Matthew Mott is hopeful Josh Hazlewood's comments about wanting England eliminated from the T20 World Cup were "tongue in cheek", with the reigning champions' title defence hanging in the balance.

After their opening match against Scotland was rained off - and defeat by Australia - Mott's England must now beat Oman and Namibia in their remaining Group B games - while significantly boosting their net run-rate - to stand any chance of advancing to the Super 8s.

However, England would be knocked out on Sunday if Scotland were to beat Australia, who have already qualified for the next phase after winning each of their first three matches, while a narrow Australian win could also dethrone them.

Hazlewood acknowledged it would be in Australia's "best interest" if England were eliminated, and discussed the possibility of his side attempting to benefit the Scots' net run-rate at the defending champions' expense.

"Having grown up in Australia and with the will to win every game, I am sure they will come to the fore," Mott told BBC Sport. "I am very much hoping it was an off-hand remark by a really good bloke who is having fun.

"Knowing Josh, he has got a pretty dry sense of humour. I am hoping it was very much tongue in cheek."

With their 100 per cent record intact, the reigning Cricket World Cup winners and World Test champions are full of confidence as they look to complete the sweep of global international honours.

Adam Zampa played a starring role in the commanding victory over Namibia last time out, with an impressive 4-12 making him the first Australian to claim 100 T20I wickets.

He has also now claimed the most wickets for his nation at the T20 World Cup (31) - surpassing Mitchell Starc (29), and skipper Mitchell Marsh paid tribute to the spin bowler.

"If you look at his career, especially over the last five years, he's probably our most important player," Marsh said.

"He loves the big moment, loves the pressure, and that comes with experience. He's bowling beautifully at the moment, so we're lucky to have him."

England must "earn the right" to start thinking about T20 World Cup permutations, says Jos Buttler, whose side face a humiliating early exit in the group stage.

Matthew Mott's white-ball  were defeated by Australia on Saturday, with their 36-run loss leaving them staring at a group-stage elimination in their T20I title defence.

That result was compounded by Scotland's thrashing of Oman with 41 balls to spare as England suffered another blow to their hopes of progressing via net run-rate.

Another must-win match against Oman looms on Thursday, where England have to triumph before any other calculations of permutations can begin, says captain Buttler.

"I don't think it's s**t or bust quite yet," Buttler told reporters in Antigua. "I think it's quite clear what we need to do and how we need to play.

"First and foremost, we need to win the game against Oman to have any chance going forward into the next one.

"So we have to earn the right to try and win the game. And if we can get ourselves in a position to affect our net run-rate, obviously that's what we need to do."

England then face Namibia on Saturday to round off their group-stage campaign, though two victories for Buttler's side may still not be enough.

Scotland could still knock them out by beating Australia in their final match after England meet Namibia, when the Scots will have an advantage of a clear picture of what is required.

"We've looked at a few little bits but it's going to be ever-changing throughout the game," Buttler added.

"I don't think we need to consume too much energy today and tomorrow saying 'we need to score 'X' amount of runs or win by this much'. I think those kinds of things will develop on the day.

"That's the situation we find ourselves in, so we have to be aware of that, but not be consumed by that.

"If we try and do that bit first and forget about trying to win the game and lose, then you've got no chance anyway.

"So I'd rather have some kind of chance going into the last game, and know exactly what we need to."

England's white-ball struggles at the tournament have raised questions about Buttler's captaincy and coach Mott's tenure.

Buttler has no interest in the speculation surrounding his stewardship, however.

"I care more about the team than the media and the outside noise," he added. "That's always there, it's part of international sport. If you get to this level, you have to be able to deal with it, the job you guys do, that's the job TV does.

"It's probably harder to completely ignore it in this day and age, but there's a level of acceptance. Our focus has to be on what we can do with our performance.

"I've played the game long enough now to know that it's very good at building people up and pretty good at criticising when it doesn't go right, especially in England.

"I do the same thing when I'm watching a game of football or rugby – 'how's he missed that from there?' 'How did he miss from one-yard out', or 'someone's dropped the ball over the line'. Simple things like that.

"People care. That's why we're able to do what we do because people care and they want to watch. We're a proud team, we want to perform really well for all the fans.

