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England, now resembling zombies, continue to struggle against Australia as the impact of their 2019 success diminishes. The future is uncertain and bleak for England as they fight to maintain their legacy against their dominant opponents. England, currently resembling the walking dead, persist in their battle against Australia as the shine of their 2019 triumph fades away. The outlook is uncertain and gloomy for England as they strive to uphold their reputation against their formidable adversaries.

The object is alive, it takes in oxygen, and it moves. However, it must be noted that it has a noticeable limp, struggles to breathe, and lacks vitality in its eyes.

As England’s World Cup progresses to Ahmedabad for the upcoming match against Australia on Saturday, there is a desire to label the remaining performances of their attempt to defend their title as meaningless games, unimportant matches, a week-long procession mourning the end of England’s reign in white-ball cricket.

This situation is currently pulsating with undead energy. Additionally, in terms of its setup and location, it is one of the most emotional events in the chaotic recent past of English cricket. Join us for England’s World Cup defense in 2023: the endgame of the living dead under the cover of night.

England is still in contention at the World Cup, although just barely. According to the statistical model, they have a 4% chance of making it to the semi-finals, despite their current position at the bottom of the table. This also means that Australia has the chance to potentially eliminate England from not just one, but two ICC competitions with a victory in Ahmedabad. If England loses, they will need to win both of their remaining games in India in order to have a shot at qualifying for the 2025 Champions Trophy.

While it may seem insignificant, like just another small detail, it is worth noting that the ECB’s officials did not acknowledge this as a pressing matter until midway through the tournament. This highlights the extent of England’s poor performance in the World Cup in India, where they have not just been bad, but exceptionally so. It suggests that there may be larger factors at play.

No England team has ever lost so many games at a World Cup. No England team has ever reached the stage of outright tournament bottom-feeders. No England team has ever made the startling nosedive from 50-over champions to one of the worst iterations at any World Cup – and better still done so without any obvious process, warning signs, change of approach, or indeed the slightest clue as to how this could have happened.

Ben Stokes admitted on the eve of Saturday’s match that the team has been performing poorly. This statement holds some truth and it is refreshing to have honesty in the midst of confusion within the England team. It feels like we are not just witnessing the end of an era, but also a mystery that remains unsolved.

When you step back and look at the bigger picture, you can see a stronger connection emerging through the fog. The meeting of England and Australia in Gujarat brings a sense of drama. The former rulers of the summer sport in the colonial era now have a new home of influence.

This is undoubtedly the most patriotic World Cup, a celebration not only of India’s dominant position in cricket, but also of Narendra Modi’s incorporation of the national team and sport as a means of furthering his political agenda.

Ahmedabad is the capital of Modi’s home state Gujarat, and a seat of power for his BJP party and for the BCCI, headed up by the remarkably precocious 35-year-old administrator Jay Shah, who, in a striking coincidence, also happens to be the son of Modi’s oldest political ally.

Modi’s stadium is a grand spectacle, second only to North Korea’s Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, and is often compared to the upcoming Qatar 2023 World Cup. Some argue that it should be denounced in a similar manner, as it serves as a tool for an ambitious and, at times, oppressive political regime to clean up its image through sports.

Modi’s World Cup is primarily a campaign for the election rather than a strategic move in the international arena. However, the sport of cricket, both domestically and globally, has played a significant role in promoting his Hindu nationalism. The city of Ahmedabad has now become synonymous with the global sport, with the Modi stadium being considered as the Gujarati equivalent of Lord’s.

England’s players may feel like they are participating in a hazing ritual for the world order as they take to the field once again in their worn-out uniforms. They may also be reminded of their past successes, now overshadowed by the current state of things.

It is not surprising that they may seem a bit tired. On Friday morning, Stokes stood firm in his belief that every England game is a unique event. He briefly showed some enthusiasm when asked about Mohammed Shami’s exceptional bowling performance against Sri Lanka the previous night, but had no answer to a question about any amusing or pleasant moments in the tournament so far. (“Um…I wasn’t ready for that question”).

He was unable to provide any explanations for England’s decline from champions to underdogs: “If we understood the cause, we would be able to address it.” This collective confusion has been the official stance so far. It is significant in its own right. This team has relied on a unified mindset, shared strategies, and a closed atmosphere. When they were winning, this led them all in the same direction with a strong sense of purpose. However, when they are losing, it can have the same effect.

Looking at it from an outside perspective, it is clear why England has been facing difficulties. The team composition remains mostly unchanged, albeit with some weakening and four years of age. There was limited preparation and injured players were still chosen. Harry Brook, the only standout talent in the past four years, has also been mishandled.

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The players appear to have lost their approach from the previous World Cup where they relied on critical thinking and strategic play in challenging situations. It’s possible that a coach with more experience and authority would have been bold enough to make some changes before the tournament, recognizing the need for a revitalization rather than simply hoping for the best.

However, it would be incorrect to label England’s downfall in this situation as an anomaly, an unexpected event, or solely caused by human mistakes. This team is actually a true reflection of England’s overall performance and reflects the standard of domestic cricket more accurately than the 2019 champions.

The era of the White-Ball Revolution has always aimed to have significance. Four years ago, there was a lot of discussion about creating a lasting impact and not just expanding, but preserving the game (these individuals always seem to be focused on saving). The goal was to provide a genuine catalyst.

Unfortunately, that tournament had little lasting impact aside from the fond recollections of a temporary team and an incredibly intense final. The ECB’s World Cup champions could be compared to Team GB’s Olympic style – a successful channeling of resources and effort into the highest level, with gold medals serving as a form of public relations to cover up any issues within the underlying structures.

England huddle at a nets session in Ahmedabad.

The team’s lack of rejuvenation over the years should not be unexpected, as their previous success was solely due to the exceptional talent of a single generation. There has been no effort to nurture and develop future players, resulting in a lack of continuity. It is difficult to replicate players like Jofra Archer and Eoin Morgan. Adil Rashid’s emergence was not a product of the team’s overall culture, but rather in spite of it.

Despite the efforts of public relations and flashy promotions, four years after the pre-Covid era, cricket in England remains a lesser known summer activity, hidden away in its own isolated world. In fact, it has become even more distant and specialized. The main concern for the ECB is not the turmoil within the England team, but the lack of interest from the outside world in their struggles. Essentially, it is a chaotic situation that is going unnoticed by the rest of the world.

If there are no simple explanations for the significant decrease in performance of this team, it could be due to the fact that the answers are complex and related to the structure of the sport, which has been putting pressure on both the players and the team.

At the moment, this current England squad is skilled and motivated enough to prepare for their match against Australia in Ahmedabad. There remains a possibility to make an effort to save their title defense, to groom it for the end, to include some meaningful words in the tribute, and to appreciate the transfer of power in the intense atmosphere of the cricket’s home ground.

Source: theguardian.com