Lessons to learn

October 26, 2011

by Ned Richards

Watching England crumble to a 5-0 series defeat in India was not expected after the summer of dominance they had over India. However, was it a total surprise? Not really. What we have learnt is what we already knew. Indian batsman struggle with pace and bounce, while England’s batsman toil when the ball stops and turns.

Best in the World?

If England are to be the best cricket team in the world, then they must perform better in environments that are foreign to them. It’s one thing to sit top of the rankings in Test matches, but another to dominate all forms of the game, in all conditions and actually wear the tag of ‘best side in the world’ with pride. This is something that the great Australian side did in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. They were untouchable in any conditions, in any format.

Under-performing Pietersen

In discussing England’s issues and weaknesses it is hard to know where to start. Despite making a few decent 40’s Kevin Pietersen has done nothing on this tour to enhance his reputation within England’s one-day set up. Pietersen’s inability to capitalise on his good starts was a major reason for England not kicking on to the big scores they required on flat batting surfaces. Cook has come out in the press and stated that he wants Pietersen part of his 2015 world cup plans (providing Cook is still in a job of course). However, I get the feeling Piertersen is running a fine line with Coach Andy Flower. It’s no secret that KP is not everyone’s best mate and spending months on end with a guy like Pietersen, is like living in the big brother house with no escape. I don’t believe this is the end of the line for Pietersen in one-day cricket, but unless he produces scores of three figures +, he won’t be far away from being just a Test match cricketer.

Bad behaviour

England’s behaviour on this tour has been criticised by Indian captain MS Dhoni. This is relating to how they have been with the opposition, but also and more interestingly how the England group has behaved with each other. Something I have spotted before is the way England’s bowlers carry on at their fielders. Anderson and Broad have been guilty of this in the past but they were not in India so would be harsh to criticise them. However, Graeme Swann and all England’s bowlers have carried this mantle in their absence. There are going to be frustrations in the heat of battle, but the way, especially Swann speaks to his fielders on the field is not on, and Alastair Cook needs to put his foot down, as oppose to being scared of his men. Building team spirit and a unity is essential to success, especially when playing in adversity such as Indian conditions. I actually think Swann needs to make sure his own house is in order first, when it comes to fielding before remarking on other people’s.

Young talent

Despite a number of poor performances it’s wrong to blame the defeat on youngsters like Dernbach and Bairstow on their first tour to the sub-continent with the national side. It was a harsh lesson for Bairstow on how playing spin is a crucial part of the game in the middle overs in one-day cricket, in conditions that the Headingley nets do not replicate. Working with Graham Thorpe should help Bairstow in developing game plans for playing spin bowling. Jade Dernbach is an exciting prospect for the future. If Dernbach can find a way of shaping with the white ball away from the bat, like he does with the red ball for Surrey, he will become a dangerous proposition at the start of the innings. Dernbach must also get his yorker in a higher percentage of the time at the death. With his variation he could still be a very valuable member of England’s side and should not be written off.

As for Craig Kieswetter, he must improve his glove-work in order to maintain his place. The good news for England is that there are plenty of options in this department if the guy with the gloves is not performing. To me I would love to see Jos Buttler get a go. He excites me as much as any cricketer I have seen since a big Lancastrian named Flintoff burst onto the scene.

England positives

Despite a brutal two weeks results wise, I believe there are a few positives England can take. The way Steven Finn has run in, and hurried all the Indian batsman on docile surfaces is a good sign for the future. Finn was consistently bowling up over 90mph and looked like an International bowler of real pedigree. At the age of 22 England appear to have a special talent that in my opinion could go on to take 500 wickets in Test cricket for his country.

Samit Patel has also showed signs of becoming the player that we all want him to be. Patel is a destructive mid-lower order batsman, who plays well under pressure. He also bowls some handy overs, and England should feel comfortable in giving him a good run in the side.

There are obvious area’s where England need to improve, but it’s no time to panic. England have just had a summer that they could only have dreamed of having results wise, and they do have high class performers in their side. However, they must be aware that grassy fast wickets are not something that any grounds-man worldwide will be preparing for any team with three lions on their chest from now on.

The Scoop 26/10/2011

2 Comments to “Lessons to learn”

  1. Scott84
    October 27th, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    Nicely put Scoop. So do you think Cook will have a chance to lead with more authority in the future, or do you see his captaincy at one day level under threat? And from who?

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  2. Julie
    October 29th, 2011 @ 7:41 am

    Scoop- you know your stuff. KP is frustrating me in the one-dayers.

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