Tag Archives: England

Atherton: Close to 10 out of 10 for England

England earn the plaudits from the pundits after dismissing West Indies for just 55 in Dubai before wrapping up a six-wicket victory; Nasser Hussain says defending champions West Indies need to adapt their game to the conditions in the Middle East

Last Updated: 23/10/21 8:32pm

England had failed to beat West Indies in the T20 World Cup in five previous attempts
England had failed to beat West Indies in the T20 World Cup in five previous attempts

Mike Atherton reckoned England had come close to producing a 10-out-of-10 performance in their T20 World Cup opener against West Indies.

Eoin Morgan’s side dismissed West Indies for just 55 in their Group 1 clash in Dubai with Adil Rashid (4-2), Moeen Ali and Tymal Mills (both 2-17) doing the bulk of the damage.

Moeen’s four-over spell as an opening bowler helped restrict West Indies to 31-4 in the six-over powerplay, which Atherton felt was the key to their win.

England’s batters wrapped up a six-wicket victory with 70 balls to spare, although they slighted blotted their copybook by stuttering to 39-4 and were marked down a little by Atherton as a result.

“Fantastic for England,” said the Sky Sports Cricket pundit. “West Indies were very poor, you have to say, but the way England started that first powerplay – West Indies were 31-4 from that first six overs – I think only two teams have won games from worse positions than that.

“So you are looking at a marginal chance for West Indies to win after those opening six overs. That’s why Moeen Ali was the player of the match. That game was done and dusted or decided really in that opening powerplay.

Moeen Ali helped restrict West Indies to 31-4 in the powerplay

“He [Moeen] was excellent. England got their match-ups – as the phrase is used in T20 these days – spot on against a left-hander heavy line-up that West Indies are, and that, of course, enabled Tymal Mills to come on on the back of that excellent work from Moeen Ali.

“Somebody coming back into the England side who would have been a little bit nervous, no doubt, after a long lay-off was allowed to ease in without too much pressure.

“So excellent performance from England. They stumbled a little bit at the end so it was not perhaps quite 10 out of 10, but pretty close to it.”

Atherton understood England’s reasons for dropping Dawid Malan, whose place has been under scrutiny due to his slowish starts, down the order from No 3 as they went in search of a quick win to boost their net run rate, but felt they may have gone too far as he failed to feature.

He said: “I thought to have the net run rate in the forefront of your mind is absolutely right – in England’s World Cup of 1999 they went out on net run rate.

“I can absolutely see why Jonny Bairstow came in at number three, possibly Moeen Ali [at four]. I thought when Dawid Malan started to slide further and further down the order, that was just going to create more scrutiny or more talk out of this game.

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“So whether he should have slid down as far I’m not sure, but I can see why net run rate, which might be absolutely vital at the end of this group stage, is at the forefront of your mind.”

Atherton’s fellow pundit Nasser Hussain thought West Indies had paid the price for failing to adapt their game to the conditions at the Dubai International Stadium.

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“This is a big playing area and I think that’s where the West Indies weren’t smart,” he said. “They were still trying to hit it to the bigger parts of the ground, so I don’t think the West Indies were smart enough in their hitting area.

“I’ve just noticed Roston Chase doing a few laps around the ground. Maybe they need that type of cricketer. If it’s going to be a lower-scoring World Cup, maybe they do break up those left handers and he is someone that can knock it around and run hard.

“The problem with that, obviously with some ageing West Indies batters like Russell and Gayle and Pollard, will they be able to do that style of cricket and run ones and twos and be busy?

West Indies play South Africa next on Tuesday

“So West Indies have just got to be smarter and play the conditions, which England and Morgan have spoken about.”

One slight concern for England was the absence of Mark Wood with an ankle problem and Hussain says the fast bowler, who he spoke to ahead of the game, should not be hurried back into the side, with the team’s next match against Bangladesh on Wednesday.

