I’m Telling You We’ve Got A Chance – England’s World Cup Squad


Now that Alastair Cook’s fate has been determined, and the hordes of insatiable demonic plebs on social media have had their way, the England squad for the World Cup can finally be picked on merit. Shame it took the forces of darkness – those heinous orcish keyboard warriors – to restore a meritocracy.

Anyway, enough of the smugness, now we’ve had our pound of flesh (you can read Maxie’s thoughts here) it’s time to chew the fat and digest the rest of the squad. How’s it looking? Well, it looks better than it did in Sri Lanka, but it’s still not going to strike fear into David Warner, Virat Kohli and Co.

Unfortunately this team only has a few games to settle before the phoney war ends and the real shooting begins. We were supposed to have four years to prepare for the bloody World Cup, but the cult of Cook got in the way. Now we’ll have to bed in a new opening partnership and create a new ‘culture’ without the bloke who’s been the centre of the ECB’s universe for the last twelve months. Hang your head in shame Mr Downton.

Talking of Downton, he’s had one hell of a week. First of all he gave a series of media interviews in which he came across as a pompous spin-doctor divorced from reality. Now he’s been overruled and humiliated.

It’s hard to think how Downton’s first year in the job could have been worse. Why did he even give an interview last week? Why not just wait until the key decisions had been made? He was setting himself up for a fall. In my opinion he was both naïve and incompetent.

Through all the controversies of 2014, Downton hid behind his sofa and stubbornly refused to speak to the media. When he did finally make an appearance it was at the wrong time and he said all of the wrong things. If I wasn’t from the right sort of family myself, I’d call him a useless plonker.

Downton has got just about everything wrong this year:

The promotion of Andy Flower? Wrong.

The reappointment of Peter Moores – a coach who has never won a single limited overs trophy in his life – in a World Cup year? Wrong.

The backing of a captain with little charisma and little form? Wrong.

The sacking of Kevin Pietersen? Probably wrong, judging by the testimony provided by several members of the squad.

The decision to break the confidentiality agreement soon after it was imposed? Wrong.

And finally, the decision to speak to the public just three times in a traumatic calendar year? Shameful.

Cook has been a terrible England ODI batsman and captain since the Ashes debacle, but compared to the managing director of English cricket he’s been bloody ‘revelationary’ (to use Downton’s favourite non-word). If Cook has been sacked, why hasn’t the MD? It’s more than shabby, Downton.

Anyway, on to the squad itself … at least the team can now finally move on without the negativity surrounding the skipper. Like Roy Hodgson in Brazil, we can go the World Cup with young players, free from the burden of excessive expectations, enjoy the experience, learn as much as we can, and … probably go out in the group stage. Maybe Mitchell Johnson will have a meltdown and bite Brendon McCullum? That would be fun.

The squad itself contained few surprises, with Ballance deservedly replacing Cook. The batting definitely has talent, so it’s not a lost cause, I just fear it’s too late for them to gel as a unit. If the likes of Mo, Root, Morgan and Buttler can find top form at the right time, then a run to the semis or even the final might be possible. The odds are clearly against it though.

The bowling is also a worry. There is no mystery, no pace, and basically very little hope. We might take some early wickets if Broad and Anderson can find their form and fitness, but Jimmy’s recent record in Australia isn’t exactly great. Furthermore, he doesn’t play T20 cricket for a reason: batsmen can get after him. Even George Bailey gave him a tonking in the Ashes.

The absence of any good death bowlers is very concerning. In previous years we had guys like Darren Gough to fire in yorkers. These days our strategy revolves around the slower ball bouncer … which I suppose is the antithesis of the fast full toss (and just as useless).

Given the absurd format of the tournament, however, our cause isn’t without hope. If we can avoid too many hiccups in the group stages – in other words, we don’t lose to Bangladesh – we should make the quarter-finals. Then it’s just a series of one off games.

At this point, I cannot see England defending too many totals against the world’s best sides, but I do think we’re capable of pulling off the odd run chase. Cricket matches can be decided by brilliant individual performances, so if we can keep Buttler fit, and Morgan rediscovers his magic touch, we’ve got a chance.

Admittedly it’s a bit of a Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber chance, but it’s a chance nevertheless. What do you guys think?

Squad: Morgan (capt), Hales, Moeen Ali, Bell, Taylor, Root, Ballance, Bopara, Buttler, Woakes, Jordan, Finn, Broad, Anderson, Tredwell

James Morgan


  • Let’s put it this way.

    Bell stays in the squad, KP and Lumb nowhere to be seen.

    The Management have taken a bloody nose, the deck chairs re-arranged a bit.

    But the Titanic’s still sinking. No chance

  • I’m not so confident.

