Sunday, 3 July 2011

A Ship With Two Anchors

Let's make this clear. Jonathan Trott is a very good batsman. You don't get to score the sheer weight of runs he has in both test and ODI cricket without being a master of your craft. For all of his run scoring brilliance, you'd be feeling very generous to describe Trott as a 'flair' player. Not for him the switch-hits of Pietersen, reverse-flicks of Morgan or even sumptuous cover drives of Bell. Instead comes the push off the legs for a single, or the ever dependable block. This means Trott will score runs; lots of them - but he's not going to motor along at 6 an over.

To be a good ODI team, you need an accumulator. Someone who will keep his end all the way along which gives more security for the carnage at the other end. We saw in the second ODI that the wickets in hand were key as Sri Lanka were able to accelerate in the batting powerplay and end up getting 40 more runs than they would have had wickets fallen regularly. Master anchors like Trott (note I said "anchor", not something else), like Jayawardene the other day don't have to score at a run a ball, but given time, they will convert starts into big scores without throwing it away.

Trott got a lot of unfair stick during the World Cup for playing that anchor role. It's a fairly crucial position in the team, and someone has to fulfill it, especially when wickets are tumbling down the other end. Trott stood up, and was arguably England's man of the tournament (although don't tell Bob Willis). However, since the World Cup, things have changed.

Alastair Cook, so often Trott's test partner-in-crime, has been implanted into the team and named captain. The pair's stoic partnerships over the past 8 months in test cricket is a mastery of solidly accumulating without taking risks. The two are a big part of England's recent test success, as they grind teams down before the carnage of Pietersen, Bell, Morgan and Prior come later on. But the tactic of dobbing along at two an over without playing any shots in ODI cricket just won't work.

With Cook opening and Trott coming in at three, it only takes Kieswetter to fall first for the two to be united. And if the pair play their natural games, it doesn't take long for the runs to dry up and England be immediately behind the 8-ball. Which is an unsustainable plan. The other option is for one of them to be the aggressor, which as Trott proved when caught playing a rather ungainly lofted drive, they just don't have the game to do.

As I said earlier - I like Jonathan Trott. I supported his place in the team through the World Cup, but now things are different. Alastair Cook has come in as captain and moved the goalposts, and as harsh as England's selectors can be even they wouldn't ditch their new captain after only three games. And this batting line-up just can't accomodate the both of them. So sadly, as much as it pains me, I'd move Eoin Morgan to three (a player who can move effortlessly through the gears and is as good as 200/1 after 15 as he is at 0/4 after 0.4) and ship Trott out. England need to act fast before they get left ever further behind.

1 comment:

  1. I think it's Bell that needs to go. Bell has flattered to deceive for too long in ODI's. If he has other gears, he hardly ever uses them.