Pitches are flat so why not try two spinners?

 
Andy Lloyd
ENGLAND really need to up their game against New Zealand today, because they have been outclassed in every department in the previous two one-day international defeats and that does not bode well for their Champions Trophy chances.

The whole team needs to produce a performance. They were totally dominated by the Kiwis, who batted them out of the game on two occasions this week.

The pitches were good and flat, which comes with a period of dry weather, and it looks like it will stay that way.

So why not try and take some of the pace off the ball and improve the control by picking two spinners in Graeme Swann and James Tredwell?

Fast bowlers Stuart Broad and Steven Finn have been struggling with injuries and, in their absence, Jade Dernbach has come in and just doesn’t seem to have a plan. He bowls a load of liquorice allsorts and gets hit all over the ground.

Finn is a very good bowler in this form of the game, as is Broad, but I think England could look towards plan B.

In one-day cricket you need one of your top four batsmen to dig in and last for the full 50 overs, but we’ve seen Ian Bell, Alastair Cook and Joe Root all get out cheaply time and again.

It isn’t all about hitting boundaries, you need to take some responsibility, stick around and get yourself in a position to do that at the end of the innings.

England do have a chance in the Champions Trophy, but they would have a better one if the world’s best wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior had been named in the squad.

They have a fantastic record at home, aside from this current New Zealand series. But there is no doubt tried and tested players like Kevin Pietersen will be sorely missed.

Whether or not we get to the semi-finals is likely to depend on our head-to-head with New Zealand.

Australia have no chance and I think Sri Lanka are a good bet to win the whole thing, so it will be us or the Black Caps who progress from Group A.

Group B should be a little more straightforward. I’d imagine Pakistan and India will go through; they play a lot of Indian Premier League cricket and know how to win matches in the short form of the game.

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

ANDY LLOYD ON THE ICC CHAMPIONS TROPHY: 6-23 JUNE

GROUP A

Australia
Best finish: Winners (2006, 2009)
This time: Won’t get through the group
One to watch: Michael Clarke
ODI ranking: 2nd

England
Best finish: Beaten finalists (2004)
This time: Semi-finals, hopefully...
One to watch: Alastair Cook
ODI ranking: 4th

Sri Lanka
Best finish: Joint winners (2002)
This time: Best team in it. Winners
One to watch: Mahela Jayawardene
ODI ranking: 5th

New Zealand
Best finish: Winners (2000)
This time: Out in the group stage
One to watch: Martin Guptill
ODI ranking: 7th

GROUP B

Pakistan
Best finish: Semi-finals (2000, 2004, 2009)
This time: Beaten semi-finalists, again
One to watch: Saeed Ajmal
ODI ranking: 6th

South Africa
Best finish: Winners (1998)
This time: Not strong enough to go through
One to watch: Hashim Amla
ODI ranking: 3rd

India
Best finish: Joint winners (2002)
This time: Runners-up to Sri Lanka
One to watch: Suresh Raina
ODI ranking: 1st

West Indies
Best finish: Winners (2004)
This time: Won’t be competitive in this group
One to watch: Kieron Pollard
ODI ranking: 8th

Semi-finals
The two teams with the most points in each group will progress to the last four. The first semi-final will be played at the Oval on 19 June and the second at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff, the following day. If a semi-final is tied then a Super Over will be played with the team scoring the most runs progressing to the final

Final

The final between the semi-final winners will take place at Edgbaston on 23 June. In the event of a tie a Super Over would determine the winner. If weather conditions prevent the Super Over being completed, or if the match is a no result, the teams will be declared joint winners, as India and Sri Lanka were in 2002