“I thought the boys were really up for it, but we didn’t really fire a shot from the start,” Mott said on Tuesday, the day after England travelled south-west. “The facts were, we were just a bit off in every aspect of the game. It’s not panic stations yet, but it’s nowhere near the start that we were hoping for and the time is now to really turn that around.
“The overwhelming emotion I could sense [in the dressing room] was disappointment. The heads were down, as you’d expect. We tried to give the players a bit of perspective: we’ve come back from spots like that before, other teams have come back from spots like that before. You’re never going to go through this World Cup winning every game.
“It’s put us under a lot more pressure than we’d like. But there’s still a lot of clarity about us having to play our game and getting back on the road with that. Once we start putting that together, you build momentum and then hopefully you peak at the right time.”
ODIs have been a distant third in England’s priorities since they won the World Cup in 2019, behind Tests and T20Is, and Mott admitted that some of his players are “really struggling for that rhythm of 50-over cricket” as a result. But he insisted that the format is not “unloved” – and that his team might even care too much.
“Players love playing World Cups,” Mott said. “Make no mistake: this is massive for every player in our group. If anything, we’ve probably just tried a bit too hard, because it’s such a big lure for all these guys. It’s what they play the game for in white-ball cricket; the one-day World Cup doesn’t come around that often. It’s very special.”
Brendon McCullum, Mott’s Test counterpart, is in Mumbai on personal business this week and the pair spoke in the lobby of the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel on Tuesday. “I said, ‘do you want to do a little swap?'” Mott joked. “I’ve got one of the greatest jobs going around, so you have to take the rough with the smooth.”
England will not train until Thursday and several players’ partners and children arrived in Mumbai on Monday. “When you have a loss like the other night, the first thing people want to do is get straight back into training,” Mott said. “But sometimes, that’s the worst thing you can do.
“You can have your rough days and your bad days, but [being at a World Cup] is a great time. There are families coming in at the moment. Players will get a little bit of perspective. You get a lot of perspective travelling around here as well: we’re incredibly fortunate to do what we do. The odd bad day, you’ve got to cop on the chin.”
Mott also clarified that England will not make sweeping selection changes before they play South Africa on Saturday. “We’ll always make to look subtle changes, but I can guarantee you now there won’t be any wholesale changes with the team,” he said. “I’m not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater after a couple of bad performances.”
“There is always pressure in international cricket. There’s nowhere to hide. If you have a bad performance, everybody knows about it. But the key for us is he’s in a great headspace, he puts himself up for selection and he can come back really well. If that happens, we’re doing our job – but he’s also a great problem-solver himself.”