The Caribbean can be a dangerous place for an England team needing to win. Its beaches, rum punches and glorious weather have lured many into a false sense of security only for the cricket to whack them right between the eyes.
Matthew Mott follows Peter Moores in 2015 and Joe Root in 2022 by leading an England team to the West Indies in need of a result.
Moores is the closest comparison as coach. He had just led a poor World Cup campaign in Australia and was sacked soon after a drawn series in the West Indies.
Root captained England on a three-Test tour to the Caribbean to reassert himself after the 2021 Ashes defeat. James Anderson and Stuart Broad were dropped to give Root freedom from the awkward squad and a chance to establish some authority. England lost the last Test in Grenada, Root resigned and Bazball was born.
Mott is on safer ground than Moores, who fell victim, in part, to regime change at the ECB. Andrew Strauss had been appointed director of cricket and was never a fan of Moores. Root was exhausted and ready to go, he just couldn’t quite bring himself to admit it until England fell apart in Grenada.
Mott’s reputation took a battering at the World Cup. England were under-prepared, unprofessional and outplayed. He was unable to explain what had gone wrong publicly which always makes you wonder how successfully a coach puts his points across to players behind the scenes. Results suggest, not very well. He was not tetchy; just a head coach who struggled with the high level of scrutiny that the women’s game and county cricket does not provide.
Multiple sources talked of a dire lack of communication, one telling Telegraph Sport, they didn’t know “who was in charge”. Senior players past their best were given too much rope or picked when injured or not fully fit. Despite months of downtime to plan for the tournament, thanks to the split-coaching model, Mott and Jos Buttler blinked very quickly. The team was chopped and changed and believed the World Cup would be an extension of T20 when other teams recognised that in India it would be closer to the challenge of Test cricket.
Eoin Morgan was appalled and for the first time found his voice as a pundit. He hinted at problems behind the scenes, although this was not thought to relate to bust-ups, just a thinly veiled criticism of the management of the defence of the World Cup he won in 2019.
Rob Key took the blame as director of cricket, deflecting away from the players and Mott, whom he appointed, which was a strong step to take because it is almost unheard of in English cricket for someone at the top not to pass responsibility down the line. It was noble, but it was not Key’s fault England chose to bowl in Mumbai, or panicked when results went south early on in the tournament. And Key did not bat for Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler or Root.
England have avoided the ‘reset’ word for the Caribbean but that is what it should be. Ben Duckett, Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope are Bazballers with a chance to become multi-format players. Phil Salt and Will Jacks are welcome additions as the road to the next World Cup begins. Gus Atkinson, Rehan Ahmed and John Turner make up a youthful attack. Some will make it, others will fall by the wayside.