One Day We’ll Fly Away

England win the ODI series 3-1, and did this in varying styles. We dug a game out from a troublesome position, we set a middling to good total and bowled well, and we smashed a massive total which was never really under threat. That’s probably the most pleasing point from this series, and lets leave aside just how good, or not so good, the opposition might have been, and shows there isn’t just one way this team can win.

Having said that, our batsmen are going to win many more games than our bowlers. I’m sure that’s not an exclusive revelation, but the bowling is still capable of going for plenty. It did against New Zealand, to a lesser degree (and that might be down to the change in regulations) against Australia, and it may well do again when the human cyclone that is AB DeVillier reaps his storm.

To quote the mystics from May “there does not appear to be any vacancies in the batting line-up” at present. Don’t worry, pearl clutchers, I’m not mentioning him. With Hales and Roy at the top, Root at three, Morgan at four, Taylor at five, Buttler at six, Stokes at seven and Ali at eight (with Rashid maybe at nine), that is an exciting batting line-up. It could do serious, serious damage. If either of our spin bowlers could become regular wicket-taking threats, we’d be in a really solid position.

What you will get with this batting line-up, as you probably will with most, is brittleness. I’ve seen Jason Roy enough, as have most of you now, that he will go early quite regularly. I’ve compared him many times not to you-know-who, but to Ali Brown. If England had stuck by Brown, took the rough with the smooth, and not bowed to the usual staid and boring methods, we’d have had a winner. I’m convinced. I saw him play enough when I was a Surrey member, in county championship and one dayers, to see it. Roy is a talent. But even yesterday, he started a bit dodgily, with two inside edges flying past his stumps. He was out second ball in the first match. It will happen. We need to stick by him. It was brilliant to see a Surrey man make a hundred for England. Not counting who I can’t name, it might be the first international hundred by a Surrey man since The Thorpe in 2004 at Durban. I think!

At the other end Alex Hales also made his first ODI hundred, and without it we might have been in strife in that game. Hales is again going to be hit and miss, but his hundred was pretty mature in many ways. He got himself in then let himself go. Hales is likely to open, we think, in Durban next month in the test team (though I still remain to be convinced they’ll take this mighty plunge) and we should see what happens (although we might not like the answers). It’s tough to get a huge feel of a series I could only watch on highlights shows, but Hales seems to be finding his way. It still beggars belief that we haven’t had that faith in him for longer. But that’s history now. What I would say is I thought the reaction of the England camp afterwards was a bit OTT. Hales has a long way to go, he’s not there yet, but the upside is phenomenally exciting.

Jos Buttler’s hundred yesterday was amazing, even on highlights. Good grief, what a talent. Some of those shots are played only by the true greats of ODI cricket. That reverse sweep when he barely moved his feet and just belted it behind backward point was staggering. Also, when he got the free hit, he just took a look at the ball, and guided it behind square for four when many others would have looked to belt a six. Brilliant shot selection, awesome power, so many weapons at his disposal, a calm head, what on earth is there not to like. It’s lazy to compare him to Gilchrist, just because they are keepers who can bat. I’ve not really seen anyone like him to be honest. The travails at test level are mystifying, but I pray he gets through them. My real fear, and I hope it is not going to happen, is that he’ll be pigeonholed as an ODI player now white ball cricket is a priority. No-one doubts that Bairstow is most likely to keep in Durban.

The other batsmen weren’t needed so much, although Root was his usual solid self with half centuries, and Taylor won the sort of game we’ll need him to win, where his ability to manouevre the ball around with what looks a more solid technique, is going to be important. He’s no slouch when you need to get a move on, but he’s not the unleashed havoc of Roy, Hales, Buttler and Morgan.

The bowling coped without Finn, Wood or the two senior bowlers who may have played their last ODIs (although neither have retired). It remains to be seen if Willey and Topley are the answer, but they aren’t letting anyone down at this stage. Moeen Ali is still such a promising talent, able to make ODI hundreds and to bowl his share of overs that you can’t imagine the team without him at this stage. Rashid is going to be a daisy player. Some days he will go well, some days he will go far. South Africa will be a real test. Woakes seems like a squad player to me, but others really rate him. It’s nice to have a decent player like him in the wings (a little unfair to compare him to a bit and pieces player), but you can’t discount that he can bat (same as you can’t do that with Willey).

It’s promising, it’s pretty exciting, it’s the coming through of new one day talent, meshed to those who show aptitude for the format already. It is important that this is allowed to settle, but also not to be a closed shop. Bairstow is a fine ODI player in my opinion, especially when on form. I am intrigued by Billings, and would like to see him given a go in an elevated batting position (I think he might be the long term answer at test level – just a hunch based on the limited amount I’ve seen).

