Will 2017 Be The Year We Finally Win A 50 Over Tournament?

It was good to see England win their first warm up against a strong India A side in Mumbai. The hosts’ selection suggested they wanted to derail our preparations and sap our morale from the outset. ‘A’ teams usually consist of hungry young players not grizzled campaigners like MS Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh and Mohit Sharma. In the circumstances it was quite pleasing to see us win with seven balls to spare.

However, although our batting looks as strong as ever I can’t help but feel concerned about the bowling. India A made a fairly useful score of 304, and our bowling attack of Woakes, Willey, Ball, Moeen, Rashid and Dawson lacks genuine quality. I’ve been concerned about our bowling in this format for a long time – there’s no real pace or wicket taking threat – but thus far the team have coped with this handicap relatively well. However, I do wonder whether this will be our achilles heel at some stage.

The next couple of years will obviously be very important for our white ball team. With the Champions Trophy and then the World Cup taking place in England, we’ll probably never have a better chance to break our 50-over trophy drought. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it will be a major disappointment if we don’t win at least one of these events – especially considering the emphasis Strauss and Co have placed on one-day cricket. 

The good news, I guess, is that the likes of Woakes and Willey should be more effective in English conditions. We’ve also got Mark Wood to come back in at some stage (if the guy can actually keep himself fit). What’s more, perhaps there’s been too much emphasis on England’s capabilities? Maybe it’s time to look at our competitors too. All the teams have their strengths; but all teams have weaknesses too.

With that in mind, I wanted to publish the thoughts of guest writer Michael Foulkes, who sent in this entertaining preview of the Champions Trophy a couple of days ago. A lot of it is tongue in cheek but he does make some interesting points. What do you think?

Will this be the year England finally win a fifty-over competition? They do have home advantage in the Champions’ Trophy and the tour of Bangladesh suggested that they have cover in every position (though mastering cloning technology for Ben Stokes would help).

No-one else stands out either. While Australia’s hat-trick of World Cup wins was immensely annoying to anyone who wasn’t Australian, it did at least make predictions pretty easy… This time though, it looks like anyone could win.

India may not have the best bowling attack for English conditions and their batsmen have historically struggled on bouncy wickets, but they do have Virat “I have ice in my veins” Kohli, whose mere existence means India can chase any total. Plus they are in the same group as Pakistan, which given previous tournaments is the equivalent of a walk-over.

Australia were in a bit of a slump a few weeks back but that can be ignored as the squad they picked for South Africa included three primary school children and some bloke they met at the airport. If they don’t rest their entire first, second and third choice bowling attack at the same time they could still do well.

New Zealand might not be as strong as they were in 2015, but thanks to some arcane piece of ICC regulation they are guaranteed to reach at least the semi-finals of any competition. The Black Caps always do better than they should. Basically the complete opposite of the England football team…

Pakistan are just as likely to score 400 in one game and then get bowled out for 70 in the next. They do have a strong bowling attack, which may be enough to get them though and then just hope their batsmen remember which end of the wooden thing to hold at the key moment.

Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are probably the outsiders in their respective groups. Conditions are unlikely to favour their bowlers, and Sri Lanka have lost most of their truly exceptional players recently. However, given the nature of the tournament, one crushing victory in the group stages might actually be enough to get them in to the semi-finals. After that, as the World T20 showed, anything could happen.

South Africa will not win. It’s too early to say how they will contrive to mess up this time, but they will. Maybe a gang of dentists will kidnap du Plessis, or someone will accidentally tell AB that the tournament is happening in Australia, or Quintin de Kock will fall foul of the little-known Welsh regulation banning sportsmen with a Q in their name from playing in Cardiff.

The one thing we can be confident about is that every South African press conference before, during and after the tournament will contain at least four mentions of the word ‘choke’. It’s enough to make you shoulder barge a journalist…

It’s too close to call, but an India v England final would not be a surprise, and the natural pessimism of an England fan suggests that Kohli will end up being the difference. That’s why the upcoming series in India is so interesting. Can we find a way to tame India’s match winners and win a psychological victory?

Mike Foulkes


  • Very entertaining and I applaud the final, but what is your resume of our bunch of beautiful boys?

  • Woakes is a very high quality bowler. Unfortunately, as all Warwickshire people know, he is a red ball bowler. He bowls an immaculate line and length – which is an invitation to hit in white ball cricket. Whilst he has introduced more variation, such as the slow ball and a vicious bouncer (with his extra pace) it is not natural for him and white ball weapons such as the slow ball bouncer and back of hand delivery are a foreign land for Woakes.

    It is a mystery why the idiot England selectors kept him focused on white ball cricket for so long, despite all the advice from Edgbaston.

