Our experts discuss what England must do to hit back

Switch the skipper, drop Root…and don’t panic! After England were finally put out of their misery in India, our experts discuss what they must do to hit back

  • England’s World Cup exit was finally confirmed following defeat versus Australia
  • It has been one of the worst defences in history and many changes will be made
  • There will be calls on who will be coach and captain and who will now be left out

It has been one of the worst defences of any World Cup by any major sporting team. 

So what has gone so badly wrong for England in India? 

Mail Sport’s expert panel – former England captain Nasser Hussain, former England coach David Lloyd, cricket correspondent Paul Newman and Wisden editor Lawrence Booth – attempt to find the answers.

England have put up one of the worst World Cup defences in history during the ODI tournament in India

Their exit was confirmed with their 33-run defeat to rivals Australia on Saturday evening

It’s likely that captain Jos Buttler will be tasked with rebuilding his England side after the competition’s conclusion

We didn’t see this coming. Why have England been so bad?

Nasser Hussain: I don’t think I’ve seen any great side implode quite like this one has here. But it’s not like 2015 when England were trying to put 20 bad years of limited-overs cricket behind them. This has been four bad weeks. 

If you stay at the same level – and there are reasons why England have done that, like the focus on Test cricket and lack of 50-over internationals – others will go past you. That’s what’s happened here.

David Lloyd: I’m totally shocked. I’m doing alright with India, Australia and South Africa as my predicted semi-finalists but my banker has gone – and it’s our lot! 

I’ve said that preparation was very poor but I did think England had the players to overcome that. To be frank they’ve been exposed. Bottom of the table! We’re Scunthorpe!

Paul Newman: Everything has been wrong from the moment England asked Luke Wright to announce the squad rather than Rob Key or Matthew Mott. He said it was the final World Cup squad – it wasn’t. And he said Jofra Archer would be a full-time travelling reserve – he wasn’t. And it’s been downhill with their decision making and mixed messaging ever since.

Lawrence Booth: A combination of factors: poor preparation, mixed messaging, inconsistent selection, bad luck (especially the injuries to Ben Stokes and Reece Topley), poor decisions at the toss, alien conditions, and the improvement of other teams, with South Africa ousting England as world cricket’s big hitters.

England have lost six of their seven games so far and still have two matches remaining – against the Netherlands and Pakistan

Is this the end of England’s white-ball domination?

Lloyd: Yes. We seem to be just as hesitant a team as we were in the 90s. Not really knowing what way to go when batting and ending up with 250 to 270 – if not worse. That’s just not good enough in the modern game. Bottom line is that other teams are better both tactically and in their overall play. England are playing catch-up again now.

Hussain: It is a last hurrah for some players and the end of a 50-over era but not the end for England as a white-ball force. They don’t have to tear it all up and start again. They just have to have a bit of a re-set. 

What has happened here should not take anything away from all they have achieved and the special memories they have created.

Booth: Their 50-over team has been falling away for a while – they just didn’t want to admit it. The T20 side is another matter: if they can defend that title next year, they will argue all is not lost. But their reputation has taken a serious battering.

Newman: It doesn’t have to be the end. I’m afraid 50-over cricket is dying worldwide and England’s ‘it’ll be alright on the night’ approach to this World Cup reflected that. But they won the T20 last year and could easily do the same again next year.

England won the 2019 ODI World Cup on home soil, the high point of their white ball reset

They also lifted the T20 World Cup – under Buttler and Matthew Mott – and will defend their title next year

What needs to happen now then?

Newman: This is the first crisis Key has had to deal with as managing director and I would expect him to go back to India now for some straight-talking and big decision making. But this doesn’t feel like some of the spectacular fall-outs of England’s relatively recent past – and I’ve seen a few. ‘Just sack the lot of them’ doesn’t feel right for this one.

Booth: They need to be honest about why they’ve failed, and why they’ve departed from the attacking instincts that have worked so well for them both in white- and red-ball cricket. If I hear once more that there is no ‘magic bullet’ I will scream.

Hussain: There’s a T20 World Cup in June and I would keep a core of experienced players and introduce young talent around them. 

The key is not to panic in the same way Andrew Strauss didn’t panic in 2015 when he could have axed Eoin Morgan. It’s how this era evolves and transfers into a new one that will be England’s challenge.

Lloyd: There is a suggestion now there will be very little 50-over cricket but we will still have a World Cup every four years. That doesn’t make sense to me. 

We need to make 50-over cricket meaningful again domestically – either in a league or a straight FA Cup knockout type competition. It’s been downgraded and the result is staring us in the face.

If in charge, Buttler will likely look to integrate some younger players and potentially keep some core experienced stars

Matthew Mott’s role has been questioned. Should he, Jos Buttler or both lose their jobs after this shemozzle?

Lloyd: I would expect the coach to be safe. He won the T20 World Cup last year and England’s cricket is backed up by a strong Blast. 

The captain? That’s down to him. Jos has scored no runs and it’s not easy keeping and being in charge. Why not go back to the ranks?

Hussain: I didn’t hear a single person criticising Mott as a coach and Buttler as a captain before this tournament. They have to take responsibility for this, just as the players do, and along with Key look at their decision making because it has been very poor throughout. 

