England primed for T20I lift after Ashes debacle, Windies must turn the tide

By Sports Desk January 21, 2022

England's T20 side have the opportunity to lift the gloom following the Ashes debacle when they start a five-match series against West Indies on Saturday.

The Test side were hammered 4-0 by Australia and only avoided a whitewash after clinging on for a draw in a rain-affected match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

As a huge inquest into that pitiful failure Down Under begun, the T20I squad was preparing to lock horns with the Windies in the Caribbean, where Paul Collingwood is standing in for Chris Silverwood as head coach.

England top the rankings, but missed out on T20 World Cup glory when they were beaten by New Zealand at the semi-final stage last November.

West Indies never looked like retaining the trophy in the United Arab Emirates, losing four and drawing one of their five matches.

Things went from bad to worse for the Windies when they were whitewashed 3-0 in Pakistan, before losing an ODI series to Ireland 2-1 on home soil.

The tourists are not at full strength so soon after the Ashes, but Eoin Morgan still has a strong squad - with a mix of new faces and experienced heads - as they build towards another T20 World Cup in Australia this year.

England have won four consecutive T20Is versus the struggling Windies, who have lost eight of their past nine matches in the shortest format ahead of the opening match of the series at Kensington Oval,

We pick out some of the standout performers who could light up the series ahead of the opener in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Living up to the hype, Roy ready to fire

England fell short in their mission to become 50-over and T20I world champions, but they were outstanding before an expensive over from Chris Jordan swung the semi-final in the Black Caps' favour.

Liam Livingstone showed his prowess with the ball in that loss to the Windies and the clean-striking all-rounder should have a huge part to play in England's bid to dethrone Australia later this year.

Livingstone can put on a show in the Caribbean and there could be fireworks from Jason Roy, who blasted 115 from only 47 balls in a warm-up game against a Barbados Cricket Association President's XI this week. 

Rebuilding job for Windies

West Indies were bowled out for only 55 in their defeat to England at the T20 World Cup, with Adil Rashid taking incredible figures of 4-2.

That just about summed up their tournament and they must turn the corner under the leadership of Kieron Pollard, who retained the captaincy.

Nicholas Pooran is set to play in his 50th T20I this weekend and the vice-captain is among the experienced players Pollard will need to step up.

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    Gareth Southgate admits England have fallen short of expectations thus far at Euro 2024, bemoaning their failure to find a replacement for Kalvin Phillips in midfield.

    Having opened their Group C campaign with an unconvincing 1-0 win over Serbia last week, England failed to clinch top spot with a game to spare as they were pegged back in a 1-1 draw with Denmark on Thursday.

    Harry Kane put the Three Lions ahead after 18 minutes, but they soon fell into old habits and sat deeper against a lively Denmark side, who levelled through Morten Hjulmand's ferocious 25-yard strike.

    While England remain on course to top Group C, sitting two points clear of Denmark and Slovenia, who they face on matchday three, their performance put Southgate under more scrutiny.

    England have attempted just 17 shots – seven of them on target – in their two games at Euro 2024, amassing a total of 1.85 expected goals (xG).

    Scotland are the only team to have played two matches and created a lower xG total, amassing just 0.78 in their 5-1 defeat to Germany and a 1-1 draw with Switzerland.

    Speaking at his post-match press conference, Southgate said: "Clearly, we're disappointed with the level of the two performances we've had, so we've got to go and analyse that in depth and find solutions to addressing the issues we have.

    "We know the level can be higher. Maybe the biggest thing is we have to accept the environment that we're in and the expectations that are around us. At the moment, we're falling a little bit short of that.

    "Ultimately, that's my responsibility. I'm the manager, and I've got to guide this group in the best way possible to achieve extraordinary things."

    Trent Alexander-Arnold came in for particular criticism after retaining his place in midfield, despite no England player bettering his three chances created or five line-breaking passes, even as he was substituted after just 54 minutes.

    In their 2-1 extra-time win over Denmark in the Euro 2020 semi-finals, England recorded 31 per cent of their open-play touches in the final third.

    That figure was down to 17 per cent on Thursday as they struggled to progress the ball, with 34 per cent of their touches coming in their own third.

    Southgate believes the absence of Phillips – who was omitted from the squad after failing to nail down a starting spot with either Manchester City or loan club West Ham – has been a difficult problem to solve.

    Asked about Alexander-Arnold's display, Southgate told BBC Sport: "He has had some moments where he has delivered as we thought. 

    "It’s an experiment. We don't have a natural replacement for Kalvin Phillips. At the moment we're not flowing as we would like.

    "At the moment we're not using the ball well enough and have to accept if you do that you will suffer at times, as we have. We know there's another level we have to find."

  • Kane calls for calm but accepts England not good enough Kane calls for calm but accepts England not good enough

    Harry Kane called for some perspective following England's 1-1 Euro 2024 draw against Denmark but accepts his side were not good enough.

    England failed to build on a 1-0 win over Serbia in their Group C opener as they saw Kane's opener cancelled out by Morten Hjulmand in Thursday's match in Frankfurt.

