England thrashed by Australia as T20 World Cup hopes falter

England’s World Cup woes followed them to Barbados as their T20 defence was left looking precarious after a heavy defeat at the hands of Australia.

Six months on from a dire performance in the 50-over competition in India and four days after an unconvincing bowling display in their washed out game against Scotland, Jos Buttler’s men were thrashed by 36 runs by their Ashes rivals.

An unchanged attack was sprayed around the Kensington Oval as Australia racked up their highest score of the tournament to date, reaching 201 for seven with 13 sixes and 14 fours.

England’s pursuit came nowhere near, Buttler top-scoring with 42 as they scrambled to 165 for six.

While Australia deserve plenty of credit for seizing the initiative, Travis Head and David Warner unloading sixes as they stormed to 74 for two in a tone-setting powerplay, England were complicit in their downfall.

A wildcard decision to give part-timer Will Jacks the new ball cost 22 bruising runs, the combined struggles of Mark Wood and Chris Jordan made Reece Topley’s omission look increasingly odd and a flat-footed fielding display gave the impression of a messy outfit.

With the bat, a bright opening stand from Phil Salt (37) and Buttler was weighed down by stodgy efforts from Jacks and Jonny Bairstow, who both visibly lacked rhythm.

England now face a battle to reach the Super 8 stage ahead of the Scots, needing heavy wins over Namibia and Oman to bank points and massage their net run-rate.

Australia’s Adam Zampa celebrates taking the wicket of Jos Buttler (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)
Australia’s Adam Zampa celebrates taking the wicket of Jos Buttler (Ricardo Mazalan/AP)

After winning the toss, things began to go wrong when Buttler offered Jacks the second over of the day.

A part-timer with just two overs in his previous 14 appearances, Jacks was out of his depth as Head launched his first two deliveries into the breeze and over the shortest boundary before Warner chipped him for six more over deep square.

Attempting to correct their mistake with a burst of speed from Wood, England then watched as Australia took 22 more from the paceman. A length ball on leg stump, a short, straight delivery and a wayward full toss all received the same treatment as Head and Warner swung hard.

It took just 22 balls to bring up the fastest half-century of the competition but neither batter could go long. Moeen bowled Warner for 39 off 16 balls with one that kept low and Jofra Archer’s clever variations in pace saw him scatter Head’s stumps with a cutter.

Another half-century stand followed between Mitch Marsh and Glenn Maxwell, with England faltering. Bairstow was slow to make ground on a potential catch, Jordan offered too many wides and Buttler appeared to show signs of unhappiness at the standards of ground fielding.

England’s sloppiness saw them even saw them penalised for a slow over-rate, losing a boundary fielder for the final over. Jordan somehow bowled his best over yet, taking his 100th T20 wicket and completing a run out.

Needing a daunting 10 an over against an attack brimming with class and experience, Salt and Buttler kept up with par at the start of the chase. Salt flicked the first ball off his pads for four and by the third over they were 31 without loss, Salt launching his Kolkata Knight Riders team-mate Mitchell Starc for a 106-metre six into the top tier of the stand.

A 19-run over off Starc’s next visit, including sixes for both men, gave the scoreboard a welcome boost but the arrival of Adam Zampa’s leg-spin was about to change things.

His impact was instant, bowling Salt with a flat first delivery that clipped off stump. Buttler succumbed in Zampa’s second over, pounding a straight six before watching a reverse-sweep float straight to backward point.

England’s momentum evaporated as Jacks scratched out a run-a-ball 10 and Bairstow looked horribly out of sorts with seven off 13. Tied in knots by Zampa and caught in the deep off Hazlewood, he punched his bat as he stomped towards the changing room.

Moeen Ali heaved three sixes in five balls off Maxwell but the game had slipped away as they fell dramatically short of making things competitive.