and for England, it was a crushing defeat. Even if they had scored 30 more runs to get up to a par score, I don’t think they bowled well enough to defend it, which makes it harder to take.  

Enough England batters got starts but it never felt like they struck many blows throughout the innings. In many ways, New Zealand didn’t get England batters out, they got themselves out. But credit has to go to Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra for the way they played. Conway put England under pressure from the very first ball, and for Ravindra to play like that on his World Cup debut was exceptional. He was pure class. 

From an English perspective, the expectation from Jos Buttler’s team has come a point where, regardless of the surface, he wants them to take an aggressive approach. We didn’t see that in a strong enough way and what this defeat does, in dramatic fashion, is emphasise the way to play throughout this World Cup. England's strongest suit going forward is to be more aggressive, and I think that will be Jos’ message — we need to go harder. 

One thing is for sure — one defeat will not derail their campaign. Eight of this squad were there in 2019, when we lost three group stage matches on the way to lifting the trophy, and they will definitely lean on that experience. There is no side that goes from start to finish in a World Cup without experiencing some sort of adversity, whether it’s losing matches or having hiccups within matches themselves. This will be no different. 

There will be a lot of calm heads in the dressing room, but there will also be a lot of honesty. Having shared a changing room with these guys, all the messages are built on a lot of thought and very rarely are there any flippant comments or people targeted. There is an awareness that they are all in this together and collectively all trying to achieve the same plan by sticking to the same process. 

I tipped England to win the competition in the build-up, and I still have complete faith. Nothing about yesterday's performance worries me when it comes to believing they can win the trophy. The advantage of having this format is that one bad day doesn’t ruin your tournament, when previously one bad day could have you home within a week. I still think they can and will win this World Cup.

Ben Stokes’ return will be key if they are to do that. The difference he makes is invaluable and there is no measure of the impact he has in a changing room. He believes he can achieve anything from any sort of circumstances, and has backed that up in match-winning performances. He breeds confidence and belief. 

After a defeat like that, he will no doubt be speaking in that changing room. His words hold a lot of weight because they are backed by performance. He will have had a great view of the whole game and hopefully he’ll be back on the field as soon as possible. 

Any other changes for England’s next match, against Bangladesh in Dharamsala, will likely be dependent on conditions. It’s traditionally a bit more seam-friendly, so there may be an opportunity for Reece Topley or David Willey, while if Stokes is fit he will obviously come straight back in. 

I didn’t engage in many emotions throughout the course of my career, simply because it didn’t allow me to be the player that I was — it became a hindrance to my performance, being emotional when making decisions just didn’t work for me. Now, it is a pleasure and a privilege to sit back and watch these great players represent England in white-ball cricket. 

Eoin Morgan is England’s 2019 ICC World Cup-winning captain. Column courtesy: International Cricket Council 

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