England are close to being eliminated from the T20 World Cup after losing to Ireland and having their game against Australia rained off, but rather than being one defeat from departure Moeen Ali says the team are looking at things a little differently. “We’ve got to tell ourselves, four wins and we have got the World Cup,” he said.
With two more games in their Super 12 group against New Zealand in Brisbane on Tuesday and against Sri Lanka in Sydney on Saturday, England must win both if they are to reach the semi-finals. Even then, given the nature of the group, they may finish level with one or more other sides and need to better them on net run rate.
“We’ve got to win those games but could still potentially miss out,” Moeen said. “Our job is to win those two games and, if we can, win them comfortably and play our best cricket from now until the end of the tournament.”
New Zealand took control of the group on Saturday with a 65-run defeat of Sri Lanka, achieved with the help of a Glenn Phillips century and four Trent Boult wickets, despite being 15 for three after four overs of their innings.
The nature of that victory, coupled with the similarly emphatic win over Australia in their opening game, gives them a massive net run rate and illustrates the task England face in their next game, albeit one they are fully aware of, having been knocked out of last year’s tournament by the Black Caps in the semi-finals.
“I wouldn’t say it’s unfinished business, but last year hurt quite a bit,” Moeen said. “They’re one of those sides that when it comes to tournaments they just know what they’re doing. It will take everything to beat them. I can’t remember playing New Zealand where we’ve played average and won.”
Moeen hit 12 runs from the last three balls before the rain came down against Ireland, hauling his side to a possible victory after a previously tentative batting display. If England are to stay in the tournament they will need to play consistently with that kind of aggression. “We bat all the way down so we might as well entertain everybody, entertain ourselves and enjoy getting those 70s or 80s off 30 balls, because that’s what really takes the game away,” he said.
“Getting totals of 160 or 170 on good wickets against good sides makes it too easy for them. We’ve just got to be brave and go out and play the way we want to play. It doesn’t mean going out and slogging but playing the way we can do. That was the reason why we were picked.”
Moeen has established himself as a particularly destructive player of spin, which could come in particularly handy against a New Zealand side that normally contains two spinners in Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi. “Towards the end of Eoin Morgan’s reign I almost was a bit of a floater at times, where as soon as the spinners came on he would get me padded up and say: ‘Get ready to go in,’” Moeen said.
“I do enjoy that, not just because it’s spin but because I like that feeling of rushing and just getting out there. There’s no real position that I say that’s my favourite spot. It is the situation more than anything where somebody has to get going. I enjoy that.”
Friday’s abandoned game against Australia denied England what would have been one of the great occasions of the tour, in a near-full MCG against the host nation. Instead, they spent hours in their dressing room – “We played a few silly games with each other to try and keep ourselves entertained,” Moeen said – before being told to return to their hotel.
“Before I came out to Australia I did imagine it being a sunny day in Melbourne with a packed house, and you almost visualise guys coming in and bowling at you and you playing your best shots,” he said. “And then to go to a ground and not even step out is terrible. But you can’t control the weather. On Friday, if we’d played we could have been knocked out. Sometimes the weather’s on your side.”