England's awful World Cup start against the Aussies has put the pressure on new captain Eoin Morgan. Ralph Ellis says the Irishman can't afford any more excuses...
"This seems to be an England team, and a management, in denial. Their dreadful start has made them 2.77/4 outsiders to win the game, and the only case for backing them is that the Kiwis stuttered so badly in beating Scotland."
Sometimes you just love the logic of sportsmen as they seek crumbs of comfort in a dismal run. How about this from Eoin Morgan? "If I was nicking every ball and getting out I'd be worried, but I'm not. I'm getting out in different ways. It gives me confidence."
Personally, far from giving confidence, it would worry the hell out of me. If you were constantly getting out the same way at least there's a single fault to work on. If it's happening in lots of ways then the bottom line would appear to be that your entire game has been shot to bits.
Who'd have thought that after just one game of the World Cup we'd have been contemplating sending an SOS to Alastair Cook: "Come back, all is forgiven". Whatever his failings as one day captain, Cook never suffered a run as bad as the one that his replacement is on now.
Morgan's last five scores read 0, 2, 0, 0, 0. He's scored more than five only three times in the last 12 times he's walked to the crease in an ODI. It's not the sort of stuff that would fill you with confidence. And the problem is that until he returns to some sort of form, the team around him will always be vulnerable.
England face New Zealand on Friday morning, and, for all the bits of promise they have produced here and there, you can't escape the fact that this seems to be a team, and a management, in denial. Their dreadful start has made them 2.77/4 outsiders to win the game, and the only case for backing them is that the Kiwis stuttered so badly in beating Scotland.
You can't imagine, however, that New Zealand would reproduce the sort of cavalier batting that saw them throw seven wickets away before reaching the 143 they needed for victory. They'll regard England as proper opposition and will have their own game raised to the sort of levels they started at against the Scots when Trent Boult's left-arm inswing took two wickets in as many balls.
With only one game gone England are already as long as 30.029/1 to be Pool A winners. Thankfully the structure of the competition makes it pretty much impossible not to qualify for the last eight - but something has to change before then.
During the Kevin Pietersen affair I lost count of the number of times we got told about the importance of a happy dressing room. KP, it was not so much whispered as shouted, was a disruptive influence who was more worry than he was worth.
Well fine, but the best dressing rooms aren't always happy places, and particularly not when the team is getting thumped on a regular basis. Good dressing rooms are strident, aggressive places where good players challenge each other to perform at their best and don't accept excuses or mumble platitudes about how "getting out in different ways gives me confidence".