Ben Stokes has declared himself ready for action in England’s must-win World Cup clash against South Africa, after missing the first three games of the campaign through injury.

Stokes’ comeback could not have come at a better moment for a side whose title defence is on the rocks after a shock defeat to Afghanistan left them with a single win to their name.

The charismatic Test skipper suffered a hip injury during England’s warm-up week in Guwahati and has been sidelined ever since, but has given himself the green light to face the Proteas in Mumbai on Saturday.

Speaking before a training session at the Wankhede Stadium that will double up as a final vigorous fitness test, Stokes told BBC Radio’s Test Match Special: “It was a frustrating little niggle to get before the tournament but I have worked very hard to get back to where I am and making myself ready to be available for selection.

“We have had a few days off since the last game and first training session here in Mumbai. I’ll give it a good push but, yes, I think everything is pretty good. I am in a good place.”

It may be tempting to view Stokes as a saviour riding to the rescue – a role he has performed plenty of times over the course of his career, not least in the 2019 World Cup final – but he distanced himself from the idea.

Responding to the weight of expectation that will follow him on to the field, which has only grown with England’s struggles so far, he said: “I deal with it pretty easy to be honest, because I know I am one person in a team sport.

“No one looks to one person in this team to inspire them or anything like that. It is not the case that if I do come in then all of a sudden we are going to do well. It is just one of those things that gets spoken about a lot but I don’t read into too much.

“Everyone that walks out on to that field for England is a match-winner and can do something individually that can win us a game. We just need to tone it down a bit on me coming back in.”

Andrew Strauss was dropped for England’s Test tour of Sri Lanka on this day in 2007.

The then 30-year-old Middlesex opener missed out on the three-match series just one month after he was given a year-long central contract by England.

Chairman of selectors David Graveney noticed Strauss’ dip in form but backed the batter to fight for his place, saying: “Andrew hasn’t performed to the level he can do in terms of play.

“He’s extremely disappointed, understandably, and it would be strange if he wasn’t.

“But he’s a fighter and we believe he will come back into the frame very quickly.”

Strauss made an impressive start to his international career, making scores of 112 and 83 against New Zealand on his Test debut in 2004 after he replaced the injured England captain Michael Vaughan, becoming only the fourth man to score a century at Lord’s on debut.

Strauss scored 126 in South Africa the following winter, becoming only the seventh Test player to record a hundred in his first match at home and away.

He went on to captain both England’s Test and limited-overs teams, but his form dipped through 2007 and he was dropped from the Test team after playing 43 matches.

Strauss earned a recall to the side for the 2008 tour of New Zealand and worked his way back with a career-best 177 at Napier.

Following Kevin Pietersen’s resignation, Strauss was appointed captain on a permanent basis for the 2008–09 tour of the West Indies and led England to a 2-1 Ashes victory over Australia the following summer.

The win saw Strauss join Mike Brearley and Len Hutton as the only England captains to win the Ashes both home and away, and he led England to a 4-0 win over India in 2011 to climb to the top of the Test world rankings.

Strauss announced his retirement from cricket in August 2012 following his 100th Test, at the age of 35, making 7,037 Test runs at an average of 40.91. He was knighted in September 2019.

Daniel Doram took a career-best 7-29 to lead the Leeward Islands Hurricanes to a resounding eight-wicket victory over the Jamaica Scorpions in their opening encounter of the CG Insurance Super50 Competition at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday.

The lanky left-arm orthodox spinner from St Maarten proved unplayable to the Scorpions, who were bowled out for 123 in 32.5 overs. Only Odean Smith, who scored 26 and Nkrumah Bonner, 24, offered any real resistance. Alzarri Joseph took 2-24 in support.

Led by Kieran Powell’s unbeaten 80, the Leewards made quick work of the target racing to 124-2 in just 14 overs. Karima Gore was not out on 19 at the end. Nicholson Gordon dismissed Kofi James for 12 to finish with figures of 1-28. Kaecy Carty lost his wicket to Fabian Allen who conceded 33 runs from just overs in the lopsided affair.

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.”

Both Trinidad and Tobago Red Force and Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) were left ruing what could have been, as rain forced a no-result in their opening CG United Super50 Cup game at Queen’s Park Oval on Tuesday.

