2 February 2011

England shaping up poorly for the World Cup

Before The Ashes some people were worried that England's preparation was too smooth and of course they went on to dominate the series. Quite the opposite has happened in the run up to the World Cup. The side that is playing these matches has only one or two of the likely bowlers for the World Cup. Both sides are playing on wickets where even slower ball bouncers are in danger of being given as wides for getting too high, where as the wickets for the World Cup will be slow and almost certainly low. So the only advantage to be taken is one of positive morale and England have lost the huge positivity that came from The Ashes win...imagine if they'd had a good break before the two World Cup warm up matches and gone there with fresh players, many of whom were recent Ashes winners and/or World Twenty20 winners?

Instead, England will go to the World Cup jaded and low on confidence after a drubbing from Australia. So are there any positives to come from the incredibly drawn out series of ODIs in Australia? Possibly two.

First, Jonathan Trott is batting sensationally and has proven that he can bowl three or four overs without being a liability. But that's only possibly a positive because it remains to be seen if the confidence he will have going into the World Cup will translate into runs given that the wickets will be almost exact opposites of the Australian wickets he's been successful on.

And second, England may have realised they can play Collingwood as a bowler batting at seven who can be relied upon to bowl his 10 overs just as much as any of the other bowlers. He was England's most economical bowler in the 4th and 5th ODIs and, although that stat doesn't always hold up these days with some bowlers bowling nearly all their overs in powerplays and others not bowling any powerplay overs, he's certainly bowled well. As long as England play on grounds with normal size boundaries, England should have confidence in Collingwood as a bowler, knowing they can get a few overs out of Trott and Pietersen if necessary (and understanding that those guys are just as likely to be needed to fill in for one of the "bowlers" as Collingwood).

Do those possible positives outweigh the negatives? Not at all. If England really had to play 7 ODIs (not to mention two Twenty20s) then they needed to play them over a far shorter period of time and get home for a rest before heading to the World Cup. Winning or losing, 3 days was never a sensible amount of time to return to the UK for.

And what of Australia? They have the positive morale from winning of course, but they also have a couple of other positives - Hastings has found his feet and Michael Clarke has come good. But they also have the problem that form on Aussie wickets may not translate to form on slow sub-continent wickets, and one of their key bowlers - Nathan Hauritz - is now a major injury worry. So there will be positive noises of course, but Australia could have also benefited from a shorter or non-existent ODI series.

I wonder if there are odds on England playing a seven match ODI series the next time they visit Australia?


Pete V said...

"First, Jonathan Trott is betting sensationally....." Ed, do you know something we don't?
It could explain some of our performances recently.

Ed said...

I've corrected that now Pete!