Outclassed, clueless, rabbit in the headlights, out-thought. Hi, don't worry, I'm not trying to write a blog made up of different words, but these are some of the words that can be used to describe the way England's batsmen have played against spin in the last 10 months.
Every spinner worth his salt, or even a bowler who, seems to be good enough to compete with the dart champion Phil Taylor rather than bowl off-spin, have made merry against England. It feels like some of the batsmen are trying to answer a Maths question paper written in Chinese language.
We all know that just like in any other field, even a cricketer would do mistakes, but to repeat those mistakes again and again is unfathomable. In-fact, if they continue to repeat the same mistakes, England's coaches should look at some monetary fine :)
I don't know where should I start because yesterday on a track that helped the spinners just a bit, the batsmen seemed to look for cobras in the pitch. When England's batsmen played, it seemed like a friendly slog-fest played in a park. To be frank, you don't need an apocalyptic prophet to predict that up against even a decent spinner, England's batsmen are clueless
Let us look at some of basic mistakes that England's batsmen have kept repeating for a while.
Plonking the front-foot right into the line of the ball - Even without DRS in place for this t/20 tournament, umpires these days are more inclined to give a batsman out lbw. All batsmen have been guilty of repeating this mistake of just plonking the front-foot right into the line of the ball and getting out lbw. For instance, recently Bell did it in a one-day match in England and got out to Robin Peterson. Kies too did it in a t/20 match against the Rainbow nation.
Just look at some of the Asian batsmen as they get their front-foot out of the line of the ball and look to play through the covers. Yes, batsmen have to play against the spin, but especially these days, it is a safer option than just plonking the front-foot right into the line of the ball. This technique of trying to play down the line can also lead to a player playing around the pad and down the wrong line. Reaching too far in front of the pad is another possibility.
The South African born batsman KP :) was guilty of repeating this mistake again and again in the test series in UAE. KP though, was clever enough to identify that, as in the onedayers and in the t/20's against Pakistan, he started to play more through the covers by playing beside the line of the ball and succeeded. Pietersen himself has a modest record in the subcontinent, but he showed that with hardwork, you can score runs in Asia.
Blind sweeps, cross batted hacks, wafts - When a batsman plays so many cross batted shots you know he doesn't have a plan in his mind and has pressed the panic button. The blind sweep that Bairstow tried yesterday to a wrong un from Chawla can't be described in mere words. It seemed like before Chawla even bowled that wrong un , JB's brain had been programmed to play a cross batted slog sweep. Next time he tries that shot, he should be sent back to school. Kies wasn't much better as he tried a waft, slog, or whatever you want to call that shot as.
Playing back to Harbajan - Yesterday, Harby's plan was simple and straightforward. He would look to fire it in at over 60mph and the odd delivery would be tossed up. When a bowler fires it in, he would dream of a batsman playing back and looking to cut.
Interestingly, England's batsmen decided to play the cut shot against Harby. The so called good player of spin Morgan, was guilty of trying this cut shot. Buttler left all his three stumps and asked Harby to fire it in on the stumps and Harby duly obliged.
Here, let us have a look at how the man who relies on chewing gum power Owais Shah, treated the darts from Harby at Mumbai in the IPL. He fearlessly used his feet and smashed the predictable Harby all over the park. He was also able to manoeuvre his bowling into the gaps and that is on expected lines, as he has got those Asian wrists. I understand, if a batsman is unsure about using his feet to say Ajmal, but not when a batsman is up against a bowler who is predictable.
Escape shot - The batsmen can learn a lot from Shane Watson. He isn't that good against spin either, but he has a method while playing spin. His escape shot has always been down the ground for a single. These days, modern day captains don't bring the long-on, or long-off up. As a result, Twatto has worked out that he just needs to rotate the strike by placing it down the ground. People think, Watson's game is all about power, but he is better than that.
Shane Watson can also manoeuvre the spinners into gaps on the on-side a lot better than some of the batsmen we saw yesterday. Even in UAE in the onedayers, Cook and KP were able to place it into the gaps and rotate the strike well. KP did that in the t/20s too.
The problem for England's batsmen playing in the World t/20 is, unlike KP, or Twatto, none of them are quick on their feet. All the batsmen either just plonk their front-foot forward, or stay back. The escape shot has always been trying slog sweeps and cross batted hacks. For each and every delivery that a batsman faces from a spinner, he needs to be quick on his feet so that he can either go back, or forward depending on the length.
Fans talk about why Gooch and Flower haven't helped the batsmen to improve. Last time I saw, the coach can't score runs, take wickets, or catches. He can only guide a player. Let us say, a teacher can ask a kid to repeat the word 'A' but if the kid tells 'B' everytime, the teacher can't help.
The tone of this article may have been a little bit harsh, but I can't help, as England's batsmen have kept playing those blind sweeps, cross batted wafts, slogs, hacks, shots played half cock and off balance for long now.
Anyway, yesterday team unity didn't score runs, take wickets, or take catches. Me thinks, it is better to coin some new word to keep that South African born English cricketer out of the team.