Batting first in the contest which was initially reduced to 44 overs per side, Red Force posted 246 for four from their allotment, with captain Darren Bravo leading from the front with an unbeaten 81. Bravo's 84-ball knock included eight boundaries and two sixes, as he played a hand in some useful partnerships.

Red Force lost open Tion Webster (one) cheaply, but Kjorn Ottley (16) and wicketkeeper/batsman Joshua Da Silva steadied the innings with a 60-run second-wicket stand.

When Ottley fell, Da Silva and Bravo tried to maintain the tempo, but their combination only lasted 26 runs, before Da Silva went caught for a well-played 50-ball 48, which included nine fours.

Bravo found another steady partner in Jason Mohammed, as the two added another 88 runs for the fourth wicket. Mohammed smashed four boundaries and a solitary six in his knock of 43 off 61 balls, before being caught by Shaqkere Parris off Abhijai Mansingh.

Yannic Cariah, with an unbeaten 31, joined Bravo to add a further 66 runs to what seemed a competitive total, given their bowling attack. No CCC bowler took more than one wicket.

In reply, CCC's openers Kadeem Alleyne, 27 not out and Johann Jeremiah, 25 not out, played with poise and confidence, as they took aim at the target, before the rain intervened.

Scores: T&T Red Force 246-4 (44 overs); CCC 53-0 (6.4 overs)



South Africa succumbed to a Dutch double as the Netherlands claimed another monumental upset victory over the Proteas at a World Cup in less than 12 months.

Last November the Netherlands’ shock win in Adelaide dumped South Africa out of the T20 World Cup and on Tuesday Temba Bavuma crashed to a 38-run defeat in the 50-over equivalent in Dharamshala.

They squandered plenty of promising positions as their hopes of reaching the knockout stages suffered a sizeable blow, putting additional emphasis on Saturday’s showdown against ailing England in Mumbai.

For the Netherlands, this must rank as the finest win in their history as, while they beat the West Indies to qualify for the tournament, this South Africa side are quietly fancied to do well in India.

The Dutch were on the ropes at 50 for four then 112 for six after being asked to bat first in a contest reduced to 43 overs apiece because of rain but captain Scott Edwards rescued them from number seven.

His unbeaten 78 from 69 balls was supplemented by crucial cameos from Roelof van der Merwe (29 from 19) and Aryan Dutt (23 not out off nine) as the Netherlands posted a healthy 245 for eight.

Bavuma and Quinton de Kock, who made centuries in the wins over Sri Lanka and Australia, started well but the pair, plus Aiden Markram and Rassie van der Dussen, departed within the space of 21 deliveries.

A position of 36 without loss became 44 for four before Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller put on a run-a-ball 45 to steady the ship. However, Klaasen’s dismissal left South Africa’s hopes all on Miller.

Being dropped on 23 in the deep seemed a significant moment but an off-pace jaffa from Logan van Beek clipped the top of Miller’s off-stump as he departed for 43 to all but end South Africa’s hopes.

Bas de Leede, who shelled a steepler to reprieve Miller, atoned by dismissing Gerald Coetzee and Kagiso Rabada, and Van Beek snared Keshav Maharaj in the last over as South Africa were all out for 207.

It was a superb collective bowling effort as Van Beek took three for 60 while Van der Merwe and Paul van Meekeren each bagged two wickets as the Dutch celebrated a first ODI World Cup win since 2007.

England’s head coach Matthew Mott has revealed how the side’s “spiritual leader” Ben Stokes stepped in to rally the dressing room after their shock World Cup defeat by Afghanistan.

Stokes, who came out of one-day retirement to help defend the trophy he did more than anyone to win in 2019, has yet to feature in India after suffering a hip injury on the the eve of the tournament.

But Sunday’s upset in Delhi, where a side whose only previous win on this stage was a narrow one against Scotland eight years ago, led Stokes to address his team-mates during a dressing room debrief.

Test captain Stokes is on track to return in Saturday’s must-win clash against South Africa at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, but has already made his presence felt behind the scenes.

“He’s like the spiritual leader of the group in many ways and he certainly spoke really well after the game the other day,” said Mott.