"But to be honest, all the focus is on us and how well we can play. If we play as well as we can, we'll make our fans happy."

England coach Matthew Mott blamed nerves for his side's "sloppy" start against Scotland, but believes they had "all things in their favour" in the chase had the game not been abandoned.

Their World Cup opener was rained off after only one innings, which was split in two due to the bad weather, though Scotland's Michael Jones and George Munsey scored an impressive 90-0 in their 10 overs.

England were then set a target of 109 in 10 overs, but another rainstorm denied them a chance to begin the chase before the match was called off.

Prior to the first rain break, Mark Wood had George Munsey caught on 16, but the opener was reprieved when Wood was shown to have bowled a front-foot no-ball, while misfields allowed extra runs.

Despite what Mott labelled as "sloppy" play while bowling, he was confident his side would have been able to mount a successful chase.

"It was probably just a bit of nerves at the start of a tournament," Mott told the BBC.

"There's definitely areas we want to improve on, but there was a lot of good stuff in there as well.

"That was certainly an achievable chase. We probably would have had all the things in our favour in terms of only 10 overs, 10 wickets in hand and a wet ball [for Scotland's bowlers].

"It was frustrating not to get back out there, but that's the way it is."

Next up for England in Group B is Australia on Saturday at the Kensington Oval, Barbados.

"I definitely think Australia is a big game but it's our next game and that's why it's a big game, and then depending on how we go there we reset and go again," Mott added.

"I'm sure, if the weather allows us, I think it'll be a fantastic contest."

Andrew Flintoff has been tipped as a future England head coach by director of men’s cricket Rob Key.

Key has been integral in offering the 2005 Ashes hero a path back from showbusiness to elite sport after the former captain suffered serious facial injuries in a car crash while filming Top Gear.

Flintoff accepted his friend’s invitation to anonymously attend games at last year’s Ashes series and has since accepted mentoring roles with England’s white-ball side as well as the England Lions and Under-19s.

He will further build his CV by leading Northern Superchargers in The Hundred this summer and has been inked in to assist Matthew Mott at the T20 World Cup in June.

With fans and players alike welcoming the return of one of the country’s most popular figures of recent times, he is already being spoken about as a possible successor and Key can see why.

“Without question, I think he would be an excellent head coach,” Key told the Daily Telegraph.

“He will be a worthy candidate going forward. When that time comes and whoever is in this job, and it might be outside of my time, they would be stupid not to look at him.

“For all the things he has done, cricket is always the thing he goes back to. Like all of us, it is the thing we know better than anything else and the thing we love.

“It is almost like he has no choice. It is what he thinks about the most after his family.”

Key praised Flintoff’s ability to understand the highs and lows of international cricket and sees him as a natural working with the the current crop.

“Flintoff is a leader like (Ben) Stokes. He is not going to need to learn leadership qualities,” said Key.

“He has those in abundance, which is what you need at the top level. He has that empathy that Stokes has as well as being a great player.

“He knows what it is like to nick off and to struggle. All these things as a leader, your interactions with people, mean you can impact people in a positive or negative way with everything you do. Fred is aware of that, and not many are aware of that, and he understands how to use that gift with people.”

England head coach Matthew Mott wants a response from his side after they were left with a mountain to climb in the T20 series against the West Indies in Grenada.

Sam Curran made amends after being thumped for 30 in an over, hit for four sixes and a four by Windies captain Rovman Powell, with 50 off 32 balls, having been elevated to number four in the batting order.

While there were several cameos, Curran lacked support as England fell 10 runs short of overhauling their opponents’ 176 for seven to fall 2-0 down in the five-match series after losing the ODIs 2-1.

The tourists struggled against left-arm spinners Gudakesh Motie and Akeal Hosein, who leaked a combined 33 in eight overs. Motie was especially successful, taking 4-0-9-1 on a tricky pitch to bat on.

“No one likes losing,” said Mott. “We played good cricket again for 90 per cent of the match. We had them under control up to the 15th-over mark and unfortunately, as West Indies can do, they hurt us.

“We fought back at the back end to keep them to 176 which was definitely chase-able. It’s light and shade with our batting, there’s some really good things happening but probably just too many dot balls.