But, despite all this, I don’t get that sense of excitement that compares any way to test cricket by people out there. Sure, no-one can be anything but enraptured by Buttler’s hitting, and our two openers making hundreds, but it’s a fleeting thing. That was the point of the two pieces over the previous weekend on white ball cricket. No doubt if this team continues to perform like this, there will be a lot of excitement, and perhaps the new ODI team will capture the imagination. It’s probably sad, but true, that this team will face a firm examination in 2017 when the Champions Trophy returns to these shores, and a failure at that will have much wailing. England and its media don’t particularly like stability. Thus far stability has paid handsome rewards, as Strauss’s backing of Morgan shows.

The test squad raised some comments, and if time permits, I’ll be commenting on that. But well done to the ODI team, there’s something to hang on to, they’ve beaten what was put in front of them, and that’s all they can do. That it’s an exciting batting line-up (and I’m biased towards batting) is something to look forward to. See them all again in January.

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19 thoughts on “One Day We’ll Fly Away

  1. Stevetuffers November 21, 2015 / 4:03 pm

    Well I’m enjoying it. Not much else to say.

    What’s good is that there is a good squad of 15-18 cricketers that you wouldn’t mind seeing if picked, that includes the much maligned Woakes. Folks should give the guy a bloody break.

    can’t say the same for tests at the minute.

    Also like that this team isn’t dominated by a cult figure. It’s bloody off putting.

    Can’t say the same for tests at the minute.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rohan November 21, 2015 / 7:21 pm

    Good stuff Dmitri. Agree completely, that is a batting line up that could tear most attacks apart, when they get it right!

    Was thrilled to see Butler smash that century, was rooting for him all through the test series and disappointed to see him dropped.

    I do find the dropping of Bell and Buttler something of a double standard compared to Cook, but hey we have been here before with Compton, Caberry and Robson to name a few. I should have expected it really……..

    I saw Roy make his T20 debut for Surrey some years ago, great to see him get that century and rise to international level. Quite a cult following for him at Surrey, I think?

    Looking forward to the tests in SA and good to see KP state what others would not dare, or are to blinkered to realise. Namely, that this series for England, against the number 1 team, is their biggest in years!

    Like

  3. Benny November 21, 2015 / 8:31 pm

    Must say that, if you aren’t in the camp that believes England have a divine right to be No. 1, this ODI team has provided a lot of enjoyment, did very well and will get better. Don’t think what was put in front of them was bad, Dmitri – Junaid Khan, Yashir, Hafeez are pretty good.

    We may well get beaten in SA but, if it’s treated as a learning experience, I don’t have a problem with that. I’ll be interested to see whether The Management can improve the Test team in the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Escort November 21, 2015 / 9:18 pm

    Should Compton show form in any warm up game then he has to open again with Cook doesn’t he?
    Can the selectors, coaches and captain really afford to take a big punt on another “left of field” opening partner for Cook?

    Like

    • Rohan November 21, 2015 / 10:01 pm

      Did I read somewhere on here that someone suggested Cook playing at 3, not a bad idea……Compton and Hales to open?

      Like

      • LordCanisLupus November 21, 2015 / 10:41 pm

        If that happens in South Africa then I’ll start a blog about Ice Dancing. Cook is a world class opener. We don’t have another of those.

        Liked by 1 person

      • escort November 21, 2015 / 10:47 pm

        Cook can only open.

        Like

      • jennyah46 November 22, 2015 / 5:50 pm

        You did see it here and same as I said before it will never happen. Dogs will miaow first and cats will bark. 🙂

        Like

    • d'Arthez November 22, 2015 / 8:32 am

      Cook can only open? Yeah, that explains his two centuries batting at #3. And the fact that his highest batting average comes at #3. Admittedly, he has not batted there since the Hair-induced farce of a Test win against Pakistan, but still. To say he is incapable of that is stretching it a bit.

      I don’t think they’ll do it. If only because one opener and Root are the only ones who have done well enough, and further jigging with the batting order can only lead to more confusion, given that yet more alterations have to be made (Moeen won’t open; Taylor and Bairstow are just a few Test in since the last time they were dropped; Bell won’t be there).

      A top three of Cook, Hales and Compton will probably mean that Compton is picked to bat at three.

      Like

      • Escort November 22, 2015 / 2:42 pm

        So you agree with me that Cook can only open ?

        Like

  5. pktroll (@pktroll) November 22, 2015 / 4:32 am

    The shape of the ODI team almost seems inverse from that of the test team. The test side now has only two batsmen who are properly established (Cook and Root) with two bowlers (Anderson and Broad) being all far better than average players.

    The ODI side on the other hand has several spots that are more or less secure but those that are in a state of flux are in the pace attack. Of course the unavailability of Stokes and Finn for two in this series has probably clouded the waters. Even if Finn wasn’t ‘back’ at the end of last summer, at least he was hitting the crease after a smoother run-up than he was back in the dark days of the world cup. Hopefully when he does come back from injury he will also take the new ball for the white ball outfits.

    Like

    • BoredInAustria November 22, 2015 / 7:13 am

      Agree – there is a strange difference between the Test side and the other sides. Fed by the suspicion that selection for the Test side is not based on merit, I believe it is (still) a toxic environment to work in, and will not change until Mr Cook is relieved of the captaincy. Cook is though just the symptom, the problem sits deeper – Management.