“He spoke about that need to really assert ourselves, which he’s renowned for. I said ‘I’ve got this’ and just spoke, talked about the plan going forward for the next few days, and then Stokesy came in on the back of that.

“He really reinforced what was a great message, particularly for someone who’s sitting on the bench and has a bit of a different lens on things. I think it went down well, it brought us back to controlling what we can control, really.”

Mott’s own attempt at diagnosing England’s problems saw him suggest that the defending champions were suffering from a lack of self-belief.

Having become the most swaggering side on the planet during their reinvention from also-rans to world champions under Eoin Morgan, England looked uncharacteristically tentative in their losses to New Zealand and Afghanistan.

“You don’t lose your ability overnight but you can lose your confidence,” he said.

“It’s that confidence… puff your chest out, go out there and really take the game on, which this team has been renowned for over a long period of time.

“On reflection we’ve been the reactive team in those two games, so we need to turn that round really quickly.

“That was one of Stokesy’s biggest points – we’re normally the team that dictates terms and gets the other team unsettled, disrupted and for whatever reason we haven’t been able to do that.

“We’ve always been on the back foot, trying to pull things back. What we need to do is dominate those first 15 overs whether we bat first or bowl first in the next game.”

Brendon McCullum, Mott’s red-ball counterpart and joint architect of England’s ‘Bazball’ approach in the Test arena, made an unexpected appearance at the team’s Mumbai hotel on Tuesday after arriving on business.

McCullum memorably said on his appointment last year that he was not interested in the limited-overs job on account of it being too simple in contrast to reviving the Test team, a position Mott suggested may no longer stand.

“I just saw him down in the foyer and he said exactly the opposite!” he joked.

“I said, ‘do you want to do a little swap?’ We had a good chat and good catch up.”

Stokes’ likely return – which is all but certain provided he pulls up well after a thorough workout on Thursday – means Mott must grapple with a thorny selection issue.

Harry Brook has been keeping his spot warm and would ordinarily be expected to drop out, but his fluent 66 was easily England’s best innings against the Afghans and made a strong case for his retention.

Experienced seamer Chris Woakes and all-rounder Sam Curran are both vulnerable after struggling badly for form thus far, but with Stokes currently unavailable to bowl that only muddies the waters.

“It’s still up for debate. We’ll have some really good, robust conversations over the next 24 hours,” Mott said.

“I think we’re going to sit down as a selection group, get the numbers, get some theories out there. We’ll normally get to two or three XIs and then debate it, so all things are on the table at the moment.”

David Willey and Gus Atkinson are waiting if England do decide to cut Woakes after three poor outings in a row, but Mott is not ready to draw an emphatic line under the long-time leader of the attack.

“Over the history of Woakes’ career, he’s come out on top a lot more than he’s missed out,” he said.

“He hasn’t been at his best, and he’s the first to admit it, but he’s got a few credits in the bank.”

A new bonus points system is being introduced to the upcoming CG United Super50 Cup to encourage players and teams to align their style of play and performance targets with the West Indies One-Day International team’s new vision and brand of cricket. Cricket West Indies (CWI) unveiled the addition to the original points allocation of – 4 for a win, 2 for a no result and 0 for a loss.

Under the new structure teams will gain the bonus points for achieving various performance targets at stages during the match. These include runs during the Power plays, wickets during the Powerplays, decreases in ‘dot ball’ percentage, batsmen scoring centuries, bowlers taking five-wicket hauls, and fielders effecting run outs.

This year, the region’s premier List A 50-over tournament will run from Tuesday 17 October to Saturday 11 November with a new eight-team league format followed by Semi-Finals and Finals to determine the 2023 CG United Super50 Cup Champions.

Miles Bascombe, CWI’s Director of Cricket, outlined the reasons behind the additional bonus points and noted that the teams have expressed eagerness and excitement to play with the new points structure.

“The white ball head coach [Daren Sammy] presented to the franchise coaches about the brand of cricket we want to play in the 50-over format going forward and as we build from now towards the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in 2027. So, our new bonus point system has been built around getting our regional teams to execute that brand. We have identified challenges with strike rotation, as well as other aspects necessary to compete in the modern game. This bonus points system is one way of putting the spotlight on these issues and addressing them directly through these incentives,” Bascombe said.

