Key man takes blame for ‘mistake’ in England’s World Cup

England‘s managing director, Rob Key, has taken blame for the side’s failed World Cup defence after finishing outside the top four.

At one stage, the defending champions looked like they’d miss out on the top eight and Champions Trophy qualification but two wins at the end of the tournament kept them from complete disaster.

Key, a 15-Test veteran, put his support behind captain Jos Buttler and coach Matthew Mott, claiming the latter has his “full backing” after a tumultuous tournament. 

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“That’s not their fault,” Key said.

“I feel like it’s harsh if I turn around and blame the captain and coach when I hold myself accountable for that.”

Key went on to admit his focus had been on Test cricket with England playing in the Ashes ahead of the World Cup.

He explained why Buttler and Mott don’t share the same relationship as Test leaders Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.

“Something what makes life harder for them is that people talk about Bazball,” he said.

“I don’t think (a lack of chemistry) is the case. I feel this actually should be the making of those two as a partnership. If it isn’t, it isn’t and you move on. But we have to make sure some good comes out of what has been a very poor World Cup.

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“It’s hard for me to be critical of Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott when I’m the one who, every single time the decision has been made for whether or not we focus on 50-over cricket, Test cricket or T20, I’ve always chosen Test cricket.”

The 44-year-old also admitted he thought England would simply “slip into old habits and away we go” after a lack of one-day preparation. 

“I made the mistake of thinking that actually it will be alright when we get there,” he said.

Buttler has come under fire for his captaincy throughout the World Cup after choosing to bat second against Afghanistan, who duly punished him for the decision with a spin bowling masterclass. England also bowled first in its loss to New Zealand. 

England then batted first in wins over the Netherlands and Pakistan and Key explained there had been some “overthinking” in their tactics.

“You look at the way that the last couple of games we played, if we won the toss, we had a bat,” he said.

“We didn’t know that at the start. We weren’t married to a way of what was our best way to go about things and that was due at times to a lot of overthinking.

“We almost probably felt like we’ve got a good understanding of things here, when the dew comes down and then it actually becomes easier to bat.

“But that wasn’t the case if you didn’t get through to the dew, if you were six or seven down by that time. So I think we underestimated how tough it was going to be in those conditions and we got a lot wrong.”

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