WHAT MORE CAN ENGLAND DO IN ONE DAY CRICKET?

So I’ve not posted since the 23rd May, since then England got blown away by Pakistan at Lords. Then they managed to paper over the cracks with a swift come back victory at Headingly. Worst of all for me – they then managed to lose to Scotland in an ODI in Edinburgh

For those that don’t know me, my girlfriend is Scottish and hates cricket but all of a sudden she now loves cricket following the weekend’s antics. Just last week I suggested doing some cricket activities when we next go to visit her family which were brushed of at the time. Now it’s apparently a really good idea to go and see what Scottish cricket is all about…

Enough about that though, what I want to talk about is this fantastic England one day side. I think the reason they entertain so many cricket lovers around the world is you really do not know who is going to turn up for England when the coloured clothing is on. Take last year’s Champions Trophy as an example, they coasted past Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia – only to be rolled over for 211 by a Pakistan team who no one gave a prayer too.

I think the more experienced and hardened cricket fans can understand that it can happen. Christ, it happened at the weekend against Scotland – one result doesn’t determine the quality of this England team but of course, there are points to improve.

For me, I believe the strength in depth is not as great as we are told. With no Ben Stokes or Jos Buttler at the weekend, IPL champion and Kent captain – Sam Billings was handed his 14th cap. Billings is seen as the next option in the middle order yet in 11 innings he averages 23.63 striking at 92.85. Compare it to his career numbers where he strikes at 106.98 and averages 40.42 and this is where the question marks occur about why certain players cannot bring their domestic form into the international arena.

Billings is the only tried example because such is the lack of middle order talent within the county game at the moment, it does not seem that their is much in the bank for England should Buttler or Stokes go down again. Liam Dawson is potentially next in line due to his presence around the England squad in the last few years especially when taking his bowling into consideration but it is doubtful that he would be trusted to fill in at 5/6 with the likeliness being that Moeen Ali is moved up and Dawson slots in behind.

One man who probably deserves a chance in one format is Ben Foakes of Surrey. In the last three years within the domestic One Day cup, Foakes has averaged 55.80 (2018), 96.40 (2017) and 47.14 (2016). He has been vital to a Surrey side that reached 3 finals in a row before this year and with Billings being used as Buttler’s understudy with the gloves as well – it is perfect for Foakes to come in and take up the role that Billings’ has failed to make his own.

This is not the only issue within the England side. The similarity within their attack is now a worry. Against Scotland, England fielded three seamers in David Willey, Mark Wood and Liam Plunkett. Again, there is not much variation left in the county game with every ‘expert’ crying out for more pace. The Scotland game showed how vital Ben Stokes is because with four seamers and two spinners, England look a totally different beast compared to when the option of the fourth seamer is taken away.

Why can’t we just replace Stokes with Sam Curran like we did in the Test side some may say. Probably because S. Curran only averages 21.48 in List A cricket compared to Stokes who averages 35.16. More is needed from the younger Curran with the bat before he can be considered a like for like replacement for Stokes. I don’t really like to discuss the problem with Stokes missing because I don’t believe there is a solution, without Stokes you are forced to play an extra batsman which means if one of your five bowlers gets smashed around – you cannot take him off and he has to bowl his allotted amount of overs.

The talk of Sussex’s Jofra Archer being in England’s World Cup squad for next summer has been quashed by Eoin Morgan and rightly so.  Archer would only replace one of the seamers in the line up and as I’ve said through out this blog, what England need is options out there. Of course, they beat Australia in Australia without Stokes and all is not lost without him. I just believe he is the most vital cog in this England team going into the final year before the World Cup.

In conclusion, what England need to do is to gain more depth for position within their middle order and ensure they can fit six bowling options into their one-day side (or wrap Ben Stokes in cotton wool until the World Cup).

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WHAT MORE CAN ENGLAND DO IN ONE DAY CRICKET?

IPL moves are good for English Cricket

It may be stating the obvious, but these IPL deals for the eight English representatives in the Indian Premier League can only be a good thing going forward for English Cricket.

Though Ben Stokes broke records with his £1.7million pay out from Rising Pune Supergiants, it should be noted that this is still a bit of a gamble from the franchise. This is said due to his international T20 record maybe not being as good as it should be for the talents that Stokes possess.

His average of 22.71 scored at a strike rate of 134 is fair enough given his regular position of 5/6 in the England line up but as a bowler, Stokes goes at just over nine an over, striking at 48.50. There is no doubting Stokes’ talents as a box office player but if you take a moneyball approach to your buying technique, then he is simply not a wise buy. With that said, there is no doubting the potential for Stokes to have a good IPL and for this move to be great for English cricket.

