Heather Knight: England are no longer favourites for this World Cup – and that will suit them
England are in a difficult position but in some ways I think not having the favourites tag will suit them.
- England have lost their last two games to Sri Lanka and Australia and face a battle to make the semi-finals
- England face India and New Zealand next and know they need to turn their form around
Of course it was disappointing to see them lose to Australia because that was an opportunity to get their ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup campaign back on track.
But the Australians took early wickets and England did not, and that was the difference between the sides at Lord’s.
That means England have a huge game coming up against India, but where they started this tournament with the pressure of being favourites, that is not the case anymore.
It is still in their hands to reach the semi-finals, if they win their next two they are definitely in, and even one win may well be enough.
Given they have lost a few games, I think some people have written them off, so in some ways they would come in under the radar if they do reach the semis.
For now, my advice would be to stay off social media. It’s natural after a couple of losses for the doubts to creep in, and you won’t be as confident as you were.
But I know during the 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup, a lot of us came off social media and I found it really useful. When we did well, we didn’t get too high and carried away with the hype. And then when things didn’t go as well, you missed all the stuff that was being said.
I know there has been some criticism about the performances but I’d advise them to stay tight as a group and focus on what they can control.
One person who has really impressed me has been Ben Stokes and he batted brilliantly against Australia. He’s been an inspirational figure, showing real character on tough wickets and when wickets have been falling at the other end.
He struggled a bit from cramp at Lord’s but that’s nothing new. He trains so hard that the coaches have to try to convince him to take it easy. I think he’ll be fine for India though and that will be a big plus.
Hopefully Jason Roy will be back as well. His return would be a massive boost because so many of England’s wins over the last few years have been after a good start, and he’s been integral to that.
In pressure games, in particular, you want to settle the nerves early, and that comes down to the openers and the opening bowlers.
If you do get off to a good start that acts as a settler for the whole team. We saw against Australia how difficult it is when you lose early wickets, especially chasing a total of nearly 300.
The wickets haven’t really suited England in an ideal world, but the best teams find a way to win. I think England have evolved though. They did have periods where they went too hard but they have shown in the last year or so that they can rein it in and punch out a score, or be sensible in a chase. That perhaps hasn’t been the case in the past few games, but they are capable.
The situation England are in is not ideal, but they have to find a way to adapt and to win. That is tournament cricket, you just have to find a way to get over the line.