Before the 2023 Cricket World Cup started, England were considered the team to beat as they came into the showpiece in India as the defending champions. However, with three pool games still to go before the knockout stages commence, the dream of retaining cricket’s greatest prize is all but over for Jos Buttler’s men after they endured the worst One Day International World Cup campaign in the country’s history.
A month of misery
For a better idea of how quickly England’s defence of the World Cup unravelled, keep in mind that the latest online cricket betting odds for the outright winner of the World Cup price England at 500/1 as of early November. However, it was only at the start of October when you could find England at short odds of 16/5 to go all the way.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) October 29, 2023
It has been a calamitous month for England that few in the cricketing world would have predicted happening but in hindsight, the county’s World Cup hopes were doomed before they landed in India.
Central contract negotiations ongoing during the World Cup
England have looked like a deeply unsettled side in India because they are one. The main reason for this is that the English Cricket Board hadn’t concluded central contract negotiations with players before the start of the World Cup.
This lapse in judgment meant that the futures of certain players were still up in the air while England were competing at the World Cup. It’s not hard to imagine why members of the World Cup squad would have felt distracted and unable to focus on the task at hand with such crucial negotiations ongoing in the background.
The main fallout from this was left-arm quick David Willey who retired out of protest halfway through the 2023 campaign after being informed that he wouldn’t be offered a contract.
It should be noted that Willey’s abrupt retirement is potentially good news for Redditch cricket lovers as the town’s own Josh Tongue was awarded a new contract from the ECB. What this essentially means is that the Redditch-born fast bowler could take Willey’s place in future white-ball tournaments having earned a two-year deal.
Josh Tongue takes his first Ashes wicket and what a BEAUTY! 😍
Khawaja goes for 17 💥 pic.twitter.com/qWxZ08YBLQ
— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) June 28, 2023
Of course, that is the one silver lining to this unfortunate episode which has left the England change room splintered.
Erratic team selection
Another regrettable decision by the England team management was to allow Ben Stokes to come out of retirement so that he could play in the World Cup. Allowing this preferential treatment came at the expense of players in better form who represented the future of white-ball cricket in England.
While the ECB may have frantically backtracked and included some of these discarded players at the eleventh hour before England flew to India, the damage had already been done with the team dynamic altered and a culture of resentment in place making it impossible for the squad to gel at the World Cup.
Inadequate ODI preparation
Finally, it’s no secret that the ECB have made a decision to prioritise T20s and The Hundred over 50-over cricket since 2019. The result is that England have come to India severely undercooked and lacking match practice in the ODI arena.
Incredibly, England only played three official ODIs in the six months leading up to the 2023 World Cup. There’s no way that anyone can read that last sentence and still wonder why England have lost five out of their opening six games at the World Cup: they simply weren’t prepared.
One positive is that the only way is up for England after experiencing a World Cup as disastrous as this. Indeed, hard lessons would have been learned which should mean that the world sees a much improved England team at the 2027 World Cup in South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.
This is a submitted article