Posts Tagged ‘odi’

Who Will Prevail In England-Australia ODI Series?

The England cricket team begin a five-match One-Day International series against Australia at Lord’s on Friday and they will be expecting a bigger challenge than that laid down by the West Indies.

The bookmakers agree, having made both sides 10/11 to win the series – and that is despite an England player scoring a century in their last six completed ODIs.

Australia, as outlined by Peter Such below, are indeed a team in transition but can never be underestimated and with David Warner and Brett Lee looking in ominous form, it could be a fascinating series.

England are essentially unchanged. Although they made changes for the final ODI against the West Indies, resting three of their frontline bowlers, the game was washed out, so it is as you were.

There was a small possibility that Australia would go on strike and not take part in this tour. Fortunately the only strikes we will be talking about will be those registered by players’ bats and the balls onto the stumps.

There has been some adverse reaction to the series taking place at all, with a series of ODIs seen as unnecessary by some, particularly with the much-anticipated England-South Africa Test series also looming on the horizon. Neither side will be worried about that and will be firmly concentrating on the here and now.

We will be offering our thoughts during a Mr Predictor later this week but what do you think will be the outcome? Such thinks it will be a tough series for England, although they beat Australia when they were over here in 2010. Is a repeat performance on the cards?

Cook Leads England’s ODI Revival – A New Dawn Or A False One?

England’s one-day cricket performances in the last week have provided a refreshing change for fans who were dismayed by the 3-0 Test series defeat to Pakistan.

Alastair Cook

England captain Alastair Cook has led by example for his side in the UAE © REUTERS / Action Images

Alastair Cook has led from the front and by becoming the first England captain to score back-to-back ODI centuries has firmly delivered another riposte – if one was needed – to lingering critics of his suitability for the limited overs side.

Steven Finn has taken consistency to a new level by twice returning figures of four for 34, Ravi Bopara has batted with a new-found maturity to score two important half-centuries and Samit Patel has been a match-changer with the ball and in the field.

Two wins do not, however, make a world-beating team, but could this series be a new dawn for England’s one-day side? Or are you still unconvinced that this team has all the options covered?

Consider that England have not beaten India, Sri Lanka or Pakistan away from home since 2007 and contrast with the way that they have outplayed Pakistan so far in the UAE. Consider that even with misfiring batsmen (Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan) they have been able to set defendable totals. Consider that Tim Bresnan cannot even get into the team at the moment such is the way that Finn has grabbed his opportunity.

But how long can it last? Over the years, we have time and again proclaimed series performances as ‘new dawns’ for English cricket only for the reality to be anything but. Wins in Sri Lanka in 2007 and then over Australia in 2010 at home didn’t see the team kick on and produce the performances they needed to at the World Cup in 2011.

Perhaps we would be better served by looking at the longer term. England are building towards the next Champions Trophy (2013) and then the World Cup (2015) so the goal is to have a settled, winning team by then. A few hiccups along the way can probably be expected. But one thing is for sure – under captain Cook in the UAE – so far, so good.

What do you think – another false dawn for England’s ODI team or are England on track? Or is it simply too early to say?

 

Do England Need More Subtlety In Their ODI Batting?

Following England’s humiliating series whitewash in India, many disenchanted fans have called for a complete overhaul of England’s ODI plans involving the inclusion of more aggressive batsmen and have pointed to the need for more six-hitters to make use of the powerplays. Indeed, an article on Cricinfo today makes that very point while you only have to read people’s comments on Twitter and other message forums to know that it is a widely held view.

How long before James Taylor gets an extended run in England's ODI side?

However, is this assumption really correct? It is a fact that England actually hit more sixes in the series (14 maximums to India’s 13) than the hosts. It is also true that England’s batsmen are starting to look more and more like musclebound powerlifters with every passing series. Therefore I would argue that less, not more, power is the answer, especially on the suncontinent, to England’s ODI woes.

In fact what they are actually missing is flair; an ingredient that India’s batsmen have in abundance and an essential quality a batsman must have when facing spin in the middle overs. If you stand Kevin Pietersen next to Gautam Gambhir, or Suresh Raina next to Jonny Bairstow, for example you are immediately struck by their difference in body shape. Gambhir and Raina are wiry and relatively slight, whereas Bairstow or Pietersen have forearms that are threatening to tear their shirts apart at the seams, characteristics that are reflected in their batting styles. Whereas Pietersen and Bairstow look to get on the front foot to the spinners and play them straight down the ground, Raina and Gambhir will sit back and use their wrists to manoeuvre the ball and utilise the full 360 degree arc of the playing surface. The muscular aggression displayed by the first two may well work in the world cup in 2015 when it is held on the faster pitches of Australia or New Zealand, but unless their plans change then the seven-match ODI series against India in 2013 is going to be a long one for England fans.

