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T20 World Cup 2021

Toss trouble and death overs downfall – five areas where England lost the semi-final to New Zealand

by Cameron Ponsonby 4 minute read

England suffered a dramatic five-wicket defeat to New Zealand who, needing 57 off the remaining four overs to reach the T20 World Cup Final, chased the score down with a whole over to spare. Here are five areas where the game was lost for England.

Par, but nothing more for England

In replacing Jason Roy with Sam Billings as opposed to an extra bowling option in David Willey, Tom Curran or Reece Topley. England opted for a batting-heavy line-up that left them little wiggle-room for when it came to who could bowl their overs. The argument for a batting-heavy line up is that it allows you to go harder in your innings and reach for an above par score which in theory then makes up for your lack of bowling strength. In only reaching 166, England failed to do this and were left defending a mediocre total with a (relatively speaking) weaker bowling attack than would be ideal. Combine this with the impact of having to defend a total whilst in the dew and it made England’s task even harder.

Death Overs

New Zealand needed 57 runs off 24 balls at the end of this match. 14 runs an over. For context, the rough economy of a free hit is around two runs a ball or 12 runs an over. So even when batters have zero fear for their own wicket, the maximum run rate you can really hope or expect from them is 12. And New Zealand needed 14. In fact, 14 runs an over would’ve only seen them tie the match off the last ball of the game. Instead what happened is New Zealand reached the total with an over to spare. They scored 57 runs. Off 18 balls. 18 balls that included six sixes and a further two fours. Chris Jordan’s over went for 23, Adil Rashid’s went for 14 and Chris Woakes’ 20.

England have some mitigation in this area in that they are without their two genuine world-class death-bowlers in Jofra Archer and Tymal Mills due to injury. This meant that of the three players who bowled in yesterday’s finale only Jordan has real experience in bowling at the death, however even his recent record has been very mediocre. It would be overly simplistic to lay the blame of the defeat wholly on these three overs, however it is also impossible to look past them given the dramatic nature of how events played out.

England’s magic in the field departs them

England are a wonderful cricket team. And part of their mystique over the last six years has been their penchant for performing miracles when in the field. Yesterday, there were three occasions where they had the opportunity to turn water into World Cup final only for Chris Jordan’s acrobatic effort to push the ball back into play result in the ball landing on the boundary rope for six, Jonny Bairstow’s knee when initiating a relay catch with Liam Livingstone touching the boundary rope for six more and Livingstone then hesitating for a ball which landed between him and Bairstow allowing for two further runs when it could feasibly have been caught. Had any of the three come off it would’ve been a phenomenal piece of fielding. And England only have their own standards to blame for us to even consider that a possibility.

The toss

I’m reluctant to include this here, as cricket would risk self-combusting if we took a step back and realised how silly it is that so much of the game we love comes down the flip of a coin. However, it is undeniable that in night games at this World Cup it is favourable to bat second as with dew arriving it makes it harder for bowlers to control the wet ball and also improves batting conditions. A cynic may say that had England won the toss and then won the game, I would not be crediting a reason for their victory to be because of the flip of the coin and would be putting it purely down to the skill of the two sides. And they’d be right.

Daryl Mitchell & Jimmy Neesham

It would be remiss to not include that the main reason for England’s defeat was two exceptional innings from Daryl Mitchell and Jimmy Neesham. Neesham’s 27 off 11 was a classical modern day MWI (match-winning-innings) that may not have been enough in quantity to deserve a polite round of applause and a bat-raise to the pavilion, but was more than enough in quality to all but seal New Zealand a place in the World Cup final. Similarly, Daryl Mitchell’s 72* off 47, which had one point threatened to be a match-losing-innings for New Zealand as he stuttered to 46 off 40 balls, exploded into life at the end as he scored 19 runs off five deliveries from Woakes to see New Zealand over-the-line. As England coach Chris Silverwood said at the close of play to Sky, “sometimes you have to take your hat off to certain people.”

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