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England have a death-bowling problem in T20Is

Last updated on 01 Feb 2022 | 12:41 PM
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England have a death-bowling problem in T20Is

"Our execution at the death was nowhere near as good as we would like," stated Eoin Morgan after a win

74/0, 40/1, 71/3, 72/1, 60/2, 71/0 – reads England’s last six bowling displays where they have bowled at least four overs at the death in T20Is. Barring two games, the Three Lions have lost all the games, showing how crucial death overs are in the shortest format. 

England have a death-bowling problem. 


"It is the hardest job in T20 cricket, death-bowling,” commented Morgan after England pulled off a run victory against West Indies in the second T20I. While it might seem a recent phenomenon, their struggles with the ball at the death has been a long-lasting issue. 

The problem

Against West Indies, the age-old problem not just resurfaced but ultimately cost the series. Across the series, barring the fourth T20I, in the last three overs, the Three Lions have conceded 48, 44 and 59 runs. 

The Three Lions might have picked 31 wickets since July 2021 but have conceded boundaries every 4.2 deliveries. In comparison, the difference between them and Australia, who are next, is 1.4 deliveries. Not just that, they concede runs at 11.4 RPO at the death. 

It affected them in the semi-final showdown against New Zealand, where they conceded 57 off the final three overs. It almost impacted them when West Indies shut down the margin of loss by one run, scoring 60 runs off the final three overs in Bridgetown. 

In the decider, they conceded 66 runs off the last four overs, which took the total from 113/4 to 179/4, resulting in a 17-run loss for the Three Lions. As a result of the brutal hitting, England bowlers conceded at an economy of 12.5 in the last five overs. Among the Test playing nations, this is the worst for a team in a bilateral series in which they have bowled in three or more innings.

Is Chris Jordan on borrowed time?

While Reece Topley, Saqib Mahmood, Tymal Mills and George Garton are relatively new in the Three Lions setup, the major worry is the form of Chris Jordan. Since the start of 2019, the all-rounder has been a mainstay of the English setup in the shortest format. 

But his form has been a major headache for the Three Lions. In the same time frame, the all-rounder concedes runs at 10.2 at the death, the third-highest in World Cricket (amongst top ten teams), picking up just 19 wickets. His dot-ball percentage at the death is also the fifth-lowest, showing that the pattern is concerning. 

In the recently concluded series against the Windies, Jordan averaged 78 with the ball at the death, picking up just the one wicket, at 13 RPO. It isn’t restricted to just international cricket, Jordan’s issues have been existing for some time now, with an average of 30.6 at the death in T20s since 2020. 

The solution

Mills, Sam Curran (injured) and Tom Curran have all provided England with the perfect support at the death, averaging 15, 23 and 24.2 respectively for the Three Lions. With the return of Mark Wood in the setup, Eoin Morgan’s side will have four effective death-over bowlers. 


Since the start of 2018, in T20s, the duo of Mills and Tom Curran have better numbers at the death in comparison to England’s designated bowler, Jordan. In overs 16-20, Mills has picked up 47 wickets, averaging 15.5, the third-best bowler in the world during the stage. Curran averages 19.7 and strikes at 11.6. 

In addition to that, the inclusion of either of the Curran brothers will increase the depth in England’s batting, if they decide to leave out Jordan. However, the Three Lions’ experiment with both Garton and Mahmood have cost them in the recent times. 

While it doesn’t take away the skillset of the three players, their playing style is more suited to the powerplay and middle-overs. 

English bowlers excelling the Big Bash Test

With the next T20 World Cup in Australia, England would be aiming to groom players, who possess high pace and caliber, with experience in the Big Bash League. Jordan, who also was England’s highest-wicket taker in T20Is, has the second worst average for English bowlers in Australia. 

"We're obviously trying to work on it and trying to find solutions," Moeen said. "We will get better as time goes on and guys like Jof come back,” added the stand-in skipper. 

Amongst the English stars who have played in the BBL (since 2020), Tom stands out with 19 scalps, at 18.7. Saqib, who was torn apart by the Windies batters in the recent series too isn’t far away from the all-rounder, with 13 wickets, averaging just 16.2. 

Mills, who has already shown immense skills in varying conditions, too has stood out in the BBL with 12 scalps, showing that in these three, England have excellent bowling options towards the next T20 World Cup.

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