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2009 ICC World Cricket T20 – England Fail to Meet Balance Between Bat and Ball
As England’s ICC T20 2009 cricket tournament draws to a close, I’m sure there will be more than a few cricket pundits assessing their performance during the tournament and especially their team record.
England’s latest defeat seemed to mirror previous encounters in terms of performance, if not result. Set 162 runs for victory, the West Indies must have been more than happy when the British weather intervened to result in a revised figure of 80 from 9 overs under the reign of Duckworth-Lewis.
While the English bowlers performed admirably, they fell just short as the Windies reached their target with 3 balls to spare. With the likes of Gayle, Pollard and Bravo in their team, all destructive batsmen, it was unlikely that all three would fail to beat England’s bowlers and with the quality of batting in the depth, the nine over the thrash favored the visitors. The Windies reached a shaky 45 for 5 at one point with only a few recognized batsmen coming in, but still managed to win. So, what can England learn from this defeat and their tournament?
West Indies succeeded where England failed and that was not on the field but rather in team selection. The biggest dilemma for any T20 team manager has to be striking the right balance between a solid bowling attack and a good batsman who can score quickly. Let’s face it, the T20 format can be a lottery at times, Australia’s early exit from the tournament certainly confirms that. There must be a method to the madness behind any team’s success in whatever format of the game is played. The craziness of England’s team selection was that they didn’t seem to have learned from previous games.
In most of their games, England created a good base from which to build a strong side only for their ailing middle-order batsmen who failed to sustain the scoring momentum.
While it can be argued that Pietersen is the only world-class batsman in the England team, at times Shah, Bopara and Wright have contributed runs at the pace that is associated with the T20 format. When you look at the schedule of the other teams and inevitably the team that is likely to win the tournament, there is one common denominator… they all shoot deep!
England’s batting line-up, in terms of batsmen who are equipped to score quickly, seems to falter somewhat once the top four are gone. Collingwood and Foster, while arguably adeptly equipped for other formats of the game, are unable to score at the required pace required in T20.
In their defeat to the Windies, England’s batsmen failed to break the boundary ropes from the 11th over until the last swing, which was deflected by 10 runs in the last two balls of the innings from Stuart Broad. It is commendable that they actually put up a reasonable total, but if the middle-order batsmen were a little more adept at scoring quick runs, then the game could have been out of the Windies’ reach.
In their previous match against India, it was a similar story, a wobbly middle order that resulted in a very modest score. They got away with it on that occasion, but they didn’t seem to have learned their lesson as they removed a hesitant batsman when they actually needed a functioning batsman.
Don’t pick a captain just because it’s his position for the 50 over format, pick a batsman who can bat in his position at T20 pace. Likewise, don’t pick a wicketkeeper, no matter how admirably he has performed behind the stumps, who can’t quite hit the ball to the boundary with any regularity.
I’m sure Matt Prior’s overall skill set is better suited to T20, although he may be a bit slower behind the wicket than Foster. I think most England fans know who is missing in the middle order, but while ‘Freddie’ Flintoff is undergoing rehabilitation, it is not wise to pick players who suit the demands of the shorter format of the game and not just pick players who are good in other formats of cricket.
If England picked a side balanced a bit more towards deeper batting then they may still be in the tournament. England should not lament the weather, they should look at their selection of players who suit the T20 format.
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