The Template For Watching England’s ODI Team Bat

Yesterday’s decisive ODI might have ended in defeat, but at least it was an entertaining contest. A 2-3 defeat in India isn’t a bad result considering that Root, Morgan and Archer were missing. However, it’s a bit alarming that we squandered so many excellent starts. What’s going on? Here’s Abhijato with a tongue in cheek perspective …

The England white-ball team might have come away empty-handed from both the series they played in India, but their approach to batting was a reminder of why they’re still the most exciting team in the world.

They’ve laid down a template for themselves where they go hard at it during the Powerplay, then they go harder at it during the middle overs, and finally, they go the hardest at it during the death overs. This is the ethos of the entire line-up, imbibed within the team by the approach of their skipper – and arguably their most innovative batsman – Eoin Morgan.

But how does it feel being a fan of such an exciting team? We must make a template of our own to match theirs. And thus, for everyone who’s ever watched this team pick up their whimsical pieces of willow post-2015 World Cup, here’s the Template for Watching England’s ODI Team.

1.Going to the bathroom and making tea

The innings has just started off. Bairstow and Roy walk up to the middle with a determined stolidity. Surely they’re going to take some time to see off the swing, the spin, or whatever else a fresh pitch and the opposition’s best bowlers have in store for them?

So you get up from your seat and go to the bathroom before the carnage actually begins. If you’re in a good mood, you’ll also enter the kitchen and make some tea for yourself. When you come back into the room five minutes later, the match must have just star—OH MY GOD WHAT HAS HAPPENED DID I REALLY TAKE THIRTY MINUTES OHGOWD CRICINFO YOU’RE GLITCHING THIS IS—

2. Reminding yourself not to take any more bathroom breaks

You sip on your tea and contemplate on another thunderous start to an English ODI innings. This can either mean they’ve raced to fifty-odd off the first five overs, or that half their batsmen are in the dugout already on a pitch which seems to be as flat as pancakes. No worries, there’s a set of reliable batsmen in the middle who’ll use their brains for onc—

3. THUNDERING TYPHOONS WHY DID HE DO THAT

This can, of course, refer to Eoin Morgan reverse-sweeping the opposition’s fastest bowler over the keeper’s head and into the stands for the most magnificent six you’ve ever seen, or him getting caught at mid-wicket off a part-timer after taking 20 runs off the over already.

4. Thundering typhoons, they’re going to keep doing this to me…

Fifty overs are a lot of overs. One-day cricket’s a long game, and the batsmen have the time to play themselves in. This allows them to gauge the extent to which this pitch swings and seams. Understand the nuances of the bounce on this track. And assess a scoreboard which either favours them or doesn’t—and then spend at least a couple of overs getting their mind in the middle.

This, of course, is a sinful approach. England’s batsmen wouldn’t be caught playing this rationally even in their worst nightmares. They’re going to slog at everything with a finesse never seen before instead. You’ll marvel at their genius and how revolutionary they are. Or, you’re going to marvel at their stupidity while still appreciating how revolutionary they are.

5. I really need to go to the washroom again

You know you’re going to sacrifice precious minutes of the day’s play, where anything can happen—England could lose a wicket, hit six sixes off an over, or be abducted by a strange UFO to play against a Martian eleven on Jupiter where the Greek Gods would be audience members wearing Coldplay shirts.

6. I’m back

OH LORD WHAT DID I MISS THIS TI—

7. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale

Your spouse isn’t impressed by your profuse sweating and inexplicable need to look at your phone, your laptop and the telly screen simultaneously. Thing is, you can never be sure in this day and age. So, you’re fact-checking the madness which unfolds in front of you.

8. The death overs are here

England need to score below a run-a-ball in these final ten overs, which means they can easily lose. Or, they need to score around a gazillion runs off the last five, which means they can easily win this with four overs to spare. They might have all their wickets in hand, or they might have none with Moeen Ali batting at both ends. Point is, all bets are off, and don’t you dare go to the washro—

9. OH COME ON WHY ON EARTH DID YOU DO THAT

Breathe in, breathe out.  Breathe in, breathe out. This is just a game. There is no reason to get so emotional about it. Ben Stokes had every right to do that. No, you must trust Sam Curran. And Moeen. And Rashid. Or whoever the hell’s in the middle right now. I can’t even tell them apart anymore under their helmets because of my teary eyes from all the inexplicable joy/sorrow I feel right now.