“We have to respond from this. We will try to come up with more solutions. We are trying hard, we are close. We are a couple of good hits away from a win.

“The message in the changing room is that we are not far away. We just have to stay the course. We’ve got to win one first. That’s our first target.”

Curran averaged 11 from 26 previous T20 innings, albeit having only once before batted in the top five, but he has three Test fifties and sparkled with an unbeaten 95 in an ODI against India in 2021.

It was still a surprise to see him stride out after Phil Salt was England’s second batter dismissed, with Liam Livingstone, Harry Brook and Moeen Ali each nudged down one position.

Curran, though, was the pick of the batters and uncorked seven boundaries – including three sixes – and Mott revealed his promotion was down to how they thought he would fare against Hosein and Motie.

“He didn’t seem to get a heap of strike, it’s funny how it works out and he ended up taking down the medium-pacers,” said Mott, who added it was a “50-50 call” about whether to elevate Curran or Moeen.

“We just thought Sam was the one to try and really disrupt and get a free licence to go and go hard. He did it, not in the fashion we were expecting but he certainly did his job.

“We’ve always rated his batting and he’s been in some strong teams, as he showed. When he gets an opportunity, he’s a class player. He’s worked really hard on facing fast bowling.

“He’s got a great all-round game. We know he can hurt the spinners a lot but there’s certainly more layers to his batting which is exciting for the future. It was unfortunate he got out when he did.”

The Windies belted 13 sixes to England’s eight, with opener Brandon King and Powell sharing five apiece. King anchored the Windies innings with 82 off 52 balls and Powell registered 50 off 28.

Assessing Curran’s more ignominious offering on Thursday, Mott added: “When they line you up, it’s a tough place to be.

“Every time you clear the rope it’s a big win, particularly early in an over. It’s something we have spoken about and we have got some really good six hitters ourselves.”

Powell was on a run-a-ball 22 at the start of the 16th over having been kept quiet by Adil Rashid, who took 4-0-11-2, but followed up a streaky inside edge off Curran with some monstrous hits.

Jacqueline Williams, who became the first female umpire from the Caribbean to stand in a men’s T20 international, raised her arms skywards on four occasions before Powell ended the over by holing out.

“It definitely changed the game,” Powell reflected. “As a batter you sometimes look for that over.

“After being pegged down by the leg-spinners and then the pacer comes on, you think ‘maybe this is the opportunity to cash in’.”

A new-look England will be looking to draw a line under a miserable World Cup as they take on the West Indies in a three-match ODI series.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the topics up for debate ahead of the series opener in Antigua on Sunday.

Keep calm and carry on

No longer the standard-bearers in ODIs after their crown dramatically slipped in India, the talk from outside the England camp is of a reset. Those inside the dressing room, however, argue that one bad campaign should not be followed by radical transformation. It is sound logic given how successful the blueprint created by Eoin Morgan then taken on by Jos Buttler was, enabling England to become the first nation to hold both limited-overs World Cups simultaneously.

Out with the old, in with the new

So a change in approach seems unlikely but only half a dozen of the World Cup squad have travelled out to the Caribbean, which might have been the case regardless of how well they fared. Many of England’s established stars are the wrong side of 30 and unlikely to be involved in the 2027 World Cup – some such as Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes might not play another ODI. Will Jacks and Phil Salt are set to form an explosive opening combination while teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed and pacemen Gus Atkinson and the uncapped John Turner may be at the forefront of a new era.

Pressure on Buttler and Mott

As England’s World Cup title defence unravelled, scrutiny inevitably fell on the decision-making of captain Buttler and head coach Matthew Mott. They have been backed fully by director of men’s cricket Rob Key, who shouldered some of the blame for prioritising the Test team above all else. While Key expects the experience to strengthen Buttler-Mott as a partnership, he added the caveat: “If it isn’t, it isn’t and you move on.” Victory in this series and in the three T20s that follow – six months before returning here for the T20 World Cup – would go a long way to easing some concerns.

Cricket’s unrelenting schedule

Barely three weeks on from the final match of the World Cup, six travellers from a gruelling trip to India are in another continent preparing for a different series. Buttler, Atkinson, Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone and Brydon Carse hardly had any time back in the UK before having to pack their suitcases again. A congested programme is frequently lamented and shows no sign of slowing down – although these are England’s last ODIs until September.

