Well that was crap. We bowled like Muppets and batted like clowns. It was the Kermit and Krusty show.
Where to begin? There are so many things wrong with the England ODI setup. We have the wrong captain (by which I mean the captain arguably shouldn’t be in the side) and the wrong coach too.
Why on earth do the ECB expect a coach who’s never won a single limited overs trophy in his supposedly illustrious domestic career to win a World Cup? It’s a bit like asking a GCSE biology teacher to win the Nobel prize for chemistry.
I just don’t see any kind of coherent plan. Even the selection of a new opening pair, with the deserving Hales finally getting a call up, has no logic. Hear me out ….
Hales has been drafted in to get England off to flyers and compensate for the solid (also known as dull and pedestrian) batting of his captain. Yet if you look behind the stats, Hales’ strike rate is actually less than 100 in power plays, and only accelerates up to 150-odd in the middle overs – particularly when spinners come on.
Hales is therefore actually being asked to do something that isn’t natural to him. He does so well for Notts because Michael Lumb invariably goes like the clappers at the other end.
What England actually need is two positive openers. With Cook and Bell in the top three, there is too much pressure on Hales. What’s more, if he fails, the two slowest openers in ODI cricket last year will be reunited in the middle.
England’s plan of picking three test batsmen in the top four is based on the theory that orthodox players will win the world cup. They use two new white balls (one from each end) in ODIs, so England believe they need ‘proper’ batsmen to withstand the inevitable early onslaught from the bowling sides.
This way of thinking, by its very nature, is conservative. It shows we’re worried about what the opposition might do to us rather than what our batsman can do to the opposition.
What’s more, it’s equally viable (if not more so) to argue that the new white ball is the easiest time to score: it’s when the field is up and the ball is at its hardest. Two hard new balls means attacking shots will whistle to the boundary for twice as long.
But England don’t think like that, do they. They get stuck in a quagmire of over analysis and, err, bollocks (it seemed like swearing here was the most appropriate thing to do).
I don’t want to turn this into another Cook debate but it’s impossible not to mention his personal contribution. It took him 27 deliveries to find the middle of that bat. His strike rate after facing six overs (30 balls) was less than 50.
When you’re chasing 300, you simply cannot afford starts like this. Cook is so obviously out of form, and his method looks anachronistic at the best of times, so why does he have to play every single bloody game?
Why oh why have the ECB written a law in stone that says Cook is the face of English cricket and must play, come what may, irrespective of the format? The whole thing stinks to high heaven, and unless he can metamorphose into someone capable of scoring faster than 78 runs per 100 balls, he’ll be a burden this team can ill afford.
There’s even a ready-made replacement as captain waiting in the shape of Eoin Morgan. The no alternative argument is therefore as empty as Cook’s run column.
If Cook was the only test player in the lineup then perhaps he would merit a place in the side. However, there is probably only room for one or two of Cook, Bell and Root.
I’m not going to put Ballance in the same bracket, as his List A record is extremely impressive with a strike rate of 90. That’s streets ahead of the Cook and Bell.
Ballance is not the stodgy player he appears to be in test matches. He can definitely move through the gears when needed. In fact, he shows the versatility that modern day cricketers need.
Ballance also used to open as a junior cricketer. Maybe he should be Hales’ opening partner? This is definitely something England should try …. but … but … (read this next bit in a whiny voice) “what about the skipper”. Pout.
England’s other big problem is an inability to play spin. I’ll leave this one for another day. I’d never shut up.
It’s also a bit of a worry that we don’t have any variation in the seam bowling department. All our seamers are right armers who are approximately 6ft 2 inns tall and deliver the ball at 85 mph.
If only we had a decent left armer. Yes we’ve got Harry Gurney, but I said ‘decent’ left armer.
Anyway, I’d better sign off before the blood vessels in my head burst.
Blood vessels. Blood Wessels. Reminds me of a cricket joke I used to know. A “pretty awful” one in fact.
Shame England are an even worse joke.