    • I agree. Woakes is a good bowler but not particularly suited to ODIs and T20 because he’s very orthodox and easy to line up. He’s quite easy to ‘pick’ whereas slingy bowlers or guys with quirky actions can be more difficult to ‘see early and whack’.

      I honestly think the selectors pick bowlers in ODIs to throw them a bone (ie if there are few test spots open but they’ve done well in county cricket or show talent). We picked Saj Mahmood in many ODIs even though he was wild and inaccurate and couldn’t be less suited to the format. Mahmood’s big asset was pace. He was expensive but had the potential to take wickets. In my book that made him an ideal candidate to be the 5th bowler in the test team. Someone you could toss the ball to and say ‘give me 4/5 of your quickest overs to rough up the batsman’. Yet England almost exclusively picked him in ODIs (not tests) which didn’t suit his skill set at all.

      Back to Woakes, I also think try pick him in ODIs because he’s multi dimensional. He’s a good bat capable of both playing shots and taking a supporting role, plus he’s usually a tidy fielder.

  • ” thanks to some arcane piece of ICC regulation [NZ] are guaranteed to reach at least the semi-finals of any competition”.

    In this case, either England or Australia would have to be knocked out for that to happen.

    “Pakistan are just as likely to score 400 in one game and then get bowled out for 70 in the next”.

    Pakistan aren’t inconsistent in ODIs any more – they are consistently bad. They and SL have been left behind by the franchise revolution (Pakistan players have not been able to play in the IPL since its first year). They’ve never scored 400 in ODI (they’ve never scored 350 against a ‘top eight’ team) and their record individual score dates from 1997 (Saeed Anwar’s 194). They don’t even have a good white-ball spinner now. They only qualified for the tournament by some shameless exploitation of the fixture list (they arranged some extra games against Zimbabwe to get their ranking above WI).

    Meanwhile, it looks like James may get his wish and, from reports in the DM, Indy and on the BBC, that tomorrow’s meeting between Strauss and Cook may not produce a decision re the captaincy. And Eoin Morgan has copped a first-baller in the second warm-up game…..

    • It’s not my wish. It was just a prediction. In an ideal world I’d like Cook to resign now! However, I do think it makes things awkward re: Morgan and the ODI team. It makes no sense to me to have the test captain playing under someone else in the limited overs team (especially as Root is a far superior cricketer to Morgan). It would be like Steve Smith playing under Moises Henriques ;-)

      I imagine part of Strauss will be thinking “if Morgan flops in the Champions Trophy we can then drop him and make Root captain in all forms”. This might save some embarrassment for Cook too i.e. rather than saying Cook isn’t up to the job they can announce a new strategic direction in which they want one captain for all forms (implying somewhat that Alastair is just a victim of this new policy). Of course, it might step on Buttlers toes if they do this as he’s the official ODI vice captain.

      • An interesting plan! If it was a shorter time until the CT I think I’d go along with that – but can they really drag it out for six months?

        I’ve no doubt that Morgan will be scapegoated unless they win the CT (he’d have to make an absolute stack of runs to save himself). Buttler is a strong option as ODI captain.

        One example of where different captains in different formats worked was when SA had Amla as Test captain and ABDV as ODI captain for a while. The two players had great respect for each other and neither suspected the other of wanting their job. I think Root and Buttler could be like that (I remember how pleased Root looked when Buttler re-established himself in the team in the UAE ODIs and Buttler isn’t anywhere near certain enough of a Test team place to threaten Root there). I wouldn’t be that surprised to see Warner take over some of Australia’s white-ball captaincy if they don’t win the CT.

  • Green tops. That will take care of Australia and India. Who bowls on them for England won’t matter. The Aussies will crap themselves regardless and the Indians will be feeling victimised before they take guard.

    Pakistan will take care of themselves.

    South Africa’ s bowlers might thrive on green tops but that means nothing as they’ll do something dumb on a dead flat pitch.

    This really is England’s best chance as long as they don’t fall for the sucker ‘we can out-bat anyone on a flat pitch’ routine. Home conditions are the best bet.

    • Agree, this team isn’t any better than other sides and the bowling is crap. Produce a green top and at least it means most of the batsmen on show will fail.. then hope root wins out over the hitters

      Remember aus vs nz at the last World Cup on a non road

  • Current game is a classic white ball game.. one team racks up big runs and the other team either gets it or fails completely and so it’s a non game by 15 overs into the second innings.

    India bowled crap, utter garbage. England aren’t doing any better, purely batsmen error in trying to slog everything due to the score.

    And then we wonder why the game isn’t producing more than 3/4 actual test quality top 4 batters


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