    Gareth Southgate's side once again failed to push on after taking the lead in a game and supporters made their frustrations known.

    The draw means England have still yet to ever win their first two matches at a European Championship, with their place in the last 16 not yet certain.

    And Kane - the third man to score at four different major tournaments for England along with Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney - admits an improvement is needed.

    "We're struggling with and without the ball," he told BBC Sport. "The pressing in both games hasn't been quite right, and with the ball we haven't been good enough – that's from top to bottom, from me to Picks (Jordan Pickford). 

    "It was tough out there with the heat and the pitch. It wasn't our greatest game but we got away with a draw.

    "There's no easy games at major tournaments and I think that's being shown. There are levels we can reach, with and without the ball, but it’s a sign of a good team that you can get results when you’re not playing well."

    England sit top of Group C with four points from two matches and will guarantee a place in the knockouts with a draw against Slovenia on Tuesday, while a win sees them through in top spot.

    "We're top of the group and we've all but qualified," added Kane, who was substituted with 20 minutes to go. "I know there’ll be loads of noise and a bit of disappointment at home, but we experienced this when we drew with Scotland in the last Euros. 

     

    "It's a time to stay calm, reflect and try to improve. Step by step, we'll get there."

    Kane's opener was his fifth goal at the Euros, making him the first England player and the eighth from any country to score five or more in both this competition and the World Cup.

    However, Hjulmand levelled 16 minutes later with a shot from 30 yards - his first goal for Denmark in all competitions on what was his ninth appearance - and England could not find a response of their own.

    Southgate's side dropped deep after going in front, as they did against Serbia and have done in recent tournaments, and Kane believes that is an area that needs working on.

    "It’s not just when we score that [we drop deep]," he said. "It's something we need to get better at. When the teams drop a few players deeper, we're not sure how who's supposed to be pressing. 

    "In the second half we tried to change it a bit with me and Jude [Bellingham] playing in front of their two midfielders and then trying to get up. But it was difficult. Credit to Denmark, they’re a really good side and they carried a threat."

    England have now won just two of their past eight competition meetings with Denmark, and this most recent result means they are unable to rest up against Slovenia.

    Reflecting on the disappointing performance, Southgate told BBC Sport: "The performance was not what we would have hoped. At the moment we're not using the ball well enough, and if you do that you'll suffer as we have at times tonight. There's another level we have to find.

    "There's a huge amount of work to do - that's evident. We have to stay tight. We understand people will be disappointed with the performances, and rightly so. We've got make them better."

  • St. Louis City v Colorado Rapids: Carnell desperate for response as winless run persists St. Louis City v Colorado Rapids: Carnell desperate for response as winless run persists

    St. Louis City will be desperate to snap a record six-game winless run in MLS when they host Colorado Rapids at CityPark Stadium on Thursday.

    The Missouri-based side have just three wins from their 17 league matches this term, falling down to 11th in the Western Conference standings.

    Bradley Carnell's men have not triumphed in MLS action since a 3-1 win over Chicago Fire in the middle of May, and were defeated 2-0 by FC Dallas last time out.

    St. Louis coach Carnell referenced injury struggles, however, as his side continue to battle through a troubling period.

    "Obviously, it doesn’t take a genius to look at the roster and see where we are. We're not the first team to struggle with this.

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    "We have a plethora of young players who are performing [for our academy] and we will keep some of those guys with us through the week."

    The Rapids have enjoyed a better season, sitting sixth in the West table after returning to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Austin FC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

    That ended a four-game winless streak for Colorado, who secured a much-needed victory after a rocketed finish from Cole Bassett before Rafael Navarro netted his 10th goal of the season.

    The next challenge for the Rapids is to secure back-to-back victories for the first time since April, though they have lost three straight on the road.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    St. Louis City – Jared Stroud

    Jared Stroud was involved in a goal in both matches (one goal, one assist) against the Rapids last season.

    The St. Louis man has eight assists to his name in MLS this season, too, and will hope to deliver once more when Colorado come to town.

    Colorado Rapids – Djordje Mihailovic

    Djordje Mihailovic has scored in each of the Rapids' last three away matches.

    He is the first Rapids player to score in three straight away from home in a single regular season since Shkelzen Gashi scored in five straight on the road from June-October 2016.

    MATCH PREDICTION – ST. LOUIS CITY WIN

    St. Louis are the heavy favourites for victory in this encounter, considering their record against the Rapids.

    Carnell's side collected four points from their two matches against Colorado last season, including a 2-0 win at home last July.

    Colorado have lost their last three road matches, conceding 10 goals in those games, and that run of form comes as no surprise.

    Indeed, the Rapids have lost 15 of their last 21 away from home in all competitions (W3 D3), dating back to last May.

    Yet a home win is by no means a foregone conclusion.

    St. Louis are winless in six straight matches (D2 L4) for the first time in club history. They have just three wins so far, tied for the fewest in MLS this season, though all three have come at home.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    St. Louis City win – 48.8%

    Colorado Rapids win – 25.5%

    Draw – 25.7%

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