Dismal. Disappointment. Disarray. These are just a few of the words describe England’s defence of the Cricket World Cup so dramatically won at Lord’s in 2019.

The reaction to the abject performances have been felt throughout the cricket pyramid, with Merseyside club cricketers not holding back in their criticism of the England team which had such high hopes in defending their title.

After suffering four heavy defeats in their first five matches, the champions need a minor miracle to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament.  

Lancashire’s Jos Buttler has received heavy criticism over his captaincy with team selection, decisions at the toss and the mentality of the players all coming under scrutiny. 

Having presided over what has been one of the meekest title defences in the nearly 50-year history of the World Cup, Buttler is now under increasing pressure to vacate the role he inherited from predecessor Eoin Morgan.  

Liverpool Cricket Club’s Dan Clubbe was scathing in his appraisal: 

“I’m shocked by just how poor they’ve been, I truly am. For me – and it’s quite a strong word to use – but there’s been a little bit of arrogance about the English cricket team when it comes to this World Cup…they’ve taken 50-over cricket for granted.”

Buttler is revered around the world for his exploits with the bat and is considered by many to be England’s greatest ever white ball player. He has had success so far in his tenure as captain, leading his side to victory in the 2022 ICC World T20, but opening bowler Clubbe is not convinced: 

“He’s certainly – prior to this World Cup – the best player. But is he the best captain for that side? I had my reservations to begin with. They’ve obviously not been diminished at all, given what’s gone on in this World Cup. 

“I’ve captained cricket teams in the past and done it to a fair degree of competence, I would like to think – and the team playing under me might think differently – but I wouldn’t suggest that Jos Buttler has stood out necessarily as a leader.” 

The holders need to beat India on Sunday to keep their slim hopes alive. That looks a tall order given the home side’s imperious form – they are the only side in the competition to win all of their games. With the majority of their squad over 30, an early exit for England will likely lead to wholesale changes, something Dan Clubbe welcomes:

“It isn’t just bowing out gracefully at this stage. It’s absolutely humiliating. This feels like the perfect line in the sand, watershed moment, whatever you want to call it. 

“England need to go in a different direction, and for me that would be belt and braces, complete whole change of direction, including the coach, including the captain. 

“For me, it would be a case of let’s really sweep the board clean now and get a whole fresh start, because it’s been catastrophic, it truly has.” 

After instigating a successful white-ball revolution following their ignominious exit from the 2015 tournament, similar changes look likely to be made at the completion of this year’s World Cup. The loss of the captaincy would be a sad way for Jos Buttler to end an era in which he has delivered so much. If England continue to perform as they have been, that possibility could become an inevitability. 

Full interview with Dan Clubbe available on YouTube:

Featured image by Ben Sutherland. Used with permission.