Another Englishmen who also hit the headlines in the IPL auction was Tymal Mills. Once Mitchell Starc had withdrawn from the tournament due to injury, it was obvious that Royal Challengers Bangalore would be looking for a left arm quick like Mills who as stated previously here, bowls very quick with clever variations. The £1.2m payout for Mills could well be justified as RCB look to put together a bowling attack that compliments the top four of Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Shane Watson and AB de Villiers.

Whilst Mills replaced Starc in a like for like according to RCB, Kolkota Knight Riders did similar by snapping up Chris Woakes as a replacement for Andre Russell. Whilst there is no replacing the Jamaican Russell (who misses the tournament following a failed drugs test), Woakes has proven to have great bowling skills in one day cricket as well as being more than handy with the bat. Behind Stokes, Woakes was the next best replacement KKR could conjure up and this could be a very shrewd signing even though Woakes is currently not in England’s T20 squad.

Jason Roy’s move to Gujarat Lions could also be questioned by fans of the franchise. Whilst there is no doubting Roy’s ability, was there a need for another opener baring in mind that the franchise already have the likes of Aaron Finch, Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith in their ranks. On current form, Roy should open the batting with McCullum as he looks to be the best option but their still seems to be little point in the Lions using one of their overseas slots to pick up another opener, though they may be rewarded if Roy continues the recent form he has been showing.

Other moves for Englishmen saw Sunrisers Hyderabad pick up Chris Jordan which makes the franchise a mouthwatering prospect in the death overs as Jordan looks to pair up with former Sussex team mate and Bangladeshi star, Mustafizur Rahman. The Sunrisers have also picked up Afghanistan’s former captain, Mohammed Nabi and eighteen year old legspinner, Rashid Khan and certainly look to be an exciting franchise as they look to defend their crown.

Eoin Morgan, who was released by the Sunrisers, was picked up by Kings XI Punjab and that also looks to be a wise move as Kings XI have got some well needed calmness among their ranks and another batter to support the charismatic duo of Glenn Maxwell and David Miller.

Jos Butler and Sam Billings return to their franchises, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Daredevils respectively and whilst they both shone briefly in IPL 9 – they will look to kick on in their second seasons at their franchises are both have the real potential to do so. Both are fantastic players of spin and in India, that could well work in their favour as they look to establish themselves in the tournament.

So a fascinating auction for all English cricket fans, the IPL looks to be a mouthwatering prospect ahead of a big few months of cricket and with more English players taking part than ever, it can be expected that IPL 10 will be widely followed in the UK.

 

IPL moves are good for English Cricket

Morgan, Moeen justify their places

It’s crazy really how the constant criticism of Eoin Morgan among cricket fans keeps reoccurring. Morgan picked up a team on their haunches nearly two years ago and got it to a point where it has the belief to go and score 350 twice in India with the bat.

I agree that bowling has been tough this series, but take nothing away from Morgan – he has been sensational for the past two years in leading this side. His 102 from 81 balls in Cuttack for the second ODI against India will quieten the doubters for another series at least but it really shouldn’t. His twelve over stand of 93 with Moeen Ali really rejuvenated England’s chase of 381 in which they fell 15 runs short in the end. It is blatantly obvious to see that England are a better side with Morgan at the helm for the time being.

Moeen himself reiterated his importance to this English One Day side with an aggressive 55 from 43 balls as well as bowling six overs for just 33 runs in an innings where 381 was scored from 50 overs, it was mind boggling how Moeen especially did not bowl more overs as the solitary spinner in the English attack. It is easy to forget that Moeen is a batting all-rounder by trade but the job he has done of taking the burden of spin bowling has been superb in One-Day cricket and only exposed in Asia in Test Match cricket. It would be great if England had another Greame Swann coming through, but they don’t and Moeen does what’s required of him.

Featured in an earlier post, the question was asked about Sam Billings in the England XI. His  chance may have opened with Alex Hales requiring an x-ray on the little finger of his right hand, Billings opened in Bangladesh when Jason Roy went down ill and could well gain an opportunity at the top of the order in the last ODI against India. Billings goes into the game after a 93 against India ‘A’ and widely regarded by some as an excellent player of spin – he should slot right in to this England team.

Meanwhile, Hales suddenly finds himself under pressure to perform. His 171 against Pakistan at Trent Bridge seems a while a go now and with him missing the Bangladesh series and not setting this series alight, could Billings take his place with a strong performance here? As doubtful as that may be, it will be interesting to see whether or not this point is a discussion come the West Indies series in March.

Morgan, Moeen justify their places