In this bumper festival of cricket, England will now play one match in 14 days. It is one of the drawbacks – and only one – of a tournament that lasts much too long and, like England, is struggling to achieve momentum.
But a win is a win and there is a discernible feeling that the two points routinely achieved against Scotland could be the turning point, the place where fortunes changed (for England, if not yet for the tournament). Whether that is so should become evident on Sunday when England play Sri Lanka. In the eight days that follow before their match against Bangladesh they will either be stewing or bubbling – but still waiting.
They have almost certainly spent more time gazing into the eyes of Sri Lankan players than of their loved ones.
After the 12 recent encounters, Sri Lanka led by eight to four having won series both away and at home. But it seems that, like England, Sri Lanka are by and large in a lean trot. After easily beating England late last year in their own conditions, they came to New Zealand to prepare for the World Cup and won only two of the seven ODIs.
They were again overwhelmed by the Kiwis in the opening match of the World Cup and made their four-wicket win against Afghanistan more complicated than they would have liked. On Thursday, Sri Lanka play Bangladesh in Melbourne and need to assert themselves.
England continue to be sustained by the thought that if they can reach the quarter-finals, they are only two matches away from the final itself. It might just work. Equally, they would be foolish to set too much store by their comfortable win against Scotland, much though some wags like to think of it as a shock, considering England’s form going into the match.
Moeen Ali, who scored their first hundred of this World Cup against Scotland, knew what it was like to feel the heat going into the match. The opening losses had drained optimism outside the team.
“Obviously with the way we have been playing and people have been talking negatively,” he said before the team left Christchurch for Wellington. “Family and friends text you saying ‘do this, do that’ and you end up thinking [he rolled his eyes at this point] ‘it’s not that easy’ and you do get a sense of negativity. I try to erase that and concentrate on being positive even though it is difficult with the lack of performances against Australia and New Zealand.”
It seems to have worked for Moeen, though against what was, it has to be pointed out, an attack that lacked the ferocity or cunning of those from the upper tier.
Colin Graves has been confirmed as the England and Wales Cricket Board chairman, taking over in a five-year term from Giles Clarke.Reuse content