When England played India at the Cricket World Cup back in October, 10/11 of their starting players were aged 32 or over.
Not to sound ageist, but it meant that the 2023 edition of the tournament would likely be the last ODI World Cup for the majority of the squad.
That notion has undoubtedly been hastened by the struggles of Jos Buttler’s team, who with two games left to play (at the time of writing) find themselves at risk of finishing bottom of the league table – a remarkable fall from grace for a team that was crowned world champions just four years ago.
The former Worcestershire CCC man Mooen Ali has been an integral figure for England’s ODI team for the best part of a decade, but he too admits that his days as an international cricketer are all but over.
End of an Innings
If you look at the Cricket World Cup odds, you’ll notice that England aren’t listed. And for good reason – they mathematically cannot finish ahead of India (24/25), Australia (19/5), South Africa (47/10) or New Zealand (11/1) and are therefore out of contention for a knockout stage place.
It’s been a hapless tournament for the team, who lost six of their opening seven games and head towards the end of the league phase with the worst net run rate in the competition – behind the likes of the Netherlands, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 4, 2023
Although it’s not pleasant to write as much, heads will likely roll given the nature of the debacle and the ageing status of the England squad, with David Willey already confirming his retirement from international duty.
And he may not be the only one. Mooen gave a telling interview in the midst of the tournament in which he noted that “everything good comes to an end” and admitted that he would be “more than happy” to step away from the international scene if England wanted to reset with a younger squad.
The 36-year-old also went on to describe England as “rubbish” during the World Cup – an opinion no doubt shared by many cricket fans up and down the land.
In It to Win It
That said, the competition has been favourable to several other former Worcestershire players.
The county team has long had an affinity with New Zealand’s international set-up, with Mitchell Santner, Daryl Mitchell, Matt Henry and Ish Sodhi all, at one time or another, representing the Pears.
Unfortunately, Henry has suffered a tournament-ending injury, but the rest of the quartet could all feature as the Kiwis home in on a semi-final place – a potential last-four clash with hosts India on the horizon.
Matt Henry has been ruled out of the @cricketworldcup with a torn right hamstring and has been replaced in the squad by Kyle Jamieson. An MRI scan confirmed he has a grade two lower tear which will require at least 2 to 4 weeks to recover from. #CWC23 https://t.co/HXmethEthZ
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) November 3, 2023
Steve Smith’s trajectory as one of the best batsmen in world cricket is remarkable when you consider that back in 2011, he joined Worcestershire as a spin bowler who would bat down the order.
He featured in the Pears’ T20 team that season, lining up alongside Moeen, Mitchell and club legend Vikram Solanki. Whether his spell in the West Midlands helped to breed the batsman considered second only to Don Bradman by many only he can say, but Smith continued a fine legacy of international players that have lit up Worcestershire’s New Road home.