10. Final reactions (as you finally catch your breath)

You finally afford yourself a peek at social media, and every other fan, critic and coach in the country has equally out-of-proportion opinions about the game as you do. Every part of the madness you just witnessed is going to be dissected and talked about in the media for days on end.

But nothing’s going to replace the visceral catharsis you feel when you watch this team bat. They might have won, they might have lost. They might have played the most brilliant or the most absurd innings you’ve ever seen. And they might have won your heart or broken it.

But whatever they did was a result of their philosophy which we’ve all become unwitting subscribers to. You want to look away when things go wrong, but you never can—because there’s always a chance they’ll fix things in the time you go to take a leak again.

The England cricket team might not be the world’s most reliable sporting team to pledge your alliance to. But they’re surely the most exhilarating one to follow—and you’re on this ride, whether you like it or not, till they reach seventh heaven or go down in magnificent flames instead.

Abhijato Sensarma

9 comments

  • One of our most reliable run chasers, Joss Buttler had been sent home on rotation and came back looking a shadow of his normal tour self. Though I was only able to catch highlights of the ODI’s that was enough to see his technique has lapsed and he was falling over to the off side rather than standing still playing his shots as he did earlier in the tour. Being without key players or having them unavailable is going to be disruptive as their replacements have had virtually no competitive cricket. I don’t think we can draw too many conclusions from the present state of affairs.
    Incidentally well done Sam Curran. I’m not a big fan but apparently he showed a lot of maturity during that innings in protecting the tail, as at 200-7 we looked out of it. Problem is that this will probably ensure his selection for the next couple of years. His biggest ODI score up to yesterday was 15. Let’s hope he treats it as a springboard and shows us why he’s worth a central contract. Equally his brother, who picked for his death bowling, was mullered.

    • I can’t see this Tom Curran as a death bowler idea–and I never have been able to. Whenever I’m following, he seems to go for loads in the death overs.

      I remember reading an article ages ago, before the World Cup–on Cricinfo, I think–backing that impression up with some stats which suggested that he wasn’t actually a particularly wonderful death bowler (shortly after they’d done a similar one pointing out that Billings was a vastly overrated T20 batsman!)…which, then as now, is essentially why he was picked for the WC.

      I’d rather have Stone in the white-ball squad.

      • Agree about Curran and with Jordan looking past his sell by date we need someone who can do a Plunkett job, maybe even Plunkett. Even Stokes looked a better bet late on.

  • Hales’ chances of a recall went backwards; how surprising the series went to another “thrilling” decider; Morgan’s injury was convenient.

    England can beat up sides whose bowling attack has been sawn off at the knees like nobody else. That sawing off can consist of first-choice bowlers being out or pitch/ball doing absolutely diddly-squat. Top quality bowlers getting some seam/swing/spin and it’s clear why none of this team have good Test batting records. I can’t warm to players who need the dice loaded like this.

    • “Another thrilling decider”. Yes. Well the T20 series followed the same pattern. Hate to say it, but one day cricket seems to have a bit of habit of doing this.

    • I agree that England’s batting is best on flat tracks. The big challenge in the World Cup was to win games when the pitch was going a bit or the bowlers were on top. And we very nearly blew it on a couple of occasions … including, most famously, the final. Having said that, it’s difficult to demand perfection from any England side. We were so atrocious in ODIs for so long that we should probably be grateful that we now have a very entertaining XI. I think we would’ve won this series had Root been available. He’s the glue amongst the hitters.

      • Everybody’s batting is better on flat tracks. We had good starts in this series, we’ve just got to be more careful mid innings and not just go for the jugular all the time. With Buttler looking a shadow of his pre-rotation self and no Root to accumulate in those mid innings overs we looked unbalanced. Where was Woakes during all this, with the ever present Currans struggling again, would rather bring back Plunkett, but of course neither of these suggestions are funky enough for Mr Ed. Going back to the reliables is a no no, let’s pick promising youngsters and give them time to develop, like Southgate’s obsessive mess of a footie squad.

      • I guess you know Mr Marc, that the ever-presence of the Messrs Curran in a tour starting XI has very little to do with Mr Ed; that’ll be a Mr Eoin decision.

        That aside, picking promising youngsters is something that pretty much every selection panel everywhere does–it’s completely UNfunky selection. If you think Mr Ed is funky, heaven knows what you think of some of Mr Chetan’s selctions for the seres just finished!

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