Speaking on the latest Wisden Cricket World Cup Daily podcast, Mark Butcher argued that Ben Stokes’ position in England’s line-up is the most at-risk following defeat to Ireland.
England suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Ireland. They now have to win virtually every game if they are to stand any chance of winning the T20 World Cup.
Of particular debate following the match has been England’s batting line-up. England lost by five runs on the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern Method, with all of Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes and Harry Brook striking at below a run a ball. When the rain arrived, they were below the DLS target, with power hitters Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone having just arrived at the crease and faced only 14 balls between them.
England had lost three wickets in the powerplay, including Jos Buttler in the first over, and No.3 Dawid Malan scored 35 off 37 balls, to follow his 30-ball 18 against Afghanistan. However, despite these two showings, Butcher believes that it is Ben Stokes who will be feeling the greatest pressure over his place in the side.
“His [Malan’s] innings was a bad one and he will feel under pressure,” said Butcher. “But I still don’t think he’s the one under the pump.
“People will say Stokes is capable of doing something magnificent at some point and his fielding and bowling will play into it. But then England have got lots of other batters in that line-up who are also capable of doing it who are all batting one position lower than they would do otherwise.”
Before returning to the side for the three-match series against Australia ahead of the World Cup, Stokes had not played a T20I in over a year. And in his five games since, has only made it to double figures on just one occasion.
“Topley’s injury threw a spanner in the works of how to balance batting depth with having another guy take the new ball for them, which has maybe made Stokes position a little more solid in that team.
“But I still think that England have finished five runs short on DLS, five wickets down and still had Sam Curran, Chris Woakes in the hutch and with Liam Livingstone only just at the crease. You can have too much batting. And I know that sounds a bit daft, but you can sort of, leave yourself with resources left on the bench or have batters leaving it to the next guy with no-one taking the mettle itself.
“More than anything else, though, the curious thing was how static they were and how un-England like the batting performance was. You’re not calling for mad recklessness as the ball was moving around, it’s just a case that they just stood there and allowed those guys to hit a four-day length without getting any pushback.”
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