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‘We can turn this around’: Mott defiant despite England’s World Cup misery

Matthew Mott has insisted he is the man to lead England to a brighter white-ball future despite his team’s abysmal World Cup defence.

On Thursday Sri Lanka became the fourth opponents in five to beat the holders convincingly, and more than halfway through the group stage the pre-tournament second-favourites sit above only the Netherlands in the 10-team table. Although England won the T20 World Cup in Australia last year just months after Mott’s appointment, their performances in India have been so hapless the coach’s future will inevitably be up for debate.

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“When you lose tournaments like this, everyone’s under scrutiny, everyone’s place will be questioned,” Mott said. “I’m fully determined that we can turn this around. I certainly feel like I could have done things a lot better, but I’ve been in the job 18 months, we’ve won a World Cup and lost a World Cup.

“I think I’ve shown the capability that I can coach this team. And I think having experiences in the past where I’ve had tournaments like this, I’ve shown the ability to turn things around. That’ll have to happen pretty quickly, but what will be will be.”

It is, however, clear that Mott has not only been unable to treat the malaise that has been spreading among his squad since they lost to New Zealand in their opening game, but that he is at a loss to explain what it is. “I really don’t know. I don’t have too many answers at the moment,” he said.

“There’s a lot of good cricketers in that team. They’re world-class players in there and they don’t miss too often, it just seems like they’ve all missed out at once in games here. I think it’s going to take a lot of us working out, and when we finish this tournament we’re going to have to sit down and work out how we can get better, because it’s certainly not going to plan.”

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The holders have not yet been eliminated, and there would still be a possible path to the semi-finals if they lose their next game to India on Sunday – though it would involve an extraordinary transformation in their own form and an unlikely sequence of other results, and the mood in the camp has already shifted from resolve to resignation.

“India are probably raging favourites at the moment,” Mott said. “I think that’s an opportunity to restore some pride and confidence in the group. And every opportunity we get to play together is vital now to try and find our mojo back again. It’s obviously too late for this tournament, but we’ve got to find a response.”

Mott said that he and the team’s captain, Jos Buttler, “are incredibly aligned and united”, but clearly both must brace for a new test of their abilities. They were appointed within two weeks of each other last year to lead a team that had thrived under the captaincy of Eoin Morgan and decided it was neither broke nor needed fixing. Their approach brought T20 success in Australia – though they suffered a mystifyingly limp defeat to Ireland along the way, perhaps a foreshadowing of events to come – but the team now looks in need of a complete rebuild.

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That process will be complicated by yet another T20 World Cup, with the tournament in the USA and West Indies now barely seven months away. England had planned to take a second-string side on December’s tour of the Caribbean – it is certainly unlikely that any Test players will be involved – which would leave them with only four full first-team T20 fixtures between now and next June.

The hopelessly half-baked schedule that leaves no time for a new-look team to coalesce (there haven’t been many occasions in recent years to complain about England playing too little cricket, but this is the moment). Mott and Buttler must choose, and quickly, between putting their faith in a new-look group that will spend three weeks together in December, or getting the band back together for one farewell tour and hoping for the best.

“Just talking to Jos out there, there’s no silver bullet for this,” Mott said in Bengaluru on Thursday night. Buttler had two attempts at describing the thrust of this conversation and it was a measure of his scrambled brain that what he came up with was first a reference to “one golden egg that we’re missing” and then “a golden bullet that is that one thing that’s, if we do this then everything’s right again.” Still, at least the man who once had the Midas touch is still turning something into gold.