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'England have ceased to believe they can win'

March 10, 2015 07:29 IST

'I just think they never knew their best 11 players'

'Morgan probably wishes Cook had performed better so he didn’t have to take the captaincy'

Ian Pont, a former Essex player and fast bowling coach, now at the Ultimate Pace Foundation in Bengaluru, analyses England's disastrous World Cup campaign in an exclusive conversation with Manu Shankar/Rediff.com.

England captain Eoin Morgan looks dejected as he leaves the field after the World Cup match against Bangladesh at Adelaide Oval. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

If you were Eoin Morgan, surely, you would be looking for a route to escape the ire of entire England.

If losing to Australia by 111 runs was embarrassing, then being beaten by Bangladesh, which eventually ended their hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals in the ongoing World Cup, was catastrophic for the 'Three Lions'.

On Monday, at the Adelaide Oval, Bangladesh came up with a spirited display to stun England by 15 runs and snatch a last eight berth from Pool A in the ICC's 50-overs-a-side mega event.

Riding on a century from Mahumudullah Riyad and a quick-fire fifty from Mushfiqur Rahim, the Asian minnows posted a competitive 275-7.

- The World Cup, as never before on Rediff.com

In reply, England collapsed and were reeling at 163-6 before Chris Woakes and Jos Butler gave them give a glimmer of hope. But Rubel Hossain (4-53) claimed two wickets in the 49th over to send them crashing out of the tournament in the first stage itself with a game still to play.

As England, with just a solitary victory over Scotland, ponder their dismal showing, Ian Pont, a former Essex player and fast bowling coach, now at the Ultimate Pace Foundation in Bengaluru, analysis the team’s disastrous World Cup campaign in an exclusive conversation with Manu Shankar/Rediff.com.

It’s a catastrophe that England are out of the World Cup, that too after losing to Bangladesh. Your take on that…

Firstly, congratulations to Bangladesh! They deserve to go through and I hope they can continue as long as possible in the World Cup.

For England, it is a complete and utter disaster; a disaster of planning, development and execution of both. A complete shambles.

How would you sum up the campaign so far?

Full of errors from start to finish. Selection of teams, atmosphere around the squad, belief in what they were doing plus everything that could go wrong went wrong. The biggest issue, though, was the bowling. Just dreadful at this level, not good enough.

There really was no point picking Hales 

England's batsman Alex Hales watches as Bangladesh bowler Arafat Sunny almost gets to the ball during their Cricket World Cup match in Adelaide. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

Where did England go wrong in this World Cup?

You have to go back possibly 12 months when things started to go wrong after the Ashes defeat. It’s been a systematic failure, and it has been compounded. It’s quite simple that England has not played without fear at this World Cup. Unlike a side like Ireland, they have ceased to believe they can win, on the surface of it.

England were hell bent on the Moeen Ali-Ian Bell partnership and overlooked Alex Hales as an opener. Could the team have done something differently?

There really was no point picking Hales, one of the world’s leading T20 opening batsmen, and having him warm the bench while the team keeps losing. But it was a failure of many things in the batting line-up and a chopping and changing right up to the World Cup that threw the squad into disarray.

England warmed up with one team but ended up selecting another.

Morgan probably wishes Cook had performed better so he didn’t have to take the captaincy

England's James Anderson reacts after a catch to dismiss Australia's Aaron Finch. Photograph: Hamish Blair/Reuters

The knives will now be out against Eoin Morgan. Will he be made the scapegoat for the poor showing?

Morgan probably wishes (Alastair) Cook had performed better so he didn’t have to take the captaincy. Morgan isn’t a natural leader in my view and is more of a great team man.

Sadly, the captaincy appeared to affect his own game and he came under huge pressure. The thing is England had a few players with captaincy experience in the squad, so I am sure Morgan wasn’t alone here. It’s far too early for Morgan to carry the can here as he had the job thrust on him very late.

How would you sum up England's bowling?

Dire. Just dire! Plans were wrong. Delivery was wrong. Thinking was wrong. It was horrible to watch.

Did the team management do enough homework prior to the World Cup?

I just think they never knew their best 11 players. And you cannot go into a major tournament without having a handle on who does what best for you. It’s four years in the planning, so shouldn’t be a surprise. Many will cite a team in transition, but we see enough of our cricketers to know who can do the roles we seek.

Moores has had a horrible time and come into the job at a difficult time 

Eoin Morgan of England has a word with coach Peter Moores during a practice session. Photograph: Getty Images

Is Morgan and Peter Moores the right combination for England?

Million dollar question! I think Peter Moores has had a horrible time and come into the job at a difficult time. That said, some of the decision-making seems flawed and completely unworkable. The coaches supporting him must take a huge amount of flak for this too. It isn’t down to one man. Morgan has to be given more time I feel.

Did Moores lack ideas or was he too afraid to take chances?

He and the coaching staff said the players were told to go out and express themselves. So, if true, it must be the players who chose not to. Fear is a strange enemy and can destroy even the best-equipped team.

Would you expect to see wholesale changes to this England side?

What should happen and what will happen are likely two different things. The ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) tends be like a large tanker at times, travelling many miles before it can turn around or stop. There are always comments about knee-jerk reactions over losses and defeats, but losing out in the World Cup the way England has done is not knee-jerk.

That’s a simple systems failure of all involved. I know that in many countries entire coaching staffs would be cleared out without a thought. I feel England would rather give people loads of chances to put things right before they finally admit they might have made mistakes.

England couldn’t bowl well nor score heavily enough 

Alex Hales. Photograph: Philip Brown/Reuters

If Moores gets the boot, who do you think England should look out for as their next coach?

I think Peter Moores will still be in place for the Ashes. So let’s see how they go. The World Cup will be long forgotten by many then.

England does need T20 specialists to make their way to the game. Is it time that the ECB allows its players to participate in the IPL, Big Bash...?

T20 skills are wonderful to add to a batsman’s repertoire. Whether IPL and Big Bash make a batsman far better is down to the players attending. The truth is basic skills are often missing when a side loses in the World Cup so early and England couldn’t bowl well nor score heavily enough. I don’t know if T20 skills would have made much difference.

Manu Shankar / Rediff.com
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