Moeen Ali: ‘We have to be ruthless otherwise we’re going home’

England

Moeen Ali has called on England to “throw the first punch” and be “ruthless” in their remaining two Group B games as the defending champions aim to keep their T20 World Cup 2024 hopes alive.

Saturday’s heavy defeat to Australia left England fourth in Group B, with all sides having played twice, and potentially in a battle to qualify for the Super 8s on net run rate. Having taken just a point from their washed-out opener against Scotland, victories by significant margins over Oman and Namibia may be required if Jos Buttler’s side are to avoid a second ignominious World Cup exit in eight months.

Scotland play Oman on Sunday knowing that victory will put them on five points, which is the maximum England can achieve. They will then have the advantage of playing Australia after England complete their group fixtures, thereby knowing exactly what sort of result would be required to put them through.

Speaking after a chastening afternoon at Kensington Oval, Moeen said England needed to avoid dwelling on results so far and get back on the front foot – albeit a similar mantra failed to produce a turnaround in India during last year’s failed ODI World Cup defence.

“Net run rate is huge and there’s been quite a few tournaments when I’ve missed out on net run rate, so it’s huge,” Moeen said. “If we get the chance in those next two games we’re going to have to win by quite big margins.

“We’ve got the team to do that. I know in this World Cup big teams are losing but we’ve got to go into these two games and almost throw the first punch and just keep going from there.

“When you lose a game, especially [against] Australia, the camp is never positive. But you can’t get too down and go into our shells and say ‘What if this happens?’ We’ve just to be really ruthless in those two games playing our best cricket otherwise we’re going home.”

Buttler has been unwilling to talk about the ODI World Cup, where England lost six of their first seven games to crash out in the round-robin stage, during the build-up to the T20 version, but faces would could be a make-or-break week for his captaincy.

Moeen, Buttler’s deputy, preferred to draw on the team’s experience at the previous T20 World Cup, in 2022, when England suffered a shock defeat to Ireland during the Super 12s, followed by an abandonment against the hosts, Australia, before winning four games in a row to lift the trophy.

“India was different because it’s a different format, you have to play proper cricket, closer to Test matches and your technique is exposed and all that. I think this situation it’s more like when we lost to Ireland in Melbourne and we had to win every game and run rate was important as well then so we can take experience from that.

“I think we’re better at T20s, I just think today Australia were better than us. Even in the last World Cup when we won it, we had to win every game so we’re kind of used to this with our backs against the wall. My own personal thing is I don’t care about the 50-over World Cup, that’s done but I think in this World Cup we ca do a lot better.

“The first game being rained off is unfortunate and then losing today is not great so we’re going to have to win those next two games.

“It’s about being calm and not letting the outside noise or whatever it is affect us. We need to be more aggressive without being reckless, not overthink things and take those two teams down.”

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