NASSER HUSSAIN: England’s plans were perfect and their execution was ruthless in T20 World Cup opener against Afghanistan… and Mark Wood is becoming a talisman for this side
That was an excellent start for England, not only with their own win but also Australia’s heavy defeat by New Zealand.
In a tight group net run-rate could be vital and Afghanistan showed enough in Perth to prove they will be difficult for the other sides to beat.
England were clinical in the field and with the ball on Saturday. Once you saw how they bowled to Australia on this ground a couple of weeks ago, when they used the short ball a lot, you knew how they would go about their plan for Afghanistan.
England executed their plan perfectly to beat Afghanistan in their T20 World Cup opener
Australia’s heavy defeat to New Zealand was also good news for Jos Buttler’s side
But it’s one thing having that plan — bowling into the pitch and forcing Afghanistan to try to hit towards the long square boundaries — but it’s quite another executing it and England were brilliant.
Not least Mark Wood. Every ball in his spell was over 92.6mph, which is the first time that has been achieved in a Twenty20 World Cup, and that was not only remarkable but it also showed England were not deviating from their plan. There was no point Wood bowling slower balls.
Then Sam Curran backed him up. He doesn’t have the pace of Wood but there’s a reason why these franchises around the world pay big money for him and that’s because he’s a very smart as well as talented cricketer, as you discover when you talk to him.
England need to decide if star bowler Mark Wood is able to go back-to-back and face Ireland
Sam Curran showed why franchises around the world pay big money for him every year
Being an all-rounder, Curran’s decision making is usually excellent. Curran’s death bowling has been fantastic and that’s important because it’s been an area of concern for England in the last two T20 World Cups. As Ed Smith has said, Curran has an impact in every game he plays and we are seeing that more and more now.
And I don’t think I’ve ever seen an England side field as well as that. The catches taken by Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Jos Buttler were outstanding.
England’s batting was not as clinical as they would have liked. You do have to keep an eye on net run-rate and there is going to be a bit of weather around during this tournament.
The all-rounder’s decision making and death bowling has been excellent in recent times
But they came through without too many alarms and that’s a really positive start. Now England will assess what they have to do differently when they face Ireland here in Melbourne on Wednesday.
They have become very much a side who look at the dimensions of the ground and work out the opposition’s areas of weakness. And England will be aware that Ireland can give the ball a real smash and Paul Stirling, in particular, can play the short ball well.
England need to decide whether Wood can go back to back and play against Ireland and Australia.
The batting was probably below par, and they should keep an eye on net run-rate in games
Personally, I’d play him in both and view each game, with only five group matches then the semi-final and final, as a knockout encounter. But only if he’s sure his body is up to it.
Wood is becoming something of a talisman for this England side, with the way he plays his cricket and the smile he always has on his face.
It’s one thing having speed but you have to be accurate too and Wood is both very fast and very accurate. It’s wickets and economy you have to look for and Wood has been excellent in both areas.