Battle-scarred England up against West Indies in their comfort zone

England were at the receiving end of an all-round performance from Andre Russell in the opening T20I


The undisputed white-ball champions before the events of October 5, 2023, England could not possibly have imagined a more painful fall from a rather high pedestal. The England men’s team held the World Cup title since July 2019, and the T20 World Cup title since November 2022, not to mention, revolutionising Test cricket with the infamous Bazball approach despite no trophies or titles to show for it.

The aftermath: a humiliating series defeat in the format they were arguably unbeatable in, around this time two months ago, against a team that failed to qualify for the World Cup. Now, they face them in a format that is more suited to their opponents. West Indies – twice World Champions in the format with a fraction of the financial resources and infrastructure. Make no mistake, England have won two as well, the first of them in the West Indies, but those were two wildly different sides.

West Indies have now comfortably beaten England in the first T20I. The first of five. England need to turn it around, with many gaping holes in their armoury, failing to survive 20 over’s in their last outing, and their bowling unit looking clueless against a violent batting line-up. Still, it did look like there was a master and apprentice at work, with Adil Rashid leading the way, and Rehan Ahmed following suit with their leg-breaks. With the batting, it’s been the problem one would have imagined with a line-up full of match-winning biffers – sustenance. What we are watching is the worst possible outcome of Bazball.

However, despite the lack of T20I cricket played by the West Indies, the sheer number of franchise experience that each of the personnel hold, outweighs the issues associated with not playing as a team often enough – Andre Russell being the perfect example. A batting line-up that sustains just long enough for the six-or-out approach, has created the perfect template for the West Indies’ assembled line-up of global T20 superstars. How England will counter them technically is secondary. Their primary concern would be to get back into the winning headspace, despite the battle scars of the World Cup.

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