Today saw another pretty one-sided, turgid affair with Bangladesh comfortably beating Afghanistan on a pitch that was well suited to their spinners. The pitch at the Aegeas Bowl has become consistently slow and low as the tournament has gone on leading to some fairly dull cricket for those watching. At least today’s game is the last one to be scheduled at the Bramsgrove Bowl as England certainly wouldn’t fancy batting on that pitch, which was similar to the one at Headingley and it is quite possible England would have collapsed in a heap for 150 all out playing silly shots and aiming for 330 when 260 is a par score on such pitch. It doesn’t look like this will be the case tomorrow after seeing George Dobell’s earlier tweet:
If England’s game plan is to have a pitch that does something for the quicks and if they do plan to leave some of the grass on this, then their plan is not without huge risks as the Aussie bowling attack of Starc, Cummins and company will be licking their lips at the prospect of bowling to a weakened England batting order with some help from the pitch. Even if they do take some of the grass off the pitch, then it would be a huge surprise if there is much turn for either of the side’s spinners, as England no doubt don’t want to be undone the way they were undone at Headingley. Is this particularly fair to both sides, probably not, but in a way, it piles more pressure on this English team to perform tomorrow in the hunt for a semi-final slot.
We now know that Jason Roy has once again been ruled out of this English side, so we get to have the pleasure of seeing James Vince open the innings, play a couple of pleasing cover drives and then get out at slip chasing a wide one for a pretty but ineffective 15. It was Shane Warne who said that Monty Panesar “rather than having played 33 Tests, had merely played his first one 33 times.” The same argument can be made about James Vince who it seems hasn’t learnt a single lesson in his time in an England shirt and is in the team not on merit, but because he has ‘the right values’. Either that or he has some serious dirt on Ed Smith, naturally the latter would be funnier to see. This absolutely has to be last chance saloon for Vince, another failure would surely make his place in the team untenable and anything less than a serious, match influencing knock should not be tolerated. The so-called ‘put up or shut up’ time has come for Mr Vince.
As for the rest of the side, if there is unlikely to be much turn or some grass is left on the wicket, then you would expect England to rest one of their spinners in favour of playing Liam Plunkett, who has the uncanny knack of taking wickets in the middle of the innings. One would suggest that Moeen is at greatest risk, especially after his performance with the bat in Leeds, where it was suggested rather kindly that he has dumplings for brains at times. Rashid is also bowling well, but as is often the case, England have a history of dropping a bowler every time the batsmen fall in a heap, so Moeen’s perceived superiority with the bat might elicit favour. The England selectors normally have a habit of making the wrong decisions, so expect Moeen to open and Root to be dropped!!
As for Australia, they are likely to stick with the same side that comprehensively beat Bangladesh with their hopes that either Warner or more likely Finch can get them off to a flier whilst the rest of the batsmen bat around Steve Smith who will hope to anchor the innings. I still think Australia’s bowling attack is a little weak, especially if you can see off Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins with the new ball, so ideally, they’ll want the pitch to be doing something or to bat first and put runs on the board to create scoreboard pressure for England.
Make no mistake, this is a massive game for England with a loss meaning that they are likely to need to beat India and New Zealand to progress to the Semi Finals. If England collapse in a heap once again, when the pressure is on, they’ll be a whole lot of red faces at the ECB’s headquarters and some pretty difficult questions coming their way. Not that Geoffrey Boycott seems worried with the upcoming game, after all we won 2 World Wars! What a complete and utter plumb!
What? Someone say he wasn’t talking about England’s chances at the World Cup? I must have misunderstood….
As always, please do leave your thoughts below…