“By establishing a clear brand of cricket – we bring clarity to the planning and the preparation required for execution on the field – we believe that we will see the teams attempting to play the type of cricket required, which is a start. All that we do at the regional level has to be geared towards improvement and success at the international level.”

Looking ahead to the tournament Bascombe added: “We ensured with the new format every team plays against each other team so that we have a full round-robin and that would mean one additional game for each team. That brings some balance to the tournament before we head to the Final Four Semi-Finals. The teams are happy with this new format and with the additional preliminary game that provides our players more cricket, more opportunity and more exposure.”

The 50-over tournament will officially bowl off in Trinidad on the morning of Tuesday 17 October with the opening match between home side Trinidad & Tobago Red Force and Combined Campuses & Colleges (CCC) at the Queen’s Park Oval (QPO) at 9am (8am Jamaica). Also on Tuesday, the Guyana Harpy Eagles will face the Windward Islands Volcanoes at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA) in the first televised match at 1pm (12 noon Jamaica).

 The Tournament will feature 31 matches to be played at three venues: the BLCA, the QPO and the Sir Frank Worrell Cricket Grounds of the University of the West Indies Sport and Physical Education Centre (UWI SPEC) at the St. Augustine Campus.

All 13 matches at the BLCA, including the Semi-Finals and Final, will be televised live on ESPN Caribbean, with 12 of those matches being day/night games.

Five sports – cricket, squash, baseball/softball, lacrosse and flag football – will either be making their Olympic debut or returning to the programme at the Los Angeles 2028 Games.

The proposal was approved at the International Olympic Committee Session in Mumbai on Monday, with only two delegates voting against the new events.

Here, the PA news agency looks at all of the confirmed additions and picks out a few current British standouts in each.


Cricket returns to the Games for the first time in 128 years in the form of six-team men’s and women’s T20 tournaments. It last featured as a men’s-only competition for the Paris Olympic Games in 1900, which means Great Britain’s men will somewhat be going into the competition as defending champions, while the sport’s inclusion is also hailed as a brilliant showcase for the exponentially-growing women’s game.

Leading lights: Sophie Ecclestone/Sam Curran


Squash, one of the sports debuting at LA 2028, has been overlooked by the IOC at the past three Games, and the squash community reacted with incredulity at being ignored in favour of breakdancing for Paris 2024. Monday’s announcement will be welcome news for Great Britain, with three English players currently within the men’s and women’s world top-10 rankings, boasting world and Commonwealth titles between them.

Leading Lights: Mohamed ElShorbagy/Georgina Kennedy


Great Britain’s baseball and fastpitch softball teams have never been in a better position to qualify for an Olympic Games. Not only did the men’s baseball team qualify for and play in a maiden World Baseball Classic – a bit like the sport’s World Cup this year – they also won a game and did enough to qualify for the next edition, following that up with a third-ever European silver medal in September.

GB’s softball team were one win away from making the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – where the sports last featured – and are currently ranked 12th in the latest WBSC World Rankings. They beat a tough challenger in world number three Chinese Taipei earlier this year and, like their baseball counterparts, hold the European silver medal with promising talent in the pipeline.

Leading Lights: Harry Ford/Georgina Corrick


Like cricket, lacrosse is preparing for its return to the Olympics for the first time in over a century, having last been included on the programme at St Louis 1904 and London 1908. Sixes, the format premiering in Los Angeles, has been described by World Lacrosse as a “fast-paced and compact” version of the game sometimes likened to The Hundred in cricket. Great Britain narrowly missed the podium at the 2022 World Games, placing fourth in both the men’s and women’s competitions, but could certainly be contenders in LA.

Leading lights: Tom Bracegirdle/Claire Faram

Flag Football

Flag football, a variant of American football, will also make its Olympic debut in just under five years’ time. Unlike the NFL, flag is a pacey non-contact sport where tackles are made by pulling flags off players’ hips. Great Britain’s women are ranked 20th in the world and are the reigning European champions, while the NFL this year launched its first girls’ flag league as part of ambitions to grow the game in the UK.

