Tuesday, October 25, 2011

England in a Spin Over Selection in India

Desperate Decisions or Time to Experiment?
4-0. Not quite Manchester United vs Manchester City (ouch!) but still a fair hammering for any side in any sport.
England have been out-played in every department for the duration of this One Day Series and even a shuffle of the pack for the forth One Day International in Mumbai couldn’t stop the rot for the tourists.
Scott Borthwick and Stuart Meaker, two young, promising bowlers who went to India optimistic, part of a young England squad that was building for the World Cup in 2015, came in for Graeme Swann and injured Jade Dernbach in Mumbai, a dead rubber, hardly the stage they were hoping to perform on.
England’s selectors have developed a reputation for being loyal to a fault to the players they put out to play each match, a policy that has reaped dividends in test cricket, but with a One Day side that didn’t look right from the first ODI in Hyderabad two weeks ago, changes should have been made earlier than the match after this series was already settled.
Of course that’s incredibly easy for me to say sitting on my comfy chair with my soft cushions, but England have played only one front line spinner in all four games on this tour of India, yes India, you know that country that notorious for slow, spinning wickets, and that’s just madness.
Swann and Borthwick should have bowled in tandem in Mumbai, if not earlier in the series which would have given England 20 overs of spin that would have taken the pace off the ball and made scoring harder to come by for India.
Instead, with three seamers trying their best to extract some life out of the dry, dead Indian wickets, the part time spin of Samit Patel and the medium pace dibby-dobbers of Ravi Bopara, the solitary spinners just haven’t had enough support to build pressure on India, and the home side cruised past England’s totals in each of the four innings played.
Clearly the batting has struggled to post enough runs too, and whilst there has been ridiculous criticism of Jonathan Trott, again on this tour, questions still remain above the heads of both Craig Kieswetter and Ravi Bopara.
Eoin Morgan has been missed and presumably he will come in for Bopara when he returns from injury, and it may be that Kieswetter drops out of the team, again, this time for Ian Bell to return?
I’m not sure if it’s mildly embarrassing or even insulting for Bell that he has not been given the chance to play in this tour, or perhaps the selectors know only too well what Bell can do and therefore don’t feel the need to test him out in India, but why take him if he wasn’t in the selectors thoughts?
But none of the batsmen have excelled in India, and that includes captain Alastair Cook. In fact, Cooks form is perhaps the most worrying of all the top 6. It hardly fills a team with confidence if their skipper is putting the side into bat (as Cook has done all tour) and then falling cheaply, as Cook has also done all too often.
Cooks appointment as captain was always a curious one given the fact he hadn’t played any One Day International cricket for several years before hand. In fact, he wasn’t even in the One Day squad for the World Cup earlier this year, also in India.
Cook is still new in the role, and deserves time to build his team now he had been appointed, but whether he was the best candidate for One Day captain, rather than simply the next in line for the test side, is another question.
Oddly, worryingly, sadly, England will return home from India with more questions about their One Day policy than they had when they headed out to the sub-continent just a few weeks ago.
The selectors have been loyal for a long time, but perhaps their decision to back the side when it wasn’t set up correctly to begin with was a mistake on this occasion? Sometimes no change is good, other times you need to cut your losses, be strong and make positive changes. That hasn’t happened in India.
It will be interesting to see what England’s One Day side looks like when they play Pakistan in the UAE early in 2012, but I expect some changes from the side that has lost so meekly in India.
Tom Huelin for DieHard Cricket Fans
Follow Tom on Twitter @tomhue1

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