Reigning 50-over Cricket World Cup champions England have been torn to shreds by their countrymen after a ruthless shellacking in the opening match of the 2023 Cricket World Cup.
In a replay of the 2019 World Cup Final against New Zealand, which has gone down as one of the greatest matches in the history of the format after it was decided on boundary countback following a draw after the Super Over, the Kiwis were ruthless.
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England entered the tournament as the second favourites behind only hosts India for the competition but were handed a harsh reality check in a nine wicket loss.
England hit 9/282 of their 50 overs, before taking the wicket of New Zealand’s Will Young for a first-ball duck.
However, it was the last wicket they’d take as Devon Conway’s 121-ball 152 and Rachin Ravindra’s 96-ball 123 blew the Poms away.
New Zealand reached the target after 36.2 overs, leaving 82 balls remaining in a brutal annihilation.
While not the revenge that would be completely satisfying for New Zealand considering the 2019 loss cost them a World Cup, it was a huge victory for an understrength side without the likes of Kane Williamson, Tim South and Lockie Ferguson.
But while Australia copped England claiming a moral victory all throughout the Ashes series, there’s been no similar crowing after the World Cup humiliation.
2019 World Cup winning captain Eoin Morgan was in disbelief over the substandard performance from a team which had piled on the runs at a quick clip in all formats of the game.
“England didn’t bowl well — they were so far off the mark,” Morgan said on Sky Sports.
“They looked undercooked with the ball, bowling both sides of the wicket, which isn’t ideal.
“It was a disappointing day. You have to be able to compete to say you were outplayed and for a lot of the game, they didn’t compete.”
And with the bat?
“They will be kicking themselves a little bit. They didn’t throw many punches. I don’t think they went hard enough.”
England great Michael Atherton blasted the side in The Times.
“(England) will have to show significant improvement very quickly after a rusty and drab performance brought defeat in a manner that has rarely befallen them in recent times,” Atherton wrote.
“No barest of margins here, just a hammering.
“(Jos) Buttler’s players were thankful, no doubt, that there were not more viewers in the ground to witness matters.”
The last line is a reference to the tiny crowd that turned out for the match in the 132,000 seat Narendra Modi Stadium.
Wisden editor and Daily Mail UK reporter Lawrence Booth was equally scathing.
“The batting, though, was one thing – the bowling quite another,” Booth wrote.
“Sam Curran burgled a wicket with his first ball, strangling Will Young down the leg side, but otherwise it was a horror show against the kind of assault England have grown used to inflicting on opponents.”
However, former England skipper Nasser Hussain was quick to back the side to bounce back.
“England have periods like this and they do bounce back,” he said.
“They lost to New Zealand last month and people were saying ‘Root is gone, change the side, the bowling attack is rubbish’. But they came back.
“I don’t know how to win World Cups but my guess is that picking yourself up and dusting yourself down (is important). In Jos, I think they have that type of leader.”
Former England captain Joe Root, who top scored for the side with 77, labelled it “below par in all departments”.
“We did manage to build partnerships, but as soon as we get going we kept stalling ourselves and that stopped us getting the total we wanted,” Root said after the loss.
“In the field, when you know you’ve got a below-par score, you’ve then got to be above par in everything you do and we didn’t manage that. We didn’t play anywhere near the standard that we know we are capable of.”
Captain Jos Buttler added there was plenty of time to bounce back.
“We were completely outplayed,” Buttler said. “But whether you lose by one run or suffer a defeat like that, it is one loss at the start of a very long tournament.
“It’s tough to take, but we have a lot of experience and guys who have been through a lot of things.”
England will face Bangladesh next on Tuesday evening.