      The mysterious power game around Clarke and Graves that must have an influence on the middle management and the team. And a post by me will not be complete if not having a go at Flower…

      He still reigns suppreme in Loughborough and the Lions, and I can imagine was responsible for the return of Trott (thereby throwing Lyth in the deep end), and possibly other decisions (Rashid, Compton, Carberry etc…) that still shapes the team.

      And such reports make my blood boil:

      “The players were exposed to a range of different training techniques at the NCPC. The batsmen did some power-hitting work with Julian Wood, a former Hampshire player who has spent some time in baseball with Texas Rangers – and there was even some sparring with a boxing coach.”

      http://www.ecb.co.uk/news/articles/power-hitting-epp-agenda

      Showing my ignorance, I have no idea who Julian Wood is, (although I could think of an ex-Hamshire player that could have some tips), and the bits on baseball and boxing just brings the recent England rugby experimentation to mind…

      ECB. Fish. Head. Still rotten.

      PS – Article on Woods. Pure Flowerisms:’base stance loads’, ‘rotational power’ and ‘power ratio transfer’. Compared to KP “see ball, hit ball”.

      http://www.eurosport.co.uk/cricket/julian-wood-hopes-to-have-england-batsmen-hitting-opponents-for-six_sto4986574/story.shtml

      Liked by 1 person

      • pktroll (@pktroll) November 22, 2015 / 11:34 am

        Flower certainly seems to have too much credit with many parts of the media, especially as they seem so forgetful about the earlier parts of 2012, nevermind his final series in charge. Some folk love to have a moan at Fletcher’s last year in charge, yet he was left with a side shorn of a number of key players from his most successful era with the loss of Trescothick, Vaughan and perhaps even more so Simon Jones. Yet no such scrutiny is left with Flower over that last period with Cook’s leadership both in the Ashes and the following Sri Lankan series being glossed over by our most loved (not) journalists). Like most folk on here I would have had Cook sacked after his inept leadership in the 2013/4 Ashes but the ECB really are a bunch of blithering/cringing morons.

        I do think though that Bayliss would not like to have much in the way of interference from above and that the test team has played with a bit more freedom since Moores was axed. To be honest I don’t think there was that much different tactically between the Flower and Moores era except that the players probably respected or feared Flower and didn’t much do either for the latter. It would explain the ludicrous way in which they always gave singles to the more set batsmen and had rather defensive fields that allowed the lower order to accumulate and get away from them (perm any one of the 2013/4 Ashes tests bar Sydney) and the first 4 tests of the England home summer in 2014.

        The biggest problem the test team has is that if a couple of the most obvious four players fail to fire, England are boned, totally and utterly.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Zephirine November 22, 2015 / 2:51 pm

        Quite agree, BiA, in fact my heart rather sank when Strauss started talking about how important white-ball cricket was going to be, as it had seemed that Morgan and the other players were starting to get on quite nicely being relatively unnoticed while the Really Important people still thought one-day stuff didn’t count.

        Like

      • Arron Wright November 22, 2015 / 3:21 pm

        @pktroll
        Your first paragraph is spot on – that’s exactly where and why my total disillusionment with the press coverage of England cricket originated.

        I’m going to give this another airing, because I worked on it for a while: Flower’s W:L record Feb 09 – Aug 11 is exactly the same as Fletcher’s Jul 03 – Sep 05; Flower’s W:L record Jan 12 – Jan 14 is exactly the same as Fletcher and Moores Nov 05 – Mar 08. Yet that latter period is repeatedly presented as a continuation of the earlier success that *just happened* to fall apart right at the end. It is certainly never compared to the mediocrity of 2005-08.

        I find it sickening, to be honest: there are other people (Bell, you-know-who, even Cook for a good while) whose statistical failings receive plenty of attention. But HIM? Never. It is *always* “No.1 in all formats, wins in Australia and India, World T20”, like some sort of hagiographical mantra for someone who never scored a single run or took a single wicket.

        Still believe that fear of, or closeness to, that man explains an awful lot of what we’ve put up with in the last three years or so.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. d'Arthez November 22, 2015 / 8:24 am

    Raymond van Schoor, the Namibian batsman-wicketkeeper, aged 25, passed away last night. He suffered a massive stroke earlier in the week while playing a game of cricket. Rest in peace.

    Like

    • Zephirine November 22, 2015 / 2:44 pm

      How sad. 25.

      Like

  7. greyblazer November 22, 2015 / 10:53 am

    England can’t afford to “retire” Stuart Broad from ODI cricket, he still has a lot to offer.

    Like

    • Benny November 22, 2015 / 1:19 pm

      Spot on. Broad is a fine bowler, not close to taking his pension and I can’t believe a 10 over spell now and then is too much for him.

      The american baseball thing is bizarre. The first skill a batsman needs is knowing which ball to smack into the crowd and which to resist. A baseball player will have no experience whatsoever of a ball bouncing.

      Liked by 1 person

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