Reinvigorated England seek confirmation that their campaign is back on track

England

Match details

England vs Namibia
June 15, Antigua, 1pm local time

Big picture: England breathe easier after statement win

Have the real England stood up at last? The jury, if truth be told, is probably still considering its verdict. For if one and a quarter matches was an insufficient sample size to assess their early-tournament woes against Scotland and Australia, then a 19-ball run-chase against an outclassed Oman can hardly count as proof that all is right once again with the defending world champions.

But at least the speed and certainty of that Oman performance – conducted against the clock as much as their opponents – has placed England’s progress back in their own hands… sort of. By vaulting their net run rate up over that of the Scots’ (3.08 to 2.16), they can now breathe easier in the knowledge that a victory of any magnitude against Namibia will improve that figure still further, and therefore be enough to keep them on course for the Super Eight.

Of course, there is – and will remain – a seed of uncertainty so long as Scotland still have a chance of landing the shock of the tournament by beating Australia in Group B’s final match on Sunday, but with Pat Cummins having officially declared that the Spirit of Cricket is at stake in that contest after a week of speculation about go-slows, it’s safe to assume that the Aussies will give their all, as they invariably do on the world stage.

They certainly did just that in bowling Namibia out for 72 in Antigua on Tuesday. It was a performance of near-identical dominance to England’s crushing of Oman – it was all wrapped up in a 34-ball run-chase, to England’s 19, by nine wickets to England’s eight, and with their star legspinner Adam Zampa claiming 4 for 12 to Adil Rashid’s 4 for 11. The only real difference was in the resistance offered by Namibia’s captain, Gerhard Erasmus, in his doughty 36 from 43 balls.

England have no room for complacency given their uncertainties of the past week, but if this team truly is forged in the image of its captain Buttler, then confidence surely begets confidence. They have restored a degree of agency to their tournament narrative. It would be one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history if they let that qualification chance slip now, before Scotland have had their shot at ruining the party on Sunday.

Form guide

England: WLWWL (last five completed T20Is, most recent first)
Namibia: LLTWW

In the spotlight – Adil Rashid and David Wiese

He took a couple of matches in this tournament to get fully back up to speed – which isn’t entirely surprising seeing as his displays against Pakistan last month were his first competitive outings since February – but against Oman, Adil Rashid‘s game was in perfect working order. His analysis included a remarkable 20 dot-balls, as his command of flight and variation demanded guesswork from an inexperienced Oman middle-order, and if he can produce a similar four-over display against Namibia, that ought to be ample to expose the gulf between the teams. Looking ahead to the Super Eight (as England, tentatively, can now allow themselves to do), the sight of a settled Rashid, growing into his work, augurs extremely well for the defending champions’ prospects.

Never say never, but at the age of 39, and with at least two years until Namibia’s next shot at an ICC world tournament, this could be a last hurrah on the big stage for the mighty David Wiese – a mainstay of Namibia’s fortunes since he transferred his allegiance back in 2021, having previously played 26 matches for South Africa, including a role at the 2016 World T20. He was integral to their only victory so far in this campaign, with three wickets against Oman allied to a stellar Super Over display, but he was less effective against Scotland and Australia. A reversion to his best could yet cause England a few jitters on Saturday.

Team news

England’s attack nailed its brief in the Oman rout, with Reece Topley‘s inclusion for his first match of the tournament providing an awkward left-arm point of difference to complement the 90mph-plus pace of Jofra Archer and Mark Wood. It was all too hot to handle for Oman’s line-up, although there may well be a temptation to rest either or both of the latter given the two-day turnaround between matches, especially now that any old victory will keep England on track for qualification. Sam Curran, the star of England’s title win two years ago, is waiting in the wings for a first outing of the campaign, while Chris Jordan could slot back in too.

England (possible): 1 Phil Salt, 2 Jos Buttler (capt & wk), 3 Will Jacks, 4 Jonny Bairstow, 5 Harry Brook, 6 Liam Livingstone, 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Jofra Archer/Sam Curran, 9 Mark Wood/Chris Jordan, 10 Adil Rashid, 11 Reece Topley

Namibia mixed things up in their last outing against Australia, with Ben Shikongo and Jack Brassell making their first appearances of the campaign – and potentially last as well, after being launched for a combined tally of 33 runs in ten balls in a one-sided run-chase. Of Namibia’s 15-man squad, only the 20-year-old batter Dylan Leicher has yet to be given an outing. With their qualification hopes over, there may be a temptation to reconfigure once again.

Namibia (possible): 1 JP Kotze, 2 Nikolaas Davin, 3 Jan Frylinck, 4 Gerhard Erasmus (capt), 5 Malan Kruger, 6 Zane Green (wk), 7 David Wiese, 8 Ruben Trumpelmann, 9 JJ Smit, 10 Bernard Scholtz, 11 Tangeni Lungameni

Pitch and conditions

England found themselves pleasantly surprised by both the carry in the surface for the Oman game, as well as the degree of spin that Rashid extracted. After damp conditions in Barbados, the Antigua leg has been conducted under clearer skies, so another full contest is in prospect.

Stats and trivia

  • Namibia have faced England just once before in a full international contest – at Port Elizabeth during the 2003 World Cup, when Rudi van Vuuren and Jan-Berrie Burger starred in a spirited 55-run defeat.
  • Moeen Ali needs one wicket to reach 50 in T20Is.
  • Erasmus has the potential for twin milestones: he needs three wickets to reach 50 in T20Is, and 60 runs to reach 1500.
  • Quotes

    “There were obviously a few negatives flying around and questions being asked, and I’m really pleased for the bowling unit that we came out and managed to put on a performance.”
    Mark Wood, England’s fast bowler, was proud of the way his team bounced back against Oman

    Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

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