The number one question around the county championship at the moment is: ‘What is wrong with English cricket?’
The 45 run defeat to the Netherlands in their final group match of the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh was a fitting end to a dismal 2013/14 winter tour schedule.
After a gutless Ashes, one-day international series and Twenty20 campaign in Australia: fans, commentators and players thought it could not get any worse. A ray of hope did materialise in the form of a one-day series win in the West Indies, with the team at times playing some imposing cricket.
Supporters were once again fooled.
The one positive of the turbulent winter is that is cannot get any worse. Well at least that’s what the English Cricket Board (ECB) are hoping, with the appointment of a head coach across all formats the first priority on a list of increasing problems.
English Cricket needs a new strategy, one that can flourish on every pitch of the world, not just the swing and bouncing friendly pitches in England. A mentality needs to be installed that abolishes the conservative style of cricket, in which a maverick or unorthodox style is allowed to thrive instead of being segregated. A problem, Kevin Pietersen knows all too well.
Before the tour down under, England were a good cricket team but they sat on their laurels while the rest of world cricket has caught up and overtook, an example being, the demolition by an inexperienced Australian side.
The appointment of a new coach maybe a current necessity but the English Cricket system desperately needs amending.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain in his column in the Daily Mail stated: "It is about changing the brand of cricket played by England. When there’s pace on the ball, and it’s going through to the keeper and nibbling around under lights, they’re fine because it’s the kind of cricket they play at home. But the moment they get on a dry track with no pace on it, and the opposition are sending down all kinds of slower balls, England are clueless."
Andy Flowers tenure as England head coach did result in a more positive approach, after the Test series defeat to the West Indies in 2009 but Flowers failed to impose this style and eradicate the conservative approach.
It could be argued, that Flowers just papered over the cracks.
A positive and unorthodox mentality needs to be implemented in the system. England will not win anymore world titles or even test series if they continue to nudge the ball around.
If England needs guidance, India is a good team to emulate. Historically, India played cricket the ‘correct’ way. A conservative style that involved straight line batting complemented with manufactured and repetitive bowling which resulted in limited international success.
Since the introduction of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008, the Indian national team has become the dominant team in world cricket. With tournament success coming in the 2007 World Twenty20, the 2010 Asia Cup, the 2011 World Cup and the 2012 Champions trophy.
In 2009 they also became the number 1 test side in the world.
The main reason for the success is the IPL, which English players rarely compete in.
In order for English Cricket to advance, more players should be allowed to play in the tournament. It will probably be the only way to get English players acclimatised to foreign conditions. It may even amend the player’s style.
Despite the poor performance in the winter, it’s not all doom and gloom. England does have the talent, players such as Eoin Morgan and Alex Hales have proven they can do it. Moeen Ali has shown glimpses of promise but results are more important.
Whoever the ECB appoint, a new strategy across the county system and national team needs to introduced before we fall further behind in world cricket.
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