You’ve got me. TLG was at The Who last night, and is working(ish) today, so it’s Dmitri for your “sort of” match report.
In the end we were well beaten today. Alex Hales can hold his head high. Reece Topley can do so too. The rest… well we’ll be charitable and say some might look at themselves. However, to use an awful phrase, the direction of travel is still pointing the correct way. Setbacks are natural.
There’s a temptation to view ODI cricket as black and white. England’s previous tactics, exemplified in the World Cup, were out of date, out of time and out of ideas. The new approach is attacking, aggressive, more in tune with the requirements of the 50 over game. The meme today is that the latter is good, except when it doesn’t work.My personal view is that this is exceptionally lazy, and easy, punditry. Laud the excitement, scold them for being reckless. It’s called having your cake and eating it. Nasser Hussain, I’m talking about you.
Too many were bemoaning the England team hitting out and getting out, and not “playing the conditions”. Remember when we scored the 400 at Edgbaston last year – it wasn’t from 200 for 1. The punditerati seem to love this attacking stuff, except when it fails. You have to wonder if they are suffering from ADHD or something. I expect it from professional Yorkshiremen (and shiny toy ones too). You need to work out what is most likely to win. There’s commitment to the plan. That’s not a bad thing, as a whole.
The fact is that these games are of their moment. England won the World T20 in 2010, and have not won an international tournament other than that (I mean ICC of course). These bilateral series scarcely have any relevance. We beat New Zealand in a decider last June, and lost to Australia in a decider in September, but we don’t really recall them (you hear anyone mention Bairstow’s Houdini act in the NZ game?). This is the journey to massive event, and there will be bumps along the way. The only way to win games consistently playing this way is to continue to play this way. I know some will rue the lack of brains (I did) and it’s a fair comment, but this team approaches a game aiming for 300 minimum. I’d rather see them fail in trying than just whimper up to a score.
Well done to Alex Hales for his sensible, well-made hundred. Sure, his partners let him down, but it’s still good to see the tyro opener knuckle down and make a century. This will do him the world of good. He’s had a fine series. Reece Topley’s opening spell opened up the match, but class and experience in AB and Hashim steadied the ship and then took the game by the scruff of the neck. While this is a young England team, it’s also a quite young South African bowling attack, and the differencce in ODI caps, as Simon pointed out earlier, isn’t vast. But experience is married with maturity in the senior pros in the home team, and this was clever, sensible batting chasing a mediocre total.
Lots will be made that we lost a series from 2-0 up. Shrug your shoulders. So what? The next two international tournaments at 50 over level are being played on our fair shores. Let’s get to be the best in those conditions. These overseas jaunts sell tickets for home grounds, get people watching on TV, and can provide some stunning entertainment. But they mean little. We all know that. We know now what we knew before, but with more evidence.
Hales – more solid presence at the top of the order, and now nailed on for his spot after top scoring this series.
Roy – Still more miss than hit. Might find himself under pressure.
Root – World class, the anchor man who scores at a decent lick. Two centuries in losing causes. First batting name on sheet.
Morgan – Disappointing with the bat. Disappointed with him for that interview. Sure it’s a coincidence the series went downhill after that.
Buttler – One magnificent hundred, one impressive closure, then failed. He’s this team in a nutshell. When he’s good, we’re very very good.
Stokes – Absolutely infuriating at this form of the game. Some good contributions but we know there is more.
Ali – Frustrating series. I await the siren calls to get him to open if Roy doesn’t make some strides.
Rashid – You know, I like him. Bowled well when I saw him. He’s not going to be lights out.
Broad – Not really made a compelling case to play in this squad, rather than just save him for tests.
Woakes – The dullest enigma going. Some like him, some don’t. Good squad man.
Willey – Absolutely not convinced he’s international class.
Topley – Made some strides. I’m not convinced he’s the solution, but I’m also sure he’s not the problem.
Jordan – Doesn’t appear to have progressed. Got to be under pressure.
Be interested to hear your thoughts.
AB was majestic after a relatively quiet South African summer. He took his time to get in, and had the luxury of knowing a target in doing so, and timed it to perfection. It was a wonderful captain’s innings. It clinched a series that looked lost. He reminded us of his ability. Appreciate it while it is here.