    It has taken an entire year and a lot of lost ODI games for the selectors to finally bite the bullet and ditch Cook as the ODI captain. That’s either evidence of a board that was completely under the thumb of Flower/Downton or a pack of hopelessly optimistic fools. You can just imagine how the meetings went – “Cook has been really shite lately, maybe we should try somebody else?” “No, we need to give him another decade to find his form.”

    Either way, it doesn’t speak well of the selectors that it took this long for them to finally address the most blatant problem in England’s ODI squad. A squad that has problems other than Cook, and may require more people to be dropped. I have little confidence that this board of selectors will be able to contribute anything towards improving the team before the World Cup starts – which means that England is now relying on Moores being able to turn the team into a winning outfit.

    There is a chance that Moores could make it work. Just as there is a chance I could win the lottery next week. I’m not going to bet the farm on either chance.

  • If we are allowed to play we have a chance. The team must be allowed to play what’s in front of them. No landmarks, no over reliance on lap tops. The pressure is off now. We need a world class coach to become a World Class team, but there is hope.
    Good Article again.

  • Good stuff. Downton has been a unmitigated disaster for England cricket, that the decision to relieve Cook of his position has taken this long shows the incompetence of the people at the top of our game. Better late than never I suppose.

    For the ECB to progress further the likes of Downton, Whittaker and Moores need to be moved on sooner rather than later. They are simply not up to the job.

    Squad looks stronger than of late but also a slightly missed opportunity in my view, would have liked us to back the likes of Vince, Rashid and Patel. Let’s hope the squad can play with a bit of freedom and give the competition a good go…

  • The format of the competition is idiotic. The matches against the so called big sides in the group can all be lost and as long as we beat Bangladesh we are in the quarter finals. (Where the likely opponent could be South Africa) I still think the 1992 format was the best. Everybody played everybody and then the top 4 went to the semi final. Every match mattered.

    I don’t think England will become world beaters with the removal of Cook. The important thing is we go with our best players. He was not one of them, and it was ludicrous to keep him for political reasons. The lack of good bowlers is a real worry. I can’t help thinking it doesn’t help when the players are drilled by a laptop on how to bowl. (England’s only tactic seems to be to bowl short) One of England’s problems is there is way too much theory and not enough practical. Remember Jimmy Anderson in the summer when asked how England turned the series round against India said………. “we gave up the plans, and just went back to instinct.”

    The Yorker is still an effective ball if it’s bowled well. Just look at Malinga. Yet England have given up on that delivery because they are terrified if it is slightly out it goes for 4. Well bloody well practice until you can bowl it more accurately.

    The England management need to stop running away from the IPL. It’s not going away. We should be proud of more England players getting asked to play. (Not throwing hissy fits like we did with KP)They could learn a lot about death bowling, and run scoring from the worlds best players. Instead we shut our eyes and scream “go away you nasty IPL”. But then we are England. We invented the game. What can we possible learn for others? Years ago the FA (another cracking England governing body) had as it’s technical director a guy called Charlie Hughes. He was convinced that Brazil in the 60s 70s and 80s were a long ball team! Were do we get these people from?

  • Morganatic marriage:
    (1) A marriage between people of unequal social rank, which prevents the passage of the husband’s titles and privileges to the wife and any children born of the marriage.
    (2) The loveless union between a dysfunctional cricket board and its new captain. One half of the union has already briefed friendly journalists that their true affections lie with a fresh-faced Yorkshireman, with whom they are planning a long-term relationship. Divorce papers, already drafted, begin “Irish-born Eoin Morgan……”.

  • I’m not expecting us to get further than the quarter finals, but what I think we will see is a much more likeable England side, who look like they want to be playing, whose over-rate is respectable, and whose captain will back them if they want to ignore the laptop and do what they believe will work.

  • Not too optimistic. Our approach to ODI cricket is still 20 years out of date, and is so deep seated it’ll take far more than Cook’s – or even Moores’ and Flower’s – removal to change that. I agree the bowling looks very weak and is totally reliant on getting early wickets with the new ball. Our batsmen have the ability to chase down 300-plus totals, but I’m not sure they believe that they can. Still, as you say, get out of the group stages and we only need to win three games in a row to win the thing.

  • I do think we’ll make the QF – and who knows, a bit of luck with D/L and it could easily be a SF. Throw in a Buttler/Hales special night and we’re in the final.

    Still, I expect we’ll go out in the QF. The irony for me is that the whole build-up (for obvious reasons) has focussed people on questions about our batting. And yet, the biggest question marks are, I think, over the bowling.

    Will Broad and Anderson come back and be fit in time? Even if they are, can they get into peak form? Even in peak form are they (Anderson in particular) a bit vulnerable when the white ball doesn’t swing?

    If not, you can well imagine some of the better ODI batsmen in the world just batting a Jordan, or an off-form Anderson out of a match.

    • I agree completely about the bowling. Having Broad back will help but Anderson is cannon fodder in Australian conditions. (I look forward to him proving me wrong) The batsmen better fire because we are going to be chasing 300 plus if we do make the quarter finals.

