England Get The Kohli Wobbles – The 1st ODI

I don’t need to write this blog anymore. I just need a computer programme that can spell Virat Kohli and then add a list of superlatives after his name. He’s just too bloody good for our quite average bowling attack. We’ve been saying it all effing winter and it’s not going to change any time soon.

You can’t really blame our batsmen. They did their part by scoring 350-7. Some might be a bit picky and argue we were twenty runs short, but 350 will win you most games. The problem comes when the opposition have a champion batsman (who is probably the best ODI player in the world on current form) and you don’t have anything remotely close to a champion ODI bowler to neutralise him.

I don’t want to get too down on our bowlers today, as I’m sure you’re all well aware that our lack of top quality seamers and spinners in limited overs cricket is our achilles heel, but it’s kind of unavoidable in the circumstances. An attack of Woakes, Willey, Ball, Stokes, Rashid and Moeen is never going to get the job done, especially in these conditions.

It’s a sad state of affairs that these guys are the best our country can produce. All of them average over 30 with the ball in ODIs (in fact most of them are closer to 35 or above) and they all go for 5.5 or 6 runs per over. The only one who’s relatively economic is Moeen Ali, who has a respectable economy rate of just over 5. But of course, Mo’s average is a lamentable 45 so we can’t exactly pretend that he’s anything special.

What was particularly galling yesterday was that we reduced India to 63-4 and they still bloody won at a canter. Kohli made our bowlers looks so ineffective that India’ number six Kedar Yadav (who had passed 50 just once in 12 ODIs before yesterday) soon grew in confidence and played an absolute blinder. It’s hard not to feel confident when you’ve got someone like Kohli at the other end saying “look mate, these bowlers are about as threatening as a toddler brandishing a breadstick, let’s take ’em to the clearners” … and then doing exactly that with consummate ease.

At the end of the game, Eoin Morgan said that England’s plan was to get Kohli off strike and bowl to the bloke at the other end. I would laugh at the skipper’s complete lack of imagination if I could actually think of a better plan myself. I mean, how exactly are you supposed to get Kohli out when the closest thing you’ve got to a strike bowler is David Willey? It’s not like Morgan can throw the ball to someone like Warne, Murali or even a Shaun Pollock. All Eoin can do is sit back and hope Kohli makes a mistake … which he invariably doesn’t.

I guess the best way England can win ODIs in this part of the world is to win the toss, bowl first, and then trust our batsmen to chase whatever mammoth total India make. I feel a lot more confident in the ability of Root, Stokes and Buttler to chase big totals down than the ability of Willey, Ball and Rashid to defend them. I imagine many of you feel the same way.

The good news, I guess, is that both the Champions Trophy and the World Cup will be played in England, where average seamers can sometimes look a bit better than average when conditions suit. I wonder if the penny will drop that Stuart Broad needs to play if England want something that vaguely resembles a strike bowler come May-June. Broad’s record in ODIs might be merely ‘ quite good’ rather than ‘outstanding’, but it’s still significantly better than the guys currently playing.

At some point Andrew Strauss is going to have to decide just how serious he is about winning a 50 over tournament. If he is indeed serious (which we’re led to believe he is) then he can’t keep holding back our best bowler(s). Whether we personally want to save Broad (and possibly Anderson) for test cricket is a different question.

James Morgan


  • Actually, outside England, Broad and (particularly) Anderson aren’t very good ODI bowlers. Wouldn’t Liam Plunkett or Mark Wood be a better idea? As an English cricket fan, I have mixed feelings about Kohli. He’s superb to watch, but I wish he was doing it to someone else!

    • I’m talking about the Champions Trophy and World Cup in particular. I don’t think there’s much point getting Broad and Anderson to trudge around the world playing endless ODIs overseas. I’d consider bringing one of them in (or maybe both) specifically to take wickets with the new ball in home conditions.

      Strangely enough, Broad’s average at home and abroad is about the same in ODIs (it’s 30). Anderson averages 26.5 with an economy rate of 4.8 in ODIs in England. I do fear he’s a little easy to line up and launch away from home though.

