After a tough defeat, you just want to get back out there, and back to winning ways. We weren’t at our best against Pakistan on Monday, but the whole team has had a couple of days at home to refresh, and we’re now ready to go again against Bangladesh.
The main thing we’re looking at improve on is our fielding, which was pretty poor against Pakistan. We know we’re much better than that, and it was disappointing going from the Oval where we were absolutely immaculate in the field. But in a tournament, you can’t afford to dwell on one result too much. Teams are allowed to play well, and allowed to beat you. You just have to respect that. It’s not going to change the way we play.
Eoin Morgan didn’t say too much to us afterwards, just that we batted decently, had some good partnerships, bowled well in patches, but our fielding wasn’t good enough. Eoin’s a very calm and collected character, and definitely the best captain I’ve played under. He likes a joke and a laugh in the dressing room, but he also tells you how it is. For example, if you’re not selected for a game, he will always give you a really good reason why, and generally it’s spot on.
The biggest thing is that you know he’s always backing you to the hilt and he’s very positive, which is why the boys trust him completely. If you get carted for a four or six, he doesn’t show any emotion, and at the same time he’s always helping you look at the best attacking options for taking wickets, whether that’s keeping a slip or short cover in for longer than usual. As a bowler it’s always nice to have that.
‘We have come a long way’
Bangladesh knocked us out of the last World Cup but we’re a very different squad now, and we have come a massively long way over the past four years. I wasn’t in the team back then, and I didn’t actually watch the match. I wanted the boys to win, but I also wanted to be playing. People were shocked but I’ve played in the Bangladesh Premier League and seen the depth of talent out there. They have a real team spirit and they have improved a lot. When you play international cricket against big sides all year round, a time is going to come when they learn and adapt.
It didn’t surprise me that they beat South Africa. They have some top performers, such as their opener Tamim Iqbal who’s always dangerous; he’s scored runs against us in the past. Their seamers are also tricky. If you grow up playing on flat wickets, you learn to be really skilful with the slower balls and all the different variations.
But I think the pitch at Cardiff will suit us. It has a tennis ball style bounce which suits our quicks, along with big boundaries, so you’ll see a lot of short balls because people have to hit a long way to clear the ropes.
Before the match, we’ll have our usual game of football to warm up. We try and switch the teams around a bit to keep it fair, and make sure no one’s getting belted 8-0, but the secret weapon is our strength and conditioning coach Phil Scott who’s a great keeper. If you’ve got him in goal on your team, you’ll probably win.
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It gets really competitive, and the boys take it pretty seriously. Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, and James Vince are probably the best players. Vince was on the books of one of the academies when he was younger. A lot of the boys like to take the piss out of each other’s football skills. Tom Curran and Jofra Archer have been getting a lot of stick about how bad they are, which they hate. They’re not actually that bad, but it winds them up and gets under their skin.
But a bit of piss-taking is about as far as it goes with dressing room pranks these days. In the past, you would touch people’s kit, mess with it, and all that kind of stuff. There’s stories of people having their kit taped to the ceiling , but everyone is a lot more respectful now.
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There’s been a lot of talk over the past week about Ben Stokes’ catch against South Africa and how good it was. It was pretty amazing to watch it but it wasn’t a massive shock because he’s done stuff like that in practise before and we all know he’s got the potential. There are a lot of times when he will go through the entire practise session just catching one-handed, and throwing himself around.
Everyone is feeling pretty refreshed and positive ahead of the game, after our mini-break. I just went home, spent time with family, and played a bit of golf. I’ve seen that there has been a number of tight matches but I’ve not really been watching too many. You have to try and switch off between matches and put your mind at rest a little bit, so you don’t use too much nervous energy because it does take its toll on you, and you can end up cramping. So sometimes after practise, I’ll catch some highlights, but I try to get away from the World Cup bubble and back to a bit of normality.
We’ve had some solid training the past couple of days though, and we’re all now raring to go against Bangladesh, and hopefully we can make it two wins out of three.