Cricket: England move in for the kill
Full preparation for the next World Cup has started and started well for England. It may be three years away but players need to be found, tutored in the extensive plans made by the brains trust and exposed to many games of pressure so they become inured to it.
Thursday’s victory in the first one-day international against Autralia at Lord’s was such a game and the quality of England’s effort was a triumph for coach Andy Flower and captain Alastair Cook. They have decided to pick five proper bowlers rather than the more usual selection of an all-rounder in the fifth bowling spot.
So, on Thursday, Tim Bresnan delivered vital overs in the run chase and dismissed the dangerous Michael Clarke, Australia’s last hope, while Shane Watson bowled at easier stages in the England innings and went for 11 more runs.
On such margins are games won or lost which is why, if James Anderson’s tweaked groin rules him out of today’s game at the Oval, he is likely to be replaced by another proper bowler.
The other area that was particularly impressive for England was the construction of the innings. The average one-day international score at Lord’s in recent times has been 258. Before the match England would have wanted a few more and trusted their bowlers to win the game.
However, early rain made batting very difficult but Ian Bell and Cook were resolute in defence. They batted as if it were a Test match, protecting their wicket and acknowledging that the team was better served with them staying in and scoring slowly than perishing being more aggressive.
It worked perfectly as they increased the run-rate with accumulation, aided by the redoubtable Jonathan Trott.
What was lacking was a spark, a rapid game-changing acceleration but even that arrived in perfect time when Trott was dismissed. Eoin Morgan has spent months adjusting his technique and Thursday’s innings proved it was time and effort well spent. The twisting back leg and crouch as the bowler delivers has gone and now his trigger movement is much crisper and simpler. He dips a bit lower as he likes to generate power from a low base and hit up through the ball, but his head is much stiller.
He possesses an incredible range of shots and is one of the few in world cricket who can hit in a 360-degree arc. Strong forearms and an ability to break or flex his wrists at the last possible moment mean the same ball can be flailed hard through the off-side or lofted over midwicket. All his shots were on show on Thursday and all bowlers suffered, even the excellent and swift Brett Lee who suffered the indignity of two sixes.
With the top-order functioning – Bell’s performances this summer as opener have been superb – and Morgan in the middle order, the absence of Kevin Pietersen is barely noticed. There will be occasions when England fail as a unit but it appears that they are being given a target to reach and to ensure, by whichever strategy, that they reach it.
That takes discipline and great maturity which is why cool, unflappable characters such as Cook and Trott are so important to the side.
They know they are not usual match winners. Their job is to give the bowlers the chance to win the game and, when England bowl first, the equation is simple as the target is set for them. These tactics are the result of clinical assessment of England’s strengths and brilliant in their conception. Flower was assassin-like as a player, constantly assessing the game and removing emotion. He has decided England need similar attributes.
The Test team has developed them and is the best in the world at the moment. The Twenty20 side will defend their title at the end of the summer and now, the one-day side is showing the same qualities.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North