“He was a little bit disappointed [not to be playing] to be honest because he bowled beautifully in that warm-up game against New Zealand,” revealed Hussain.

“He said in the third over he just felt his ankle a little bit and he’s had that jab. I think he’s being a little bit cautious as well. He’s been through so many injuries, through so much. Ashes coming up as well.

“Mark Wood is so much value on and off the cricket field so you don’t rush him back. You don’t rush any fast bowler back. You just cannot do that. And England have got other options as they have shown here.”

Watch the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, in the United Arab Emirates, live on Sky Sports between now and November 14.

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Strong start steers England to victory

Liam Farrell, Tom Davies, Tommy Makinson and John Bateman gave England a 20-0 lead at half-time to set-up their first win under new coach Shaun Wane

Last Updated: 23/10/21 5:07pm

France duo Benjamin Jullien and Tony Gigot look to tackle England’s Niail Evalds

England failed to capitalise on a flying start against France in Perpignan but still managed to deliver a comfortable victory for head coach Shaun Wane in his first Test match.

New captain John Bateman was among the tries as Wane’s team raced into a 20-0 lead after 17 minutes but they encountered some stern French resistance in the final hour and in the end, had to be satisfied with a 30-10 win.

On the day England were due to kick off the 2021 World Cup in Newcastle, a fixture arranged to help plug the gap left them with mixed emotions.

Wane, who handed debuts to eight players, will be thrilled by his side’s bright and breezy start but, after staring at a heavy defeat, France coach Laurent Frayssinous will take great encouragement from his team’s fightback in his first match in charge.

Frayssinous was able to blood eight youngsters with an eye on next year’s World Cup, while Wane knows he will be able to call on Sam Tomkins, Tom Burgess, Mark Percival, Daryl Clark and Elliot Whitehead for the bigger games ahead.

John Bateman on his way to scoring England’s third try against France

Little went right from the start for the French, who conceded a goal-line drop-out from the kick-off and gave England another leg up from a high tackle in front of the posts from Romain Navarrete.

A couple of handling errors from full-back Mark Kheirellah heaped more pressure as Paul McShane’s pass from dummy half got second rower Liam Farrell over for the game’s first try with just three minutes on the clock.

Half-back Jordan Abdull kicked the first of his three goals and kept the home side pinned back in their own half with some punishing kicks in an impressive start to his international career.

Right winger Tom Davies, playing on his home ground, came up with a remarkable acrobatic finish to score England’s second try and left winger Tom Makinson quickly added a third courtesy of a cut-out pass from his St Helens team-mate Jonny Lomax.

A surging run from the hugely impressive Alex Walmsley and some intricate inter-passing between Davies and centre Reece Lyne then enabled Bateman to score a fourth try and Abdull’s second goal made it 20-0.

France eventually steadied the ship and winger Morgan Escare went close to pulling a try back while England lost loose forward Morgan Knowles with an ankle injury 11 minutes before half-time and they did not look the same side in his absence.

Mikolaj Oledzki drives for the line against France

Davies dropped the ball over the line as he looked sure to double his try count early in the second half and France quickly worked their way upfield from where stand-off Arthur Mourge put 6ft 8in second rower Corentin Le Cam through a gap for a try on debut.

The French thought they have scored again when Kheirellah finished off a neat break by second rower Paul Seguier but it was disallowed for an obstruction in the build-up.

England failed to rediscover their early sparkle but ought to have added another try when Lyne broke clear only to make a hash of the execution.

They had Lomax sin-binned by French referee Ben Casty for an obstruction but managed to finish with a flourish while down to 12 men, with Makinson and Bateman scoring their second tries.

France were arguably the better team in the second half and forward Justin Sangare deservedly scored their second try, which was converted by Kheirellah.

