An end to the pain

So, we got thrashed by South Africa. Well and truly buried. Our capacity for mediocrity matched by an avalanche of aggression by the Proteas. Well done them. I’d like every England player to be forced to watch their approach to batting in particular. Ours was pitiful, there’s quite exhilarating. So how did the England tactical conversation go?

Fletcher: Remember lads, prod around lamely for a good ten overs. See off the new ball and score off the bad balls.
Bell: But boss, what if there aren’t any bad balls?
Fletcher: Piffle. Haven’t you seen Saj Mahmood? There are always bad balls. Often several an over. Trust me on this one. Play yourself in.
Vaughan: But i’ve got no form whatever. What if I get a bad ball and get out after scratching about for ages?
Fletcher: That’s a given, Mike. That’s why we’ve got KP. he’ll take up the slack when you are dismissed tamely.
KP: But what if I get out cheaply, because the run rate is so abysmal that I have to try and force things?
Fletcher: And what chance is there of that? I’ve got a laptop here, y’know. It does stat and everything. Haven’t you seen your average?
Freddie: Can’t I go in at 1 or 2, boss? I hate going in at six, it’s killing my game.
Fletcher: Poppycock. You’re the man to blast us out of trouble when everyone but KP has been dismissed for less than 20. It’s always been the way and it always will be. Your last twenty innings hardly indicate a trend do they? I’ve got a laptop here, y’know. It does stats and everything. You’ll come good when it matters. That’s the way it happens. Now is there anything anyone doesn’t understand?
Saj: Why do I have no idea where the ball is going when I bowl?
Fletcher: Because you aren’t all that good when the pressure’s on. But hey, if you don’t know, neither will the South Africans. And they’ll get out to your worst slow, wide deliveries. I’ve got a laptop here, y’know…

How many times do you try a tactic that blatantly fails before you admit such? There has been severely stubborn Ostrich-like behaviour here and it has really cost us. Because actually, England look a pretty talented side, with one or two exceptions (and I’m talking about Vaughan, who hasn’t ever performed at ODI level, and Mahmood who has too little control to be effective when playing the top nations). GOing forward, every England batsman needs to target a personal run rate of at least 3 in the first 20 overs (and that means we are aiming to go at 6 an over) and then up it every ten overs. Then we are targetting big scores. And if we lose a couple of wickets, only then do we dig in. Digging in as the inninge opens does one thing really well; it lets the oppo bowleers settle. And this is something we absolutely cannot afford.

Sack Fletcher? Not necessarily. He’s a great test match coach. But something is seriously wrong with our one day prep and tactics. It cannot be that hard to work it out.

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• April 18th, 2007 • Posted in Cricket • Comments: 0