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Cricket: England face an Indian whitewash

Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan helped his side to a fast start before falling to a catch by Eoin Morgan. Photograph: Olly Greenwood/AFP/Getty

Indian opener Shikhar Dhawan helped his side to a fast start before falling to a catch by Eoin Morgan. Photograph: Olly Greenwood/AFP/Getty

  • by IAIN FLETCHER
 

INDIA are dominant in the Royal London One Day series and, unless England change tactics and personnel soon, will continue to be and should inflict a whitewash on the hosts.

It is time for the selectors to react to what is happening on the field of play. They seem stuck with outdated plans but whiteboard ­presentations count for little when a side is getting thrashed.

It is simple.

The World Cup starts in February and England need a radical rethink else they face severe embarrassment.

They are wedded to tried and tested when selecting one-day squads and have ignored the zeitgeist, the men of the moment who are playing with exhilaration and carefree abandon. Successful countries utilise their brilliant youth and ally them to wiser heads who control match situations. England do not and suffer for it.

So instead of marvelling at the exhilarating hitting and exuberance of youngsters such as James Vince and Jason Roy, England plod along at four an over, at best, with Alastair Cook and Ian Bell.

That is not going to win the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Goodness, it does not even win in the home conditions of Blighty.

Roy is 24 years old , Vince 23. They are not selected when on cracking form and smashing the ball to all parts in domestic cricket. They are talented, adventurous and have little regard for reputation. Perfect. But they have been ignored.

Consider Virat Kohli. He is a thruster for India, an outstanding talent and is only 25 years old. Yesterday was his 136th one day international. He has the youthful zest needed in shorter cricket and now plenty of experience. For England Alex Hales is 25 and is playing in his first series. He showed he was good enough in the T20 internationals that he has played for three years. He is an attacking strokemaker that bowlers fear and have done since his blistering 99 against West Indies in June 2012. It has taken the selectors more than two years to pick him for a one-day international. That is ludicrous.

Other countries see such talent and push them into 50-over cricket and frequently into Test cricket. Think David Warner and Glenn Maxwell for Australia.

Hales and Cook started reasonably and took the score to 82 off 18 overs, but as happened so often in the past the introduction of spin paralysed the England innings. Five wickets fell in the next 15 overs with only 51 runs added. The core of the team had been dismissed and the innings could only stutter on to a below-par total. The pitch offered some slow turn but the England players failed miserably to rotate the strike and push the ball into the large gaps available. MS Dhoni, hindered by an injury to one of his seamers, Mohit Sharma, simply rotated four spinners and watched as England collapsed.

That they reached 227 was down to another timely innings by Jos Buttler and some productive swings at the end from James Tredwell. Buttler is an excellent one-day batsman but he should be finishing innings with his mix of hard hitting and deft scoops and paddles, not having to do remedial and rebuilding work.

India made short work of the target and displayed an insouciance, taking easy singles and rotating the strike that made England’s earlier efforts look naive.

At least Steven Finn got a wicket on his return after 11 months to the England side when Ajinkya Rahane was caught behind.

He was labelled “unselectable” by the then England coach, Ashley Giles during last winter and has received much pastoral and gentle technical help at Middlesex ever since flying home early. They should be applauded for their efforts in rehabilitating him.

The batsmen do not need such kindly assistance. It is time for highly talented players from outside the England bubble to get a go. They possess the boldness necessary to succeed in 50-over cricket even if the selectors do not.

 

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