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England still on track despite Kiwis’ T20 knock out blow

Yet another white ball campaign for England’s cricket team has come to a close. Owen Morgan’s side fell at the semi final stage to an inspired New Zealand outfit after having a 100% record in the Super 12 stage of the tournament.

What went wrong against New Zealand

In retrospect, the loss to New Zealand may not be a huge concern. Firstly, the fact Morgan lost the toss immediately set England on the back foot. There has been a clear trend of teams opting to chase coming out on top because of the dew factor coming into play for the duration of this tournament games played at night in particular have enormously favoured the side batting second. This was undoubtedly a problem for England in the field.

The sub par death bowling certainly played a part but conditions were a pivotal factor in how the latter overs of the New Zealand innings played out. Coming on to the death bowling itself, it was Chris Jordan’s third over, the 17th of the innings, that turned the game on its head. Jordan conceded 23 reducing the required rate from 14 an over to 11 for the final three overs.

Neither Adil Rashid nor Chris Woakes covered themselves in glory off their respective last overs, however it was Jordan’s over that really shifted the momentum of the contest. Jordan has been fairly reliable through the tournament and he has been a go to for Morgan for a number of years, but the warning signs have been there for a while.

He was going at north of 10 runs an over for the last three years despite being the third most used bowler at the death in international cricket.

Furthermore, the mid tournament injury to Timal Mills coupled with Jofra Archer’s long term absence left England significantly depleted in the death bowling department. Had either of these players been fit, the outcome of the game, and indeed England’s tournament, may well have been very different.

New Zealand’s role too should not be glossed over. Both James Neesham and Darrel Mitchel played absurdly brilliant knocks to see their sides home. On another day, one of their shots may have gone to hand but the pair executed their skills to perfection.

What are the positives?

On the surface going out at the semi-final stage in a tournament you were arguably favourites for isn’t a great result. Whilst this remains the case, there were still some positives to take for Morgan’s men.

Liam Livingstone has been a revelation not only throughout the tournament, but for the year as a whole. His batting Prius was well documented and he has showcased his ability in many a franchise team over recent years. More notable was his bowling which has come on a leaps and bounds in the past 12 months.

Livingstone has the unique quality of bowling both off and leg spin and this has been invaluable for Morgan as he has been able adjust according to specific match ups. His spell of 1/22 in the match against New Zealand when most of his team mates went round the park was testament to his development as a bowler. Even as the sixth best option on paper, he proved to be an excellent addition to England’s armoury.

The form of Jos Buttler was England’s other main positive from this tournament. The keeper batsman was in frankly ridiculous nick throughout the group stages of the event. His 32 ball 72 expedition against Sri Lanka had fans marvelling in his brilliance but it was the 101 not out against Sri Lanka which really hammered home his quality as a white ball player.

On a difficult pitch to bat on, Buttler fought his way to 50 before exploding towards the back end of the innings, thus demonstrating the many gears he is able to go through during his stay at the crease.

He has been touted as Morgan’s successor as captain of the T20 side by many in cricket quarters when the long-standing captain does decide to step down from the role. The manner in which he scored his runs throughout this tournament bodes pretty well for this being the case as he showed how well he is able to handle pressure situations. England will be in safe hands if and when Morgan does decide to call it a day.

What does the future hold?

In their defeat to the West Indies in the final of the 2016 addition, Liam Plunkett was the second oldest member of the squad at 28 years old. Five years on, Liam Livingstone, also 28, was the second youngest in the squad. This is a clear indicator that the majority of this team is probably in the autumn of its career. Such is their quality, that they will still be a force to be reckoned with in the 2022 addition of the T20 World Cup in Australia and possibly even the 50 over World Cup held in India in two years time.

Regardless, there is naturally some trepidation around how this team will fair for the future given how successful the current set up has been. What is promising for England is the fact that they have a talented crop of players coming through. In the recently concluded summer, a number of fringe players were called up following the first team having to self-isolate. there likes of Sakib Mahmood, Phill Salt and Mat Parkinson, all of whom are under the age of 25, were particularly impressive in the ODI series against Pakistan which they incidentally won 3-0.

Tom Banten, an exciting top order batsman has been destructive at county level be he is yet to translate this to the international circuit. If he can make the transition, then England’s future may be looking bright and the end of this squad’s career may not be of as much concern as may be feared.

That being said, England will still go into the next two global events as one of the favourites with this current crop. Morgan’s golden generation certainly have some life left in them.

What do you think?