Leading lights: Brittany Botterill/Charlie Williams

Ahead of the start of the CG United Super50 Cup, Cricket West Indies (CWI) has announced a major increase in prize money and bonuses for teams participating in the tournament as well as other regional competitions – totaling over US$2.5 million over a four-year period.

With the region’s marquee List A tournament set to bowl off on Tuesday, there is the incentive for the champions to take home a top prize of US$100,000 as well as the Sir Clive Lloyd trophy when they win the grand final on Saturday 11 November under lights at the Brian Lara Cricket Academy.

The losing finalists will receive US$50,000 while the team that tops the points table in the league phase will also get US$50,000. This is the biggest prize money in the history of the tournament.

Dr Kishore Shallow, President of CWI said: “The aim is to incentivize our cricketers, which will ultimately result in more intense and competitive cricket. We expect this along with other developmental programs will help to close the gap between international cricket and our regional tournaments. These new prize monies represent a significant increase in the reward purse for teams in regional cricket. We firmly believe this will act as a fillip to players’ performances and their pursuit of excellence. This is part of our investment in the game and those who fly the flag on the field.”

The increase also extends to all senior men’s and women’s tournaments. There is a big boost in the West Indies Championship that will be played in the first half of 2024. The champions of this traditional “red ball” four-day, first-class competition will win US$250,000. The second-placed team will receive US$100,000.

There is an increase in winnings for the Women’s CG United Super50 Cup and the T20 Blaze. The winners of the 50-overs will receive US$20,000 next year with a minimum increase of US$10,000 annually over the next 4-year cycle. The runners-up will receive half these amounts.

The T20 Blaze winners will also be rewarded with an increase – US$10,000 for the winners next year - with further increases annually for the upcoming four years. The runners-up will receive half these amounts.

CWI is finalizing a new 4-year MOU with the West Indies Players Association, which will see further increases for individual players, including a major boost to women’s remuneration.


For more than two decades, Chris Gayle entertained cricket fans around the world with his phenomenal big-hitting ability.

His hitting prowess has made him widely regarded as the greatest T20 batsman ever, with his numbers dwarfing his closest competitors.

Since 2020, however, the “Universe Boss” has shifted his focus from cricket to another passion of his: music.

Gayle says his desire to pursue a career in music began during the COVID-19 pandemic when UK based artist, Stylo G, approached him to record a remix to his song titled “Too Hot.”

“When I listened back to it I was pleased with the outcome and that’s how it all started,” Gayle told

From there, I recorded more songs until I started my own label named Triple Century Records and built my own recording studio in my house,” he added.

Fast forward to 2023 and Gayle’s album titled ‘Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica-The Asian Edition’ has entered the 2024 Grammy’s under the Reggae Album of the Year category.

“My entire music career has been surreal and being chosen as the headliner and face of the album was a great feeling. Being in the Grammy race for best Reggae Album is exciting because it’s a dream of mine to win a Grammy,” Gayle said.

The album features a number of musical giants such as Lauryn Hill, Morgan Heritage, Capleton and Sizzla to name a few.

The project, as the name suggests, was marketed mainly to Asia, specifically India, which Gayle describes as his second home. The 44-year-old had a phenomenal career in the Indian Premier League (IPL), first representing the Kolkata Knight Riders before donning the colors of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and finally the Punjab Kings. He was inducted into the RCB hall of fame earlier this year.

“India is my second home and cricket is the national sport there. I have many great cricket memories there and I am loved by the Indian people. I have two songs with Indian artists that did really well there with Emiway Bantai and Arko,” he said.

“So, with India being such a huge market and with my popularity there, we decided to merge sports and music fans and market the music there,” Gayle added.

The Jamaican has not limited his sights to just music, however, as he also mentioned a desire to one day be on the big screen in Bollywood.

“I recently came in an Ad campaign for the Cricket World Cup with a major Bollywood actor for Zomato which is a food delivery giant in India. So, I hope to have more roles with Bollywood actors and even act in a Bollywood film soon as well as have my music featured in Bollywood soundtracks,” Gayle said.

Defeat to Afghanistan left England’s World Cup defence hanging by a thread – and tournament history shows the scale of the task now facing them.

Having also lost to New Zealand, with a win over Bangladesh sandwiched in between, Jos Buttler’s side have lost two of their first three games.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the other teams to start so slowly and how they fared.

