Opinion Piece

England's No-Show Makes the World Cup Even More Lopsided

Defending champions, England, have suffered four losses in their initial five matches at the 2023 Cricket World Cup, effectively eliminating them from the tournament.

Dillip Mohanty
Dillip Mohanty

Last Updated: 2023-10-27

Subhayan Dutta

England the Defending Champions

England entered the 2023 Cricket World Cup as one of the undisputed favourites. This wasn't solely due to their impressive performance since the 2019 World Cup but also because they were the defending champions, known for their brand of limited-overs cricket. Their white-ball prowess had not only secured them victories but also set new benchmarks for other teams to follow.

Following their disappointing exit in the 2015 World Cup, England underwent a complete transformation in their approach to white-ball cricket. Under the leadership of captain Eoin Morgan, and Andrew Strauss, who served as the director of cricket, the team embarked on a journey to rejuvenate their limited-overs cricket.

Since then, England has achieved remarkable success in limited-overs cricket. They were runners-up in the 2016 T20 World Cup, reached the semi-finals in the 2021 T20 World Cup, and were crowned champions in the 2022 T20 World Cup. In the ODI format, England reached the semi-finals of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy and clinched the coveted trophy in the 2019 World Cup.

What Went Wrong for England

In the 2023 Cricket World Cup England has lost four of its first five matches. They have lost to lower-ranked teams like Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. With two points on the table and four matches to go, Jos Buttler's team is virtually eliminated from the 2023 World Cup.

Eoin Morgan had a clear four-year window to build the English team for the 2019 Cricket World Cup after their early exit from the 2015 World Cup in Australia. Jos Buttler was elevated to the captaincy role after serving as Morgan's deputy for seven years in June 2022, one and a half years ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

"Jos has been an unbelievably good vice-captain while I’ve been captain," Morgan said. "When he's stepped in, he's been an exceptional leader, and within the group, he commands tremendous respect." Buttler was expected to carry forward Morgan's legacy. Morgan was no stranger to leadership. Buttler did so by leading England to victory in the 2022 T20 World Cup in November 2022.

De-prioritization of ODI Cricket?

However, there has been a gradual shift in focus from the England management towards Test and T20 cricket, leaving ODI cricket somewhat neglected. England never emphasized either the quantity of ODI matches or the results.

From the 2019 World Cup until England's disappointing loss to Sri Lanka on October 26th, their win percentage in ODIs stands at 49%. Afghanistan, U.S.A., U.A.E., West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Netherlands, Jersey and P.N.G. are the other teams that performed worse than England. 12 teams including Bangladesh and Nepal have better win% than England.

ODI Win% since the 2019 World Cup



During the 2015-2019 period, England played 88 ODIs and used 34 players, with 12 of them participating in over 50% of those games. However, from 2019 to 2023, they only played 42 ODIs and utilised 44 players, but only eight featured in at least half of those matches.

Between the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, England played 88 ODIs. Since the 2019 World Cup, they have only participated in 47 ODIs. Meanwhile, they've played 56 Test matches during the same period, which is 17 more than Australia and India, the second-highest in that category. The core players of the 2019 World Cup-winning team contributed to more than half of the ODIs between the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, whereas Jason Roy, who played the most ODIs for England since the 2019 World Cup, didn't make the cut for the 2023 World Cup.

Distribution of International Matches since the 2019 World Cup


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"How much 50-over cricket domestically has Virat Kohli played or Heinrich Klaasen or anyone out here? They just don't play domestic. They learn from T20 franchisees around the world”

Former English captain Nasser Hussain on England's de-prioritization of ODI Cricket

Speaking with Sky Sports, the former English captain Nasser Hussain dismissed the notion of a lack of ODI or match practice as the cause of England’s no-show in this World Cup. He also refuted claims that the Hundred was prioritized over the One Day Cup. Hussain said:

