Cricket World Cup: The stats behind England's woeful title defence

Jos Buttler's team have lost four out of five matches in the tournament

England's Mark Wood is stumped against Sri Lanka in Bengaluru. Getty
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Title holders England's World Cup campaign is all but over after their fourth defeat in five games.

Their crushing defeat against Sri Lanka in Bengaluru - bowled out for 156 and losing in just over 25 overs - has highlighted just how poor their campaign in India has been.

Here we take a detailed look into just how bad England have been at the 2023 World Cup.

England’s bogey team

Sri Lanka are the only team England have not beaten in Cricket World Cups in the 21st century. After having lost in Antigua (2007), Colombo (2011), Wellington (2015) and Leeds (2019), England suffered their fifth straight loss against the islanders by eight wickets in Bengaluru.

England’s semi-finals chances are now hanging by a thread. Even if they win the remaining four games, they will not have destiny in their own hands and will have to depend on other results and a mathematical miracle as their net run rate (-1.634) has taken a big hit.

Sixth-ranked England play three of their remaining four games against the teams who are above them in the rankings – India (1), Pakistan (2) and Australia (4).

England’s worst ever World Cup campaign so far

With four defeats in five matches, this is currently England’s worst ever campaign in World Cup history. Their win percentage sits at 20, the lowest in the 13 editions of the tournament.

Interestingly, three of their worst World Cups in terms of win percentage have been in the subcontinent. In 1996 and 2011, they went past the group stage but lost the quarter-final to Sri Lanka in Faisalabad and in Colombo respectively.

England are not just losing in this World Cup, but also losing big. Their losing margins have been eight wickets against Sri Lanka, 229 runs against South Africa, 69 runs against Afghanistan and nine wickets against New Zealand.

Their game against Sri Lanka lasted just 59.0 overs, the shortest in this tournament.

Struggles against spin

Although England lost just one wicket to spin against Sri Lanka, Maheesh Theekshana’s spell of 8.2-1-21-1 curtailed their run-scoring in Bengaluru. He conceded just one boundary from 50 balls.

England have lost 20 wickets to spinners in five matches, the most by any team in the tournament. Their batting average against slow bowlers is 23.50, the second worst after Netherlands (23.53).

The title holders were troubled by spinners from the first day of the tournament when New Zealand's Mitchell Santner took two wickets against them without conceding a boundary from his 10 overs.

England batters not contributing enough

There have been just five scores in excess of 50 from England batters in this tournament, the fewest by any team. Even Netherlands, who are 14th in the ICC ODI Rankings and were the last team to qualify for this World Cup, have produced more fifties (six).

The four England batters to reach fifty in this World Cup are: Joe Root (twice), Dawid Malan, Harry Brook and Jonny Bairstow.

Brook, who at 24 is the youngest player in the England squad, was left out against Sri Lanka making it the first instance in World Cup history where all 11 players in the team were above the age of 30.

Captain is out of form

Captain Jos Buttler’s batting is not helping England either. Among the five captains who have batted five times in this World Cups, Buttler’s average (19.00) is the lowest.

It’s also the second lowest average by an England captain in a World Cup after Eoin Morgan’s 90 runs at 18.00 in the 2015 World Cup, which was another disastrous campaign for them.

In 25 innings leading up to this World Cup, Buttler had scored 1,061 runs at an average of 48.22 and a strike-rate of 114.70 in ODIs. But that form deserted him in India.

Bowlers struggling

It’s not just that England’s batters haven’t stood up. Their bowlers have failed to create an impact too. In five games, they have taken just 28 wickets, the joint-fewest for any team.

None of their bowlers has taken 10 wickets in the tournament. Their best, Reece Topley (8 wickets at 22.87), was ruled out of the tournament after fracturing his finger in the game against South Africa in Mumbai.

England have used seven fast bowlers in this World Cup, all have an economy of 6.50 or above.

Lack of recent ODI experience

The lack of ODI cricket in the recent years could be another factor behind England’s poor form in this World Cup. Most of their players were either rested or had to sit out because of injuries in the World Cup 2019-2023 cycle. In Ben Stokes’ case, there was also a temporary retirement.

Apart from the four players (Brook, Brydon Carse, Liam Livingstone and Gus Atkinson) who debuted after World Cup 2019, every England player in the current squad missed more than 10 ODI matches between 2019 and 2023.

Interestingly, Jason Roy (32 matches), who made most appearances for England between 2019 and 2023, was dropped from the World Cup squad.

Updated: October 28, 2023, 4:00 AM