I’m going to eschew fancy headlines today. This article will do what it says on the tin. With the T20 games in India about to begin, it’s time I asked whether Eoin Morgan’s T20 side is better than its 50 over equivalent.
Why do I ask? Because it has been playing on my mind for a while. England’s ODI batsmen don’t seem to make many centuries, but they sure as hell make a lot blistering cameos. I’ve even heard suggestions that Trevor Bayliss cares more about strike rates than averages: as long as the team puts up decent totals he doesn’t really care where the runs come from. And why not when you bat as deep as England do?
What’s more, although England haven’t won a much higher proportion of T20s than ODIs since Peter Moores left the building, we can’t ignore the fact that we reached the final of the World T20 nine months ago. In fact, we would’ve won the thing if it hadn’t been for those two insane minutes of Darren Braithwaite brilliance. And let’s not forget that Paul Collingwood’s team lifted the trophy in the West Indies back in 2010.
England’s ODI team, on the other hand, hasn’t reached an international final since 2004. Our world cup performances have generally gone down hill faster than sterling since Brexit, and caused just as much misery as a Remainer’s forex trading account. Although we’ve improved over the last couple of years (and batted in an enterprising manner) our bowling is arguably weaker than it’s ever been. England might have scored more runs per over than any international side over the last twelve months, but we’ve also conceded the most.
Despite this, however, it’s interesting to note that the best betting sites still make us joint favourites to win the Champions Trophy in June. We’re 7/2 to go all the way, with Australia also 7/2, South Africa 9/2 and India a surprisingly long 11/2. Although these odds might raise the occasional eyebrow, I guess the bookies believe home advantage goes a long way in ODIs. England are usually a tough proposition at home and our bowlers might look more threatening if the ball seams around a bit.
Although our bowling isn’t brilliant in T20 cricket either (and the personnel is obviously similar) I sense that having an adequate at best bowling attack isn’t such a big deal in twenty over cricket. I won’t say that wickets don’t matter in the shorter format (because they absolutely do) but it’s probably slightly less important. After all, teams are less likely to get bowled out in T20s. Batting strike-rates are usually the factor that determines success.
What’s more, England cricketers are now making more effort to hone their T20 skills overseas. And some of them are having some success too. Eoin Morgan and Sam Billings both did pretty well in the Big Bash, as did ‘cast offs’ like Luke Wright, Ian Bell and that bloke called Kevin Pietersen.
English bowlers also did relatively well in the league stage, and I certainly hope our lads manage to secure IPL gigs this year. Chris Jordan, a cricketer I think is gifted but infuriatingly inconsistent, did pretty well for the Adelaide Strikers, and David Willey bowled brilliantly in five games for the Perth Scorchers. And once again our ‘surplus to requirements’ did pretty well too: Stuart Broad was solid and Tim Bresnan was something of a revelation.
Of course, England’s bowlers (and batsmen) will be looking to impress in the upcoming T20s in India to catch the eye of IPL franchises. They might talk about doing their best for their country to the media, but the chance to win a large wad will certainly be the elephant in the room. And who can really blame them?
One imagines Jordan will come back into the side, mainly because he has some IPL experience already, and because he can be quite effective at the death – on the occasions that he gets it right anyway. It will also be interesting to see if Liam Dawson gets a game.
Tymal Mills will be another to keep an eye on. He’s got pace and wicket-taking potential (something our ODI side lacks) and he’ll be looking to establish himself as England’s version of Shaun Tait. I really hope that Mills does well. His career has been badly curtailed by injury so if anyone needs a quick cash injection while the going’s good it’s probably him.
England don’t have anyone with a slingy action who can spear in yorkers at the end of an innings, so there’s an opportunity for a bowler to secure that spot – especially with Reece Topley injured. Rashid will also be looking to re-establish himself in a format where conceding eight or nine an over isn’t necessarily frowned upon.
Because some our T20 players are finally getting more extensive exposure to franchise cricket overseas, I’m tempted to argue that our twenty over team is indeed slightly stronger than our ODI outfit – or if they’re not currently stronger they soon will be. The addition of Mills to the bowling attack is intriguing, Rashid is more of a difference maker in the shorter form (his strike rate and average are better in T20), and the batting looks ideally suited to a format where individual hundreds are rare.
It’s interesting to note that the bookies only make India slight favourites in the upcoming T20 series – 8/11 versus 11/10. I always think T20 cricket is something of a lottery, so it’s always worth finding a free bet rather than risking one’s hard earned, but I do think England have a good chance of winning the upcoming series.
Batsmen like Roy, Hales, Buttler and Stokes are ridiculous ball strikers. They can take any bowling attack to the cleaners when they’ve got licence to express themselves. In fact, for the first time this winter I don’t actually think India will have more firepower than us.
Perhaps this, rather than anything else, suggests that T20 cricket is currently England’s strongest suit. It’s certainly food for thought anyway.
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