Pune, Nov 7 (PTI) Their execution has been all awry but England would like to end their World Cup campaign with a consolation prize of qualifying for the 2025 ICC Champions Trophy in Pakistan, assistant coach Carl Hopkinson said on the eve of their penultimate game against the Netherlands.
The top eight teams get to play the Champions Trophy and with one of them being hosts Pakistan, the best the 2019 World Cup winners can do is to finish seventh with six points above Bangladesh and find some solace in an otherwise disastrous campaign.
"Absolutely, I don't think there's ever a dead rubber when you play for England to be honest, I think the lads are completely up for - we've got two games in which we need to win both to qualify for the for the Champions Trophy," Hopkinson tried to put up a brave front as he became a lamb for slaughter in front of the touring English media.
He denied that England's main focus has been Test cricket which they have dominated with their famous 'Bazball' approach to batting. The term is coined after their Test coach Brendon McCullum's nickname.
"No, absolutely not," when asked if too much emphasis on Tests resulted in this debacle.
"The schedule is obviously very busy like it is for all international teams. I think we balance players playing Test cricket and playing ODI cricket to try and get the best performances that we can do.
"So, I don't think there's ever one that gets put in front of the other.
"But there is always a balancing act when you have Test series played so closely to ODI series. So, you just try and make the calls as best you can around selection and have the team there for that. I don't think that's the case now." The execution has been a problem, the former Sussex batter admitted.
"I think it's more around actual skill execution and those key moments throughout the tournament. I think it's clear for everybody to see that we haven't got those quite right and as executed as well as we possibly could have done," Hopkinson said.
He didn't subscribe to the 2019 World Cup-winning skipper Eoin Morgan's view that there is no clarity of roles in this side.
"No, not at all. The messaging is always the same and has been ever since Mott and Jos took over. Everybody knows how we like to play as a team. We like to be aggressive. We like to be on the front foot. And I don't think that messaging has changed.
"And I think it is very clear and I've not seen or heard anything to the contrary of that so no I don't think that's the case at all." In the press conference room, the anger among British media was palpable thanks to the line of questioning.
"Why do you think that you were selected as the man to front this up and do you have anything to say on that subject? "You know, what's your thesis as to what went wrong and why in particular have, they decided you're the man to explain this?," Hopkinson must have been taken aback by the not- so-subtle aggressive enquiry.
"I'm not quite sure why I'm the man to explain. I think that I'm an assistant coach with the England team and I'm more than happy to come out and speak about our campaign so far," he ducked for cover.
He was also asked if Test captain Ben Stokes would leave India early as he is supposed to undergo a knee surgery after the tournament, but he answered in negative.
"I mean, I think, knowing Ben, like I do and like you do, he'll want to try and play the next game in front of him and try and win that for England. So I'd imagine that's what he'll be thinking about first and foremost.
"Once he's obviously made that decision to have the operation, that's obviously booked in and that's what he's going to do. It's not before this tournament finishes," he clarified. PTI KHS KHS AH AH