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France vs England talking points

England travel to Perpignan for an international double-header against France on Saturday; The women face off at 12pm UK time followed by the men at 2.30pm UK time

Last Updated: 22/10/21 3:01pm

England travel for France in an international clash on Saturday

We look at what is being said and team news ahead of Saturday’s women’s and men’s international double-header between England and France in Perpignan…

England Women: Back to where it all began

It is 14 years since the England Women’s team first stepped out onto the field for an international match and, on Saturday, they face the same opponents from that historic day when they take on France (kick-off 12pm UK time).

Vicky Molyneux was among the players who featured in that match back in 2007 as an 18-year-old and the Wigan Warriors forward is set to take on the French this time around too when the sides clash in Perpignan.

The secondary school teacher, who earned a recall to Craig Richards’ side for the mid-season international against Wales, was proud just to be pulling on an England shirt in that first game, but has seen huge progress following her return to the national set-up.

“It’s just how well we’re looked after, everything behind the scenes people watching the game don’t see and how much support we get,” Molyneaux said.

“It’s not just Craig and the coaching staff, but you’ve got strength and conditioners behind the scenes, sports psychologists, welfare manager, and the team manager and the admin side of it.

“We appreciate all the support we get, but it shows just how far the game has come along, to see how much we get to help us play the best game we possibly can.”

Vicky Molyneux in action for England against Wales

England were 54-4 victors over France last time the teams faced off in 2018 and while Molyneux has seen the progress the team have made in the past three years from that clash in Carcassonne, she expects the hosts to have made their own improvements too.

“You would expect there would be some improvement to the extent of how we’ve improved,” Molyneux said.

“We’ve progressed a lot as a team, so with the intensity and fitness levels we know we can play at as a team, hopefully they won’t be able to match us in that respect.

“But we definitely won’t be complacent; we’re ready for a battle, ready for the fight and we’ll give it our all from the starting whistle to the end.”

Andrade and Woosey set for England debuts

Savannah Andrade and Rachael Woosey are both set to make their England debuts when the women’s team face France.

Expected teams

England: Tara-Jane Stanley; Fran Goldthorp, Savannah Andrade, Amy Hardcastle, Caitlin Beevers; Jodie Cunningham, Beth Stott; Grace Field, Tara Jones, Chantelle Crowl, Emily Rudge (captain), Hollie Dodd, Vicky Molyneux.

Interchange: Shona Hoyle, Paige Travis, Vicky Whitfield, Rachael Woosey.

France: Elisa Ciria; Christina Song Puche, Melanie Bianchini, Zoe Pastre Courtine, Manon Samarra; Elodie Pacull, Alice Varela; Jeanne Bernard, Cyndia Mansard, Gaelle Alvherne, Elisa Akpa, Laureane Biville, Leila Bessahli.

Interchange (from): Fanny Ramos, Mailys Borak, Ines Legout, Tallis Kuresa, Lauriane Canet, Nadia Olm Rouppert, Perrine Montsarrat.

England men: Davies excited by French revolution

Tom Davies knows from personal experience how rugby league has grown in the south of France recently, having been part of Catalans Dragons’ rise in recent years.

Davies helped Catalans claim the 2021 League Leaders’ Shield and reach a first Super League Grand Final, with his 14 tries for the Dragons earning him a first call-up to the senior England squad as well.

The winger will win his first Test cap at his home ground of Stade Gilbert Brutus when England take on France on Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm UK time) and is savouring boom times for the 13-man code in the region.

“It’s gathering a lot of momentum at the minute, it’s really starting to take off there,” Davies said. “Toulouse won the Championship and they’re coming up and we won the league [Leaders’ Shield] this year so there’s a great buzz.

“Kids have got a new hero in [Catalans full-back and Man of Steel] Sam Tomkins and they are now going to get involved in the game, so we’ll see the effect of that in 10 or 15 years’ time.

“It’s even happening in the French Elite, you look at clubs like Lezignan, Limoux and St Esteve who are starting to build and get good teams – obviously Jimmy Maloney is there next year and Jason Baitieri.