Rally round the West Indies

While England’s campaign in India went badly awry and they finished seventh out of 10 teams, the Windies were absent from the extravaganza, losing four of five matches and finishing below Scotland and Zimbabwe in the qualifiers. Shai Hope remains captain but the hosts will be without Jason Holder and Nicholas Pooran because of their involvement in the Abu Dhabi T10, a reminder of the Windies’ talent drain to franchise competitions. Shane Dowrich was then named in the squad before immediately retiring from international cricket this week. Little-known players such as Alick Athanaze, Yannic Cariah, Keacy Carty and Gudakesh Motie therefore get a chance to show what they can do as the Windies look to rebuild.

England’s early exit from the World Cup is already guaranteed but assistant coach Carl Hopkinson insists their bottom-of-the-table clash against the Netherlands is no “dead rubber”.

As the tournament finally edges towards the business end, the defending champions have long since become an afterthought in the wider context of the competition.

They have lost six of their seven games and saw their last mathematical chance of a miracle wiped off the table by rivals Australia in Ahmedabad last week.

The best they can hope for now is avoiding a first ever ODI defeat to the Dutch, the only associate nation competing in India, and keep their prospects of reaching the 2025 Champions Trophy alive.

They need a top-eight finish to book their spot, meaning there is no leeway for wallowing in their dreadful form when they take the field in Pune on Wednesday.

The appearance of Hopkinson, a low-key member of the backroom team responsible primarily for fielding, suggested the squad were not keen on issuing their own public call to arms, but he has no qualms about their motivation.

“I don’t think there’s ever a dead rubber when you play for England, to be honest. I think the lads are completely up for it,” he said.

“We’ve got two games in which we need to win both to qualify for the Champions Trophy, so I think that’s there for everybody to see. The guys are going to be obviously up for it and I think we’ll be good.

“We need to win and win well to qualify for the Champions Trophy, which is what we need to do.”

On his unexpected role as carrier of the England message, he added: “I’m not quite sure why I’m the man to explain, (but) I’m an assistant coach with the England team and I’m more than happy to come out and speak about our campaign so far.”

England have named an unchanged side for the last three games, losing emphatically to Sri Lanka, India and Australia, and could belatedly mix things up.

Harry Brook is on hand to add ballast to a badly under-performing top six, but could be added in place of all-rounder Liam Livingstone rather than one of the specialist batters.

Livingstone adds an extra spin option but has not been able to carry his share of the run-scoring load, with just 60 runs in six innings.

Pace bowler Mark Wood, who has been managing a sore knee, could also miss out with Brydon Carse and Gus Atkinson snapping at his heels for a chance.

Wood is the fastest seamer in the squad by a distance, consistently clearing 90mph, but has struggled to keep a lid on his economy rate and has only six wickets at 58.16.

Carse and Atkinson are both likely to form part of England’s white-ball future, leaving captain Jos Buttler and coach Matthew Mott to decide whether now is the time to blood them in a game with live stakes.

Ben Stokes’ fitness was under observation on the eve of the match, with the Test captain carrying various niggles. He missed the first three games here with a hip problem and is set to undergo surgery on his long-standing left-knee injury when he gets back to England.

Former England quick Steve Harmison told the PA news agency this week that the team management should instruct Stokes to leave the camp and go home early in a bid to fast-track his recovery for the new-year Test series in India.

But Hopkinson suggested that idea was not under consideration.

“Knowing Ben, he’ll want to try and play the next game in front of him and try and win that for England,” he said.

“He’s about winning games of cricket for England, so I’d imagine that’s what he’ll be thinking about first and foremost.

“Once he’s obviously made that decision to have the operation, that’s obviously booked in and that’s what he’s going to do, but it’s not before this tournament finishes.”

Jos Buttler accepted his future as England captain was out of his hands after another painful defeat sent his side tumbling towards the World Cup exit door.

England knew nothing less than victory over Sri Lanka would be enough to keep alive their fading hopes of reaching the semi-finals and they responded with arguably their worst performance yet in a campaign littered with low points.

