THERE weren’t a huge amount of positives to take from World Cup defeat to Australia last Saturday. Hopefully the main one will be the realisation that the tactics at the death were wrong and there was too much short bowling.
England undoubtedly have some good bowlers but, as I wrote last week, that bowling attack does look one-dimensional and it showed. It depends on the pitch and the conditions but I feel off-spinner James Tredwell should be playing. It would be an asset having a frontline spinner and he has a very good oneday record and would add variety.
That probably means dropping one of the seam bowlers and for me that would be Steven Finn, partly because Chris Woakes bats better. It’s a tough call given Finn took five wickets but he still looks as though he’s searching for his best form and I don’t think he bowled as well as he can do.
He may also have got that hat-trick in the last three balls of the innings but that didn’t really mean a lot in the grand scheme of things.
There were a couple of surprise choices in the side against Australia, principally Gary Ballance coming in and Ravi Bopara not playing. I feel that Bopara would add greater balance to the team and I’d like to see him playing. I would, therefore, drop Ballance for Bopara, although I’m not sure England will do that.
I don’t agree with Paul Collingwood’s suggestion that England’s batting line-up is their most powerful ever. There are definitely some good players in there but they still have to prove it at the top level.
James Taylor has come in and done well and he produced a classy innings against Australia. He is a calculated hitter rather than a power hitter for me and, if anything, England lack power. They miss guys like Kevin Pietersen.
The reality is the team are still not performing or hitting the ball over the ropes like other sides. They are not winning enough games against top opposition and when Australia played like they did the other day, England were nowhere near them. Skipper Eoin Morgan’s form is another worry and it’s going to be in the back of his mind. He has played five innings and only scored a couple of runs while chalking up four ducks in that time.
He was struggling prior to arriving in Australia but it largely went under the radar amid Alastair Cook’s struggles. Then he got that century in Sydney and we all thought his form was back. Players do go through these dips in form at times so hopefully he can stay strong and come through it because he is a big player in the middle order and can be that power-hitter towards the end of the innings.
England play New Zealand in Wellington in the early hours of tomorrow morning and on paper the two sides are pretty similar. The Black Caps have got off to a really good start by beating Sri Lanka by 98 runs and then Scotland by three wickets. They will have some momentum whereas England lost quite badly at the MCG so New Zealand will probably go in as favourites and they will be playing in their own conditions.
It hasn’t happened consistently enough but we all know that on their day, when England play well, they are a team to be contended with. It’s a hard one to predict but if New Zealand’s big guns like Brendon McCullum turn up and score runs, it will be difficult for England to contain them.
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