Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The West Indies Crunch Match - Preview

So the big decider is upon us. The biggest game of England's World Cup, until the next one (assuming we get another). I'm sure you all know the calculations by now. England must win, but hope that South Africa beat Bangladesh. (Technically England could tie, and go through on NRR if Bangladesh lose. Or beat West Indies heavily, hope India beat West Indies heavily, and sneak past the Islanders on NRR. But that's unlikely). But to even stand a chance, England must win.

I've spoken to death about how Swann should open, and Tredwell should come into England's team. Sadly, I've also spoken about England's cowardly selections, which makes big high risk changes unlikely. So for Swann to open, Tredwell to come in, or the selectors generally doing something out of the comfort zone would be a big surprise, so we're probably going to still see Prior opening and Collingwood at 7/8. Mainly because the selectors do not like admitting they are wrong, and changing it only three days after the Bangladeshi defeat would be an admittance that they got it badly wrong.

Which makes the rumours that Jimmy Anderson will be dropped surprising. Anderson has been in awful form, and had someone less senior than him been performing like he has, they would have been bombed out of the team long ago. However, Anderson is the supposed leader of the attack, and as such, has been an untouchable in the starting eleven. However, there have been calls for Tremlett to come in for Anderson, which as justified as they may be, England's cowardly selections thus far mean a big high risk decision like dropping Anderson would be a big shock - especially given there is no safety net from here on in. Luckily (or unluckily) Ajmal Shahzad has the squits, so a controversial and difficult for the selectors could be avoided, as Tremlett could replace Shahzad if Aj is unable to play.

As with the previous game, there have been calls for England to play three spinners, but for me this would be a wrong call. England have lacked a pace man in the middle overs, and while three spinners could strangle the West Indies, playing only Bresnan and Tremlett/Shahzad/Anderson for the opening overs and at the death would be a mistake, as we've seen how easily milked Yardy and Collingwood have been when pace has been taken off the ball in the middle overs. But I'd still like to see an attacking spinner in Tredwell play - especially if Swann opens (which allows England to bat properly down to seven, and play a proper five man attack).

It will be a crunch game for England, and they will massively up their game to beat a West Indies side who are on a good run of form. Don't forget - the WIndies do need to win themselves, or they suddenly have a very difficult game against India at the weekend. England, however, have been gloriously inconsistent, which makes it very difficult to predict how they'll do in any given game. I do hope they roll the dice and make some brave decisions, but as long as England win, I wouldn't care if Luke Wright opened the bowling and batting, and took over as captain.

Come on England!

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