After choosing to bat first, they were skittled for a meagre 156 in 33.2 overs, then watched as their opponents cantered home by eight wickets in Bangalore with almost half of the innings unused.

The thrashing, which followed heavy losses to New Zealand, Afghanistan and South Africa, left the reigning champions ninth in the standings with an eye-watering net run-rate.

With four games to go – including table-topping India and bitter rivals Australia – they are being kept off bottom spot by the only associate nation at the competition, the Netherlands.

Remarkably, England are not yet mathematically out with four games to play, but the route is fanciful in the extreme and Buttler acknowledged the game was up.

“It certainly looks that way and that’s incredibly disappointing. It would need a few miracles,” he said, glassy-eyed after another draining day.

“You get on the plane with high hopes and a lot of confidence and belief that we can challenge for the title, so to be sat here now with the three weeks we’ve had is a shock. It’s a shock to everyone.

“I’ll walk back in the dressing room after this, look at the players sat there and think ‘how have we found ourselves in this position with the talent and the skill that’s in the room’?

“But it is the position we’re in, it’s the reality of what’s happened over the last three weeks and that’s a huge low point.”

Pressed on his own status in charge of the side Buttler indicated a desire to continue but a realisation that the verdict may not be his to make.

In reality, England do not have an obvious successor lined up and Buttler is relatively new in the role, having inherited the mantle following Eoin Morgan’s retirement last summer.

He also has a T20 World Cup win in the bank and there has been no indication that managing director of the men’s cricket, Rob Key, has an itchy trigger finger.

“I think you’re always questioning as captain how you can get the best out of players, how you can get the team moving in the right direction,” Buttler admitted.

“I certainly have a lot of confidence and belief in myself as a leader and captain and first and foremost as a player, but if you’re asking if I should still be captaining the team, that’s a question for the guys above me.

“The tournament’s gone nowhere near the way we wanted it to…that much is obvious. As a leader, you want to lead through your own performance and I’ve not been able to do that.”

Head coach Matthew Mott joined Buttler in writing off the chances of sneaking through to the last four, telling BBC Sport: “Yeah, it’s over now, I think.

“I’m not a mathematician, but with our net run-rate and too many teams who are going to take games off each other, we have to come to terms with that. From now we’re playing for a lot of pride.

“We feel like we’ve let our fans down, our families and supporters and everyone in that dressing room, we haven’t put our best foot forward and in professional sport, that’s what you’re judged on.”

Jonny Bairstow is relishing his role in a rare World Cup double as England and South Africa prepare for high-stakes battles on the cricket pitch and the rugby field within a matter of hours on Saturday.

Bairstow will be leading from the front in Mumbai, where his side look to put their creaking title defence back on track against the Proteas, before attention turns to events almost 4,500 miles away in Paris and the Rugby World Cup semi-final between England and the Springboks.

Bairstow is a huge rugby fan and was even invited to address the England squad ahead of last year’s autumn international against Argentina at Twickenham, chatting to the squad for over an hour before observing training.

Now he hopes to set the tone for a day of English celebrations by the time Steve Borthwick’s men kick off.

“I think it’s going to be a great spectacle, it’s going to be a great day for both nations,” he said.

“They’re two extremely proud nations, whether that’s on the rugby front or the cricketing front, two teams on both sides that are very passionate about playing for their countries and are excited about playing for their countries.

“You’ll have people in South Africa, I’m sure, having a few brandy and Cokes and a couple of braais (barbecues), and you’ll have a few in England popping down the pub and watching – any excuse for them to just pop down there!

“It will be great – and hopefully both results go our way.”

 

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Bairstow can only directly impact one of them, of course, and the importance of his role at the top of the batting order is shaping up to be a key one.

Defeats to New Zealand and Afghanistan, either side of victory over Bangladesh, have put England firmly on the back foot and cranked up the stakes on their visit to the Wankhede Stadium.

Head coach Matthew Mott has called for more aggression in the first 15 overs of both innings and Bairstow has the track record and firepower to oblige.

But he is clear that swinging blindly for the fences is not on the cards, with conditions in India calling for more nuance.

“I don’t see anyone else in the world going out and scoring at nine runs an over. You look at India, they don’t go out and just go balls to the wall in the first 10 and they’re the host nation,” he said.

