It was a forgettable shot, one that his captain Harry Brook described “out in a silly kind of way.” Little would have Tom Banton realised when he looked to reverse sweep legspinner Lloyd Pope that Australia would be able to crack open the game. Up until then, England were fairly comfortable at 71 for 3 chasing 128 with the lunch break imminent. That could have disturbed Australia’s momentum, but Banton’s wicket after he raced to a sparkling half-century exposed a lower order that panicked at the first hint of pressure.
You didn’t need to look at Brook’s face to say how distraught he was. Repeated references to “the day goes on” were enough indication of his hurt. “Getting through to the quarter-finals is a great achievement, but I am not the kind who likes second place,” he said. “I am pretty disappointed. I don’t think it hurts more because we lost to Australia. Losing to any team is the same.”
Brook found it hard to digest that his team, that he felt had played spin “exceptionally well” throughout the tournament, would throw their wickets away to lack of application and rash shots in a game that was superbly set up by their bowlers.
“I think we played spin exceptionally well throughout the tournament,” Brook said. “Pope just bowled very well and got some turn off the pitch, but we also played a few bad shots, but the day goes on. The pitch wasn’t that bad really, both sides didn’t bat well. You can’t really fault the pitch. After a defeat like that, we’ll have stuff to say about everything and hopefully the lads will buy into it. I am sure Lewi (Jon Lewis, the head coach) will have a lot of things to say to us.”
At lunch, England needed 49 and had five wickets remaining. Brook talked up England’s batting depth in the build-up to the game. This was an opportunity to prove it under pressure. “We didn’t really need to say much at the break,” Brook said. “We had to go at 1.5 an over or something, so all we needed to do was knock it around for a few overs and if we still had wickets in hand, knock them over with ease. We lost some wickets quickly after the break – that didn’t help. There was a lot of pressure. The run out was quite panicky. That’s what happens in big collapses.”
Lewis was understanding of his team and the effort they had put in to prepare for the tournament, and hoped the bitter pill would only help them channel the hurt better and become world beaters in the future. “I already spoke to the guys about their journey towards becoming great sportsmen,” he said. “You win some, you lose some, but you learn from dealing with pressure situations and how you react when put under pressure in front of everyone. The captain has been outstanding, he didn’t get runs today but he’s played superbly.
“All these players are nowhere near being finished players. They are all still developing and for them to experience the joy of playing in a World Cup for the country will be an experience to cherish. The way this group gets on is brilliant, both on and off the field. I know they will stick together. Yes, we have taken a big knock. This will be tough for them. It won’t feel nice now, it won’t feel nice when they reflect on this three or four weeks later, but this will spur them on to even greater heights in the future.”