England try and pull off in fifth gear against India’s spinners

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2 minute read

How much is it that England’s batsmen can’t play spin very well and how much is it that they can’t chase big totals? It’s probably a bit of both. It’s probably that one is compounded by the other.

It’s fairly self-evident that bigger totals are harder to chase, but they should be PROPORTIONALLY more difficult. However, it just doesn’t seem to work like that with England. Instead, it’s as if every additional 10 runs adds another 20 runs of difficulty.

A total of 170 isn’t huge in Twenty20, but it’s big enough if you’re playing England. As soon as the run-rate climbs, they open The Cupboard Of Totally Inappropriate Shots and start cooking. No need for singles when you can simply glide a delivery straight to the slip fielder or cut the air just outside the ball shortly before it hits your stumps.

They do this against fast bowlers, but against spin bowlers they do it more regularly and once they’ve started, the phenomenon feeds itself. As the run rate climbs, the strokeplay becomes ever more unpredictable. It’s actually quite fascinating.

Batting first, shortcomings are hidden. Most England players only have three gears against spin, but with no official target they can stay within their limitations before taking on the quicks or the guy spearing in the part-time “off-spin”. Batting second, when there’s a required run-rate, they tend to feel that there’s a need to engage fourth or fifth gear.

Here’s some advice for England batsmen: If there’s a spinner bowling, never engage fourth or fifth gear. It will not work. If you try and change into fourth gear, the engine will explode and it’ll probably kill a child and a panda.

We said this batting line-up would need a hell of a lot of momentum. It already appears to have run out.


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  1. The only T20 I remember England playing was the one where Yuvraj Singh proposed to Stuart Broad and she accepted.

    They chased quite well in that match, actually. No one gave them credit for that.

  2. When pulling off, unless the batsman is particularly heavy, he won’t have much momentum. Perhaps England would be advised to search for players with more torque.

  3. I know where those extra runs come from, KC. England will never trust themselves to win a tight match, so they see 170 in 20 overs as 170 in 18.3 overs, and bat accordingly. The analysis seems to be that if you are not ahead of the run rate you are therefore LOSING, and that if you are not comfortably ahead of the run rate you are grave danger of LOSING. In fact, they only need 155 runs in that period, then an ability to bat under pressure for nine balls.

  4. I’ve never tried to pull off in fifth gear. What happens? I reckon it would seriously damage your undercarriage.

    Wink wink, nudge nudge, know what I mean, etc and so on.

  5. I was at the game last night. Could smell the fear in the air as soon as Herbyjan got his first wicket.

    Could also smell copious amounts of diesel fumes (power generators) & firecracker smoke.

    Love the smell of napalm & panic in the evenings!

  6. Have England ever done well at the Premadasa? It seems to bring out the very worst in them. Fair enough, it’s in an absolute dump part of Colombo, but that’s hardly an excuse. Quick bit of analysis finds they beat Zimbabwe there once. And they shellacked poor old Afghanistan there last week, of course. But mainly they get thumped when they play there – notably Sri Lanka last year and now India. Perhaps the hill country will be more to their liking and it will be dandy in Kandy. Though somehow I doubt it.

  7. Premadasa stadium is on marsh land, used to be atrocious 10 years ago after rains. Almost impossible for games to continue. The upgrades to the drainage has helped alot. Also the surrounds have improved… the air used to be ripe with the smell of urine & one would crap ones pants on the wall home at night cos of the dodgy dudes hanging around (lots of slums & organised crime back in the day).

    I reckon England should do well in Pallakele. Not alot of swing, but good bounce.
    The Asgiriya ground in Kandy was where they used to play matches till about 3-4 years ago. That place was awesome for swing.

    The old SSC pitch was also decent with true-ish bounce & carry.

    Another point is that the warmups were played on first class pitches, which have been made more fast bowler friendly in the last 18 months. I reckon England were lulled into a false sense of security after playing my Aus team & then Pakistan.

    A big problem for all games in the next 10 days is the monsoon.

    It usually smashes the island around the 1st of October. I think the rains in hambantota (SL v Saffas) was after a period of 8 months. Kandy had rain after 4-5 months #sensationaltiming

  8. Apologies for such a long post!

    I did sledge Bresnan & Briggs after they beat my powerhouse, George Bailey led team in the warmup game. They looked confused. Bressers made a comment that the match was over & me being late to the party.

    Hope that restores my credibility around here :p

    1. This site is a credibility-free zone, FT.

      You can neither have it, lack it, lose it nor restore it.

      That’s why I’m here ;-)))

    2. Just noticed it’s not food terrorist but food terroirist – ie like the french terroir thing they go on about in their wineage industry. Typo or are you waging war on those darned Gallic viniculturalists? More power to you if so (though spare the wine producers of the Loire as I’m partial to a bottle or two of their output).

  9. I am going to come across as a total douche, but since you asked sam.

    my origin is lankan, grew up in aus, where I used to be lovingly & derogatorily called a terrorist as a sledge on the field (this was waaaay before political correctness & global warriors against terror, taxis of evil & all that stuff. I considered it to be funny & witty)

    love my food, involved in specialty coffee & tea

    terrorist -> terroir -> i’m a militant supporter of good food :p

    1. …but I digress…

      Originally a Lankan, raised in Oz, likes his food and beverage…

      …are you Dimitri Mascaranas, FT??

  10. This is 20-20. In a couple of days time England may well chase down a big score against spin, then they will have exorcised their demons and be certainties to win the tournament, until the next game, when based on the evidence of half a dozen balls they will have shown they can’t pay military mediums. Or one of the two. Or neither. They might even roll “Yatzee” and go on to defend the non cup.

  11. ged: lol

    I grew up in the same state as Macarenas. Dude was a couple of years ahead of me & was a bit of a legend in west aus school boy cricket circles.

    I did play cricket in school & uni but not very well. Dimitri’s little finger has more talent than I ever had.

    p.s. that bartending game is gold! I’m not very good at it since I don’t progress far, I like to make the bartender spew up my concoctions

  12. England cricketers can’t play spinners easily infect they are not eligible to play any team’s spinner. In T20 world-cup they will not survive against Asian spinners.

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