The much-anticipated ODI World Cup 2023 finally kicked off on October 5 as England faced off against New Zealand in the opening match of the tournament. However, the result of the match left England supporters and fans disappointed as the defending champions lost the contest by nine wickets.

Former English captain Michael Atherton was also far from thrilled with his nation’s performance and didn’t hold back his emotions as he launched a scathing attack on Jos Buttler and Co., labelling their performance as ‘rusty and drab.

The match overview

Asked to bat first, England began their innings decently. However, they kept losing wickets at regular intervals as the match progressed and managed to post a modest total of 282/9 in their allotted 50 overs. Joe Root top-scored with 77 off 86 deliveries for his team, while Jos Buttler contributed a crucial 43 runs. The pick of the bowlers for New Zealand was Matt Henry, who bagged three wickets for 48 runs in his 10-over spell.

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In reply, New Zealand’s batters made it look like a one-sided affair, comfortably chasing down the target in just 36.2 overs with nine wickets remaining. Devon Conway and Rachin Ravindra put on sensational centuries to guide the Blackcaps to victory. Conway smashed a brilliant 152 runs off 121 balls, while Ravindra scored an impressive 123 off 86 deliveries. Among English bowlers, only Sam Curran managed to take a solitary wicket.

Michael Atherton’s scathing attack and criticism

The defeat against New Zealand left England facing a barrage of criticism from fans and experts alike. Known for his candid analysis, Atherton also did not mince his words when assessing the team’s performance.

In an article for The Times, Atherton took a brutal jibe at the Buttler-led side and stated that there was “No barest of margins here,” referring to England’s nail-biting victory in the previous edition’s final against the same opponents.

Atherton further went on to express his disappointment with England’s performance, calling it “rusty and drab.” He also noted that England would need to show significant improvement quickly, especially after a defeat that was unusual for a team of their calibre.

“England will have to show significant improvement very quickly after a rusty and drab performance brought defeat in a manner that has rarely befallen them in recent times. No barest of margins here, just a hammering. Buttler’s players were thankful, no doubt, that there were not more viewers in the ground to witness matters,” said Atherton.

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