  • Is Ty Mills a strike bowler? I know at best he can probably manage 5 overs, but isn’t it worth it? Use him in a similar way to how Australia used Shaun Tait when his back gave way.

    Even if Mills bowls 5 overs for 30, what have we lost?

    • Mills only plays T20s to my knowledge. It’s the same in county cricket. His body really can’t seem to cope with much more.

      • Yes I realise that, but surely a good short spell would be better than the current mediocre stuff we are churning out?

        • I see what you mean (I like the idea!) but I imagine any specialist bowler picked would need to be capable of bowling his full allocation. Otherwise a part-timer would need to bowl the overs Mills can’t. We have a lot of all rounders in the side but I wouldn’t want to rely on part-timers filling in.

  • Kohli is pretty much unbeatable in India, I thought he was an exceptional player 4 years ago, he’s on a completely different level now. Not quite hit the same heights away from home but if he did we’d be talking an average of 80+

    England’s ODI bowling used to be the thing that would drag England back into a game (as the batting would invariably fall to 120-7 before dogged resistance dragged us up to 210), but years of messing about with fielding entirely inexperienced bowling attacks has damaged the confidence of potential future mainstays to the point where we never seem them again. Topley, Dernbach, Rankin, Shazhad, and a number of others that were set up to fail. And now I can’t really see much coming through, I think England have wasted a number of careers, but then I am partial to moaning about the ECB so who knows

  • “At some point Andrew Strauss is going to have to decide just how serious he is about winning a 50 over tournament”.

    I think he’s deadly serious – his spokesman on earth (Paul Newman in the DM) declared last week winning the CT is as important as the next Ashes for Strauss. I don’t think they’re holding Broad back to save him for Tests – I think they decided after the last WC he isn’t good enough in the format. His white-ball record up to 2011 was excellent but it did go markedly downhill thereafter. I don’t think they’ll go back to him now as I think they believe that England have suffered in the past from abandoning plans just before a tournament (and in particular going back to Test players – like dropping Knight for Hussain in 1999). There may be more of an issue with Mark Wood – I wonder if there might be a case for Wood to play only white-ball cricket for the next twelve months (or an extended period anyway)?

    We must fall into a mindset of regarding these matches in India as Mission Impossible. India only beat NZ 3-2 in their lost home ODI series and lost 3-2 to SA in the one before that. India didn’t once make over 300 in those 10 matches.

    The next venue at Cuttack has hosted one ODI in the last five years. India made about 360 then (against SL)!

    • I know winning the CT is important but if Strauss asked English cricket fans whether they want to win the CT or the Ashes, surely 99% would say the latter.

      Broad hasn’t taken as many wickets in ODIs since 2011 but his economy rates have still been respectable. I guess Strauss is / was perfectly entitled to move on from Broad, but England always seem to forget the golden rule of selection: only drop someone if you’ve got someone better waiting in the wings.

      I’d politely suggest that if the selectors think the likes of Willey and Jordan are more likely to trouble top class batsmen than a proven performer who was recently the world’s no1 ranked test bowler, then they’d better think again :-) I wouldn’t necessary bowl Broad at the death but I would like to see him bowl 5 aggressive overs up front, put the batsmen under pressure, and then bowl another 5 in the middle when we need a wicket.

      • You have hit the selection nail on the head James. Only drop if you have someone better in replacement.

        An excellent all round appraisal of the general situation. What to do about Kholi? The unanswered question. :-(

          • Probably the only plan. Kohli’s ODI record is ridiculous: 27 centuries and 38 more 50’s in 177 ODI’s, an average of 53, and a strike rate of 90. Much better than Tendulkar, for example (49 centuries and 96 50’s in 463 ODI’s at a SR of 86, and average of 45, and statistically even better than Viv (11 centuries and 45 50’s av 47 and SR 90), who is the greatest ODI batsman ever (IMO) (changes to the rules, and different bats, mean that, for me, Viv still shades it).

      • 99% of fans are outside cricket then! :)

        It is weird how the English cricket media haven’t questioned Strauss’s priorities. I expect England to take the CT seriously and try to win it – but this bending out of shape of nearly a year of the schedule to accommodate preparation makes no sense to me. Why prioritise a competition that’s just about to be abolished and a format that you’re just about to marginalise in your domestic competitions? I can only think the “never won an ICC tournament” albatross really bugs them.

