England have been knocked out of the 2015 Cricket World Cup in the group stages after their shock 15-run defeat to Bangladesh in Adelaide.
With one game still to play, another potential banana skin against minnows Afghanistan, English cricket has become embarrassed by this most recent failure in ODI cricket after what can only be described as an inept World Cup campaign. With just a solitary victory over Scotland to their name English cricket is now facing calls for change, a shake up of the management in charge and the axing of certain players from the team.
So what does the ECB need to do to ensure England can once again compete at international level in one-day cricket?
A lot of people are once again calling for the return of Kevin Pietersen, which will gain more momentum with England performing so badly. However, at 34 years of age he is not the long-term answer to England’s issues. Alot of what he preaches and what he represents may well be the future for England though. Pietersen is an individual and is not restrained by the history of English cricket and the need to conform.
He is not conservative in his actions. He is a breath of fresh air in this thoughts and the way he plays his cricket. He may speak before he thinks at times but English cricket often thinks too much before it speaks. It is now time that the English hierarchy changes its ways because they are now in danger of being left behind by many of the cricketing nations.
We need to allow our players to play with more freedom. The talent is most definitely there but they seem restricted in the way they play. At county level these players will perform week in week out but when they play at international level they look to play with demons in their heads. What instructions are they been given when they pull on the England shirt?
The players we have have their own weaknesses and strengths. Why do we not focus on their strengths and allow these players to bat where they are comfortable and encourage basic plans when bowling. We do after all need to go back to basics it appears. All is not lost for England because there is a nucleus of players that can form part of a successful side but they need to be encouraged to be the players that they want to be. They need guidance not instruction.
English cricket needs to identify the right players that are going to form the basis of the team moving forward and play them continuously, whether in form or not, over a long period of time. Show faith in them and the team. The less pressure they are under the more likely they are to perform. Ali, Root, Hales, Taylor, Jordan, Buttler are all young enough to be around for a while yet so give them the freedom to play the game that they are clearly good at playing.
Don’t allow the politics of the game to affect the players. English cricket is sometimes dominated by power struggles behind the scenes which can sometimes take the focus away from the real issues on the field. This should never be the case.
The whole furore around Kevin Pietersen’s axing and Alistair Cook’s struggles have taken a lot out of the English team. Yes they are professional sportsmen but they are not daft and they can become embroiled in these situations instead of concentrating on the task of winning cricket matches. English cricket needs to find peace behind the scenes if the team is to prosper on the field.
Does the domestic game need revolutionising? T20 cricket appears to be the focus in more recent times but we must not forget about the longer format of ODI cricket. There are already proposals in place to look at the structure, timings and frequency of our summer sport but the changes must give ODI Cricket the same exposure as Test and T20 cricket in the English summer.
Test cricket has always been the number one focus but all formats must be treated on an equal footing now. Although this winter has not been the greatest in English history I feel we can learn a lot from the cricket we have played and the cricket that other teams have played. The game is constantly changing and we must keep up. We need to copy what other countries are doing but that will not be easy to do because for a long time the English cricketing hierarchy have been the trend setters in cricket but those days are now firmly in the past.
Whatever happens English cricket needs to act and act fast. I am sure Colin Graves, the new ECB chairman, will have his own thoughts as to how English cricket must progress under his tenure and I dont expect him to pull any punches in his conclusion. He is a true Yorkshireman who speaks his mind and will be excited with the task ahead of him, so watch this space. He will not be afraid to make unpopular decisions but will do so with the best interests of English cricket in his mind.