Before the eyes of a tiny minority of the world turned to the hit-and-giggle fest in Sri Lanka, we spent one bright afternoon in mid-September previewing said tournament (via one of these podcasts – we’ll be damned if we can remember which one). We were young, naive and foolish; the dashing young anchor got carried away on a wave of patriotic fervour and backed England, the shrivelled ex-Englishman put all his eggs in the South African basket and the Aussie bloke said some stuff as well.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight and a crate of gin, we’ve put the band back together in an attempt to work out how England managed to relinquish their crown in such a weak and feeble fashion.
Right then, first things first. If you had to pick one reason, and one reason only, for England’s failure, what would it be? Please bear in mind that anyone giving two reasons will be dispatched to the naughty step for the rest of the day to think about what they’ve done.
Nichael Bluth: I could easily give more than two reasons but I’ll settle on the batting. England took a number of gambles on their top order, almost none of which came off. Kieswetter, Bairstow and Buttler barely made a run between them. You can get away with carrying maybe one player in the top order if the others are firing (see Collingwood, Paul in 2010) but even Luke Wright only came off twice in five games. You’re not going to win many games from there.
Matt H: It’s hard to disagree with Mr Bluth, aside from his dubious sci-fi tendencies. The batting collectively never looked capable of posting scores that would trouble the better opponents.
James K: In an effort to make it look like we aren’t all automatons, I’m going to go for their planning. They seemed to go into each game without any sort of idea as to how the play the game, who to target, when to go for the jugular or with any intention to go with hunches or anything on the field. The England of 2011 would have despaired watching this side.
How much of an impact did the sheer rubbishness of Stuart Broad’s captaincy have on their performance? Put another way; if they had a captain who didn’t spend all his time playing FIFA and doing his make-up, would we be sat here talking about a heroic, against-all-odds, defence of their title?
MH: I doubt Broad had much say in team selection, so I don’t think there would have been a difference if there was another captain in that respect. I think there was a lot that he did do badly though, but that’s not a trait unique to England: from what I’ve seen it’s been a tournament devoid of great captaincy.
NB: It’s hard to know the extent to which the team’s ideas were Broad’s compared to being Flower et al’s. The obvious muddled thinking over selection and in-game tactics could easily be attributed to a general surplus of cooks, to the obvious detriment of the end broth. But I don’t think that Broad’s captaincy was the main factor, no. I think Mike Brearley might have struggled with that lot.
JK: Stuart Broad is the worst captain I have ever seen at international level. Yes, the captaincy at the tournament in general was poor but Broad took it to a whole new level. There’s a lot to be said for consistency, obviously, but sticking with something that is never going to work is not consistency, it’s idiocy. He should’ve been dispensed with already.
Was it the right policy to go in with a fresh, inexperienced side? Is the potential future benefit of what they may have learnt from this tournament worth the sort of comedy incompetence we’ve witnessed over the past fortnight?
MH: Of the players within the England squad, only Bopara and Lumb were really seen as bad selections when it was announced – and Bopara had done well earlier in the summer in limited overs cricket and the latter is a WT20 winner already! Replace those two with Pietersen and someone else and things might have been easier. With hindsight, Sri Lanka was always going to be tough for many of the batsmen, but that’s probably the case for the majority of players eligible for England. Hopefully the inexperienced players can learn from the tournament (as we’re constantly told is the case) and I’d rather stick with the likes of Bairstow, Buttler and Briggs than revert back to Bell, Bopara and Bprior. Craig Kieswetter can go and take a running jump off the top of Dunkery Beacon though.
NB: I don’t think there was much choice. There weren’t exactly a great number of players who were shocked to be left out. With the obvious exception, England probably picked something close to their best squad.
MH: I know a few people advocating Owais Shah as a leading T20 player and one who has experience of the game around the world and therefore someone who should be in the team. But be that as it may, it’d have been a retrograde selection.
JK: Can’t really argue with much of what you two have said. Everyone said Lumb was a stupid selection at the time and so it proved, so they should take as much criticism as humanly possible for that. other than him it’s difficult to tear them to pieces for the original squad.
Finally, would a team of 11 Luke Wrights have won the World T20?
MH: Yes, but only if Australia don’t field a team of 11 Shane Watsons, or indeed a team of one Steve Smith.
NB: No, due to the wicket-keeping position letting England down yet again.
JK: Yes, obviously. Never let me here you doubt Luke Wright’s wicket-keeping credentials ever again.