Cricket World Cup 2019: Eoin Morgan's poise among the main talking points ahead of England v India
Sunday’s match at Edgbaston will prove whether this week’s calamity has been terminal for the host nation, or just a blip from which they can recover
What with this being a Cricket World Cup, it was certain the wheels were going to come off for England at some point.
Sunday’s match against India at Edgbaston will prove whether this week’s calamity has been terminal for the host nation, or just a blip from which they can recover.
Lose, and it seems unlikely they will make it through to the last four. Win, and they should feel as though they are back on track, even with one more testing match to come against New Zealand.
India, for their part, have been humming along seamlessly at this tournament, with their only points lost to weather, rather than an opposition.
That said, unbeaten India are not without issues of their own, which they might have to address if they are to reclaim the title they won in 2011.
Eoin Morgan has an icy glare, even when he is happy. There was, however, a marked contrast in his demeanour after the loss to Australia last time out than there was, say, after he hit 17 sixes against Afghanistan.
Especially when it was put to him that he might, in fact, be scared of the pace bowling delivered by Mitchell Starc. It is not surprising he bristled at that.
But for a man who has suggested England are prepared for every eventuality at this competition, his bearing seems to have soured worryingly quickly on the back of two adverse results.
England’s prospects feel like they may be somewhat dependent on how quickly their captain can regain his poise.
Adil Rashid v Michael Vaughan, circa 2018. Geoffrey Boycott v The World, circa ever. And now Jonny Bairstow v Vaughan this week.
Jos Buttler drew a neat line under a potential furore when he said the latest feud to flare within English cricket was “just typical Yorkies”.
History does suggest, after all, that players from Yorkshire, England’s most productive county in cricket, don’t mind a rare-up.
Bairstow had said that no one in England wants England to win the World Cup. Vaughan asked why would they, given how badly they had been playing.
Buttler said he did not feel quite the same way as Bairstow. None of which matters anyway, unless England can relocate their collective mojos and get their campaign back on track with a win over India.
Nothing speaks of the remarkable depth of Indian pace bowling resources better than the fact Mohammed Shami could not get into their starting XI at the beginning of this tournament.
It needed a hamstring injury to Bhuvneshwar Kumar to open the door. Shami could scarcely have done more to take his chance.
Bowling the last over of the defence against Afghanistan, he took the second World Cup hat-trick ever by an Indian.
Then in the facile win over West Indies, he took four for 16. He has the thriftiest economy rate of any bowler in the tournament, at 3.46 runs per over.
India’s middle-order was said to be their Achilles heel before the competition started. Little has happened to disprove that since it started.
The stats are telling. The top four players in India’s batting averages bat in the top three – a seemingly incongruous feat brought about by the injury of Shikhar Dhawan, that meant KL Rahul was bumped up the order.
Of course, this is in many ways the sort of problems sides do not mind having. Their top order is so strong, India can often realistically bypass No 4 by sending Hardik Pandya or MS Dhoni up the order to step on the gas straight away.
But there might come a point when they need Kedar Jadhav or Vijay Shankar to play an innings of substance.
Updated: June 29, 2019 04:41 PM