Sunday, 6 February 2011

England's Muddled Thinking

OK, so this hasn't been a vintage ODI series for England. That's probably safe to say. There have been injuries - tons of them, which has no doubt disrupted the well laid out plans for success both in this series and in the World Cup. But, despite this, England's selectorial committee have made some pretty odd u-turns during the course of this series, which leaves their 15 man World Cup squad which was only picked a few weeks ago looking a little confused.

Let's start with Matt Prior. England discarded him as wicket keeper first for Craig Kieswetter, then Steve Davies. Fine. They evidently thought that Davies was the man for the job, both as a wicket-keeper and as an opener. However, after the first ODI, Prior was named in the World Cup squad ahead of Davies, and we were all told that Prior was going to be wicket-keeper and opener. Never mind the apparent change of heart from Andy Flower et al; Prior was now selected so Prior would play. We could all see the reasoning behind the decision, and accepted it. Now fast forward a few weeks to Perth. Prior, the man selected for the World Cup as the wicket-keeper and opener, is relegated to fielding at fine leg and batting down at six, to accommodate Davies, who is recalled due to the many injuries England have had. Now I have no problem in Davies coming into the side in the light of injuries to Collingwood, Morgan or anyone else. But giving him the gloves, and telling him to open is basically the selectors saying "we think you are a better opener and wicket-keeper than Prior". So if the selectors quite openly think this, why is Prior in the World Cup squad?

The balance of England's side throughout the series has changed more regularly than the amount of players needing to fly home, but due to the injuries, this is forgiven. But assuming England have all 15 of their World Cup party fit for the first game, they don't actually know who will play. Will Yardy bat at 7? Will Collingwood? Will they go with 4 bowlers and an all-rounder, or 5 out and out bowlers? Will they go with two spinners, one spinner, or no spinners? Four pacemen, three, two or no pacemen? (For my money, going in with no spinners and no quicks would be a recipe for disaster). Will Prior open? Will Prior keep? Don't even worry about the injuries and the possible replacements - England don't really know what their best eleven (or the formula for their best eleven) should be. Which is worrying. And if they continue to show the muddled thinking which can only undermine Matt Prior's confidence (although if any of the England players don't seem to have a problem with confidence, it would be Prior) England's World Cup could be just as disastrous as the debacle of an ODI series which precedes it.

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