Parties, par, pace and predictability

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In a run-chase, pressure doesn’t just come from the bowling you face. It comes from the relationship between the bowling you face and the runs you need. We haven’t yet seen England’s defence of 310, but our initial feeling is that Eoin Morgan’s belief that the bowlers were at fault for the loss to Sri Lanka is simplistic.

We saw England bat. We saw a classic one-day finish preceded by a stumblesome plateau. 28 runs were scored in 10 overs and while you do get these lulls even in these modern high-scoring days, it seemed unjustifiably quiet. Nothing happened against Angelo Mathews and Tillakaratne Dilshan for whom bowling is a secondary skill.

If Morgan himself came to the party, he arrived with an apology. He wasn’t drinking because he had work in the morning and he was really sorry but he’d also have to leave quite early. He stood in the corner for an hour, spoke to no-one and then left with 27 runs off 47 balls. It was so pointless you wonder whether England would have been any worse off if Chris Woakes had come in at five. At least Morgan could have a go at the slogging for which he is renowned if he batted at eight.

Root, Taylor and particularly Buttler engineered a strong finish and then it was over to the bowlers, but it didn’t seem to be a day for the 85mph right-arm seam bowling basket. Moeen Ali took the only wicket and was also the most economical bowler.

Referring to his attack, Morgan said: “When we are firing we are predictably good.” We felt sure he was about to follow this up with ‘but when we aren’t we are predictably bad’. He could also have gone for ‘predictable and bad’ but he opted for neither. Instead he bemoaned ‘one bad ball every couple of overs’.

Maybe he’s right – it certainly sounds like England could have fielded better – but maybe England should have made 20 or 30 runs more. Maybe that would have allowed more bad balls. Maybe that would have helped the required run-rate rise.

Or maybe it’s all an irrelevance. Maybe England could have got absolutely everything exactly right throughout this World Cup – captain, batting line-up, bowlers, ‘execution’ – and still not won it.


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  1. Maybe we just aren’t very good at one day cricket? We seem to play it less then most other nations (that may be statistically wrong) and our players don’t play much of it for their counties. Our focus is always on the test team. And one dayers are used to check players out before promoting them. We could have scored more runs but it was still a good score, based on history at that ground. The bowling has been a problem for a while. And I doubt that jordan is the answer and treadwell got a battering in the one dayers in Australia after the last ashes.

  2. It’s all part of the plan to make sure England meet India in the semis, who they did just beat both times in the warm up tri-series.

    1. Looks more likely that England will meet India in Quartets. I get the feeling that the venue will decide the winner of that match-up

    2. Any England QF, assuming they make it that far, is guaranteed to be in Melbourne.

  3. ‘Root, Taylor and particularly Buttler engineered a strong finish’

    There has been a lot of comment singling out Buttler for praise which strikes me as a little backward. Root hit more than three times as many runs, including 36 off 18 balls at the end of his innings.

    1. Root’s was a more obviously influential knock – two innings in one really. Buttler made the most of the few balls he faced. We weren’t really intending to compare them in any way.

    1. But surely you’ll agree that it’s already too late for them to get ‘absolutely everything exactly right’?

  4. I just ate a plate of Bhelpuri, and followed that up with some delicious Ras-Malai. You really cannot care about how well teams do in the World Cup if you’ve had a truly good Ras Malai. This is true.

  5. The England management should simply accept that they are useless at cricket itself and focus on indirect ways to help win us the World Cup. Perhaps then we’ll get somewhere.

    For example, they could drive around all the opposing camps with loud hailers saying, “mmmm, what delicious Ras Malai…no no no, the basundi is even better…excuse me, but this is the best galub jamun I have ever tasted etc. etc.”…

    …in other words, encouraging all the other teams towards dietary excess, while ensuring that our fine English boys stick to the tried and trusted England Cricket Cookbook:

    Job done. The cup is virtually in our deserving English hands already.

    1. Yes. I once watched a Win At Golf video, the premise of which can be summed up in one sentence. You don’t win a golf match by improving your score; you win by worsening your opponent’s score. This was then followed up with a series of detailed tutorials on distracting your opponent, breaking his confidence, making him feel unwell through minor poisoning, altering his lie if you found his ball before he did, hiding some of his clubs, and of course, writing down the wrong number on the scorecard. And this was not some sort of joke, it was the genuine tactic of noted golf guru Lesley Nielson.

  6. Whilst I normally admire stubborn pigheadedness, it really is baffling for England to perservere with Ballance at three and Tredwell outside the XI. Ots like the entire buildup to the tpurnament was an elaborate feint to misdirect our opponents. The last thing they’ll expect is for us to drop our most in form batsman down the order, bring in a guy who hasn’t played any part in the warmup and drop our best bowler.

  7. KP is back! Well, if not actually back, at least vaguely sort of turning round a bit. According to the man who kicked out the fat one, Sir Lord Colin Graves the Almighty, if Pietersen plays some county cricket and scores some runs, he can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be picked for England.

    This would be good for several reasons:

    1. He’s a great batsman who would certainly strengthen the team.

    2. It would piss off that stuck up arsehole Giles Clarke.

    3. It would piss off that stuck up arsehole James Whitaker.

    4. It would piss off that stuck up arsehole Paul Downton.

    5. In needing a county to play for, he would undoubtedly choose Lancashire, as he hasn’t actually pissed anyone off there yet (except Peter Moores, who is busy proving exactly how good he is as an international coach). So we would win the County Championship without having to play in Liverpool.

    I am already extremely prematurely imagining someone interviewing Paul “the most mediocre one in the team where mediocre was a tactic” Downton after KP has scored a comeback century, asking him to rank both himself and KP as test match batsmen. His real middle name is Rupert, you know, which possibly sums him up better than my effort. Test average 19, just to complete the picture.

    1. Test average 19, number of tests THIRTY, just to complete the picture of English wicketkeepery in the 80s.

    2. Judging by the first couple sentences of his cricinfo profile he writes under the nom-de-plume Martin Williamson.

    3. It’s a shame that ECB Managing Directors can’t suffer freak injuries that cause them to have to retire.

      Can you come from Skipton and be stuck up? Asking for Glen Chapple.

      If Whitaker ever gets fed up of being a crap chairman of selectors (or something ludicrously unlikely happens like he gets fired) he can always go back and play for Leicestershire again. Pretty sure he’d at least be better at that than any of the current shower.

    4. Four posts down and nobody’s made an ankylosing spondylitis comment? Our standards are slipping.

  8. Morgan hasn’t twigged to run inflation. 300 is 240 in drag. Might be good enough but good teams will run it down. Helps if your bowlers aren’t kak of course but batting first on a good pitch your ambition has to be 350.

    1. “Let us reply to ambition that it is she herself that gives a taste for first-round tournament exits.”

    1. Actually, that’s just a random funny guy and I don’t want to offend our Australian KC fans.

  9. I read with interest the ECB’s new doctrine that “only players who are playing consistent high-quality county cricket and who are seen as a positive influence will be selected for England

    Does this mean that anyone playing in Division 2 will be automatically dropped? Buttler and Anderson might get to play a lot for Lancs this year then (or get sent out on loan)? Or is it possible that the ECB are – god forbid – making up the rules as they go along?

  10. What annoys me about the Finn scenario is the lazy attribution to him kicking over the stumps being the first issue. It was never an issue when he was on song, in UAE in 2012 he was kicking them down but bowling gas, in fact at the time pundits attributed the kicking down the stumps a good thing as he was getting in very close, bowling straighter. It is just simply how he’s been handled in the remodelling of the action.

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