So what can be done? Well I suggest bringing in a couple of players that pride themselves on accumulation rather than power for the next time England tour Asia. In a nutshell, what England really need is a player of the type of Neil Fairbrother, Graham Thorpe or Paul Collingwood.

Those that know me will be unsurprised to learn that one of the players whose inclusion I advocate is James Taylor, the other being Owais Shah, whose dropping from the ODI side after an excellent Champions Trophy has always puzzled me.

While Taylor’s inclusion is a matter of when not if, don’t expect to see Shah any time soon as he – like Samit Patel who was belatedly included and has been successful - is not one that appears to fit Andy Flower’s blueprint of a ‘new England’ player.

What do you think? Do I have a point or should England continue along their power-hitting route? Please let me know in the comments below.

India-England Series Reflections – Do England Need A New Strategy?

By the time England slumped to a galling 5-0 defeat to India as they lost the final One-Day International in Kolkata by 95 runs, a sense of inevitability had been lingering for much of the tour.

Nobody was particularly surprised when they lost, or that they failed to bat through 50 overs for the fourth time in five games. Missing star players Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, they looked nothing like the team that looked so good when beating India 3-0 on home soil all of two months ago.

England’s record in India is abysmal and they have long struggled to deal with conditions in the subcontinent but what might the management have learned from this series and are big changes required ahead of the series against Pakistan?

Undoubtedly the return of those four players will boost England but is a change of strategy required, as has been mooted by former captain Michael Vaughan, or should England just accept that in this series, they were outplayed by the world champions who showed that while their strength in depth in Test cricket is somewhat lacking, in ODIs, their bench strength is unparalleled.

For India, there was no Sehwag, no Tendulkar, no Yuvraj, no Harbhajan Singh, no Zaheer Khan yet no real problem with defeating England.

India Too Strong For England

India celebrate, England go back to the drawing board - REUTERS / Action Images

A Trott Or A Gallop?

There is no doubt about it. England have been pathetic so far in their ODI series against India. Many reasons have been mooted by the media for their poor performances, from player burnout to hostile conditions, from flat pitches to Jonathan Trott.

Yes, that’s right, England’s leading batsman over the past two years has been blamed, castigated even in certain quarters, for his side’s 3-0 deficit with many suggesting he should be dropped for ‘slow scoring’. I have to confess I was one of those voices and was going to write a column presenting the case for the axe – until I looked for some stats to back up my case. And found none.

I began by looking up the career strike rates for all of the number three batsmen from the main ODI-playing nations and found that, almost without exception, they were close to Trott’s figure of 78.58. Kumar Sangakkara’s was 75.50, Ricky Ponting’s was 80.60 and Jacques Kallis and Asad Shafiq were around the same mark. Gautam Gambhir’s was the only one significantly higher at 86.70, but I think we would all agree that messrs Kallis, Sangakkara and Ponting are exalted company for Trott to be in and will go down in history as some of the greatest number threes.
Undettered, I decided that as that heralded trio had begun their careers many aeons ago and scoring rates have since increased dramatically, then the early parts of their careers must be skewing their overall strike rates. With this in mind, I set about looking up the figures for the past 12 months and found that while their strike rates had risen by a couple of points from those early days, with Sangakkara’s now 77.25 and Ponting’s now 83.33, it was only negligible and was still around Trott’s 80 mark. Again only Gambhir was way ahead with an SR of 95.01.

RARE: Trott hits a six! Credit: REUTERS/Action Images

By this point, I was puzzled, but suddenly remembered another criticism of Trott’s: namely that he didn’t increase his scoring rate throughout his innings and was very one-paced in his approach. So I devised a suitable test – what was his SR in innings where he had made 50 or more – and compared him to the rest again. Once again he came out well as, to my surprise, the strike rates didn’t really change from their overall ones – so much for the perceived wisdom of upping the rate throughout the innings!

By this time I was completely stumped, but fortunately stumbled across a possible solution. Trott hardly hits any sixes. In the past 12 months he has hit an average of 0.08 sixes per match, compared to Ponting’s 0.31 and Sangakkara’s 0.39. Perhaps because of this he had earnt for himself the perception of being a blocker, whereas Ponting and Sangakkara got away with it because they cleared the ropes. To back this up I looked at Gambhir’s ratio, who despite his epic strike rate is not really seen as one of India’s dashers, and was amazed to find it lower than Trott’s at 0.05 maximums per match – hence his perception of being more of a tortoise than a hare.

All of which means, in conclusion, that I must admit my gut instincts with regards to Mr. Trott were wrong. His strike rate is up there with the big boys and his average is even better. Just beacause he isn’t going to empty many bars – and I still won’t enjoy watching him bat – doesn’t mean he isn’t worth his place in the side.

Jonathan, please forgive me for doubting you!

