A bilateral series provides a safety valve, an opportunity to set things right the next day. But the high pressure and the different challenges posed by different teams seems to have caught up with the pre-tournament favourites, who are now in serious danger of choking, reckons former skipper Nasser Hussain wrote in his column for Daily Mail. “You face different sides with different strengths, going from the spin and unorthodox action of Lasith Malinga against Sri Lanka to the pace and swing of Australia in successive matches. And they haven’t coped with either.”
The hosts are still in contention, but Hussain believes they are very vulnerable and will now be looking over their shoulders. “We are talking about a clash against an India side at Edgbaston on Sunday on what is likely to be a turning pitch with the weather becoming hot. India are not invincible and are weaker for the loss of Shikhar Dhawan but that is still a very difficult task for England.”
Hussain points out this is a bad time to lose successive home games for the first time in four years. Writing in the same paper, Lawrence Booth opined that if England didn’t get their act together soon, the 2019 showing will be regarded as their most disappointing World Cup campaign. “Whisper it, but the stage is set for England’s biggest World Cup letdown of the lot. If you thought 1996, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 weren’t great, try stumbling in front of your home crowd because the favourites tag around your neck is starting to resemble a millstone,” Booth wrote.
‘Dive safe, Brisbane’
On Wednesday, a day after the England-Australia cricket match, there was a lot of rain in…Australia. And there was good reason for the wet day, as the Queensland Police graciously explained on Twitter: “The tears of English cricket fans have made driving conditions tricky this morning. Drive safe Brisbane.”
That’s when the floodgates really opened, online.
“How about using a sandpaper to enhance the tyres’ grip?” came one reply. Then there was a picture of the emotional Steve Smith and David Warner during the ball-tampering fiasco, with the caption “The Aussies would know all about tears.”
Still, it was the original tweet from the Queensland Police that proved to be the most appreciated. Their subtle dig touched 5700 ‘hearts’.
So cheerful, BBC
“Brink of calamity”, the BBC declared. England’s World Cup journeys follow a pattern, be it cricket, football or any sport for that matter. First, it’s the hype – players are put on a pedestal so high that they seem unconquerable. A couple of defeats and the world around them collapses – the same players who are revered are brought down to earth with crushing brutality.
BBC writer Tom Fordyce echoes the pessimism of most of England. “If it can go wrong, it will. When it does, it will do so in spectacular fashion: breathtaking collapses, ghastly whitewashes, resignations and wholesale retirements. It was all that this new England are no longer meant to be. It was the old England back when no-one wanted them.”
KP taunts Morgan
It’s one thing smashing minnows Afghanistan for a world-record 17 sixes, and an entirely different proposition facing up to the pace, swing and hostility of Mitchell Starc. At least, that’s what Kevin Pietersen implied when jibing Eoin Morgan over his all-too-short stint at Lord’s on Tuesday. Morgan shuffled uneasily and looked ill at ease against the fire-spewing left-armer. He was soon put out of his misery when he desperately flailed at a well-directed short ball and was caught at fine-leg, prompting Pietersen, whose own international career was abruptly cut short by the England and Wales Cricket Board, to term Morgan as a ‘weak’ captain and hint that England may be in some trouble in days to come. “The England captain stepping to square leg when Starc bowled his first delivery to him made me think England could have a little problem over the next week or so,” KP tweeted. “I hope not, but I’ve not seen a captain show such a weakness for a while…”
Morgan was obviously salty post the defeat and it didn’t help that a scribe brought up Pietersen’s tweet at the post-match press conference, saying he’d looked scared of the ball and was backing away from Mitchell Starc. “Really? Excellent. I didn’t feel like that way at all,” Morgan replied, before quickly moving to the next question.
Warner cops it from fans
The English crowd gave David Warner a trailer of what’s to come in the coming months. A man in England’s retro jersey grabbed all the attention. As Warner strode into bat, he, yelled: “You will never walk alone, coz you’re a cheat!” The crowd chorused: “You’re a cheeeeeaaaaat!” Even when they didn’t take his name, they reminded Warner of what they felt. Like when Aaron Finch batted, they kept booming. “We love you, because you’re not a cheat.”