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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Performance of defending champs??


ICC please don't host another tournament in the subcontinent. Before any cricket fan from the subcontinent pounces on me like a tiger, let me clarify, I'm just imagining the plight of England's cricketers after all those catastrophic, or ruinous defeats in the subcontinent.

If cricketers from other teams have enthralled the paying public with a brand of cricket that can be described as venturesome, ballsy, defiant, and fearless, England have played like rabbit in front of headlights. The  backroom staff, who are paid handsomely for their services seem to treat something called money-ball as the holy bible. For a start, a bit of common sense and flexibility would help.

Actually, I don't know from where to start, as England's World t/20 campaign has been a disaster, but just thought of pointing out some mistakes which could have been avoided.

Muddled thinking.

From the start of the tournament, England didn't seem to know what was their best team. I can tell you that chopping and changing never works in any sport. Just pick a team and back them to the hilt.

The major decision was regarding out of form Kieswetter. I don't have a problem with either Kieswetter, or even Lumb opening the batting. I would like to remind critics that in 2010,  England won the world t/20 with Kiesy and Lumb at top of the order. Both at their best are naturally aggressive batsmen and can add value to a t/20 side.

The problem with that is, a batsman should look like scoring a few runs, but Kieswetter was out of form. The one option the management had was to push Kieswetter down the order and open the batting with Luke Wright and Hales for most of the games.

The management though seemed to have lost their marbles, as for the crucial game against Sri Lanka, Bopara was selected in place of Kiesy. Here was a batsman, who has looked mentally shot for the last few months. To play him in such a crucial game at the number four slot was suicidal. Bairstow was the wicketkeeper for the last game, but it is never a good idea to go in with a makeshift keeper in a do or die game.

With KP not available for selection, I might have looked at Trott. Fans have kept saying that Bell should have played, but I can safely say on Sri Lankan tracks, Bell would have struggled. Trott looked good in the World cup played in the subcontinent in 2011.

Yes, it was a 50 over tournament, but Trott with a technique of playing with his front-foot out of the line of the ball and hitting it through the covers showed that he has the game to play in the subcontinent.  It doesn't take rocket science to know that Trott would have been a better choice than Bopara.

Of course, I have always maintained that Owais Shah should have been selected for this World t/20. Anyone who has seen him having the chutzpah to smash those darts from Harby in the IPL, or play against the likes of Narine, Ashwin, Vettori, Murali and co. reasonably well would say the same. A cardiac patient watching him bat may need a defibrillator, but he is very effective against spin bowling. The problem is, England's management believe too much in the concept of 'team unity'.

The third seamer's issue.

In 2010, Bresnan did a wonderful job, but this year, he has looked innocuous. The other option England had was Dernbach. If  Dernbach is selected, he should have the full backing of the coach and the captain. Jade has got those variations to trouble batsmen and take wickets, but he will also go for runs.

After a few ordinary games though, Dernbach was dropped and that wouldn't have helped his confidence one bit. With Dernbach, either tell him, you will play all the matches and we have full confidence in your ability to bowl those variations, or drop him altogether.

In the last tournament, England also had a left arm medium pacer in Sidebottom and Yardy did his job as a left arm spinner. These days, with umpires ready to give the batsmen out lbw even on the front-foot, a SLA is like a gold dust.

 With Sidebottom also in the side, England had a bit of variety in the pace attack. If a left-armer gets it right, he can cut down the room for a batsman to play his shots. It will  take a bit of time for a batsman to adjust to the left-armer's angle.

People may point out that Samit Patel is a SLA and he bowled a few overs in the World t/20. The problem is, just being a SLA on a team-sheet doesn't produce you wickets. The other SLA, Danny Briggs showed promise, but he is still a greenhorn.

So were there any positives to take out of this  tournament?

I thought Finn was excellent in this World t/20. Yes, Finn is tall and can get bounce, but he is also a clever bowler. He mixed his lengths beautifully in the world t/20 and as a result, the batsmen weren't able to line him up and smash him all over the park. If I'm not mistaken, no one smashed him for a six in the entire tournament and that is a tremendous achievement.

To a lesser extent, Samit showed some promise in the crucial encounter against the Lankans.  It was refreshing to see a batsman playing shots against spinners through the covers and the extra cover region. Samit is a batting all-rounder and if he plays, should bat higher up the order. In the match against Sri Lanka, he finally got a chance to express himself as he came into bat at number four.

Views on Broad's captaincy.

Any tom, dick, or harry can see that Broad lacks tactical nous. Why would a captain constantly use a SLA against the left-hander? Winning the toss and batting second in a crucial game and that too with an inexperienced batting line-up on paper looked like an iffy decision.

In Broad's defence though, the decision to bat second may have been taken by Flower and to be fair to him, other than Mahela, all captains have been disappointing in the world t/20. All of them seem to be too scared to try something new.

To be very blunt, this is the worst I have seen England play in a World t/20 tournament. Statisticians may point out that in 2007, England only beat Zimbabwe, but I at least remember the team giving South Africa and the Kiwis a run for their money (The Kiwis had a good t/20 team in 2007). 

In-fact, the only time I felt good during this tournament was when through crictime link, I watched Mr Snarky (Mark Waugh) and Mr Ego (KP) in a studio analysing a cricket match. I have never laughed over a match analysis as much as I did that day!

Ah, ok, I haven't talked much about my favourite subject in recent times, Mr Kevin Pietersen. Today,  KP publicly apologised to all parties concerned  and after a reintegration process, may get another lifeline to play for England.

This second apology though, made me imagine a scenario where Morris and Flower are directing a film with KP as the main protagonist. The film's name is titled as how to apologise to your captain. During the 222nd take, KP says '' I apologise for sending those provocative texts''. Flower immediately says ''cut it'', as the apology wasn't sincere enough.

Finally, a lie detector would be used to see whether KP's apology was sincere or not. After all of them come to the conclusion that KP's apology was sincere enough, the reintegration process starts. Now, I have opened my old mathematics book to understand what is reintegration process. I just hope that I can find the answer. #justjoking

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