Cricket England start the Cricket World Cup as hot favourites and captain Eoin Morgan has traced their dramatic turnaround since an awful 2015 tournament back to some words of wisdom from former Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum. In the last World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, England beat only Scotland and Afghanistan in pool play and a 15-run defeat to Bangladesh in Adelaide confirmed an embarrassing exit, nine days before the knockout stages began in March. Among the despair down under was a humbling eight-wicket loss to New Zealand in Wellington, a defeat which epitomised how a “jealous” England side were “so far off the mark” compared to the Black Caps, Morgan told the BBC’s World Cup daily podcast this week. Tim Southee rattled through a crumbling batting order with his career best one-day international (ODI) figures of 7-33, with England skittled for 123 all out, before McCullum, who retired from internationals in 2016, walloped 77 off 25 balls as the Black Caps reached their victory target inside 13 overs. England headed home humiliated while the Black Caps marched on to the final unbeaten – only for Australia to thump them by seven wickets in the decider at the MCG – but Morgan and McCullum would soon be leading their sides against one another in an enthralling ODI series that sparked England’s rise towards becoming the world’s best 50-over team. Morgan remained ODI captain after the World Cup calamity, after only replacing Alastair Cook in the role in December the previous year, and England changed head coaches with Australian Trevor Bayliss coming in for Peter Moores, who was controversially sacked just as New Zealand’s 2015 tour of England began in May. After an exciting two-test series finished 1-1, the Irishman took centre stage as England reinvented their approach to the 50-over game in an astonishing five-match series with the Black Caps, England’s first run of ODIs since a World Cup campaign where Morgan said they were “humiliated”. “One of the best pieces of advice I got when I was given the captaincy was to be myself. I have played against and am very good friends with Brendon McCullum,” Morgan told the BBC.
Cricket The first round of the Boroko Motors Isuzu National Cup got underway at Amini Park over the weekend with Friday’s opening match seeing the Assad Vala-led Black team taking on CJ Amini’s, Red. The 50-over event granted approval under strict Covid protocols will run over the next three weeks and will be welcomed by all involved, giving the national and up-and-coming players the opportunity to play highly competitive cricket again. The Isuzu Cup was implemented this year to provide the Barramundis with more opportunities to play the longer format and to better prepare for their Cricket World Cup league two international commitments on their path to qualification for the 2023 ODI World Cup. CPNG chief executive officer Greg Campbell said: “it’s great to have cricket playing again, the national squad are able to get some valuable time in the middle to sharpen their skills in preparation for their return to international cricket post-Covid. The Isuzu Cup is an important initiative and we must thank Boroko Motors for their support as well as our affiliate associations.” The first game of the series saw almost 500 runs scored on the newly laid turf wicket. The Isuzu Black batting first finished on 6/255 with Barramundis Captain Vala top-scoring with 77 and Nosaina Pokana 39 not out ensuring a competitive total. Hiri Hiri led the bowling attack for Isuzu Red with 3/42. In reply, Isuzu Red were bowled out on the penoltimate ball for 244, CJ Amini topscoring with 62 and Tony Ura chipping in with 28. In a player of the match performance, Vala also took 3/21 with the ball ably assisted by JB Reva with 2/25. National Coach Joe Dawes said: “I’m very happy with the first game, shook some rust of the players, Assad and CJ obviously batted very well and it was pleasing to see Tim Mou play very well given the chance in this 50-over event. “This is why the Isuzu Cup was formed to get highly competitive hit outs and to see players outside the national squad sieze their chance to shine on a bigger stage.” The Isuzu Cup continues this week and can be followed on CPNG social media channels.