I can’t remember seeing such a one-sided game as England’s eight-wicket defeat to New Zealand. There have been plenty of occasions where we’ve been pummelled in the past, but I’ve never seen a game like it in an ICC Cricket World Cup. Being an England fan, it was horrible viewing and I really do feel for the players.
It just proved the gulf between the two sides and you’re not talking about a major difference in the skill levels, it’s just about approaches and tactics. Tim Southee was world-class. He got very late swing and, with his accuracy, that was what was causing the problems.
The approach of England’s batsmen was pretty conservative and almost like a Test match. Brendon McCullum wasn’t worried about the ball swinging, he was trying to stop it swinging as quickly as possible and putting the ball into the stands twice is the way to do it. Southee is a world-class bowler going about his business and making good international players look amateurish at times.
McCullum did exactly the same. He’s one of the world’s best strikers of a cricket ball and there was no way he was going to be sedate. It was just pure entertainment to get it away from England from the first ball.
The bowlers knew they had to try to get him out but the game had gone after a couple of overs of his striking, it was that brutal. I really do feel for Eoin Morgan. He’s taken over the captaincy right at the last minute and he’s carrying the can for a lot of the work that’s gone on over the past year.
I think he can be a Brendon McCullum in the future in the way he’ll want the team to move forward and get the right players into the right positions. McCullum has been in charge of this team for nearly two years now and he’s put his stamp on them and they’ve grown under his leadership and he’s getting the best out of his players. At the moment England seem to be playing at about 30 or 40 per cent of their potential.
You know there’s so much more in the locker and confidence-wise they’re not there. It has been a bit of a baptism of fire in the first two games and sometimes you’ve got to keep things in perspective because they have come up against probably the two in-form teams of the competition. But New Zealand look as though they can win the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and so do Australia, while England don’t look as if they’ll get out of the group at this stage.
That’s the harsh reality. You can make a change here and there but it’s almost as if the damage has been done. England has got the most powerful batting line-up we’ve ever had if we pick players like Ravi Bopara in the middle-order and Alex Hales up the top. County cricket is producing some very good attacking players like Jason Roy at Surrey.
The one-day game is going that way and it’s almost like we don’t want to take risks. Two years ago England and New Zealand were probably on a par but now the gap is so much because they’ve taken an aggressive approach and built confidence and momentum by making that a success. England need their strong characters to stand up and get everyone together now.
With my Scotland hat on, the guys have always been excited about Monday’s fixture anyway and it doesn’t make any difference to us because we’ll be concentrating on how we go about it and our strengths. There’s real confidence and belief we can get a win. It’s genuine because the guys are getting closer and closer against international opposition.
We fought all the way to the end against New Zealand and it was only a three-wicket margin and we should have won against the West Indies the week before so we’re getting there. Of course, it will be an emotionally strange day for me, having been involved in England for so long and playing with a lot of the players in the side, but I’m 100 per cent right behind trying to get Scotland to get this win. That’s going to be an amazing feeling if we can get that first-ever World Cup win under our belt, there’s no better time than against England.
That would mean so much to Scottish cricket. We’ll cause problems because we know we have the skill levels and the approach and our first win is just around the corner. Hopefully the guys will be singing Flower of Scotland in the dressing room come Monday.
Credit: www.icc-cricket.com & 2015 © ICC Development (International) Limited