Head coach Matthew Mott struggled to explain England’s ‘coy’ approach in their loss to Ireland but believes channeling the boys’ uninhibited spirit into green can resurrect their Cup campaign of the T20 world.
England now need to win their last three Super 12 matches to secure a place in the semi-finals, starting against tournament hosts and defending champions Australia at the MCG on Friday.
They had little room to maneuver in their group and morale is low after a largely dismal display with ball and bat in a shock five-point loss to Ireland in the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.
With England once again having to keep a close eye on Melbourne’s skies with rain forecasts, Mott urged his side to focus on what they can control and take inspiration from Ireland’s playbook.
“We were kind of stunned,” Mott said. “We knew we hadn’t played at our best level. I think we were shy.
“I can’t explain it but I thought instead of being flat, I think there was just a bit of nervousness around it. We have to bounce back very quickly because we have a lot at stake.
“We don’t have the luxury of losing another game, we are playing the hosts and the defending champions. Ireland had a small free kick against us in a rain reduced game.
“They went out and played with a really free spirit. And that’s what we have to do from now on when we’re put in situations where there’s a decision to be made. We want to take the aggressive option.
Captain Jos Buttler, his Test counterpart Ben Stokes and pacemaker Mark Wood all spoke candidly in what Mott described as a “grim” England dressing room afterwards, their first loss in six completed T20s.
A team of miss-hitters has only hit 15 boundaries in two games so far, but Mott thinks they could be smarter if fours and sixes are hard to come by and take advantage of the bigger outfields here.
“The intention was there, we just didn’t hit the ball very well,” Mott said. “In these conditions, maybe two is a better option. We have to take our medicine and make sure we reverse the strike.
“I think we’ve played really solid cricket over the last month. We’ve had a bad day but we’re not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
England are unlikely to make any sweeping changes to their XI and the prospect of altering their batting order seems remote despite suspicions that Moeen Ali and Liam Livingstone are too weak.
Stokes, batting at four, didn’t reach double figures against Afghanistan or Ireland but was reliable with the ball as his 4.26 save rate is the best of an Englishman.
“I think Ben is an amazing player for our team and a real leader in our group,” Mott said. “He was key for us, I think he hit big overs, especially on the power play.
“He hasn’t taken up the bat yet but his career suggests that at some point someone is going to pay the price and hopefully that’s Australia. He’s a world class player , (en) T20 you miss a lot but you need game winners and he is one.
Australia find themselves in a similar position to England when it comes to victory, but the chance of inflicting a possible knockout blow is not Queenslander Mott’s biggest concern.
“I don’t need any motivation,” added Mott, who quit as Australia women’s coach to take up a position with England’s white ball teams earlier this year.
“I have a lot of friends in this group, both in the playing group and on the staff, but as you see in cricket, you love whoever you are with. Being part of this group is very special to me.
“We are incredibly motivated and (Ireland’s result) only adds to that motivation. You very rarely go through these tournaments undefeated. I expect us to bounce back very well.