England struggling to find winning habit

 
Andy Lloyd
THERE was much to cheer in England’s one-day series-levelling stroll in the park against New Zealand yesterday, yet lingering doubts remain about the state of the limited overs set-up.

James Anderson was fantastic with the ball, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell enjoyed a strong opening stand, and Joe Root showcased his skills, aided by Jonathan Trott, as England cruised home. But that victory only compensated for Sunday’s defeat. Top teams win 90 per cent of games and right now, in one-day and Twenty20, England only claim every other.

Clearly the team, and especially Trott, find it easier to pace an innings when chasing than when they have to set a total themselves.

I think England need to be more inventive. Conventional wisdom says you’ll win if you start your innings well, keep wickets in hand and have a big bash at the end. But I’m not sure those mid-innings overs are used as productively as possible.

I’m also not convinced by England’s use of the power play. The default setting seems to be to use them at the 36-40 over mark, but if two men are set in the 25th over, that’s just as good a time to press home an advantage. You have to speculate when in a good position.

Mixed results are slightly mitigated by the fact that England have a new coach in Ashley Giles and are still figuring out selection issues, of which there are several. The rested Kevin Pietersen will go straight back into the side, but for who? On current form I’d have to say Trott. Graeme Swann had his worst one-day figures ever yesterday, while James Tredwell shone on the recent tour of India. I’d suggest that’s another area to look at. With the Champions Trophy little more than three months away, Giles and the selectors are fast running out of time to find the winning formula.

Andy Lloyd is a former England Test cricketer who has also captained and been chairman of Warwickshire.