With the ODI series starting tomorrow, it finally feels like the international summer has arrived and hence will likely give us a true indication on whether Director Comma was right to place such an emphasis on white ball cricket since his appointment. Without wanting to disrespect the West Indies or an Ireland team that is tragically starting to wane, the upcoming series will give us an idea as to whether England are the real deal in one day cricket or whether it has been another false dawn.
On paper, the South African side looks as strong as any in International cricket at this current juncture, with a plethora of talented batsmen, bowlers and all-rounders. The opening partnership of Quinton De Kock and Hashim Amla offers both explosive power and exquisite timing in order to get the South African team off to a flyer, with De Kock in particular, in prime form at the moment. Of course, any side boasting the talents of AB De Villiers are going to be a threat to the opposing bowling attack, even if he looked slightly out of sorts in the IPL and with the late power hitting abilities of David Miller and Chris Morris, the South African batting attack is certainly up there with the best. As for the bowling, it isn’t quite as formidable as the batting but still boasts the likes of Rabada, Morkel and of course Imran Tahir, who despite his quite frankly ridiculous wicket celebrations, is one of the premier spin bowlers in one day cricket.
As for England, it seems rather surreal that they have actually had a settled side in the lead up to the tournament. I keep waking up waiting to hear that Gary Ballance has been parachuted into the side, but so far England are approaching the tournament with alarming efficiency. However, this is going to be the acid test as we approach the Champions Trophy. We keep hearing from the England squad about how much they’ve improved, which they have and how they are now a match for anyone in white ball cricket. Indeed Sam Billings recently said:
“Previously in this country we haven’t made one-day cricket a priority as such, but now people are petrified of our side now and you only find that out by talking to them.
It’s very interesting to hear what other internationals think of our side. It’s kind of gone full circle – people now think we have a seriously good squad. You’ve probably got ten more guys who could slot in and do well. It keeps everyone on their toes.
Generally there’s a buzz around the reputation of the England team in white ball cricket – it’s amazing to think about that transition from two years ago.”
Now of course there is nothing wrong about being bullish about England’s chances in the Champions Trophy, but there is a fine line between positivity and overconfidence. It is worth still remembering that England are ranked number 5 in the ODI format and whilst other teams have a new found respect for England, I very much doubt that they are petrified. Certainly not yet.
As for the make up of the side, it is now a pretty settled team with only slight question marks around the identity of the number 7 and which fast bowler will get the nod alongside Woakes and Wood (if he can stay fit). The main school of thought will be that Moeen comes in at number 7, which provides England with 6 full time bowling options; however I wouldn’t be too surprised if England went with Root as the 6th bowler and someone like Billings coming in at 7 to be the so called finisher, especially if the pitches are not particularly spin friendly. As for the bowling, which is without doubt the weaker link of England’s ODI team, it seems like it is a straight fight between Willey and Plunkett to be the main third seamer in this team. As for Jonny Bairstow, who is in the form of his life, it does appear that he is condemned to be carrying the drinks unless one of the top 5 picks up an injury.
This summer and winter are likely to define the reigns of both Bayliss and Strauss in both red ball and white ball cricket, and both sorely need for England to be successful in the Champions Trophy to build momentum going into the Test Series. If England fall in heap in the Champions Trophy and then fail to beat South Africa in the Test series, there are going to be some very awkward questions to be answered in the build up to the Ashes tour. The rhetoric stops now, it’s all about what England can do on the park. An interesting summer of cricket certainly awaits.
As ever, thoughts and comments on the game below:
For anyone who’s interested and hasn’t noticed it yet:
The major revelation is what #39 says about the number of envisaged satellite broadcasters…. followed closely by what he says about how FTA should be defined in the future.
“If England fall in heap in the Champions Trophy and then fail to beat South Africa in the Test series…”
I get the point you’re making here, Sean, but at least that first condition is very unlikely. We’re just not used to this, but the fact is England are a pretty steady one day side now. Even if a game or even series doesn’t go our way, we are still competitive. The traditional ‘heap’ that is so engrained in our expectations informs us more as to how easy it is for human beings to be conditioned than it does our current ODI team’s prospects in any series or competition.
Failing to beat South Africa in the tests, however.. Can’t help thinking a lot is going to ride on how well Chris Woakes does.
Headingley weather is lovely and the pitch is a good one. I know this because the commentators have told us half a dozen times (so far)
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Every run that Morgan scores now feels like a jab directly back in Ollie Holts face. I quietly enjoy that feeling.
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I’d forgotten about that nonentity Holt, but, now you remind me…me too! 🙂
Fascinating analysis from Brettig on the contrast between the non-unionised workforces CA’s directors are used to dealing with and the solidarity Australian cricketers have in the ACA:
Great game from Morgan. Should, but probably won’t, shut his detractors up?
I wonder if darling Alistair loses any sleep for his disingenuous remarks after the one day captaincy was “taken away” from him, or that the side needs his “real leadership”?
I knew Shiny Toy wasn’t as bright as his captaincy had led me to believe all those years ago, but he’s excelled himself on Twitter today. What a simplistic boneheaded twit.
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Well, it’s a start
BTW has anyone heard anything more about the Sky Sports revamp? Or was it fake news?
“Bumper period of cricket on FTA television” says the Telegraph. No more bumper than the summer of 2009, wherein Channel 5 had the England home international highlights (including the Ashes) and the BBC showed highlights of the World T20. In fact, that summer we had the additional bonus of the BBC documentary Empire of Cricket which had three or four excellent episodes focusing on each cricketing nation, and they also showed the Scotland v Australia live. So, I think 2009 was more of the “bumper summer”.
That 2009-2011 period was a better period for FTA cricket – you had what I’ve just described in the 2009 summer, ITV started showing the IPL in the Spring of 2010, ITV showed highlights of the Ashes in 2010-11, before the BBC showed highlights of the 2011 World Cup, and ITV came back with the IPL just afterwards.
It’s good to see the BBC back in the TV highlights game for the first time since 2011, but this isn’t a step change, not at all.
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You wait until the new T20 tournament appears on Quest or Prime, those well known FTA outlets owned by big conglomerates. That will spread it to the masses…