The incoming ECB chairman, Colin Graves, has expressed concern over England’s strategy in one-day cricket, after Eoin Morgan’s side slumped to their third defeat in four World Cup matches.
England crashed to a nine-wicket loss on Sunday against Sri Lanka, who reached England’s target of 309 with 16 balls to spare. The defeat goes alongside heavy losses to hosts Australia and New Zealand, with Scotland the only team England have beaten so far.
The current Yorkshire chairman Graves, who is set to take up his new role from mid-May, told the BBC: “In ODIs we have underperformed. In Tests we are on the up, we have some fantastic young players coming through and have got to have some faith in them. We have to have a strategy and in one-day internationals we have to improve.
“The main thing is, you look at the World Cup and it’s very aggressive early on, are our players as aggressive as the others? We need to talk about those things.”
Graves did not rule out a return to the England team for Kevin Pietersen, but said that the batsman, who last played for England’s one-day side in September 2013, needs to play county cricket to stand any chance of a recall.
“The first thing he has to do if he wants to get back is start playing county cricket. The selectors and the coaches are not going to pick him if he’s not playing, it’s as simple as that. At the end of the day it’s down to the selectors and coaches and what they feel is best for English cricket. They will make the decisions and I will support their decisions.”
Several former England players contributed to a chorus of online criticism, with Graeme Swann calling on the England and Wales Cricket Board to realise their approach is “out of date”.
Writing on Twitter, Swann said: “A positive thing that can come of this World Cup is that maybe the top brass will realise just how out of date our approach is.”
Swann also aired his views on the BBC, adding that England had been overly pleased to get what he considered to be an average score.
“I think the problem lies not just with the bowling but the whole approach. It was a very self-congratulatory 310, everyone was saying ‘brilliant’. These days that’s about average and not a great score,” he said.
“We should be looking for 340, 350; The difference between the top teams and everyone else is immense. They’re saying that is the limit when you bat, we’re still looking at par scores.”
“There’s a bit of stubbornness about the selection policy,” Swann added. “I like Gary Ballance, he’s a great lad, but I think even he’d admit that he shouldn’t be in the team at the minute, he’s in horrible form.
“We have a lad in Alex Hales, one of these new generation players who does go out and knock it about, he tries to smash everything for four and six. We need to get these young lads playing. We have too many people running it, too many people involved, too many plans and I think we’re just living in the past.”
The former England captain Michael Vaughan added: “We are watching a era of cricket where if you are predictable you will end up with a predictable outcome.”
Another ex-England player, Geoffrey Boycott, said the England team were not being realistic. He told the BBC: “I do think we could have got another 20-odd runs, there was a period where we were just cantering around. We are not a force to be reckoned with at all.
“They keep telling us ‘we’ll take the positives, we did well, we did this’. They are trying to tell us little things and we don’t see them. They think ex-players like us are just watching to criticise, we’re not, we want you to win. But we can only tell you what we see and you keep losing.”