“Most of our plan today was to bowl Yorkers, use the long side, and we missed, that’s brutally honest”
In November, New Zealand needed 57 to win the last four overs in Abu Dhabi, a comparison no batting team in T20 international history had solved. They made it down with a surplus, featuring Chris Jordan, Adil Rashid and Chris Woakes by Jimmy Neesham and Daryl Mitchell.
Jordan’s over, the 18th, was eerily reminiscent of the 17th in the semi-finals – not least because it took the same number of runs, 23. With one boundary significantly shorter than the other, he planned accordingly and hit the ball into the field at a good length; Hosein (over cover) and Romario Shepherd (twice, over midwicket) responded by carting him across the larger border before six.
For Mahmood, the discrepancy in border sizes again prompted his plan to bowl full and wide outside Hosein’s stump. But after his first ball went as a wide and his second narrowly escaped the same fate, he lost his nerve: Hosein hit consecutive boundaries on either side of the long-on, failed to reach another wide, then hit three sixes to leave the West Indies with two. overshoot their target.
“Every team in the world is trying to get better at it,” said England captain Eoin Morgan. “It’s the hardest course in T20 cricket, death bowling. The conditions got a little better towards the end – the ball slipped unlike our innings in the first innings – but in the end we have to find better ways. Our execution was long not as good as we’d like.”
The inevitable question was asked: why aren’t England trying to bowl yorkers? “We are, we’re just getting it wrong,” admitted Morgan. “Most of our plan today was to bowl Yorkers, use the long side, and we missed. That’s brutally honest. The guys are always honest with the execution to try and move on [and to] identify areas where we can get better – this is definitely one of them.
“They’re games you want to play in. Looking back at the build in the”  World Cup we didn’t play a lot of tight matches to work on our death-hitting and our death bowling, so today is a good example of that. The more experience, hopefully, the better we’ll get at performing.”
“It’s the hardest course in T20 cricket, death bowling.”
One of the men in charge of post-match analysis at BT Sport’s studio, Tom Curran, was in a better position than most to talk about England’s trials and tribulations as he fell into the pecking order after a few rough nights at death. had failed – although he would have played in this series, but suffered a stress fracture in the Big Bash League.
“It was interesting to hear Morgs say they were all going for the Yorkers,” he said. “I think we’ve talked a lot over the past year about the value of hard, heavy balls in death.
Yorkers are funny. You can get the hang of them in practice, but when you get to the middle it’s hard to describe – it’s really a ‘feel’ for a bowler. You can find one early in your spell and get your radar; other days you’ll have a hard time.”
In the long run, the Hundred should help England’s deathbowling depths by exposing young sailors to difficult situations at the end of an inning. But in the first season, three of the top five regular death bowlers were overseas recruits (Adam Milne, Lockie Ferguson and Marchant de Lange) and the two domestic players (Jordan and Tymal Mills) are already in England.
It should come as a comfort to England that their first-choice death bowlers, Mills and Jofra Archer, were spectators only in Barbados due to rotation and injury respectively, and as Mitchell Starc and Shaheen Shah Afridi showed in the other World Cup semi-final, even the best can have a night.
But this was still a chastisement for Jordan and Mahmood. Morgan often says he wants England to be ruthless in white-ball cricket; in the past 12 months, their death bowlers have been anything but.
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98