I have some momentous news to bring you. I’m delighted to report that the England cricket team has finally won a game against India. It only took eight attempts.
Yesterday’s win was brilliant. I don’t care that it was a dead rubber. India were desperate to notch a seventh straight victory against us in all forms – and complete an ODI series whitewash – but our batsmen were just too good for them (and our bowlers were just about good enough not to screw it all up).
I have to admit it was a touch and go for a while though. After posting an impressive 321, in which Roy, Bairstow and Stokes made very useful half centuries, it looked like England might canter to victory. However, an impressive partnership of 104 between Yadhav and Pandya kept India in the hunt until the death.
At one point it looked like Chris Woakes was going to blow it. Although he’d been the most expensive bowler in the game, he was forced to bowl the last over because of an injury to David Willey. India needed 16 to win.
Woakes’ first delivery disappeared over extra cover for six. The next went in a similar direction for four. Suddenly the hosts only needed 6 off the last 4 deliveries. It looked a simple task considering that Woakes’ last 14 deliveries had gone for 34!
However, the world’s sixth most decorated Aston Villa fan – after Prince William, Tom Hanks, David Cameron, Nigel Kennedy and Ian Bell – did something a Villa player never would: he kept his head beautifully and pulled victory from the jaws of defeat.
His final four balls went dot, dot, wicket, dot. Victory was ours … and I couldn’t quite believe what I’d seen. Well done Chris.
When the dust settles England might claim this series was something of a success. I guess we were relatively competitive in the first two games and finally got across the line in the third. A 1-2 ODI defeat in India isn’t the worst result in the world I suppose.
However, although I’m still very excited about our batting depth – Billings and Bairstow both did well in the absence of Hales and Root – I still can’t help but feel nervous about our bowling. We really lack the ability to take wickets once the shine is off the ball and it almost cost us the game yesterday.
Between innings yesterday Sky showed a very revealing statistic indeed. England’s batsmen have scored more runs per over (on average) that any team in world cricket over the last 12 months. More than India, Australia, South Africa …. everyone.
Unfortunately however, England’s bowlers have conceded the most runs per over (on average) than any side in world. That’s more than Bangladesh, Zimbabwe and even Ireland. This means we’ve got statistically the best batting line-up in the world but the worst bowling attack. Can you actually win international tournaments with this formula?
Although studio expert Paul Collingwood poured cold water on the suggestion that England’s bowling attack is the worst around (and I do agree to some extent) his explanation made no sense whatsoever. Colly claimed that England’s bowlers are so expensive because the opposition have to go hell for leather chasing our batsmen’s huge scores.
Of course this works both ways. What about the occasions when England chase? And one could argue (in theory) that England’s batsmen score so quickly because they’re always chasing the enormous totals our bowlers give away!
Either way Sky’s statisticians have certainly given us food for thought. England really need to find a good death bowler and someone capable of taking wickets in the middle of the innings. Woakes kept his head beautifully yesterday but his performance before that was erratic.
I’d like to know what you would do. Would you stick with the players we’ve got and hope they improve, or would you go back to someone like Chris Jordan? Or do you think we should recall Stuart Broad?
If Mark Wood can get himself fit I’m sure he’d add some potency in the middle of the innings but I don’t necessarily see him as a death bowler.
Or perhaps you’ve spotted someone in county cricket who you think can do a job? I’m not convinced myself but I know Luke Fletcher has his admirers.