Weight of history

England’s task is immediately put into perspective by the fact that only seven teams have even made it out of their group after losing two of their first three games.

The earliest tournaments had a far smaller group stage than this year’s five-week, 45-match marathon but Pakistan first managed the feat in 1983 – losing to New Zealand and England after their opening win over Sri Lanka, but then winning two of their remaining three games to edge out the Black Caps on run rate.

Only two of the seven teams in question have gone on to make it through a further stage. Australia’s 1999 tournament win marks the best-case scenario for England, while the West Indies won a quarter-final against South Africa in 1996 before losing narrowly to Australia in the semis.

South Africa, in 1992, matched Pakistan’s 1983 effort by losing in the semi-finals, which in both cases was the first stage after the group.

India joined Australia in qualifying after a slow start in 1999 but fell in the Super Six, as did Zimbabwe in 2003, while Pakistan lost in the 2015 quarter-finals.

Slow-starting champions

While Australia did win that 1999 tournament after early defeat to New Zealand and Pakistan, it required them to be near-perfect the rest of the way.

They beat India by 77 runs, Zimbabwe by 44 and South Africa by five wickets in the Super Six stage before surviving a wild finish to their semi-final against the Proteas, which was tied after Allan Donald was farcically run out off the last ball – meaning Australia progressed by virtue of finishing higher in the Super Six.

Shane Warne’s four wickets and Adam Gilchrist’s rapid half-century then earned them a comfortable win over Pakistan in the final.

The one other precedent to provide encouragement to England comes from Pakistan’s “cornered tigers” who won the 1992 tournament.

Captain Imran Khan’s famous description ahead of the final reflected a tournament that had seen his side recover from a dismal start – while they did not meet the threshold of two losses in the first three games, they had three defeats and a no-result in their first five.

They recovered by beating Australia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand to qualify in fourth place from the round robin, before winning a semi-final rematch with the Kiwis thanks to Inzamam-ul-Haq’s 60 from 37 balls and the final against England in which Khan hit 72.

England’s World Cup title defence is already on rocky ground after a shock at the hands of Afghanistan left them with two defeats from their first three matches in India.

Here, the PA news agency assesses some of the key issues underpinning their early struggles at the tournament.

A step too far?

The epic drama of 2019’s Lord’s final was the crowning achievement of England’s golden generation in white-ball cricket, so it is hardly surprising so many of that squad are back for another bite of the cherry.

But with eight thirty-something survivors from the squad four years ago, there is a growing feeling that too many of the team are past their peak. How many of the world champion team can truly claim to be better than they were last time around? How many have half an eye on retiring from 50-over cricket sooner rather than later?

The bar has been fiendishly high to break into this set-up for years, but head coach Matthew Mott may reflect that a greater injection of fresh blood would have helped.

Hip, hip but no hooray for Stokes

It is hard to overstate Ben Stokes’ value to English cricket over the past decade. He carried the side home in the 2019 final, performed a similar trick to land the T20 crown last year and has reinvented the Test team as captain through sheer force of will.

When he decided to reverse his ODI retirement for one more tilt at the 50-over trophy, it looked like England had rediscovered the ace in their pack.

But the red flags over his fitness have been there for at least two years and it was hardly a jaw-dropping surprise when he picked up a hip complaint on the eve of the tournament. His skill and scrapping qualities have been sorely missed and the team are already at make-or-break point before he has even taken the field.

Eyes off the prize

England are not alone in struggling to grapple with the complexities of the global calendar, but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that they arrived in India undercooked as a one-day unit. Having played 88 ODIs in the 2015-19 cycle, they dropped to 42 in the run-up to this edition. That may have been symptomatic of a wider trend but the sidelining of the domestic Metro Bank Cup, now seen as a development competition alongside the glitz of The Hundred, was all about priorities.

England have also pivoted their focus to Test cricket once again, which had not always been the case in Eoin Morgan’s era. That meant key players like Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Mark Wood and Stokes were occasional visitors to the one-day set-up rather than mainstays.

Alternatives were capped but rarely empowered, while Jason Roy played more times than anyone else from tournament to tournament only to miss out on the final squad.

