Why Your Team Sucks: England at the 2023 ICC World Cup

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To make it to an elite tournament such as this with just 10 nations participating must mean your team is quite special, right? Newsflash: the ‘World’ Cup is a misnomer, ICC is cricket’s ruling body just for name’s sake, ODI cricket is on its deathbed, and your team England sucks.

Hail your grace, I welcome thee to territory you’ve ere never been. God, it’s ridiculous how unfamiliar old English sounds today, just a couple of centuries on from when it was the norm – yet, it’s nearly the same amount of time English cricket took to achieve something noteworthy in a game THEY taught everyone. It simply feels odd to call England the *re-checks notes* reigning world champions but thankfully it has made no impact on how much they’re still hated unanimously in the cricket fraternity.

Hate all you want though, because England don’t care. They’re all about the vibes. New ball swinging across continents? Forget defending, hit the next ball even further. Lose three wickets in the powerplay? Forget defending, hit the next ball even harder. Batter’s out of form? Forget def– you get the idea. 

Props indeed need to be given to England’s streak of innovation. The way they galvanized after a traumatic 2015 campaign to put in place perhaps the best-run white-ball machine cricket has seen is no ordinary feat. I understand Nasser Hussain’s hourly reminders and English media’s self-congratulatory indulgence can get annoying, but it is the truth. They did take the inventiveness a step too far in the 2019 final though – some even dared call the win ‘against the spirit of sportsmanship’ but that’s all nonsense. It’s not like they Mankad a batsman or ugly run-out a batter committing the innocuous error of being too naive; everyone knows the rulebook strictly advises cricketers NOT to do those specific things.

Speaking of Mankad, Jos Buttler is set to lead a team to the ODI World Cup for the first time in his career. He has already proven his credentials as a skipper though. Buttler captained England to the World T20 In his first major assignment in 2022, albeit he personally failed to scale the peaks everyone knows he is capable of. However, something about Indian bowlers did make him go berserk in the semi-final – maybe just whisper to him the Rajasthan Royals have rebranded and this is the first edition of the bi-annual IPL to have him at his optimum throughout the tournament this time around.

A key cog in their overhaul has been the talismanic Joe Root. While everyone around him is briefed to go gung-ho all the time, the veteran has stuck the plan together by going at run-a-ball in the middle overs with unmatched efficiency. Root was England’s highest run-getter in the 2019 edition with 556, including two crucial centuries and three fifties. However, the 32-year-old has played just 22 ODIs since, averaging under 30 with no hundreds which could be a matter of concer — HA, gotcha. Don’t you get it? IT’S ALL ABOUT THE VIBES. Root feels the best player in the world in an England shirt and that’s enough, to hell with form.

Around Root is the familiar blockbuster cast of Jonny Bairstow, Dawid Malan, Buttler and the like. While the batters have managed to stay injury-free, the selectors have been afflicted with a new variant of the class-is-permanent epidemic – the SKY virus. Consequently, they decided to drop arguably the greatest modern white-ball opener in their history Jason Roy for the wham-bam Harry Brook. Tell me ECB, was the soap opera drama really necessary wherein you picked Roy to have everyone talking about Brook, then added the latter to the New Zealand series at the last moment, before picking him for the World Cup despite scoring just 37 runs in three games? Boy do you guys love an attention-grabbing scandal for the media.

Nevertheless, their newest gun is destined to succeed. Yes, he has a List A average of 27.41 and has played just six ODIs but so what? Ben Stokes said he is THE next big thing akin to VK and that is enough. Moreover, Brook has already proven himself in the IPL anyway *checks notes – 190 runs in 11 innings* uhm, remember that 55-ball hundred? Told ya.

As for Stokes himself, the big boy is out of retirement for the big event. Not like the announcement was necessary, given none of England’s big guns were regularly playing ODIs anyway and Root played just one game between Stokes’ curtain call and comeback. But hey, you tell me what would look better in the inevitable biopic – all that gibberish or the dramatic cuts of his 182 with background fade-ins of the retirement declaration and the subsequent withdrawal? Not like any team could resist an additional serving of Stokes anyway. At this point, England should just rename themselves the Ben XI – it rhymes too. Like the great Sir Alex Ferguson said, give him Ben Stokes and 10 pieces of wood and he’d find a way to deflect every throw to the boundary.

Enough about the batting – GOTCHA AGAIN, this is 2023 baby, it is ALL about the batting because who even needs bowlers? Gut Atkinson’s played just three ODIs? Who cares, get him in. Adil Rashid is the only specialist spinner in a World Cup being played in India? No. One. Cares. Spinners are just failed pacers anyway. Besides, they’ve got the on-field menace off-field cuddle bear Mark Wood to hold fort singlehandedly. What do you mean their spearhead is one slip away from being replaced by a fellow spearhead who is one slip away from being replaced by a fellow spearhead who is one slip away…

Everything said and done though, the bookmakers have these guys as the favourites to lift the trophy only behind hosts India. That would certainly incite some strong hopes amongst the squad to go all the way this time around and WIN their first-ever World Cup, having managed to tie for it four years ago.

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