Going into World Cup, there was plenty of pessimism as to how England would shape up in Australia and New Zealand. After all, they have sacked their one-day captain as player and skipper just one tournament before the World Cup. Also, Kevin Pietersen, England's most accomplished batsman of the last decade, had been out of contention for England for a while. Against Australia in the tri-series, England were totally exposed. Their only bit of optimism however stemmed from the fact that they had overcome India rather convincingly in the same event. That performance however only dwarfed England's weaknesses.
England again met Australia in the opening day of the series, and although they enjoyed moments of dominance, the eventual result was very much a formality. Against New Zealand on Friday at Wellington though, they stood completely exposed, all their weaknesses glaringly bared across various departments of the game. When they batted, they were completely in awe of Tim Southee, never knowing how to deal with his swing and pace. Clueless would be the word to describe their effort. When they bowled James Anderson began with a wide. It set the tone, and the manner in which Brendon McCullum pulverised the English bowling was pretty much unbelievable.
In the wake of another batting failure, it is pertinent for England to rework their batting order. Ian Bell hasn't fired at the top, but he is the best option England have for the opening slot. Also, he has tasted success in the position recently, and has the experience to boot as well. England would be hoping for him to come good soon. The problem with England is the other opening position. Moeen Ali has been persisted with because he offers a good spin option. But, his batting hasn't been to the mark of a consistent spinner. Perhaps, the time has come for England to give Alex Hales a chance to open.
The middle and lower order also needs to get its act together. Gary Ballance looked completely at sea during his stay at the crease, and Eoin Morgan struggled once again. It has been a while since the England captain has looked fluent at the crease barring a hundred against the Aussies in the tri-series. England desperately need him to fire if they want to do well. The lower order including the likes of Chris Woakes, Jos Buttler and Stuart Broad also need to contribute. Of the England batsmen, Joe Root was the only one who looked comfortable out in the middle, but it wasn't enough for England.
Although the match was done and dusted by the time the Englishmen walked into field, the manner in which they were battered would dent their confidence severely without doubt. They needed to exercise some sort of control over the proceedings. Instead, McCullum came in and smashed them all over the ground. Anderson looked far from interested, Stuart Broad was dumped out of the attack after one over, Steven Finn was so easily taken to the cleaners that the crowds would have wondered whether it just another IPL game. It wasn't. This was one of the biggest clashes of the 2015 World Cup, and England clearly demonstrated that they were unprepared.
--By A Cricket Analyst