Moeen: ‘If we’re going out, we’re going out with a bang’

England vice-captain says the team has been “overthinking” during this World Cup, instead of playing the “entertaining” brand of cricket they’re known for. England have lost their spark and sense of enjoyment at the World Cup, and would rather go out of the tournament “with a bang” than with a whimper. That is the view of their vice-captain, Moeen Ali, who looks set to make his second appearance of the tournament against Sri Lanka in Bangalore on Thursday.

Moeen played in England’s nine-wicket defeat to New Zealand in Ahmedabad on the opening night of the tournament but has not featured since. Being dropped has given him perspective on where his team-mates have fallen short, particularly in defeats to Afghanistan and South Africa which mean they probably need to win all five of their remaining group games in order to reach the semi-finals. “Our intent hasn’t been there,” Moeen said. “When you see it from the outside, it’s just like that spark is missing; that thing is missing where they’re enjoying taking bowlers down and enjoying going out to bat. The situations haven’t always been easy but still: I feel like it’s a game of cricket, at the end of the day, and I think we’re probably taking it too seriously in certain ways. “It’s almost having that carefree kind of attitude: who cares? It’s a game of cricket. If you’re going to make mistakes, you might as well make them doing what you’re good at doing. And we’re making mistakes anyway, so do it with a smile on your face… I think we as a group have been overthinking too much.”

In both the 2019 World Cup and the 2022 T20 World Cup, early group-stage defeats left England with no margin for error in their last four games. On both occasions, they rediscovered their attacking batting style after being confronted with the prospect of elimination. “We’ve been in this position before – probably not to this degree – but we know everything is a must-win,” Moeen said. “There’s no point playing the way we’re playing and then [we will] go out and go home and have regrets. I’ve always believed – and I believe still – that if we play how we play and we know we can play, most teams, we’ll beat… let’s at least go out with a bang, if we’re going to go out. And be entertaining. That’s really important, because that’s something we haven’t been at all.”

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