What do you think? Do you agree that Trott’s slow-scoring is down to perception alone, or has the author overlooked a crucial counter argument? Please let us know in the comments below.

Shahid Afridi – In, Out, Retired, Back, Retired, Back Again?

When is a retirement not actually a retirement? I think you know the answer to that one as we report today that Shahid Afridi looks as if he is ready to return to international cricket.

Shahid Afridi

Shahid Afridi - Would you pick this man? Credit: REUTERS / Action Images

While he did state in May that he had retired from ‘all international cricket’ he then went on to say:

“This current board treats players roughly and I will not play under this set-up. But if this set-up is changed only then will I consider coming back because I have always played for my people and will play for them.”

So, now that Ijaz Butt and Waqar Younis have departed, Afridi has stayed true to his word and is, we understand, ready to serve his country once again.

The question is, has he burned one bridge too many? Will the selectors decide that enough is enough and it is time to invest in the young players (Adnan Akmal, Aizaz Cheema, Junaid Khan) that they blooded in Zimbabwe and build for the future.

Put yourselves in the shoes of the PCB selection committee. Would you pick him? And would you install him as captain?

We’ve already seen a positive response to the news on our Facebook page, but let us know your thoughts.

Opening Thoughts On India-England ODI Series

Now the dust has settled on the West Indies beating Bangladesh there is just enough time before the opening Twenty20 International between South Africa and Australia to think about the start of England’s ODI series in India.

Neither team is at full strength (India are still without Tendulkar, Sehwag, Zaheer, Yuvraj; England miss Morgan and Broad while resting Anderson) and perhaps that’s something we’re going to have to get used to more and more of – teams constantly rotating their resources as the volume of cricket continues to increase.

It promises to be a fascinating series, with India rightly favoured at home but England on the crest of a wave as reigning T20 world champions, Test champions and coming off the back of a 3-0 series win over India at home.

Apparently, India aren’t talking of revenge or payback, merely of winning the series. That’s exactly what England are trying to do too. You can read Chetan Narula’s in-depth preview of the series here and I’ll be catching up with him for our latest series of England v India podcasts later today.

In the meantime, who do you think will win, and will England drop Pietersen for Bairstow?

Kevin Pietersen takes a watching brief

Kevin Pietersen takes a watching brief - REUTERS / Action Images

India Set Up World Cup Final Clash With Sri Lanka

It might not have been a classic cricket World Cup semi-final, but India did enough to beat arch-rivals Pakistan and set up a final with Sri Lanka on Saturday.

Sachin Tendulkar was dropped no fewer than four times and survived a close stumping appeal on his way to 85 before both teams’ middle orders rather lost their way – Wahab Riaz’s five-wicket haul inspiring a mini-collapse and Pakistan’s engine room failing to click into gear until the game was all but over.

India-Pakistan clashes are typically nervy affairs and this one proved to be no exception. Umar Gul, usually reliable, lost his line and length early on and was savaged by Virender Sehwag, who in turn inexplicably missed a straight ball.

Younus Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq – two of Pakistan’s most experienced cricketers, and two who usually save their best for matches against India – then dropped simple chances to offer Tendulkar further chances.

He eventually fell 15 short of a century having played far from his best innings before Riaz rose to the occasion in style, returning five for 46 and picking the perfect stage to return a career-best performance.

His efforts, were in vain however, as despite a fast start from Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez, Pakistan fell away dramatically, and once Hafeez was dismissed – to an uncharacteristically bad shot – India were always likely to close out the game.

Yuvraj Singh registered just the second golden duck of his ODI career but struck twice with the ball in quick succession to further pin Pakistan down and the look of shock on Umar Akmal’s face when he was bowled by Harbhajan Singh left little to the imagination.

Pakistan were perhaps stunned by their own inability to cope with the situation of playing India in a World Cup (five times they have played, five times they have lost now) in front of 40,000 screaming fans in Mohali.

In the eyes of many Pakistan fans, Misbah is the main culprit for the defeat. His 56 in 76 balls was a valiant effort, but he hardly played an attacking stroke before the required run rate had shot up to 12 an over and he was left with the tail-enders.

In his defence, he would not be expected to take on the role of the aggressor while Akmal, Shahid Afridi and Abdul Razzaq were at the crease. Their failures to go on and make big scores quickly merely increased the pressure on him.

Had he been unbeaten on 40 and one of those players had have smashed 50 in 35 balls then he would be a hero. Yesterday was India’s day and therefore Misbah was cast as villain.

Now India take on Sri Lanka on Saturday with both teams bidding for a second World Cup triumph and Mahendra Singh Dhoni looking to complete a full house – he has already led India to the number one spot in the Test rankings and the ICC World Twenty20 title in 2007, as well as guiding the Chennai Super Kings to both Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 glory.

