Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Whats Wrong With England's One Day Outfit??

At last England's never ending Caribbean tour has finally come to an end. The English team which was embroiled in the captaincy issue just prior to the start of the series lost the 5 match test series 1-0 ( A series which was widely considered to be the warm up to the forthcoming "Ashes" series against old rivals ). After the test series England also lost the twenty/20 international. At that point, England has not won even a single international cricket match after their home victory against the South Africans.

England were ultimately declared "winners" in the first ODI after the West Indies coach John Dyson misread the Duckworth Lewis sheet. The Windies then won the 2nd and 3rd ODI's comfortably to take 2-1 lead in the 5 match series. This prompted an emotional outburst from the English Batsman Kevin Pietersen who said that the England squad was a lonely place to be after a string of defeats in the season. Had the Windies coach looked up the Duckworth Lewis table correctly in the first match, the fate of the series would have been sealed in the 3rd match itself. But luckily for England it was not to be. The English side then managed to win the 4th truncated ODI due to the efforts of their skipper Andrew Strauss. The 5th ODI was also then clinched by England after their talismanic all rounder Andrew Flintoff took an hat trick to seal the series in England's favor.

So much for the recent history. Till date England has never won any men's World cup or Champions trophy. It should be pointed out here that their female counterparts won the World cup in 2009. So whats wrong with the England's one day outfit?? To answer this question one must take a look at the composition of the side. Lets analyze the positives first.

1. They have one of the best all-rounders in the world in the form of Andrew Flintoff.
Andrew Flintoff is one of the best all-rounders in the cricketing world today. He is a genuine fast bowler who can strike fear in the heart of the opposition ranks. He is also an explosive batsman who can wield the long handle effectively.

2. They have an explosive and truly world class batsman in Kevin Pietersen.
Kevin Pietersen's ability with the bat was never in doubt. He is one of the most destructive players in the world at the m0ment. He can adapt and play in any situation. He comes in at No 4 in the English line up.

3. They also have an exceptional fielder in the form of Paul Collingwood.
Paul Collingwood's prowess in the field is well known. He is a capable batsman who is well suited to the shortened version of the game. He can also contribute a few handy overs with the ball.

Add to this list the likes of Stuart Broad and James Anderson, we should have a team which can give any team a good run for its money. But the fact is its not happening. So the negatives must outweigh the positives. Lets analyze them.

1. They don't have a good opening pair.
The initial start provided by the openers is vital in any form of the game. It has assumed greater importance after the introduction of power plays. So the opening pair must be in a position to take advantage of the power plays. England has always chopped and changed its openers ever since they lost the services of Marcus Trescothick. They have used Andrew Strauss, Ravi Bopara, Mal Loye, Phil Mustard, Matt Prior, Ed Joyce, Alastair Cook and Luke Wright in the opening slot without any considerable success.

2. They don't have a good No 3 batsman.
No3 slot is very vital in any batting line up. When a wicket falls early, No 3 batsman are required to consolidate and direct the flow of the innings. It is for this reason, the best players of the team occupy the No 3 slot. A few examples include Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis, Kumara Sangakkara e.t.c.

3. They don't have a good wicketkeeper.
Gone are the days when wicket keepers were selected purely based on the ability to keep wickets. Adam Gilchrist has truly revolutionized the role of wicket keeper batsman. England has been having 'keeper troubles ever since the retirement of Alec Stewart. They have tried Matt Prior, Tim Ambrose, Chris Read, Geriant Jones, Phil Mustard and Steve Davies in this position without any considerable success.

If England can find a way to address these problems and find an able skipper who could command a place in all 3 formats of the game, they can be a strong outfit in ODI and twenty/20s. It seemed that they had found their ideal man in Kevin Pietersen but that experiment had a premature end when he was stripped of his captaincy. So who is the best man to lead England?? Do post in your views.