Bowling Worries For England And Thoughts On Australian Batting

2 02 2011

Over the past year most things have gone right for Andy Flower and his coaching companions. Now, with the score line standing at 5-1 in Australia’s favour, he knows that the World Cup will be anything but plain sailing. There are mitigating factors but the truth of the matter is that quite simply they have not been good enough.

Injury is a major part in this with injuries to Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan, Chris Tremlett, Graeme Swann and latterly Ajmal Shahzad being important. James Anderson has only recently returned from his short break for paternity leave (by which point the series was more or less lost) although none of these reasons really gets away from the fact that the bowling throughout this series has been substandard.

In the 6th ODI today, England’s batsman fired and Australia were set a huge total of 334 to win. That they got there with such ease (despite the late flurry of wickets) is strange considering how effective England’s bowling attack are in the longer forms of the game.

You would have to think a first choice bowling attack of Broad, Anderson, Bresnan, Swann and probably Yardy with Collingwood as back up would be enough to hold most teams to a competitive score – yet it seems, unlike in the test matches, our back up bowlers are not good enough.

Tremlett bowls too short and is easy to hit – this will be even more the case on the slow and low sub continental wickets; Finn was dropped from the test side as he is not the line and length merchant England required – something that hardly bodes well for ODI cricket – and Shahzad, while showing moments of brilliance and exciting promise, is still a bit raw. It is right though that he is going as the back-up seamer over the other options although Woakes possibly deserves a chance.

It has not all been the fault of the bowlers though as the batsman have also been culpable in at least two of the six matches. Trott is of course the exception with two hundreds and a fifty in the series. Essentially, if he doesn’t fire, England have had no chance.

Over the past 18 months the lynchpins of England’s batting have been Morgan, Collingwood and Strauss. Strauss has been getting starts (including a couple of fifties) before falling just when he should be kicking on – something that is becoming a feature of his. Collingwood is of course in about the worst run of form we have ever seen from a batsman and Morgan, while looking in great touch, has picked the wrong shot every game early in his innings.

Some of it is surely down to a hangover from the Ashes, a dropping in the intensity perhaps, but in this professional age it cannot be an excuse. We do sympathise with the players as the schedule is truly hectic, as Pietersen said a few days ago, and it remains something the ICC and all the respective boards need to think about.

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Just a quick thought to finish… During the Ashes many people commented, both Australian and not, that the Aussie batsman had been adversely affected by 20/20 cricket and ODI cricket. The most compelling evidence for this was when the Aussies were trying to bat for a draw in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney and, despite the onus being on crease occupation, they seemed only to have one mode – that of attack.

We had not given this much thought up until now, but it does appear that the Aussies are very suited to limited overs cricket. A Shane Watson 70 won’t make a difference in test cricket, yet in ODI’s can be crucial. Likewise in the bowlers, their most dangerous and game changing players – Shaun Tait, Brett Lee – can only play the shorter forms for fear of breaking down.

We said before this series that, despite the mass media’s acclamation of England, you cannot write off an Australian team who when we last checked were still ranked number one in ODI’s. The sub continent will be different of course but, in this format at least, they are an entirely different proposition.

 

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One response

2 02 2011
Jonathan

You could see today the England players are knackered, constantly on and off the field, limping, cramping. Its been an intense work out for them, and unlike England, Oz have fresher legs and minds in there due to fact the core of the England ODI team being the core of the Test team.

Tremendous match today, Jimmy was tonked all over, that was key. Woakes has impressed. Trott doing his thing again.

It will be an interesting WC, with many teams with a chance of winning. I have thought for a while that England will not win, maybe Oz will but just don’t know.

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