"What I don't like is giving the players a cop out and I think sometimes we do that in English cricket. When they won the 50-over World cup and the 20-over World cup aren't they great? They're brilliant! And when the wheels come off, it's the structure. It's the structure of English cricket. We are a disgrace. We play 20-over cricket, we play 100-ball cricket, we don't play enough 50-over cricket. How much 50-over cricket domestically has Virat Kohli played or Heinrich Klaasen or anyone out here? They just don't play domestic. They learn from T20 franchisees around the world”

Hussain added:

“That's what's made this great side over the last six years traveling around the World playing T20 franchises. It's such a lame excuse. You're giving the players a cop out blaming the structure. The structure that made them world champions. It is exactly the same structure. Yeah you may have taken the eye off the bowler a little bit and not given them enough practice and games leading into this tournament. But it was the structure that produced them so they mess up, they messed up, not the structure. It's always the county cricket, the hundred, the blast. Root had to answer the question whether we get rid of the blast. That's what made all cricketers. County cricket makes the cricketer that we are. Whether be the hundred, the blast, 50-over whatever, that's what makes them and when they fail, they take the responsibility in my opinion.”

A Collective Failure

Hussain's observation is spot on. As a unit, England has collectively underperformed in both batting and bowling throughout this tournament.

England's collective top-order batting average stands at 25.22, only surpassing the Netherlands' 22.24. After the first five rounds of matches in the World Cup, India, New Zealand and South Africa's batters have notched 12 fifty-plus innings, whereas England's batters have managed only five, jointly the lowest with the Netherlands.

Top Order (1-7) Batting Average & Strike Rate in the 2023 World Cup

England's batters have been part of two significant batting collapses, losing the last 7 wickets for under 100 runs in five matches. In the game against Bangladesh in Dharamsala, England lost their last 7 wickets for just 68 runs after a brilliant start provided by Bairstow, Malan and Root. Though England won the match, it exposed their middle-order vulnerability. Similarly, in the match against Sri Lanka in Bengaluru, England's last 7 wickets managed a mere 88 runs, collapsing from 68 for 2 to 156 all out.

In the bowling department, England has taken 28 wickets in five matches, tying with Afghanistan for the lowest tally. Their runs-per-wicket average is 47.78, only slightly better than Bangladesh, which sits at the bottom of the list. The English bowlers have struggled to take wickets, managing one every 45 deliveries.

Bowling Average and Strike Rate in the 2023 World Cup


While England's seamers were relatively effective in the powerplay and the death overs, their performance in the middle overs was exposed. In five matches, England only managed to take 9 wickets in the middle overs at an average of 52 runs and an economy rate of nearly 6 runs per over.

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“It feels like it is coming to the end of an era. It feels like it has been a bridge too far. I would not have changed it before but I will be definitely thinking of changing it now”.

Former English captain Nasser Hussain on the road ahead for England

The Road Ahead: A Total Reboot

For the past six years, England had been the team to beat in white-ball cricket. They not only embraced the format but also brought an exciting brand of cricket to the forefront. This team achieved accolades that no previous English side had ever managed. England's white-ball players have become highly sought-after assets in T20 franchise cricket worldwide. However, their recent performance in the World Cup has failed to reflect the true potential of this talented team. It has been a collective let-down across all departments.

This near exit from the World Cup has undoubtedly served as a wake-up call for the team and management. It's time for a comprehensive re-evaluation of both the players and the strategic approach as they prepare for the upcoming 50-over World Cup.

Nasser Hussain aptly summed up the situation, saying, “It feels like it is coming to the end of an era. It feels like it has been a bridge too far. I would not have changed it before but I will be definitely thinking of changing it now”.

Dillip Mohanty
Dillip MohantySports Editor

Dillip has over two decades of experience in creating sports content. As the Sports Editor of SportsBoom, Dillip brings in a wealth of experience and expertise to the role. Dillip has worked with leading sports broadcasters and sports web content portals in Asia. He is an adept storyteller and has a special liking for data stories. He has a keen interest in data analysis and uncovering insights from large datasets. He loves to tell the story with rich and compelling data visualisation.