ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022: England lost back-to-back series against India and South Africa at home. England's Batters, Bowlers and Captaincy have all been poor.
England’s humbling joint-heaviest defeat in T20I cricket by 90 runs to South Africa at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton in the third T20I saw the hosts losing their second consecutive T20I series this summer.
It came on the back of their 1-2 series loss to India a few days back. For the first time since 2013, England have failed to win a home limited-overs series. To add salt to injury, during the start of this year, England were conquered by a close margin of 3-2 by the West Indies in the Caribbean.
From a winning side to losing side - The Story of England in recent T20Is
England are not used to losing T20Is in heaps. Between June 2018 and July 2021, they won 10 of their 13 bilateral series and lost only two but they have made losing a habit since the end of ICC World T20 2021 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year.
“I think there’s more time than you think, but what needs to happen in the short-term is to be really honest about where the group is placed,” England’s new white-ball coach Matthew Mott clarified. “All we ask I suppose is a bit of patience and a bit of perspective that we’ve got some building to do.”
Due to all those defeats, the pressure is mounting over England’s new captain, Jos Buttler, who has now lost four games in six T20Is since the sudden retirement of Eoin Morgan. “We’ve entertained crowds for a while - of course, it’s disappointing to not put on a great show for them,” Buttler addressed the boos England received during their run chase in the third T20I against the Proteas. “It was a bit of a reality check.”
There are certain points that haves contributed to the nightmares England side are going through in the shortest format of the game.
Poor form of batters coupled with damaged batting order a big issue
Without an ounce of doubt, England have been a fearsome and aggressive batting side for the last few years. From the opening batters through the middle-order to their lower-order batters, all the players display a frightening batting style in T20Is.
But poor exhibition of batting from England has resulted in a string of defeats. At the top, Buttler scored just 22 runs during the three-match T20I series against India, before securing just 65 runs in the same number of T20I games against South Africa.
Obviously, his opening partner, Jason Roy has been completely out of form going through a lean patch for quite some time; he aggregated just 76 runs in the six innings during the summer. He has to come out all guns blazing in the ‘Hundred’ competition, England’s franchise cricket, to prove he is still worth his place in the side. If not then the likes of Phil Salt and Harry Brooks, who are waiting for their chances, may get a chance ahead of him.
To go deep in their batting order, only Dawid Malan, Mooen Ali and Jonny Bairstow have cracked T20I half-centuries this summer while Liam Livingstone has joined Jos Buttler in the list of not scoring even 100 runs across the summer.
It goes without saying how much England are missing their prime man in batting, Ben Stokes, who was given rest before he declared his sudden retirement from One Day International (ODI) cricket. But England have to find a way to get back to their prime in T20I cricket with the World Cup knocking on the door.
England’s bowling is adding more pressure on the team
Along with poor batting, England’s bowling as well is making it tough for them. The mixture of seven bowling options divided in the form of three spinners and four pace bowlers have failed to defend totals or get hold of a solid position during the first innings of a T20I game.
The sharpness they used to have in the bowling department in those old years are missing now; they need to find that extra charm and life that makes the whole group excited. The real issue has been their bowling; South Africa’s total of 191/5 in the third T20I is the second-lowest total England have conceded in their six T20Is this summer. This paints out a clear vision of the massive scores England batters have been forced to chase of late.
The probable main reason for their bowling struggle has been the long list of injuries afflicting their bowlers. From the likes of Jofra Archer, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood to Olly Stone, Saqib Mahmood and Tom Curran, all have missed the whole summer while Tymal Mill’s new toe injury ruled him out of the South Africa series.
England struggled hugely to take wickets with the new ball in the last two years but this year, they have failed to perform in the middle overs taking only 14 wickets while leaking runs at a rate of 10.2 between the start of 7th over and to the end of 16th over.
This means that the spinners, the combination of Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali, Liam Livingstone and Matt Parkinson (for some games), have leaked runs at 11.5 runs per over across six games. “We haven’t managed to take wickets as much as we would have liked in that phase,” Buttler explained how England have failed to break partnerships to control the opposition’s scoring rate.
So, the whole responsibility has come on Chris Jordan and Reece Topley, who have performed well in patches in this summer but the inconsistency in their performances have punched England hard.
A raw captain losing his own style of batting
The famous quote of Richie Benaud, “Captaincy is 90 per cent luck and 10 per cent skill, but don’t try it without that 10 per cent,” feels right even after so many years. Jos Buttler is finding it tough at the moment in leading the side since the retirement of Eoin Morgan.
It is getting incredibly hard for him with each passing game to find his mojo. Along with managing the bowlers throughout the 120 balls, besides keeping wickets, Buttler seems to be running everywhere and his poor form this summer has put more pressure on his shoulders. He hasn’t scored a fifty in six innings in this home summer and that comes after his golden time in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022, where he smashed 863 runs in 17 games for Rajasthan Royals (RR) to win the orange cap.
But after a cold summer, Buttler is feeling the heat from all corners. The feeling prevails that Buttler’s England are yet to come out of the shadows of Morgan’s times. Victory in games will provide them some breathing space before things get serious for them.
In late autumn, England will play their seven-match T20I series against Pakistan starting on September 20 in Karachi. After that, they will fly to Australia for ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2022, where they will take on Afghanistan on October 22 in Perth.