Scotland gave their net run rate a significant boost with victory over Oman to leave defending champions England on the brink of a first-round exit in their T20 World Cup defence.

Richie Berrington’s side clearly had the possibility of a tiebreaker on their mind as they raced along in pursuit of 151, reaching the target in 13.1 overs. Brandon McMullen’s 31-ball 61 not out was the key hand, with George Munsey (41 off 20) also chipping in. That was after a combined effort from the bowlers, five of whom claimed a wicket.

Scotland have now accrued five points, having beaten Namibia and gained one from their opening-game washout against England. The 2022 champions have just one point, having played a game fewer. They can now, at best, tie on points with Scotland, and need a big net run rate swing.

The margin of Scotland’s victories has boosted their NRR to 2.164. England’s is languishing on -1.800 after a hefty defeat to Australia (England’s game against Scotland, in which Scotland put up 90-0 in 10 overs before rain ended the game, does not count for NRR purposes.)

England now need a helping hand

While Jos Buttler’s troops will hope to boost their NRR against Namibia and Oman, the two weakest sides in the group, another factor working against them is the schedule. Scotland’s last game, against Australia, comes after England have completed their group-stage games, meaning they will know exactly what margin of defeat they can afford to qualify in England’s stead. Australia, with two wins from two, will guarantee qualification for the Super Eights with victory over Namibia. They could then rest and rotate with safe passage secured, and will also have little incentive to win in quicktime against Scotland.

In short, England are likely to need a helping hand from their Ashes rivalries, and they are likely to have no motivation to provide one. England’s 2024 world title defence may well be headed for the same ignominious fate as in 2023.