England’s defeat to New Zealand in their latest 20/20 World Cup game means almost certain elimination from the tournament. Three defeats out of four is a poor return for a team that looked very well balanced on paper. But there’s the rub. Packed with 20/20 specialists, England have misfired badly. New caps have not shone as hoped and old heads have made daft mistakes at crucial times. Against South Africa and again today against NZ, England forged a very strong position with good new ball bowling only to leak buckets of runs in the final ten overs to turn easy targets into challenging ones.
Still, neither total we faced was huge. But what we haven’t learned is that the loss of a couple of wickets means little. NZ went from 34-4 to 163-8 with a little patience linked to well-picked big six hitting. By contrast, having gone serenely to 60 odd without loss, England lost their heads yet again, losing wickets to stupid shots (KP… trying to reverse sweep perhaps THE cleverest spin bowler in world cricket and getting bowled through his legs) and comical run outs.
So what lessons can be learned from this poor display? Well, that Atherton was right (sorry, Athers). Domestic 20/20 specialists do not necessarily make good on the international stage. Luke Wright is a great talent but young and naive. Chris Schofield looked lost as soon as the pressure was on his bowling. Maddy scored runs today but has had a very average tournament besides. So. Pick your best batters and bowlers and ask them to do what they do best in every form of the game. Don’t get cute with your shots. Straight hitting brings runs. Funky pick ups over fine leg and reverse sweeps only work half the time. Don’t play across the line of straight deliveries. When you’ve been hit for six, perhaps don’t bowl the same ball in the same spot. Oh… just like normal cricket then.