‘We can still win World Cup’: England coach Mott optimistic despite defeats

Matthew Mott has called for an increase in the number of white-ball international fixtures, citing England’s lack of recent action as a key factor behind their poor performances at the World Cup. But although his team have lost three of their first four games the Australian insisted: “I still think we can win this tournament.”

While the one-day team was the ECB’s key focus in the buildup to the 2019 World Cup, they are no longer the main priority. Between March and August this year there was a period of more than five months without England playing any white-ball matches at all, and six months with no ODIs. There will be another five-month break between the end of the tour of West Indies in December and their next white-ball fixtures, at home to Pakistan in May, shortly before the T20 World Cup in June.

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“I would love us to play a little bit more cricket, if I’m being honest,” Mott said. “When you’re looking to try to get your combinations and confidence, certainly the more you can play together, and win and lose, it’s going to help.

“But at the end of the day I understand the pressure administrators are under to fit everything in, and it’s an incredibly packed schedule. I’m not an administrator, I’m a coach, and it does no good to get outside my lane ropes, to think about things I can’t control.”

England, the tournament’s second-favourites before a ball was bowled, have performed way below expectations – and are to be further weakened by the departure of Reece Topley, who will return to the UK on Monday after fracturing his index finger – but Mott insisted they still have a path to glory.

“It’s very clear what we have to do now: we need to win every single game,” he said. “The simple fact is we’re not playing well [but] our tournament’s far from over.

There’s a lot that has to go our way now, but we’re still in there. We’ll keep throwing punches. I still think we can win this tournament.”

But with “a lot of heads down in the dressing room”, there will be no riot acts read under Mott’s watch. “I learned very quickly as a coach that you can only give a bollocking when the effort’s not there,” he said.

“When it’s a skill and confidence thing, no one responds well to a bollocking. We need to do our best to get an arm around these folks. They’re hurting. They’re bloody good players, there’s no doubt about that. You don’t lose that, but you can lose your confidence.”

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Mott defended his team’s approach to Saturday’s defeat at the hands of South Africa – in terms of runs the heaviest in England’s history – both the decision to field first and to play only six specialist batters.

“We always knew something had to give and what we wanted to do was go with the most aggressive option, which was to try to bowl them out,” he said. “We knew we were a bit light with the bat, but we were prepared to back our top six batters. When you lose a few in the powerplay it certainly doesn’t look a great decision but that was the method.”