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England Ploughing Lone Furrow With Tactics

February 17th, 2015 | by admin
England Ploughing Lone Furrow With Tactics

Like hippies in the punk years, it seems England are always just a little out of fashion in limited-overs cricket.

For a while, a short time after Sri Lanka made it fashionable, they tried to find pinch-hitters. Then, after Adam Gilchrist thrashed them around a few times, they tried to make their wicket keepers bat at the top of the order. Now, just as the rest of the world has realized that the best way to maximize the benefits of the fielding restrictions and two new balls is to keep wickets in hand and accelerate at the end of the innings, England have decided to attack in the first 10 overs.

But the world has changed. Or maybe it has changed back. On the evidence of this World Cup to date, England should be cautiously positive in the first 10. And then throw everything they have at the final 10 overs of the innings.

In the first five games of the tournament, the side batting first scored far more quickly in the final 10 overs of their innings than the first.

  • New Zealand scored 77 in the first 10 overs and 102 in the final 10
  • Australia 66 and 102
  • South Africa 28 and 146
  • India 42 and 83
  • West Indies 40 and 124

The average total for the first 10 overs by Full Member teams batting first in this World Cup is 50.60 and the average for the final 10 is 112.

This is not an encouraging statistic for England. They have been bowled out 12 times in their last 18 ODIs. They do not so much reach an explosive climax as fade away with an apology. In their last five ODIs they have scored an average of 58.80 from the final 10 overs when batting first: 59 at Hobart, 67 at Sydney, 69 at Colombo, 11 at Colombo and 88 at Headingley).

England overwhelmed – Moeen

Moeen Ali admitted that “the occasion got to England” as they crashed to defeat against Australia in Melbourne. England were thrashed by 111 runs, looking intimidated by the large crowd and the skills of their opponents.

While Moeen suggested England would be stronger for the experience, he also hinted – without naming either competition – that he and his colleagues might benefit from playing in competitions such as the IPL and the Big Bash in order to familiarize themselves with such occasions.

“Maybe the occasion did get to us,” Moeen said. “Maybe we were a little nervous, it being such a big game. That was probably the worst we’ve played in Australia throughout the trip so far.

“A lot of us are probably not used to such big games. If you look at the Australian side, a lot of them play in big competitions with big crowds a lot of the time.

“A lot of us play in places like New Road in front of few people. But I think now that everyone has tasted all that, then next time we’ll know who to deal with it.”

Whether batting first or second – when they have been bowled out within their 50 overs four times in the last six innings – they seem intent to attack in the first 10 overs with a view to maximising the fact that only two men are allowed outside the 30-yard fielding circle.

It is not that they are scoring especially quickly; it is that they are losing wickets when the batsmen panic about the pace of scoring and try and force it too early. Both Ian Bell and Moeen Ali fell in such fashion at the MCG. Only once in the last five innings have England made it through the first 10 overs without losing a wicket.

Moeen knows this. He knows that opening the batting in international cricket is hard enough without giving your wicket away. He also knows that, such is his natural style of play, that if he is still batting after 30 overs, he has an excellent chance of playing a match-defining innings.

“I probably have more time than I think sometimes,” he said. “I keep telling myself that maybe you’ve got a bit more time. I feel like I’m learning.

“As an opening bat, when you’re chasing a big score, you have to get off to good start. But maybe I can – not rein it in – but be a bit more selective. Because I know if I bat for 30 or 35 overs that it’s good for me and, more importantly, it’s good for the team.

“So maybe I can be a bit more selective but still have the same intent and be aggressive. Maybe just calm down a bit.”

England’s players were subjected to a particularly tough fielding session on Tuesday. And while it is normal for the management to send for media duty their most successful player from the previous match – unquestionably James Taylor, in this case – they decided not to try to put a positive spin on a result that was chastening for all involved. The message was clear: the performance was unacceptable.

The entire tour party was invited to a Maori welcome in Wellington harbour on Tuesday evening. Part of that ceremony saw the England team issued a traditional greeting. During the pre-event briefing process – designed to ensure correct protocols are observed – the squad were warned that, strictly speaking, they could be suffer extreme punishment if they fail to observe the correct courtesies and customs.

They need not have worried. Not only was the greeting immensely warm, but the only faux pas came from the mayor, who referred to Eoin Morgan as Eoin Rogers and said she was looking forward to the game against the UAR. Morgan will hope that, by the end of the week, everyone in New Zealand is quite aware of who he is.

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