England lost to Australia in the World Cup of cricket (or, given how the indigents pronounce it, Ustraya) which in itself is hardly a surprise. What is most disappointing is that the manner of the defeat is depressingly familiar. England’s batting tactics appear to be ismply these: ‘Don’t worry about it, lads, KP, maybe Bell and certainly Collingwood will bail us out when we’re two down for almost nothing.’ And that kind of happened. KP got a fine century. Bell got 77. Trouble is, only three players got into double figures. Flintoff never looks like he wants to bat these days and every time one of our players decides to ‘cut loose’ they inevitably pick the wrong ball to do so. So, we got thirty runs too few.
Then in come the Aussies to bat. And they are very, very good at it. And we had them in some big trouble. That’s because england are pretty good in the field. But we have a huge weakness at the moment and it is most demonstrated by Sajid Mahmood. This is the inability to bowl at, or just outside, off stump for six balls an over. The art of winning one day matches is to strangle runs so much that batsmen are forced into risky shots and get themselves out. Take a look at England’s innings to see how this is brought about. We, Flintoff aside in terms of pace, are flatly unable to do this.
I am sick of hearing how Mahmood is a great talent but you get the odd bad ball every over. I’m sorry but at this level, that simply isn’t good enough. Ustraya took him to the cleaners and we lost the game because of it. I know he’s quick and that’s terribly nice but until he can bowl in the right spot at this great speed, he needs to slow down. I don’t think even he has any idea where the ball is going half the time. Just be accurate. No room = no runs. Simple equation. He and Vaughan/Joyce/Strauss are weakening us fatally at the moment. Too many weak links. Too many repeats of the same problems
My advice; drop Mahmood and bring in Plunkett (who is handy with the bat too). Stick Freddie at the top of the order (like Botham said) and let him flay away. If he’s out for three, it’s no worse than his efforts at number 6, is it? Drop Vaughan down the order to 4. Keep Bell opening. Just try it out. What do we really have to lose?
Amazingly, we can still qualify for the semis because the fabulous Bangladesh side beat the arrogant South Africans (who do not look like winners to me). And we may do so. But unless we do the simple things right, there’ll be no point, will there?