Yuvraj Inspires India – Now For Clash With Pakistan

India answered a lot of searching questions during the course of their five-wicket win over Australia in their World Cup quarter-final in Ahmedabad. The majority of the 42,000 fans in the stadium went away happy with what they had seen and for the first time in 15 years, an Australian captain will not be lifting the World Cup trophy.

Going into the match, many questioned India’s temperament – did they have what it takes to beat Australia in a match that really mattered in the latter stages of a competition? They proved they did thanks to an outstanding bowling, fielding and batting display.

Led by Yuvraj Singh’s unbeaten 57 and brace of wickets, the only blemish was the mix-up which saw Gautam Gambhir run out; but Yuvraj made sure that he was there at the end to see the game through.

We also questioned whether India’s batsmen could cope with the extreme pace offered by Australia’s bowling attack – Shaun Tait, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson – but they dealt with the challenge admirably. And Sachin Tendulkar shone through once again, his half-century taking him past the mark of 18,000 One-Day International runs. It is surely inconceivable that anyone will ever score that many again.

A word for Ricky Ponting, who came into the game in no sort of form and under intense pressure – not something he has become unused to following the recent dip in his side’s performances – only to produce a fine century.

Although he was able to deliver when his country needed it most, few of his colleagues, with the honourable exceptions of Brad Haddin and David Hussey, were also able to weigh in, resulting in Australia setting India a target that they always knew, provided they didn’t lose wickets in the way they have been throughout the tournament, would be attainable.

Yuvraj, on the other hand, in and out of the side in the last 12 months, has come into form at just the right moment. He has now scored 341 runs in the tournament, with a century and four half-centuries to his name. He averages the small matter of 113.66 and has also taken 11 wickets at 24.63 including a maiden five-wicket haul against Ireland.

What we now have in store is the match-up that many cricket fans will have been dreaming of as India and Pakistan meet in what promises to be an unmissable semi-final in Mohali on 30th March.

Yuvraj has an excellent record against Pakistan and India have never lost a 50-over match in a World Cup against their arch-rivals. However, Pakistan showed how strong they were with a ruthless demolition job against the West Indies in the opening quarter-final having finished on top of a competitive Group A.

They do have recent history of beating India in Mohali and have already gone way further in the tournament than they did in both 2003 and 2007. Aiming for a repeat of 1992, when they won, and 1999 when they reached the final, they will need their own talisman – Shahid Afridi – to inspire them as Yuvray has been inspiring India thus far.

As far as predictions go – as Chetan Narula says during his latest Cricket World @ The World Cup podcast, it will come down to who handles the pressure and the situation the best on the day.

One thing is for sure – it is a game nobody can afford to miss.

What Do You Make Of Pakistan?

Mercurial. Pathetic. Inconsistent. Just some of the adjectives being used to describe Pakistan’s performance at the Cricket World Cup. And that’s just from a few posts on our forum.

Particularly galling for Pakistan fans was the way in which they succumbed to a 110-run defeat at the hands of New Zealand, which followed a win over Canada and an impressive 11-run success against Sri Lanka.

Ross Taylor played a blinder, smashing 131 not out in 124 balls but he had been gifted two birthday presents when wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal dropped him twice when he had yet to reach double figures.

At the highest level, teams cannot afford to carry players whose skill in one discipline is not up to scratch and increasingly, Akmal’s glovework is making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Pakistan have, in the last year used five wicket-keepers – Kamran, his brothers Umar and Adnan as well as Zulqarnain Haider and Sarfraz Ahmed, but for the moment, Kamran appears to be the man in favour, if not the man in form.

If he was performing with the bat then he might be forgiven a few fumbles but, like Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad at the top of the order, is having a bad tournament.

There are only so many times that experienced hands Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan can get their side out of trouble.

The role of Abdul Razzaq in the side has also been questioned in some quarters. Not seen as quick enough to open the bowling, and nor, if Taylor’s assault is anything to go by, an option at the end of an innings, is he wasted at number eight in the order?

He was the only player who showed much resilience with the bat against New Zealand although Pakistan will point to innings he has played against England and South Africa in recent memory where coming in low down he turned matches around in style.

That can’t happen every game and although captain Shahid Afridi has been impressive with the ball, he too is struggling with the bat. Might he too benefit from moving down the order.

Perhaps a solution might be to shift Abdul Razzaq up the order to number three, replacing one of the misfiring openers – probably Shahzad given that Hafeez is a handy off-spin option – and bring in another bowler?

We must not forget that is still a team in transition, following the loss of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir to suspension and the non-selection of Mohammad Yousuf, but, as seems so often to be the case with Pakistan, there are more questions than answers following their latest performance.

Do you have any answers? Will they confound their critics by bouncing back to even go as far as the final? Or will they run out of luck and crash out at the quarter-final stage?