“If we can get the French Elite up to Super League or Championship standard, it’s only going to improve the game.”

Whether that success at club level can be translated to the national team remains to be seen, with France having not beaten England since a 5-1 win at Headingley in 1981 where a try from Herve Guiraud and a penalty from Jose Moya proved enough to seal victory.

England’s Tom Davies is excited by the boom time rugby league is experiencing in France

But although that success and the 25-18 victory over Great Britain at the same venue in 1990 remain outliers, Davies is hopeful there can be regular competitive matches between the two nations who will also face each other in the pool stages of next year’s Rugby League World Cup.

“The Aussies and New Zealanders get together each year for the Anzac Test and, if we can get something like that with the French and have a competitive game, it’s only going to improve both the sides,” Davies said. “It tests us and brings the best out of us and vice versa.”

Expected teams

England: Niall Evalds; Tom Davies, Reece Lyne, Zak Hardaker, Tommy Makinson; Jonny Lomax, Jordan Abdull; Alex Walmsley, Paul McShane, Mike Cooper, John Bateman (captain), Liam Farrell, Morgan Knowles.

Bateman captains England; eight new caps to face France

John Bateman will lead an England team that includes eight uncapped players when they take on France on Saturday.

Interchange: Ben Currie, Kruise Leeming, Mikolaj Oledzki, Joe Philbin.

France: Mark Kheirallah; Ilias Bergal, Matthieu Laguerre, Mathieu Jussaume, Fouad Yaha; Arthur Mourgue, Tony Gigot (captain); Romain Navarrete, Marion, Jordan Dezaria, Benjamin Jullien, Paul Seguier, Mickael Goudemand.

Interchange (from): Eloi Pelissier, Maxime Puech, Justin Sangare, Corentin Le Cam, Mathieu Cozza, Cesar Rouge, Morgan Escare.

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England: Don’t call me a super-sub!

Beth England is eager to shake off her super-sub tag but says she is pleased to contribute in whatever way she can for her country ahead of Saturday’s historic Lionesses fixture.

Sarina Wiegman’s side take on Northern Ireland in a World Cup qualifier at Wembley, the first competitive England Women’s international to be played at the stadium since it reopened in 2007.

Chelsea forward England may have to be content with a place on the bench, having also been used as a substitute during the games with North Macedonia and Luxembourg last month.

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England manager Sarina Wiegman says she is looking forward to working with Hannah Hampton, Alessia Russo and Keira Walsh after naming the trio in her squad to face Northern Ireland and Latvia

The 27-year-old scored in both fixtures and has also netted twice for her club off the bench this season, but insisted: “I don’t think any player wants to be tagged as a super-sub.

“Ultimately we want to play every minute we can. I am obviously very happy and proud to contribute to the team because that is what we are here for. It is a team sport and any chance I get given I want to take.

“I think it is not a tag I would like to be known for but, again, if I am able to come on and can show I can impact and help the team, then it is never a bad thing, especially if I am scoring goals as well. I just wouldn’t say on a personal preference it is my favourite thing to be called.”

England is well aware of the competition she faces at Chelsea and with the Lionesses, with rival striker Ellen White close to becoming the country’s leading goalscorer.

Manchester City forward White has found the net on 43 occasions for England and is three adrift of Kelly Smith’s current all-time record.

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Manchester City midfielder Keira Walsh says England will focus on their own game when they face Northern Ireland in Women’s World Cup qualifying

While at WSL champions Chelsea, the former Doncaster Rovers Belles ace is battling with the likes of Pernille Harder and Sam Kerr for a starting berth in Emma Hayes’ team.

But England added: “It is no secret our front line at Chelsea is a very difficult one to break into. We have some exceptional players at the club but for me, it is just great to be in and amongst these players every day because we all have our different strengths and all bring something different.

“Being able to train with such high-quality players is always going to enhance anyone’s game, so I am lucky I am in a position where I get to train with them day in, day out.