Stepping back from attack

There was a story during the lead in to the last World Cup that new scorecards were printed to account for the possibility of a side, most likely England, scoring 500 in an innings. The print shops of India are making no such considerations now.

Whether it is pitches, balls or bowlers evolving, it feels an more even game these days but England have been left on the back foot in both of their losses so far.

For a side whose 2019 World Cup success was owed to a boundary countback, they are beginning to look surprisingly shot shy. New Zealand hit nine more fours and two more sixes in Ahmedabad and unfancied Afghanistan cleared the ropes eight times to England’s one in Delhi.

While ‘Bazball’ has re-energised the red-ball side, Mott must make sure things do not go in the opposite direction under his watch.

Cricket, squash, baseball/softball, lacrosse and flag football will all be included in the Olympic programme at the Los Angeles Games in 2028.

The proposal was approved at the IOC Session in Mumbai on Monday, with only two delegates voting against the new events.

Cricket returns to the Games for the first time in 128 years in the form of six-team men’s and women’s T20 tournaments, lacrosse for the first time as a medal sport since 1908 while baseball has featured at the Olympics several times.

Flag football, a non-contact format of American football, and squash are included for the first time.

England captain Jos Buttler told his side to “let it hurt” after their World Cup campaign hit the skids with a shock defeat to Afghanistan.

The defending champions were thrashed by 69 runs in Delhi, dismissed for 215 with almost 10 overs to spare by a team who walked into the contest with a record of 16 defeats from the previous 17 World Cup matches.

That their only previous success came against associates Scotland in 2015 makes the result, and the comfortable margin, even more remarkable.

And while it will go down in Afghan sporting history, England may end up reflecting on the day their title defence ended.

They are not down and out yet, with six group games still to play, but two losses from their first three games mean they must put together a near-perfect run to reach the semi-finals.

Buttler looked drained and drawn by events at the Arun Jaitley Stadium and accepted his side would need to feel some pain before plotting their response.

“It’s really disappointing. We came here today wanting to put in a really good performance and we got outplayed,” he said.

“You’ve got to let these defeats hurt. Let it hurt; then try to figure out where we need to get better.

“It never feels good; you never like losing games of cricket or not performing to the level you want to.

“As a whole, we were not at the level we would like to be in a World Cup. On the field and off it, we will be trying to put it right.

“It’s a big setback. Before the tournament started it’s not how you would have looked at the first three results.

“We’ve got to show a lot of character, a lot of resilience within the team and most of all a lot of belief.”

England have plenty of issues to ponder when they relocate to Mumbai for what now seems a must-win clash against in-form South Africa.

Chris Woakes continued an underwhelming start to the tournament and was awarded just four of his allotted 10 overs after being flogged for 41.

For a player who has so often set England up with new ball discipline, his struggles appear emblematic of a team struggling to reach their own high bar.

Woakes sent down a wide from the first ball of the match, with Buttler nutmegging himself behind the stumps as the ball tricked away to the boundary rope. As a portent of what was to come, it felt apt.

It was also telling that England ended up relying on 24 overs of spin having overlooked Moeen Ali – including a full 10 from Liam Livingstone for the first time in ODI cricket and four from the part-time Joe Root.

“Maybe the conditions didn’t play quite as we thought they would. Obviously throughout our bowling innings, spin was the main threat,” he said.

“Maybe there wasn’t quite as much dew as we thought there was and maybe the pitch didn’t quite play how we thought it would having watched a few games here so far in the tournament.

“But first ball of the day I missed one and it sort of set the tone.”

Former England batter Jonathan Trott, forging a new path now as the Afghanistan head coach, was beaming after landing the biggest scalps of his career.

“It’s always nice. I think I’ll take any victory. I’m very proud of the performance, whether it’s against England or not,” he said.

“I know that the players and the coaching staff deserve it. I’m very keen not to put a dampener on things.

“I never soaked up enough or enjoyed moments like this. I’m certainly going to say to the guys, enjoy tonight and, spend the time together, whatever you want to do.

“If this can bring a smile to people’s faces anywhere in the world, but also encourage boys and girls to pick up a cricket bat or a cricket ball and get playing cricket in Afghanistan, then that’s the sort of the goal that’s been achieved.”

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