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The end is the beginning. The beginning is the end

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Last updated on 09 Mar 2023 | 10:44 AM
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The end is the beginning. The beginning is the end

On this day in 2015, Bangladesh recorded a famous win against England in the 2015 World Cup to knock them out of the tournament

England were certainly at the end of a long and lonely road when they lost to Bangladesh in the 2015 WC. There were no new beginnings in sight as that loss became the reason for England’s ouster from the World Cup, summing up a horrendous campaign. Nothing was going right for the English team in white ball cricket. They were yet to win a 50-over World Cup, and being knocked out of the World Cup after losing to Bangladesh only made it all worse. 

Sometimes it’s better for the entire system to break so that it can be overhauled. Sometimes it’s better for the end to arrive so that one can go look for a new beginning. England cricket did that. They went and changed a system that left them marinating in a rut of mediocrity. 

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It was Jimmy Anderson again - the man who had earned so much glory for England but is always the last nail in the coffin when a defeat looms large. He was clean bowled by Ruben Hussain as Bangladesh went around the ground in a euphoric frenzy. It wasn’t how this game was supposed to end. It wasn’t how this World Cup was supposed to go for England. 

They were in a very favourable group. Despite losing to Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka, winning their games against Afghanistan, Scotland and Bangladesh would have been enough for England to qualify for the quarter-finals of the World Cup. 

After having defeated Scotland, they were chasing 276 against Bangladesh. Post an up-and-down beginning, they were looking good to go all the way when Jos Butler was batting with Chris Woakes, and they needed 38 in 26 balls. But then Butler got out, Jordan got a dubious run-out call, and all hell broke loose. In the next 17 balls, England were both all out and out of the World Cup. The pain had ended for that day, but it wasn’t going to stop banging on their doors demanding to be felt. The media and ex-cricketers were still to announce the death of English cricket. 

Stephen Brenkley of the Independent called it “much worse than anybody could possibly have imagined in their most horrific nightmare”. Jonathan Agnew christened it as “one of the biggest humiliations in the national team’s history”. Geoffrey Boycott lamented, “We seem to be light years behind other teams in the way we think about one-day cricket”. 

All these reactions felt appropriate for the kind of disappointment England had burdened their cricketing ecosystem with. But such a defeat was a long time coming for them. One day cricket was always given the stepchild treatment in England. If players were to be given a rest, it was always the white ball tours that they were dropped from. If new players were to be tested for the longest format, it was always in the white ball format. All the big pre-planning and attention was reserved for the Ashes or any other marquee test series. 

The system had to change. The dams were broken. English white ball cricket couldn’t get lower than this. Finally, change was afoot. 

Andrew Strauss came in as the new Director of Cricket for the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board). He was determined to take a very different approach. He made Eoin Morgan the permanent captain of the English white-ball teams and got coaches like Trevor Baylis and Paul Farbrace, who had a strong pedigree in white-ball coaching. He even restructured the central contracts of the English players to give white-ball performances increased value. 

Along with all these administrative changes that established the prominence of white-ball cricket in the English cricket ecosystem, Strauss also launched a meticulous review into ODI cricket where he ordered a full statistical analysis of the past world cups and the other teams involved to find out what differentiated World Cup winners from his team. Along with that, senior ex-players, both from England and worldwide, were consulted on how to succeed in white-ball cricket. 

All these resulted in England playing with a batting lineup that was capable of hitting the ball and playing at high SRs throughout the innings. The new ODI rules suited England in this regard, and a new generation of batters took command of England’s ODI batting order, which looked completely different from the ones they used to have in the past. 

Data analysts like Nathan Leamon became an integral part of the team set up under Morgan, and they used stats extensively to not only solve their problems but find chinks in the armour of the opposition as well. Players, especially fast bowlers, were made to work on fitness a lot as Morgan demanded high-pace bowlers in his team. That’s why the likes of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood became such integral parts of England’s setup so quickly. And above all, players were now being assisted to work on their mental strengths as well to cope with the rigour of the game. 

All these changes completely transformed English cricket. The results were there to see. In the years leading to the 2019 ODI WC, they set new benchmarks in the format. It’s hard to directly ascribe the success of the 2019 WC final to this because of the amount of fortune involved for England. However, one can’t deny that the process which England followed made them the champion ODI team that they now were. 

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That loss against Bangladesh, which came exactly 8 years ago for England, is now past tense. However, it’s a milestone as well. Because if not for that last nail in the coffin of their outdated white-ball methods, England wouldn’t have revolutionized cricket not only in their country but worldwide. 

It was the end of their bygone days of bland mediocrity. But it was also the beginning that insinuated a change of massive proportions. 

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