The finishers are dropping lower (and so are England)

Time was, your ‘finisher’ batted at six in one-dayers. Then it was seven. Today, Australia had a man who now averages 53 in 50-over internationals batting at nine. It worked out okay for them.

The last wicket partnership

At 244-9, Australia were some way from victory, but James Faulkner engineered a win by hitting 69 off 47 balls. For four balls of the over, he blocked or hit sixes and then he looked for a single off one of the next two. He found that single four overs in a row, allowing him to monopolise the strike such that his batting partner, Clint McKay, faced just nine balls out of 33 – even though he was blocking everything.

Credit where it’s due or was it England’s fault?

Well, it was a bit of a masterclass from Faulkner in how to chase down a steep total accompanied by the tail, but it was also a bit of a noviceclass in how to prevent someone from doing that.

The singles were arguably more damning than the sixes, but after Ben Stokes had been lifted over the ropes three times in two overs, it also seemed odd to keep him on for the penultimate over. He promptly went for two more. There’s much to be said for backing your players and giving them a chance to fight back, but in hindsight this was wrong.

It was also wrong that Ravi Bopara only bowled five overs. Whatever you might presume about how Faulkner might have waded into his medium-pace, the evidence disagreed. Ravi only conceded 19 runs and Faulkner scored just seven off the 10 Ravi deliveries he faced.

Death bowling

England are deeply mistrustful of dibbly-dobbly medium-pace, but dibbly-dobbly often works. What rarely works at the death is the most generic form of fast-medium, as purveyed by Stokes and Bresnan. This is what professional cricketers spend most of their life facing. The timing’s ingrained.

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18 Appeals

  1. There was hardly any yorkers bowled in the final six overs. Though, one can understand the risk in bowling yorkers – it might become a half-volley or full-toss, but with Faulkner going the way he did, England should have taken that chance. What’s there to lose?

  2. I’ve always thought Ravi’s bowling was the natural successor to Colly’s, useful in a pinch.

  3. Dreadful captaincy.

    If Cook didn’t trust Jordan to bowl one of the utter death overs, he should have bowled him at the 8 or 9 down stage to finish off the match. No killer instinct.

    And that poor decision has probably now dented the confidence of both Stokes and Jordan.

    Snatching defeat from the very jaws of victory. What a shower.

    • King Cricket

      January 17, 2014 at 2:09 pm

      It strikes us that Stokes and Bresnan were earmarked for the closing overs, no matter what.

  4. Bring back Kabir Ali!

  5. It’s easy to make the Ravi claim in hindsight, but no captain would’ve gone for dibbly-dobbly medium pace in the last couple of overs of a tense game. Cook shouldn’t be the criticisee (that’s a word, yes?) here, but the fast-medium bowlers who couldn’t contain Faulkner.

    Or you could just shrug the whole thing off as an aberration.

    • King Cricket

      January 17, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      The point was that Ravi should have bowled more. Again, that’s hindsight, but it’s also true. Also, there was actually a reasonable case for bowling him in the closing overs. It wasn’t likely, but the fact that it could NEVER HAPPEN is damning in our eyes.

    • hmm, not sure. I’d think it’s a simple risk/reward analysis. I know I wouldn’t bowl someone like Ravi in the last overs if I were captain. But there have been instances where something like this happened with India. Tendulkar’s last over in the Hero cup:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWhXZbUAggg

      and Joginder Sharma’s last over in the 20-20 final a few years ago.

    • King Cricket

      January 17, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      Well maybe he should have bowled sooner then. Ravi bowled overs 32, 38, 40, 42 and 44, went for 19 runs and took a wicket with his final delivery.

      It seems an odd place to draw a line under things, no matter what the style of bowling.

    • Lots of ‘in hndsight’ remarks here but wasn’t it obvious at the time? Looked clear to me that Englands bowling order and style seemed to have be wrtten on a piece of holy paper a few days ago.

      For years this ‘stick to our pre determined tactic through thick and thin’ mantra has been pouring out of the England camp but in ODI (and to a much greater extent T20) cricket a fluidity of tactical nounce has become the difference. Just look at the mountain of praise heaped on Microsoft Doni for the way his ‘on-the-fly’ captaincy works wonders.

      I knew things were bad whilst watching that shower when parts of my head were wishing Dernbach and his ‘natural variations’ would have been handy. Don’t laugh, if he doesn’t know where the ball is going how on earth can the fella facing it work it out!

  6. I’ve not seen any of today’s match, but it strikes me we just don’t have the bowlers for that situation. Our best bowlers are still Anderson and Broad, and they’re not playing. This shows up just how inexperienced and/or mediocre the rest of the pack are.

    Also, whither Tricky Tredders?

  7. My first reaction to seeing the scorecard was captains fault. Its a little disconcerting that cook doesn’t seem to be able or willing to make decisions on the pitch. I’ve long thought hes a terrible captain and this match strengthens the case against him.

    Give the captaincy back to KP, thats bound to end well… or quickly

  8. Bresnan started the last over with 12 needed then bowled 3 half trackers. It was the most brainless cricket I’ve ever seen. Or perhaps I should say: he failed to execute his skills.

    • The most brainless cricket you’ve ever seen, Chrissington? You haven’t been following England for all that long, have you.

      In the 1990s…

  9. Both teams’ death bowling was utter shite. Watching length being bowled in the final overs of matches is most disheartening.

  10. … And another thing, I once watch G McGrath bowl six Yorkers in a row of varying speeds and placement in the 48th over of a match.

    6 runs were the result of that over. Never seen anyone try it since.

    It must be just too hard for most modern bowlers they seem to prefer the long hop and the half volley.

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