  • Our ODI team used to struggle because it was too similar to our test team – stodgy batsmen up top and a long tail.

    Now it struggles because it is too similar to our T20 team – the batting is stacked, with big hitters up top and lots of all-rounders, but with bowlers who can give you one or two decent overs here and there, but no real sustained threat. You can sometimes get away with that in T20s – you basically need 10 “good” overs and as long as there are no meltdowns, it should be enough to win the game – but in ODIs, you quickly run out of options.

  • Kohli is currently in the form of his life, not sure if there can be anything done to stop him. Jadhav played a blinder of an innings, and Pandya did well with both bat and ball. That said, I am concerned by the lack of runs from our other batsmen, Yuvraj & Dhawan are dead weight, not sure why they were recalled. Kohli can’t be expected to do this in every match.

    This is probably the weakest English seam attack I have ever seen, something about Willey doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence. Are there no other seamers in England? Broad is off playing in the BBL, maybe recall him?

  • Australia is having problems with its 50 over team at the moment. I think all the peaking that was done at the last WC is past. A lot of teams are shuffling around not quite sure how to play unless the pitch is an absolute road. Even when it is a road what is a good score? A lot of expertise has been replaced by big hitting. In the past we had lower scores and better bowling. Now the emphasis has switched to big batting. A bit of a curse. One poster said how he longed for 250 versus 250 with more skilful batting against more skilful bowling. Once you have sacrificed 50 over cricket as a mirror of T20 x 2.5 then you are lost in a bloated world of power plays and monster overs. So why criticise the bowlers? The new ball offers a chance – that’s it. The crowds have been brainwashed out of bowler friendly pitches. Entertainment is to see the ball flying to all parts of a small ground. I hope India change tack and start providing more demanding pitches. I dread a game of 370 versus 370.

    • Australia are reigning world champions and the No.1 ranked team – so their problems aren’t too bad! They lost 5-0 in SA when a combination of factors led to them having their entire first choice bowling attack out at the same time and they’ve lost one ODI to Pakistan recently when they collapsed to a mixture of spin and complacency.

      Australia are massively ahead of England in bowling and fielding at the moment (assuming they are at full strength). Starc-Hazlewood-Cummins-Faulkner is the best ODI seam attack anyone has right now. Spin may seem a little weaker but Zampa was actually the top wicket-taker in ODIs in the world last year. I’d make them clear favourites to win the CT.

  • I had to go out just before the end of our innings and was quite optimistic about it all. After a lunch with friends took a sneak peak at my phone to see what was happening, ooh 60 for four. We are doing well. Will catch highlights later. I did not think oh we have got it in the bag, as did Simon Hughes, but was feeling comfortable about it all.

    I then got home and saw the result. I was not shocked, I was not upset. Just felt resigned at the inevitability of it all.

    I have to say that watching Morgan being interviewed and enjoying his ability to speak well and fluently and not say er and um every five minutes was a pleasure. But that was all the pleasure there was


  • Apologies for going off-topic, but ABDV has ruled himself out of the England tour.

    That means he’ll have played just three Tests in England since 2008. There’s something very wrong with the way cricket’s being run that that could happen – and there are no shortage of culprits to blame (the ECB, ICC, CSA, the player himself).

    • Money money money is the only thing to blame. The fact everyone only cares about more money will always lead you to this. Not just cricket, all sports and all aspects of life are suffering because of greed.

      Sad but true.

      • Everyone ?
        I see Joe Root just turned down about a million from the IPL to stay at home with his new kid.

        • Is that before or after he’s been paid mega bucks from new balance ? Central contract? Free watches ? Free car to endorse etc etc

          The comment I made I didn’t say the IPL, more just generally everyone just demands more and more regardless as that’s what our society now has deemed most important

        • Plus, he knows he’s set for a central contract for what, 10 more years?? One year missed IPL contract really won’t hurt him. People forget what small sums this is to these players.

          It’s like offering normal people 100 quid to play for a season.. sure it’s money but it’s not enough for you to overly care


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