T20 World Cup: England’s chemistry gives them a winning formula to overcome changes to bowling attack

·3-min read
Chris Woakes is congratulated after taking a catch (REUTERS)
Chris Woakes is congratulated after taking a catch (REUTERS)

In March, England played five T20s in India, which Eoin Morgan saw as the perfect preparation for this World Cup.

At that stage, the tournament was still due to be in India but the rapidly-developing Covid-19 situation had already made a move to the UAE – where conditions are comparable if not identical – highly likely.

England used just 12 players in the 3-2 series defeat. The bowling attack was made up of six or seven players: Jofra Archer, Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid, Ben Stokes, Mark Wood, plus a Curran or two.

Fast forward to the tournament that they were preparing for. England have won their opening two games, using six bowlers. But only Jordan and Rashid are still about.

Archer, Stokes and Sam Curran were ruled out of the whole tournament with injury. Wood and Tom Curran have joined them on the sidelines with – hopefully – shorter-term issues.

England have ended up throwing together a bowling attack, with Chris Woakes, Tymal Mills, Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone all timing their runs to perfection.

On Wednesday, as Bangladesh made just 124 for nine, the four new men picked up all the wickets, including a Mills run out (Woakes and Livingstone shared four catches, too). Even squad member David Willey, who has been unlucky to miss out on selection, spent two years in the T20i wilderness before returning this summer.

“Not by design a few players have missed out,” said Jordan. “The guys who have come in have definitely come in with good form.

“The chemistry between the boys and the way everyone has taken on each and every role they’ve been given has been tremendous.”

Chris Jordan, bowling against Bangladesh, is impressed by the  way the team have gelled (Getty Images)
Chris Jordan, bowling against Bangladesh, is impressed by the way the team have gelled (Getty Images)

Woakes made his T20i debut in 2011 but, from 2015 until June this year, did not play a single international in the format, despite being a regular in the longer forms of the game. Perhaps because they just wanted him to play some cricket – quirky misfortune meant he had not played for months – he received a T20 recall this summer, and has stuck around. He has bowled six overs in the tournament, picked up two wickets, and gone at just four an over.

Injury and the emergence of Archer meant Mills spent three years out of the side before this tournament, but suddenly he is England’s banker at the death, as well as a middle over battering ram. He has hammered a heavy length, picking up five wickets and travelling at just 5.5 an over.

Moeen has come back into favour, and found a powerplay niche, although England will need to be smart as teams cotton on to this. Livingstone’s liquorice all sorts, meanwhile, have been a happy by-product of his batting leaving England no choice but to select him. Livingstone did not even make the squad for the explorative T20 tour of New Zealand in 2019, but he has leap-frogged rivals this year.

Jordan puts England’s excellent start down to “good concentration”, “intensity from ball one” and “decent homework on the opposition”. They know West Indies – who are below their best – and disappointing Bangladesh have been extremely accommodating opponents. Stiffer challenges await, starting with right-hander-heavy (bad news for Moeen) Australia on Saturday.

England may shuffle their hand as soon as Wood is available (which is unlikely to be as soon as Saturday), to keep their opponents guessing and their own players fresh.

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