LONDON (AP) — England loses. It just doesn’t lose two games in a row very often.
The last time England lost two straight anywhere was in January 2017, in India.
The last time England lost two straight at home was in September 2015, against Australia at Lord’s.
It just so happens England plays defending champion Australia at Lord’s on Tuesday in the Cricket World Cup, determined to recover from an upset loss to Sri Lanka last Friday.
“We tend to come back aggressively, it’s been a strong point of ours,” captain Eoin Morgan says.
Indeed. After their first setback in the group stage against Pakistan, the England lineup defeated Bangladesh five days later.
Morgan has stressed that his top-ranked side expected to lose games, but the pressure on them to make the semifinals is rising, with games against the three strongest teams ahead: five-time champion Australia, then two-time champion India, then 2015 finalist New Zealand.
What’s more, England hasn’t beaten any of those teams at a World Cup in 27 years.
England needs to beat at least one of them, as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan are breathing down their necks.
The manner of the defeat to Sri Lanka, rather than defeat itself, disturbed England supporters most of all. It was the second of three chases where England failed.
They were set 233 to win, only to be dominated by the Sri Lanka attack. Only the reliable Joe Root of the top order fired, and Ben Stokes was left stranded on 82 after poor strokes from Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, and Mark Wood while the asking run rate was minimal.
Morgan pointedly noted they need to play “aggressive, smart, positive cricket” — smart being the key word.
Morgan and coach Trevor Bayliss deny their confidence is shaken.
“There is no reason why (we shouldn’t have belief),” Morgan says. “We are not going to win every game in this World Cup. We need to go back to the process that’s taken us to being a strong side in the world.”
Archer, the newest addition to England’s lineup, welcomed the challenges ahead in the group stage, “having probably the four hardest games last.”
“It will do us well so that if we do get through, we should be OK to pretty much win everything.”
Archer’s confidence comes from having taken 15 wickets in the World Cup, less than two months since his England debut. Archer will face Australia for the first time, and the Australians say they are looking forward to tasting the pace of Archer and Mark Wood.
“That sort of pace probably suits our attack a bit more, something we’re a bit more used to,” Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell says.
Maxwell was comparing England’s attack with Bangladesh’s, against which Australia scored a winning 381 last Thursday.
Having to handle quicks Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins in the nets has helped Australia clue in to what to expect from Archer and Wood, Maxwell adds.
“It’s a challenge we’re up for.”
Australia has been improving since its loss to India, having smothered chases by Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.
Allrounder Marcus Stoinis and fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile are fit, and David Warner and Steve Smith have reintegrated successfully with lots of runs after their 12-month suspensions.
Australia has its swagger back after a rough 2018, and Warner sounds a note of caution.
“We just can’t be complacent and comfortable,” he says. “We’ve got to keep moving forward playing our best cricket.”
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