Lame England try to avoid being clogged
NOT in their worst nightmares could England have envisaged the scenario that awaits them today. Defeat by the Netherlands in Pune would not simply enhance their status as the laughing stock of the World Cup, but leave them in serious danger of failing to qualify for the Champions Trophy in 2025. And despite the suggestion that head coach Matthew Mott is safe in his position, there is little doubt that a sixth successive loss — which would be their worst ODI run since 2009 — may encourage a rethink, only 18 months into his four-year contract.
It said much about the depths England have plumbed that, before a crucial game that could determine the futures of some of his colleagues, fielding coach Carl Hopkinson was the man charged with talking to the media. This was hardly his fault, but it was hard to avoid the conclusion that England have given up trying to explain the farce. Hopkinson’s wellmeaning assessment of Mott didn’t quite assuage fears that England’s head coach is a good man who lacks the edge to alter their fortunes. ‘First and foremost, Motty’s a relaxed character,’ he said. ‘He’s got a lot of experience that he can bring to the party when things aren’t going well, but equally when they do go well.’ There is little choice for Mott today but to freshen things up, with Harry Brook and Gus Atkinson — both scandalously overlooked for the last three matches — in contention. Above all, England have to find a way — any way — of beating a Dutch side who have been energised by wins over South Africa and Bangladesh, and know a struggling side trading on former glories when they see one. England (probable): Bairstow, Malan, Root, Stokes, Buttler (capt, wkt), Brook, Moeen, Woakes, Willey, Atkinson, Rashid. Starts: 8.30am, MCA Stadium.
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