27 February 2011

England improving...

England couldn't finish the job having got themselves into a winning position but England supporters can take heart from the main part of the batting display which was perfectly paced. As an Englishman I'm used to match-changing collapses and the arrogant way that the likes of Botham, Hussain and, to a lesser extent, Atherton, assumed England would walk it - with Bell and Strauss batting well going into the final 10 overs - grated.

Sure enough two wickets in two balls saw England's set batsmen depart and the game started to slip away from England. The powerplay worked against the in-coming batsmen (not that it exactly helped the set ones), with Prior in particular drilling the ball straight at fielders inside the circle, and England couldn't have made more of a mess of the part of the game that's meant to work to their advantage. That's where they can make huge strides forwards in their future games. Losing 4 wickets in the powerplay was disasterous, especially when India had to return to their less experienced bowlers once it was over as Khan and Harbajan were bowled out.

The powerplay out of the way and with nothing to lose, Swann and Bresnan belted sixes off the Chawla over that England surely must have been waiting for and expecting big things from. But just as England were getting themselves into a good position Bresnan got bowled leaving 14 required off the final over. England managed to get 15 off the Chawla over but only scored off 4 balls. Shahzad displayed his cool with a straight six in the final over (hopefully England can learn from that - a low risk maximum rather than a swish across the line), and in the end England will feel they could have won given 2 needed off 1 ball. But with 29 needed with 2 wickets in hand and 11 balls to go, they'd have taken a tie every time.

Where does this put England? In a far better position than they were going into the match. Their bowling and fielding still has a long way to go, and I'm sure a level-head like Flower will be able to point out the shot selection issues as the pressure came on in the powerplay and at the end. That's good news - they aren't even playing that well and yet they tied with the tournament favourites.

It would be great if Strauss could show a little more flexibility in the field and to get the best side on the pitch he and Flower need to work out if they have confidence in Collingwood as a bowler. If you're going to give him just 3 overs rather than allow him to take the heat off Anderson given his off day then it is questionable whether they should pick Collingwood at all. On batting alone, Bopara is the more fluent so Collingwood should only be playing if they consider him an all-rounder and Strauss will give him the ball on days like today when one of his bowlers has an off-day. Only Strauss can answer what's going on in his mind in the field, but his batting has been fantastic and long may he remain top run scorer in the competition.

So take heart England supporters - loads of room for improvement and still tieing with India - it could be worse.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Good point on the commentators, once wickets started falling, they all decided that the narrative for the day was England blowing an easy winning position, because that's a familiar story and they can all have a good moan. In reality, even if Bell and Strauss had not got out when they did, there was still a lot of work to be done - the required rate was more than a run a ball. They're right that England blew a good chance, but it was not the foregone conclusion they were painting it as, so I'm glad that someone else found it annoying too.