England’s Reality Check – the 3rd ODI

You can’t win them all. When you’re playing a quality opponent, occasionally they’re going to play very well and beat you. C’est la vie, right? Well, maybe. But I don’t think it’s quite that simple in England’s case. Yes we were beaten by Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock, two superb batsmen in good form, but I can’t help feeling that yesterday’s heavy defeat was a bit of a reality check.

Too many people, including certain members of the England team, had started to imply that this new squad were world beaters – the finished article if you like. Even Sky’s pre-match montage struck a celebratory note. It suggested that England now possessed all the ingredients a champion side needs.

Eoin Morgan seemed uber confident before the toss. Although he tried to say the right things, and conceal any cockiness, his message seemed somewhat supercilious: ‘we don’t need to make any changes because we’re good … and we’ve got some bloody good players who can’t even get in the team’.

The real culprit, however, was Reece Topley, who couldn’t resist talking about five nil victories in his presser on Monday. It seems that Topley thinks rather a lot of himself. He said England were confident they’d win the game (after which they’d aim for a whitewash) and that he’d done everything he could to force his way into the World T20 squad. He came across as smug. All his words would’ve done is fire up South Africa. Silly boy.

Topley needs to choose his words more carefully and remember that’s he’s won nothing in his career to date. When Glenn McGrath talked of 5-0 victories, he already had world cups, numerous Ashes triumphs, and hundreds of international wickets to his name. Hopefully Topley can learn a little humility. England’s attack (like Topley himself) shows some promise but it’s far from the finished article.

Whereas our batting has come on leaps and bounds over the last year – we’re unrecognisable from the complete shower that embarrassed us at the World Cup – the bowling still lacks quality. It’s a long, long way short of world class. There are too many rookies, too many medium pacers, and although the addition of Rashid and a couple of left-armers provides extra variation, it’s hardy like we’ve unearthed the new Shane Warne and Wasim Akram. We haven’t even found the new Wahab Riaz, Trent Boult or Mohammad Amir yet.

As I was watching Amla and de Kock milk our bowlers it was clear just how much we’re missing the likes of Broad (who must play the next game), Finn and Wood. These guys have a bit of extra pace and aggression. I’m afraid the likes of Topley, Willey and Jordan will scare nobody. They’re all useful bowlers who can do a job, but they’re not going to run through teams. Ditto Moeen Ali. Although Eoin Morgan jumped at the chance to bat first yesterday, the current side might feel more comfortable chasing. The batting sure has more firepower than the bowling.

When England scored 318 I initially thought it would be enough. Joe Root scored an excellent century, Alex Hales played fluently and looks like he’s finally building some confidence, and Stokes also batted nicely. However, our bowling was so toothless that a Proteas win looked inevitable after the first ten overs. Next time I suggest England win the series before they start looking too far ahead.

James Morgan


  • Spot on. I think that a fair number of folk, a few games ago felt that the bowling line-up looked a lot less outstanding on paper than the batting. Well this game has just hammered home the message, although I’d say that even the aborted game in Bloemfontein told us that to a certain extent.

    On another related point I’m even less sure that the squad that we’ve picked for the world t20 is likely to necesarily flourish with the bowlers that have been chosen. It strikes me that there will be a serious lack of exposure in the sub-continent and that the likes of India, Sri Lanka and perhaps Bangladesh may enjoy tucking in to what them may be facing there.

  • Agree with all your comments James, except I think you came down a bit hard on Reece Topley. He’s just a kid. He’ll learn.

    I don’t much rate our chances in the World Cup. The bowling bar Finn is toothless!and we can hardly expect him to do it all. I realise we will be playing on Indian pitches but I still think we are a quickie short. Anyway, I’m getting a bit ahead of time. Let’s see how we do on Friday!

    I hope you are feeling better now.

  • I have to disagree with the general gloom and doom here, and I think you’re reading too much into a single result.

    England gave themselves the worst of the conditions with the wrong call to bat first, Root’s slightly bizarre runout unnecessarily stalled the innings, and our best one day batsman was out first ball.

    While England are clearly short a quality seamer, and certainly aren’t the finished article, they do have serious potential.

    But having just seen the team selected for the world cup, I’m less sure about our chances than when I started writing this comment…

  • ‘The complete shower who embarrassed us in the WC’ are mostly the same personnel with less bowling strength. They are also not that different from the complete shower who embarrassed us in the last t20 WC when they went out in the group stage to Holland. Captain Miraculous was Captain Useless in the one day WC averaging 18. Something to bear in mind when it comes to major tournaments.

  • Isn’t someone chasing 320 ish the sort of thing that is going to happen from time to time and we shouldn’t overly worry as long as it remains an occasional thing?

    • It’s the easy with which they chased it that’s the problem. The average score at that ground was 270. South Africa looked like could’ve chased 370 without breaking sweat.


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