You often wonder how the inaugurators of one-day competitions can be so far behind the top teams in the shorter formats.
As the country that developed one-day cricket in 1963 and more recently Twenty20 cricket, we seem to have been left to rot in the shadows as everyone else rejoices in the new advancements in the game and continue to progress.
Batsmen are taking more risks, creating a new array 360 degree stroke play, with power and innovation becoming an integral part of the armour requirements for a one-day player.
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It’s arguably the hardest time to be a bowler, anything within millimetres of being off mark are punished, and even if you are delivering a toe-crunching Yorker, players of this day and age now have the capabilities to carve them out and find a way of reaching the boundary.
It’s reflects similar ideologies in terms of sports such as Golf and Tennis where players are hitting the ball further and faster. That notion of the new way to play cricket hasn’t been deployed enough by anyone of the England players, and that is why we find ourselves in the position that we are in.
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England have been knocked out of the World Cup, they’ve failed to advance to the Quarter-Final phase after losing to Bangladesh, allowing the expectable post-mortem to begin as players come under the microscope and will understandably be scrutinised.
The squad on paper is terrific, as an example, the duo of James Anderson and Stuart Broad sit 4th and 8th respectively in the ICC Test bowling rankings, but in the shorter format, that changes to 7th and 57th.
Performances by our bowlers at the World Cup underline how poor we have been, Chris Woakes leads the way with five victims at an average of 46.80, whilst Broad has three at 79 and Anderson has four at 57.
In Test Cricket, players are more cautious as you’d expect, they aren’t willing to put their wicket in jeopardy like the way they would in an ODI arena, where attack is seen as the best form of defence.
Aggression is something that the side seems to lack, and it has done since Kevin Pietersen left a gaping hole in our middle-order.
Apart from the inclusion of Alex Hales in the most recent game, England only have Jos Buttler as a standout name who will go after a bowling unit and score at a strike-rate in excessive of 100 on a continued basis. Buttler (135.57) is one of only two along with Moeen Ali (105.49) who has scored quicker than a run-a-ball in the competition.
What next for England?
It was a prime example of how wasted he is down the order yesterday, Buttler’s explosive knock of 65 off 52 balls got England back into the game, and he appears to be the only one willing to take chances and be our answer to someone like AB De Villiers or Glenn Maxwell.
Maxwell’s recently hit the second-fastest century in World Cup history off just 51 balls as Australia beat Sri Lanka. If you look at that Australian side, it wouldn’t have been uncanny if any one of their top six had achieved that feat, so you must query how close England are to having a line-up that would deem that feasible.
Teams are now filling the middle, even the top of their order with players possessing the ability to clear the rope regularly and not let bowlers settle, and they are consistently seeking the benefits of that. England have shown glimpses of what the talent they have such as Ali’s 128 and Joe Root’s 121 but form is patchy and at times non-existent.
To compete at the top, England need to look around at other nations approaches to an innings. It’s seen as an accomplishment and something to be happy with when we get to 300, five years ago perhaps that was the target, but that milestone has been reached 23 times by teams this tournament.
Teams are targeting 330+ as par scores now, the 400 mark has been reached three times in this tournament to date, and the question is, how far are England away from getting a score of that magnitude?
The Twenty20 ethos of playing is slowly being implemented in 50-over cricket, you need big totals and a batting line-up full of clean but brutal hitters of the ball to win you games, and England need to find these to keep up with the pace that cricket is advancing.
We have already been left in the dark, one-day cricket certainly isn’t our strongest characteristic, but we have an opportunity to change and in time, we can hope to compete with the big nations.