  • Probably a very daft question, but has Ballance ever opened in a one day match? If so then I quite fancy this team doing well…
    Ballance, Ali, Taylor, Root, Morgan, Bopara, Buttler, Woakes, Broad, Tredwell, Anderson

  • Good article. Moores, Downton and co. ought to be broadly irrelevant. They can’t perform on the pitch. At this level the players need to be allowed to make their own decisions and play the game as they see it and want to play it. What they need is not nannying but practical help with ensuring:

    a) they get around OK, facilities are good etc.
    b) they have access to useful analysis of opponents, grounds and current advances in the game but not too much of it
    c) mentors they trust and each can turn to
    d) good medical resources and
    e) someone to take the strain for the captain in terms of much of the off the field stuff so he can mould the team his way and lead.

    Half of this is administrative.

    The other half is specialist support – provision of information (not data), helping the team with fitness issues and enabling them to have access to those they trust individually as mentor – the Terry Jenner role for Shane Warne.

    It’s not over-direction. Will Carling’s England XV started to get somewhere on the day Brian Moore tapped a penalty and ran at the opposition instead of some pre-planned kick to touch. That single move changed the momentum. The 2007 World Cup side got to the Final from being a shambles because the players seized the responsibility of sorting themselves out.

    This XI may get somewhere when the players have the freedom to play and accept the responsibility of doing it for themselves. It’s their dressing room and their field.

    • Very much agree with this Mark. We need to go back to a the notion of individual skills, and players thinking for themselves in the heat of battle. Instinct, as opposed to top down laptop theory.

      As I say above the Yorker is still a good ball when delivered well. We should look to get better at bowling it, not put it away in the locker. It doesn’t have to be all short balls. Or indeed all Yorkers. Mix it up according to instinct.

      • The problem is that I don’t think the players are playing at a high enough standard domestically, and therefore individual skills are not of sufficient standard to compete.

        In recent years, players like Dernbach and Gurney have come into the side based on strong performances in county cricket and have found the step up too hard to handle – I think this is a problem for bowlers more than batsmen which is why I can’t see any good options for bowling at the death.

        Although I don’t rate Saker as a bowling coach, there’s very little that he can do to help reproduce the pressure of bowling at a top class batsman who comes after you.

        Cook’s dismissal has grabbed the headlines, but the dearth of bowling options is a real worry.

        • I agree with this Hamish (there’s a surprise for you)

          But as I say higher up……….

          “The England management need to stop running away from the IPL. It’s not going to go away. We should be proud of more England players getting asked to play. (Not throwing hissy fits like we did with KP)They could learn a lot about death bowling, and run scoring from the worlds best players.”

          30 odd years ago there were lots of great foreign players playing county cricket. These provided a sauce of knowledge and quality for young players to learn from. Not the case today.

          • Mark,
            Agree with your comments higher up – and Mark E and Hamish. Absolutely all for players trusting their instincts and backing their skills. Only thing that worries me is whether those instincts are that strong in modern day players.
            Agree on the IPL too. Personally I couldn’t care less about it, but I’m a dinosaur, and the T20 comps are going to be the shiny new toy for a while yet. When does the current Sky contract run out? I presume that will be the time for the ECB to come to a sensible accomodation with the IPL.

    • At this level the players need to be allowed to make their own decisions and play the game as they see it and want to play it. What they need is not nannying but practical help…

      I strongly agree with this, too.

      A classic example is Moeen Ali’s bowling, which improved dramatically after a chat with Ian Bell, and a piece of advice from an umpire…

      The other thing is that coaches ought not to be trying to mould players into their idea of what a cricketer should be. One of the joys of the game (particularly In the long format) is that it can accomadate a huge variety of talents.

  • By his own words Morgan’s captaincy ethos is…”No frills, no bullshit!
    I can imagine his first team talk would be along the lines of :- “Right lads..f**k the laptop, f**k the management bullshit, just get out there, play your own game, the way you want to play it, and lets get after ’em, get out there and win!”

  • Nigel and Peter

    I seem to remember reading that the great Keith Miller just told his Australian Team-Mates to just scatter wherever they thought might be useful because he couldn’t be bothered to tell them where to go and because he trusted them to know what they were doing.

    I know it’s a dangerous foray into independent thinking but it seemed to do his career no harm at all. Not something P Diddy and his Merry men would encourage is it?

  • I don’t think England need to create ‘a new culture’, nor should they worry about having to ‘gel as a unit’.

    England just needs to pick the best team and be told they’re underdogs. I’ll be checking the odds at ladbrokes before the tournamnent. England might be worth a flutter.

    Ali, Hales, Taylor, Root, Morgan, Bopara, Buttler, Tredwell, Broad, Anderson, Finn

    • Woakes for me, rather than Tredwell. But good choices – I would say that’s just about our best team, bar you-know-who.


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