England ‘sloppy’ – but feel they would have beaten Scotland

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England ‘sloppy’ – but feel they would have beaten Scotland

England headed into the T20 World Cup as defending champions and one of the tournament favourites – but were given a real scare by qualifiers Scotland before the rain won out in Barbados.

With both sides taking a point apiece from the abandonment in Bridgetown – in which Scotland thumped 90-0 from 10 overs before England were unable to begin a chase – we look at the talking points, including a sloppy start for Jos Buttler’s side in the field and their opponents proving they will be no pushovers…

England fail to deliver statement performance

When Mark Wood smashed George Munsey on the boot first ball with a devilish, fast-paced, late-swinging yorker, it appeared as though it could be a tough afternoon for Scotland.

But England were not as accurate with the ball and in the field during the rest of the 6.2 overs before a rain delay, with Wood a guilty party as a huge no-ball denied him the wicket of Munsey on 16.

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Mark Wood’s wicket of Munsey on 16 was chalked off after he bowled a no-ball

Jofra Archer, playing his first game for England in his birth country, was punished by Michael Jones after bowling wide outside off stump, while fellow Bajan Chris Jordan was thumped for three consecutive boundaries by Jones, including a six over midwicket that smashed a solar panel.

Add in a couple of early mis-fields and it was not a slick display from Buttler’s boys, who are hoping to atone for last year’s dismal 50-over World Cup title defence in India.

Former England captain and now Sky Sports pundit Eoin Morgan said: “You would say they were sloppy in places. Scotland played well but England would have hoped to be more dominant.

“You cannot start slowly in tournaments like this, particularly off the back of the 50-over World Cup. It’s a lot of the same leadership group and players and they would have wanted to get things settled and they haven’t achieved that.”

No time to panic for England but things to work on.

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Jos Buttler felt England would have chased down their target of 109 in 10 overs in Bridgetown

Scotland show they will be a match for anyone

Munsey benefited from Wood’s overstep when he ballooned the England quick into Buttler’s gloves in the fifth over but that was one of the rare errors from the Scotland opener (41no off 31 balls) as he and Jones (45no off 30) impressed in Barbados.

Jones’ panel-breaking maximum off Jordan in the first 6.2 overs was arguably bettered by Munsey during the 3.2 overs after the restart, with the left-hander swatting England leg-spinner Adil Rashid into the stands over extra-cover with a stunning reverse sweep.

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Michael Jones’ six off Chris Jordan smashed a solar panel

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Munsey hits a delightful reverse-swept six off Adil Rashid at Kensington Oval

Scotland’s bowlers were denied the chance to show their skills when the next rain interruption proved match-ending, but they have some talented players in that department, too, including canny left-arm spinner Mark Watt, 90mph-plus seamer Chris Sole and fellow pacemen Brad Currie and Brad Wheal.

If anyone thought Group B would be a procession for England and Australia, then maybe they should think again.

Morgan added: “Scotland were brilliant. We highlighted they were a tournament team and they clearly have strong belief. You would say they would be very disappointed with the washout as this was a chance to take England down.”

Which side held the advantage?

Yes, England were sloppy. And, yes, they did not underline their credentials as title contenders. But they didn’t lose and might not have even if they had been able to begin a 10-over shot at 109.

It was a tricky target but not an insurmountable one. Not in damp conditions and certainly not with the batting power they possess. Head coach Matthew Mott even made his men favourites.

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Jos Buttler felt England would have chased down their target of 109 in 10 overs in Bridgetown

Mott said: “We had all the advantage in that. A wet ball, 10 wickets in hand, 10 overs. If we’d got back out there, it would have been tough on Scotland. I think it would have been well within our grasp to get that so we were very confident. We were desperate to play.”

Mott’s view was not shared by Scotland opener Jones, who said: “The rain beat us.

“If you’d asked us before the game ‘do you want a point?’ we might have taken it, but to take on England and be in that position, knowing we had a really good chance of winning, is really frustrating. Mott thinks they were confident, we think we were confident.”

Topley to play against Australia?

England’s sole selection dilemma beforehand was whether to plump for the out-and-out pace of Wood or the left-arm variation of Reece Topley, with Wood given the nod in the end.

Morgan, however, thinks the lofty Topley could come in against Australia on Saturday, also in Barbados, with the Surrey man’s height and ability to bowl cutters into the surface potentially a useful weapon at a venue where there is some uneven bounce.

England's Reece Topley..prepares prepares for a delivery against West Indies during the fourth T20 cricket match at Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan)

Image: Will Reece Topley play for England against Australia on Saturday?

If Topley does play, Wood or Jordan could be must vulnerable. Jordan did not have a vintage outing against Scotland, although he has been earmarked to be England’s death bowler and, as we saw with a stunning catch against Pakistan last week, he is outstanding in the field.

England will be mindful of pushing Archer too far after his horror run with injuries, although it would be a surprise if he sat out against Australia, with the games against Namibia and Oman more likely occasions for a rest.

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England’s Phil Salt speaks to Sky Sports about the T20 World Cup, opening the batting with Jos Buttler and his hopes of a Test call-up

What’s next?

England play Australia in Barbados on Saturday (6pm start UK) with Scotland in action as early as Thursday as they face Namibia at the same venue (6pm start). Watch both games live on Sky Sports.

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