Morgan accepts England’s batting is to blame for World Cup woe
The tournament hosts face difficult games against India and New Zealand with progress to the semi-finals in jeopardy.
Eoin Morgan accepted England’s batting is to blame for their World Cup predicament after another blowout against Australia, but stressed that a semi-final spot is still in their own hands.
Four days after being dismissed for 212 in a shock defeat by Sri Lanka they were rolled for 221 by their oldest rivals, whose 64-run win at Lord’s guaranteed them a place in the knockout phase.
For England, the road ahead is rockier as they head into their last two group games against in-form opponents India and New Zealand. In all likelihood, they will need to win at least one of those matches under steadily growing pressure.
“We’ve struggled with the basics of what we call our batting mantra, showing intent, building partnerships and doing it in our own way,” said Morgan.
“I think the confidence will take a little bit of a hit but I certainly don’t think it’s knocked anybody in the changing room. Normally when we lose games of cricket we go back to what we do well.
“Everything is in our control, and we just need to produce performances worthy of winning either one or the next two games. Ideally, I’d like to lead from the front.”
England turned in a steady bowling performance, dragging Australia back from 173 for one to 285 for seven.
Visiting skipper Aaron Finch anchored the innings with 100 in 116 balls but only Ben Stokes, with a bullish 89, matched him for determination.
England’s top order buckled to 53 for four. Jason Behrendorff kicked things off by yorking James Vince in the first over of the chase and finished with career-best figures five for 44, while fellow left-armer Mitchell Starc took four wickets.
Stokes promised England’s supporters the team would not go down without a fight.
Asked if he had a message for the fans, the all-rounder said: “This is our World Cup.
“We’ve had great support over the last four years and we know how much a World Cup means to fans. We know that as players as well. We’re not going to take a backward step. This is our World Cup.”
Stokes was at a loss to explain why his side have buckled under pressure after two years of increasingly polished performances in the 50-over game.
What he is sure about is the need to avert panic.
“Back to back losses can sometimes make you think differently as a team, but we’re not going to go back on our method of playing,” he said.
We're not for a minute going to take a backward step Ben Stokes
“We’re not for a minute going to take a backward step. We’re a very, very confident team, these last two games aren’t going to change that.”
Stokes received treatment on both legs during his innings but said his fitness was nothing more serious than tightness in his calves.
Man of the match Behrendorff insisted England remained front-runners despite their precarious position but suggested the Australian dressing room was increasingly optimistic about retaining the trophy.
“The competition’s still very open; England are probably still firm favourites being the home country,” he said.
“We’re not favourites that’s for sure, (but) momentum is a huge thing in tournament play. We’ve got two big games coming up as well, so ideally two more wins there and go into the semi-finals in great momentum.”