Take the confusion over Jason Roy’s role before the World Cup and Archer as a possible replacement during it as examples. All of them need to learn from their mistakes – but it’s not time for Mott and Buttler to go.

Newman: Gut instinct, admittedly from a distance, is that Mott has earned the right to defend the T20 title he helped win. But he was brought in to work with Eoin Morgan and perhaps he is too similar to Buttler as a character. 

I wrote a little while ago that Buttler should defend England’s T20 title as captain but he has that haunted look now he had towards the end of his Test career. He’s too good to waste as a player. Maybe it’s time for a new captaincy broom.

Booth: The last two games, against the Netherlands and Pakistan, are crucial. If England lose either of those, and miss out on qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy, it’s hard to see how Mott stays on. But I’d be surprised if they sack the captain as well as the coach.

Head coach Mott (left) and Buttler both have questions to answer following England’s showing

Mott could too lose his job, but may be given the change to defend the World Cup he helped win next year

Eoin Morgan’s comments have caused a few eyebrows to be raised. Is he the man to bring back the glory days?

Booth: Not necessarily, because the likes of India and South Africa are so strong. But he would not have allowed the kind of defeatist public statements we’ve heard repeatedly out here. 

Morgan understood the importance of positivity – which is easy to mock but even easier to mislay.

Hussain: It’s too easy an option. Eoin was a great captain and was always going to be a tough act for Jos to follow. If he wants to go down the coaching route I’m sure it will be a good option for him in future but I think he’s happy where he is at this stage.

Lloyd: When Morgan first spoke it smacked to me of ‘gizza job!’ But with my broadcasting hat on, sometimes your words come out wrong and he has backtracked. 

The players were quick to come out and deny there was something wrong in the camp. And in my experience if they agree with something like that they just stay quiet. I’m in close contact with one player and he says ‘we’ve just been rubbish. Simple as that.’

Newman: There was a suggestion Morgan may have been referring to the data and analytical advice England were getting when he said ‘something isn’t right’ but surely the buck stops with the players. 

His record as captain means he would have to be taken seriously if he wants to become coach but I’m not sure he wants that to be now.

Former England captain Eoin Morgan suggested that England’s problems run deeper than just on-field performances

Morgan captained England to the trophy in 2019 and there have been calls for him to return as the side’s coach

Was Rob Key’s announcement of central-contracts midway through the tournament badly timed and does David Willey’s international retirement hint at trouble in the camp?

Hussain: I don’t think it hints at trouble in the camp – it hints at trouble for David Willey. It seems the contracts were decided before they came out here so on top of missing out in 2019 the poor lad must think ‘why always me?’ 

I do think the timing of the contracts announcement was odd. I can’t see why it couldn’t have been made after the World Cup.

Lloyd: David Willey is nearly 34 and, I’m sorry, there’s no room for sentiment. He’s been a trojan but there comes a time to move on. 

Key is spinning plates with the spectre of multi-year franchise deals in the background and is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. So he had to get details of these England contracts out there.

Booth: This is a red herring for me, because the contract details were known in September. Willey’s decision reflected his personal frustration, not something deeper. But that’s not to say that the new multi-tiered system won’t cause some envy and resentment. The players are only human.

Newman: Tricky one. It was not a good look for Willey to arrive at Lord’s ahead of the trip to discover he was the only World Cup player without a contract. But the threat to international cricket from the franchises is all too real so Key had to act quickly.

David Willey has revealed he will be retiring from international cricket when the World Cup is over after missing out on a central contract

Does the new white-ball era begin in West Indies next month? Do you expect a totally new-look England squad? What players should be at the forefront of that new era and whose days are numbered?

Hussain: Some for the future are already here like Harry Brook and Gus Atkinson and they should be joined by the likes of Ben Duckett, Will Jacks and Phil Salt. 

There’s a lot of talent out there. And make sensible, grown-up decisions on the older players. There are some all-time greats in this squad. So have honest conversations but be careful. Nothing knee-jerk. 

People told me we should get rid of people like Caddick, Stewart, Atherton and Thorpe when I first became captain. We didn’t and our re-set was all the better for it.

There have been calls for the likes of Ben Duckett (left) and Zak Crawley (right) to be introduced to the 50-over side

Booth: The 50-over team has to start again, with a view to the 50-over World Cup: that means picking the likes of Duckett, Jacks, Brook, Rehan Ahmed and Atkinson, to name only a few. It should be thanks and goodbye to Stokes, Malan, Root, Moeen, Woakes and Wood.

Newman: Surely we have seen the last, sadly, of Joe Root in England’s coloured clothing. Can’t see why he, Stokes, Malan, Woakes, Wood, Moeen and Rashid would play any more 50-over cricket for England. But other than Root they should all still have a T20 role. 

I don’t want to under-estimate the scale of this disappointment but this is not like the aftermath of the Ashes 2014 or 2021. England have the strength in depth to quickly hit back.

Lloyd: There is not one player nailed on to go to West Indies. There is a clean slate. I’d be excited if I were picking the next squad. It’s a new cycle and there are some real likely lads coming to the fore – I’ll throw in a few other than the obvious ones – James Rew, Jamie Smith, Dan Lawrence, Tom Hartley and Josh De Caires. I’d love Saqib Mahmood to be fit too. And all eyes will be on who the captain is!

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