Saturday, 26 March 2011

Where To Now for England?

So yet another World Cup has slipped away for England, and another World Cup where England have failed to reach expectations. After somehow squeaking through the groups, England folded meekly against a Sri Lankan side who were just better than them.

A World Cup is the end of a four year cycle in international cricket - a four year cycle where plans are set, players blooded and markers set. England, sadly, haven't performed anywhere near the high standards that are expected of them. However, with the end of the previous cycle, England go home from this World Cup knowing that a new cycle is beginning. So what of the 19 men who flew out to be part of England's squad this World Cup?

Andrew Strauss (captain)

Strauss as a batsman had a good start to the World Cup. The 141 against India was as good as any innings this World Cup, and nearly guided England to victory. However, since that big score, Strauss has been slightly found out as an opening batsman, as he struggles to play spin from the off. Facing spinners who were opening the bowling bogged Strauss down, and he struggled from there. As a captain, however, as sacreligious as it is to say, Strauss has been pretty poor. The games against Ireland and Bangladesh were lost by England rather than being won by the opposition, and Strauss's captaincy left an awful lot to be desired. After their last few World Cups, England's captains have stepped aside to allow others to take the team forward, and there is a growing school of thought that Strauss should be allowed to focus on his test captaincy (which to Strauss's credit, is amongst the best in the world). If England want a radical overhaul post World Cup, it would make sense for a 'flagship' change in ODI policy, and the end of Strauss's ODI career (again) may well be that headline announcement.

Kevin Pietersen

News of KP's ODI retirement broke before the World Cup, and while he did perform OK while he was there, the fact that he picked up another injury while doing so may help encourage Kev that ODI cricket is too much of an unnecessary hindrance to his career. While he did contest thoughts of his premature ODI retirement, he also didn't appear to put up much of a fight when he picked up his injury, when (allegedly) many of the team officials felt that he could have stayed on. He opened the innings in the games that he did play in, but it was a 'quick-fix' approach that wouldn't have lasted post World Cup. I'd doubt whether KP will ever open the innings for England again, and would doubt further if he'd ever play ODI cricket either.

Jonathan Trott

England's shining light this World Cup, and the main reason they got this far. Thoughts that he bats too slowly for ODIs are ridiculous - without his runs England simply wouldn't have been competitive in most of their games. A good ODI side need a steady accumulator at number 3, and Trott is just that. His place is more than safe going forwards.

Ian Bell

The man who should have been opening for England throughout the World Cup, Bell was finally given his chance at the top in the final game. Seemed to be war weary from being the only Englishman to have played in every single game of the winter marathon from October to March. But he is a classy player, and should be given a longer run at the top of the order post WC. A man with lots of international experience, and with a growing maturity, Bell could be a major candidate is the captaincy is vacated. And you know what, I'd support it.

Paul Collingwood

Collingwood looked finished as an international player during the Ashes, and hasn't dispelled those feelings. Colly simply has nothing left to give, which doesn't detract from his great career, but enough is enough. And if someone else is moved to the ODI captaincy, surely Colly would be replaced as T20 skipper, which would put the final nail in the coffin for Collingwood.

Ravi Bopara

Should have been a mainstay in the ODI side, but only took an injury to Morgan to get him into the squad. Performed well when there - England's best batting all-rounder who should become a first choice fixture from now on. Given the selectors apparent retiscence to picking him, whether he does or not is doubtful.

Matt Prior

Clearly isn't an international opener, seen repeatedly over the Australia series / World Cup, and shouldn't ever be used as such again. Pity that the final England game was the only game where he was used properly as the finisher that he is. Prior was average this World Cup, and will likely be replaced by Davies after the World Cup.

Tim Bresnan

Bres bowled well - especially against India - but isn't good enough to spearhead an international attack, as proved in the absence of Broad and Anderson. Still a useful prospect in ODI cricket, however, and will no doubt be a big part of the attack going forwards.

Graeme Swann

Swann at times looked like the world class spinner that he is, but let frustration get the better of him at others. Will obviously be a huge part of the team post World Cup.

Stuart Broad

Looked really good before getting injured at the worst possible time. Real shame that he had to go home, and will be back in the side when his injury clears up.

Jimmy Anderson

A weird one this. Anderson came into the World Cup on the crest of a wave with supreme confidence, but left it with his reputation in serious doubt. Touted as the leader of the attack and the man to win the World Cup for England (after winning us the Ashes) he underwhelmed spectacularly, and looked a shadow of himself. Looked jaded and in need of a rest, and maybe a break would be the best thing for him, before triumphantly returning in the summer as the good old Jimmy Anderson that we know and love.

Michael Yardy

Sadly left the World Cup early for reasons which may see him never pull on an England shirt again, but without wanting to appear as heartless as Geoffrey Boycott, he may not have ever done so again anyway. He didn't bowl well enough for an international bowler, and didn't bat well enough to even bat at number seven. England have better options regardless of Yardy's mental state, and depression or not, I'd be surprised to see Yardy play for England again.

Ajmal Shahzad

Overawed against India, awesome against Bangladesh, and really unlucky to pick up an injury just as he'd earned his spot in the starting eleven. Whether he makes a first choice eleven post World Cup remains to be seen, but will no doubt play many more times for England.

James Tredwell

Did well against West Indies, and looked threatening-ish against Sri Lanka, but Tredwell isn't the second (or third) best spinner in England. There are better options available, and given the selectors use of him only as the complete last resort, I'd again be surprised if he were to play internationally again.

Luke Wright

Luke Wright is Luke Wright. Dropping him is the most obvious thing in the world, but he is Luke Wright, which probably means he'll take over as captain.

Eoin Morgan

England were too hasty to deselect him, and he has proved that he should be playing every ODI game for England. No worries there.

Chris Tremlett

Drafted into the World Cup squad on the back of good performances in the Ashes, but his overall One Day record suggests that he's not really good enough in the colours for England. His indifferent two games, where wickets were rather scare (to be non-existent) suggests that ODIs aren't his game. England have other, better options, and will use them ahead of Trem going forward.

Jade Dernbach

Came in when Shahzad went home, and didn't play. However, his selection over the likes of Woakes and Finn suggest he is very firmly on the radar for future honours.

Adil Rashid

Only after the Yardy withdrawal did the bandwagon eventually get what they wanted. Still obviously something stopping him playing (perhaps an attitude problem) but can be a big part of England's team, as he is good enough to bowl as the second spinner behind Swann and bat at number seven - something Yardy and Tredwell failed to do. Should play more regularly, but will need to prove that he is ready before the sharks start circling once more.

So where can England go from here. Incidentally, the team that knocked us out are out next opponents, as we face Sri Lanka in a series in the summer. We may have a new captain, exciting new bowlers or dashing new batsmen. We may have more of the same. But at the moment, the best place for England to go now... is home. This team have been on the road since October, with no rest. They're clearly pining for home, and it must have had some effect of the performances. England do have the basis of a good ODI side, and given a good break and a few tweaks, they can become one of the best in the world. That's almost what makes this World Cup performance more disappointing - the fact that we do have good players. We should have done better. But only when the preparation (by which I mean a settled side who know what their roles are months in advance as well as coming into a World Cup refreshed) is right can England really make a mark in a World Cup. We've now got 4 years to get it right for next time.

1 comment:

  1. Jimmy Anderson's record of ODI bowling in the sub-continent has always been ordinary. It's the sort of place that breaks his heart. Why Eng fans thought he would be champing at the bit to bowl there is anyone's guess.