“It is obviously tough. Every player wants to be playing every minute and when you look here at the likes of Ellen and everything she has achieved for the Lionesses, I think it is phenomenal and a big challenge for anyone to challenge that.

“All I can do is keep working hard and seeing which areas of my game I can improve on then hope when I get given a chance, I can do my job.”

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England player ratings: Kane, Sterling struggle

A close-range finish from John Stones cancelled out Roland Sallai’s penalty but England couldn’t find a winner as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Hungary. Here, we rate the individual performances on a frustrating night for Gareth Southgate’s side.

Jordan Pickford – 6

Restored to the side after Sam Johnstone was handed a start against Andorra. Went the wrong way for Sallai’s penalty but had little else to do, with Hungary failing to muster any shots on target from open play.

Kyle Walker – 6

Given more of a defensive remit than fellow full-back Shaw. Did not have too many problems at the back but some of his long-range passing was a little wayward.

John Stones – 8

A good night for the centre-back, who remains a key figure for Southgate despite struggling for playing time at Manchester City. Took his goal well and went close to a second when he headed narrowly wide. Defended well and completed 94 of his 97 passes.

Tyrone Mings – 6

Not as assured as his centre-back partner. Seems to have cemented his status as England’s third-choice centre-back behind Stones and the absent Harry Maguire but struggled with the movement of Hungary’s forwards at times.

Luke Shaw – 5

Conceded the penalty for Hungary’s opener when he was penalised for a high boot on Loic Nego. Earned a booking for that misjudgement and while he had some good moments going forward, he looked unconvincing defensively throughout.

Declan Rice – 6

A difficult night for the West Ham player, who was often outnumbered defensively due to Southgate’s decision to field an attack-minded midfield in the absence of Rice’s usual partner Kalvin Phillips. Worked hard, though, and only misplaced one of his 65 passes.

Phil Foden – 6

Handed another chance to impress in midfield following his eye-catching display against Andorra. Not as influential this time around and occasionally caught out of position defensively, although his outstanding delivery for Stones’ equaliser was another reminder of his quality.

Mason Mount – 5

Fortunate he was not punished when a loose pass in the first half allowed Hungary to spring forward on the break. Typically tenacious off the ball, making four tackles and three interceptions, but sloppy on it and, like Foden, sometimes left Rice exposed.

Jack Grealish – 7

Lined up on the left-hand side, where he combined effectively with Shaw, and relished the freedom to drift across the front line. Won the free-kick for England’s equaliser on the right and caused Hungary problems until he was surprisingly taken off for Bukayo Saka.

Raheem Sterling – 5

Attempted more shots (three) and completed more dribbles (four) than anyone else but lacked composure at key moments. Headed straight at Hungary goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi in the first half and spurned a one-on-one against him in the second.

Harry Kane – 5

Another subdued showing from a player who continues to look out of sorts. Denied an early goal by some last-ditch Hungary defending and let down by poor control on other occasions. Sent Sterling through on goal with one fine pass in the second half but only had 19 touches overall and his sliced effort shortly before his withdrawal summed up his night.


Bukayo Saka – 6

Had some good attacking moments after replacing Grealish although almost cost England a goal when he was robbed near his own box. Fortunately, Filip Holender blazed his shot over.

Jordan Henderson – 6

Brought on in place of Sterling as Southgate rejigged his midfield but his passing radar looked a little off.

Tammy Abraham – 6

Headed a late opportunity wide – although it would have been ruled out for offside. Replaced by Ollie Watkins in stoppage time due to an injury.

Ollie Watkins – n/a

Only on the pitch for a few minutes after Abraham was forced off but did at least manage a shot on target when he fired at Gulacsi.

What’s next?

England will play their final two World Cup Qualifiers in November – hosting Albania at Wembley on Friday November 12 before a trip to San Marino on Monday November 15.

Hungary play on the same days, hosting San Marino before finishing off their campaign away to Poland.

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