“They don’t just go out and go from ball one. So the importance of the first 10 is to yes score quickly, but also score in a way that’s sustainable over a long period of time, because we’re not playing a T20 game, we’re playing a 50-over game.

“Playing cricket in India compared to playing cricket in England is different. There’s different styles that work all around the world. I don’t think there’s one thing that fits all.”

While England are licking their wounds after being upset by the Afghans, South Africa are nursing a similar blow to their pride after defeat the Netherlands. That has added another layer of intrigue to the clash as both sets of players desperately try to reset the narrative.

“We know it’s a big game, we know they’re a strong nation and they’ve been playing well, but we also know now they’re coming off a loss as well,” Bairstow said.

“That was a great result to wake up to. But we’re actually just focusing on ourselves. That’s what we do.

“The confidence is there – it’s unwavering. There’s no lack of belief within this group. It isn’t something that’s been questioned one bit.”

Jofra Archer may be England’s only travelling reserve to India for the World Cup but Matthew Mott is aware another misstep with the fast bowler’s fitness could have “serious ramifications”.

The recurrence of a stress fracture in Archer’s right elbow sidelined him for the summer and ultimately kept him out of England’s 15-man squad for the defence of their title, which gets under way next week.

Archer is part of the touring party as cover and a tantalising option if injury strikes, even if it is anticipated he will not be ready to make his return until the tournament is close to a conclusion.

Given the repeated setbacks he has had since a breakout 2019, when he was entrusted with bowling the super over that led to England being crowned world champions, Mott will not take any risks with the 28-year-old.

“Jofra is not fit to play until the latter stages of the tournament,” England’s white-ball head coach said. “A lot of where he’s coming from is to get some intensive work with our medical staff.

“We have been very big on not rushing him back and that message has been clear to him.

“He understands – he’s desperate to play but he’s also realistic that if this thing happens again it could have serious ramifications.

“We’ll take him over there, work with him and if something happens at the back end, he’s someone who could come in.”

England, who head to India on Wednesday night, are not flying out any more supplementary options, with Mott set to act only if and when injury does occur and bring in a like-for-like alternative.

Jason Roy, having been culled from the squad in favour of Harry Brook, has made himself available for reserve duty, while Mott has urged everyone who was part of the shadow England side that beat Ireland in a rain-affected ODI series – where Will Jacks and Ben Duckett impressed – to stay on their toes.

“We don’t need to declare where that’s at and we certainly don’t really want to speculate on it,” Mott said. “Everyone in this group here, and everyone on the periphery, should be maintaining their fitness.

“The flight to India is not that bad and the reality is (if) someone gets called up they are not going to get called straight into the XI. So they’ll have time to adjust and that’s where we arrived.

“Pulling people around India for eight weeks is not going to get the best out of them. Every player should be ready to go.”

Mott revealed Adil Rashid and Mark Wood are both “fine” following niggles, adding he has a “rough idea” of England’s preferred XI ahead of the tournament opener against New Zealand in Ahmedabad on October 5.

England selected 12 players during their 2019 triumph but Mott envisages making more use of his squad given the variety of Indian pitches and conditions, with the defending champions also facing an extensive travel schedule as their nine group-stage matches will be played in eight cities.

“We don’t have any expectations,” Mott said. “A lot of teams are going to contest and expect to do well. We are one of them but I don’t look at it as defending champions.

“We go in with the same points as everyone else. India will be favourites in the minds of many people because of home advantage, but they can go either way as well.”

England’s summer programme finishing on Tuesday brings to an end former captain Andrew Flintoff’s stint, having joined the backroom staff for their ODI series against New Zealand and Ireland.

Flintoff returned to the public eye for the first time since a serious car accident while filming for Top Gear last December and Mott would welcome back the 45-year-old with open arms going forwards.

“He’s definitely going to join us again in future, we’ve loved having him around,” Mott added.

“He’s revered, he’s got an aura about him, he’s very special and what he’s gone through recently, the humility he’s displayed and the life experiences he can share have been immense.

“Even the seasoned Test veterans, they grew up idolising him and to see him in the flesh offering so much has been very special.”

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