‘The confidence is unwavering’ – Bairstow backs England to return to winning ways

He also insists their firepower with the bat can’t be questioned despite the early defeats.

England have not become a bad team overnight and their players remain confident that they can win the World Cup, despite early defeats to New Zealand and Afghanistan. That was the message put forward on Wednesday by Jonny Bairstow, who also pushed back against criticism of the squad’s focus. With two points from their first three games, England will probably need to win five of their remaining six group-stage fixtures to qualify for the semi-finals. They play against South Africa at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday night, which represents a chance to respond from a shock 69-run defeat to Afghanistan in Delhi. And Bairstow said the squad retains belief that they can put a run of victories together. “There’s a reason why the guys won the T20 World Cup last year; there’s a reason why the guys won the 2019 World Cup, and we’re the defending champions,” he said. “Just because we’ve lost a game to Afghanistan doesn’t make us bad cricketers or anything like that.

“You look at [Fazalhaq] Farooqi, his record in the IPL; you look at the three spinners that they’ve got and their records. Just because they play for Afghanistan, they’re no slouches. They’ve actually got some of the world’s best in there and they’ve got match-winners. We lost that game, we didn’t play well enough, and we’ve accepted that and moved on from that.” Asked whether England’s batting line-up is still capable of dominating opposing teams in the way they have over the last eight years, Bairstow said: “I don’t really think much has really changed, has it? You look at the strength in depth that we have with our batting line-up… I don’t think the firepower can be questioned. “We’re just focusing on ourselves. That’s what we do. We’ll go out and play the way that we’re looking to play, put pressure on the opposition like we said that we’d try and do. People are allowed to bowl or bat well. But if our mindset is right and if the way in which we approach the game is right, then that’s the bit that we can control.”

England’s players came in for significant criticism across broadcast and print media after their defeat on Sunday, which the squad have largely ignored. But they have taken issue with one report which focused on the players’ use of their downtime and suggested that they should spend less time on the golf course, and more in the nets. “The group remains calm within it,” Bairstow said. “Belief and confidence isn’t something that’s been questioned one bit. That’s something that you’re able to call upon when you do lose a game. We lost to Sri Lanka in 2019. We lost to Pakistan in 2019. We still went through. There were similar things that I’m sure you guys [the press] wrote in 2019 at the home World Cup. “But that’s OK. That’s what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to write certain things about certain members and what people do and don’t do in their downtime. That’s things that you’ll fill in the [column] inches and you’re doing that. Whether it’s true, whether it’s incorrect, whatever it is – that’s up to you to do that, isn’t it? “The confidence is there. It’s unwavering. There’s no lack of belief within this group.

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