Joe Root has admitted England’s batsmen “haven’t adapted” to the surfaces they have encountered in the World Cup. England have lost their last two matches to leave their hopes of progressing to the semi-finals uncertain. In both cases, they have failed to chase down targets that might, in recent years, have appeared relatively modest.
Now they are in a position where they may have to win both their final group matches, against India on Sunday and New Zealand on Wednesday, to ensure their qualification.
Root, who has led the way with the bat for his team, conceded that pitches in the tournament have not been as good for batting as England expected. But while he accepted there are “a number of things we could have done slightly better” in the campaign to date, he still felt they were “more than capable” of making it into the last four.
“If you look at some of the par scores throughout this tournament, they have been very different to when we have played in bilateral series,” Root said. “We have turned up to some venues in this tournament and things have been quite different to when we have played one-day series there in the past.
“We haven’t necessarily adapted as well as we could have. It is frustrating and very disappointing that we have played in the manner we have in the last two games. There are a number of things we could have done slightly better.
“I just don’t think we have played as well as we can. We have made some basic errors that we want to put right in the next two games. But I strongly believe we are more than capable of qualifying for the semi-finals. We have played both these opposition in the recent past and had huge success. So we have got to look at that, the other stuff we have done well throughout the competition and put it all together.”
England defeated India 2-1 in an ODI series at home last summer, and New Zealand 3-2 away in 2017-18. But while they have enjoyed a number of decent individual performances with the bat – notably, Ben Stokes passed 80 in the defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia – Root knows they will have to play better in partnerships if they are to win their next two games. And he urged his side to keep calm and continue to believe in themselves and the methods that helped them enjoy success in recent times.
“When we have done well, we have had two substantial partnerships through the chase,” Root said. “But we haven’t really managed that in this tournament. We haven’t had two guys who have batted for a long enough period of time – for 20 or 25 overs – to put the opposition under pressure. And generally, when we have chased, that is what has served us well.
“We have to be very calm about how we approach the next couple of games. The games themselves might get quite emotional, especially the atmosphere at Edgbaston, so being very clear and precise about the threats the opposition pose is important. And remembering how we look both individually and collectively when we are at our best. Being really strong on the basic stuff has served us well for a long period of time.
“It is almost like we see these two games as quarter-finals which, in a way, should serve us really well. You still have to win big games at some stage in the tournament if you are going to go on and win it. Ours have just come a bit sooner than expected.
“And it doesn’t really matter how you get there – to the semi-finals – but when you do, that’s when the tournament really starts to kick in.”
The reverse of that, of course, is that England could be out before their own World Cup does start to “kick in”. But as Root points out, their fate is still in their own hands. And if they can adapt better at Edgbaston on Sunday, they can still progress.