An English Juggernaut?

14 05 2010

And so the English winning run continues.

If this was any other country around the world, certainly if it was one of the other top four or five nations, we would have used the term juggernaut by now. However, being English, and therefore positive that it is only a house of cards being built and therefore liable to all come down in a heap with one ill directed gust, we have refrained from using this terminology. English cricket supporters, due to the long years of pain in the 90’s and in limited overs cricket seemingly for ever, are rarely a confident bunch, even when the evidence before their eyes would support such an emotion.

In this tournament, after a faltering rain hit beginning, England have belied their supporters lack of faith with a string of performances straight out of the Australian ‘How to beat the world at cricket’ handbook. What has been notable during this run is the lack of wobbles and nerve jangling moments. Over recent years when England have won, it has always seemed to be despite their own best efforts to the contrary, and along the way have provided their fans with as many moments to hold their heads in their hands as to cheer. Now we have something new, an England confident in themselves and winning clinically and efficiently.

This has been epitomised by the batting of the two openers, KP and Eoin Morgan. In previous tournaments, both 20 over and 50 over, England have struggled to get off to a good start and now with this current success, it seems bizarre that it took 13 years after Sri Lanka pioneered this approach at the ’97 world cup, with Jayasuriya and Kaluwitharana providing the fireworks at the top of the order, for England to copy this method. The rest of the world followed quickly but for some reason England always persisted in the safety first, ‘wickets in hand’, more traditional way. Lumb and Kiewswetter have been brilliant, whilst they have not scored the volume of runs Jayawardene has for example, they have still provided England with the fastest starts of any team in the tournament.

KP, a proud new father, has demonstrated not only his awesome ability but also a new found level-headedness. Some of his batting in this competition has been verging on the truly extraordinary (witness his destruction of the worlds premier fast bowler, Dale Steyn), and on top of this, the rushes of blood to the head he suffered whilst set in the past have been eradicated. Responsible, brilliant and devastating – that’s the KP we like.

Morgan, likewise, has reveled in the role of the ‘finisher’. Steve James, in his blog for the Daily Telegraph, has called Morgan one of the cleverest players he has ever seen and generally sung his praises to the skies. We totally agree with this and believe that if one player has provided England with that extra something that was needed, it is Morgan. With Collingwood currently out of form but usually so reliable in his own right, this is a top order to be feared.

The bowling of course has also been excellent. Swann and Yardy again providing admirable control in the middle overs. Bresnan, if you ignore the one bad over of the Sri Lankan innings, was excellent once more and Broad amply demonstrated how difficult slow half trackers are to hit in a man of the match display. The one fly in the ointment for us is Sidebottom as we fear that the Australians particularly might get hold of him.

Moments of the Match

We don’t normally do this as we regard it a little on the cheesey side, however, there were two moments at the end of the England innings that summed their performance up and which we feel we must mention.

With KP facing and with seven runs to win, he played the most casual flick over midwicket off Malinga, up until that point the best of the Lankan bowlers, which despite appearing to not be hit hard, just kept going and going. KP then followed it up with a stroke for the purists amongst us, with a perfectly balanced and majestic on drive for four.

The Final

With Australia being probably (despite our eulogising of England) the best team in the tournament and Pakistan suffering their usual and alarming inconsistencies, we suspect it will be the old enemy in that England will face. And, for once, we are pleased. Nothing would be sweeter for an Englishman to beat our old antagonists in the final, although by some distance it would be the hardest challenge. Pakistan however, cannot be discounted as with Afridi you never know what might happen!

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