OPINION: Disappointed England Still Have Everything To Play For

England will be bitterly disappointed to have lost the ODI series out in India, having gone 2-0 down with one match to play. Having spoken to a couple of the players shortly before they left for India, including Heather Knight, whilst they didn’t underestimate India, they genuinely believed this was a series they could win.

England were even handed a bonus “Get Out Of Jail Free” card via the absence of Harmanpreet Kaur through injury, but they haven’t been able to capitalise as their batting has failed on both occasions.

This is an experienced batting line-up – England’s top 6 in the 2nd ODI debuted (on average) in 2010, with the most recent debuts in 2013. There are a lot of caps on those heads, but only Nat Sciver has come out and batted like it. Sure, there have been glimpses of the class we know these players have – Tammy Beaumont played a couple of glorious strokes in the 2nd ODI, but the only one anyone will remember is the horrendous slog-sweep she got out to!

Heather Knight played a fighting innings in the 1st ODI, but was out carelessly in the 2nd, underestimating the weight of a delivery from Jhulan Goswami and bunting a catch to extra cover. Sarah Taylor also misjudged the same bowler – there’s nothing necessarily wrong with driving at a ball half a mile outside off stump without moving your feet… but you better make sure you middle it if you do – Taylor didn’t, and it came off a thick edge to take out her stumps!

Overall, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that England batted poorly, more than India bowled especially well – there should be no excuses for this, and you can be sure that in the dressing-room there won’t be – both Mark Robinson and Heather Knight will see to that.

So with one ODI to play the series is lost, but there are still two ICC Championship points to play for, so England need to pick themselves up and go again on Thursday. Although they are currently 7th in the points table, the schedule is to their advantage, with Sri Lanka, Pakistan and West Indies at home still to play, so there is no need to hit the panic button, especially remembering that 4 teams plus New Zealand qualify automatically for the World Cup. But nonetheless, a couple of points on Thursday would give them some extra breathing room during the run-in.

All England need to do in these conditions is take a lesson from their opponents – there are no demons in these pitches, but there aren’t that many runs either – just keep calm and try to get a 4-an-over total of around 200 on the board by playing sensible cricket – basically, exactly what they did (and India didn’t) in the World Twenty20 semi-final just a few short months ago!

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12 thoughts on “OPINION: Disappointed England Still Have Everything To Play For

  1. Difficult to comment as I haven’t been able to watch either game, but have listened to what I could on TMS (and bravo to them for being out there covering it properly, while we’re on the subject!).

    However, it seems to me that we have too many batsmen either (a) out of form or (b) not playing the conditions (possibly as a result of (a)). Beaumont, Jones and Taylor have barely a run between them over three matches – 67 in 9 innings combined – and the top three need to be laying a sounder platform.

    Knight and Sciver can hold their heads reasonably high, but again the lower middle order have to be more bloody-minded about stickability at the crease.

    The bowling is harder to knock. We did well in parts in the first game (where Raj, Bhatia and co showed that a certain amount of patience can get you a long way, and can wear down the bowlers in hot conditions – a lesson England should not need to learn with all their experience), but didn’t have enough to defend in the second match, which always leaves an attack up against it.

    India is not a place that is easy to tour for any team, and only having one warm-up game leaves little margin for error. However, that is only partial mitigation against bad batting. As Syd say, there is enough experience in the England top order.

    I am loath to be critical. I guess when you are a supporter of what might still be termed a “minority” sport (or at least a relatively minority strand of a popular sport), and one which receives plenty of stick from the knuckle-dragging fraternity, there is an inclination to be protective, to defend the team and the players against criticism from “outside the tent”. In the long run, though, that serves no good. Sometimes you just have to be honest and say that England have fallen short of the standards that they should expect of themselves, never mind what supporters should expect.

    I’ve no doubt the harshest words have been said within the dressing room. Again, as Syd says, there is a lot to play for in the final match, and not just those two points.

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  2. Can’t help but wonder whether the Sri Lanka tour before the India tour would have been the smarter move.No disrespect meant to SL but they are significantly weaker than India.

    (Really smart move would have been to get India over here playing the ODI series – international cricket in the UK in February, well the weather’s up for it)

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  3. It’s hugely concerning that England’s ODI batting seems to have fallen off a cliff of late. We have lost the last 3 ODIs – and all by hefty margins too. It’s not hard to see the root cause. The batsmen are, largely, playing ineffective T20 style-cricket instead of digging in and batting properly for 50 overs. There are too many risks being taken too early, too much playing across the line, too much frenetic shot-a-ball cricket being played, and not a high enough price being put on each wicket. You can’t go out trying to score 350 on a 220 run pitch.

    On the other hand, I’ve no great concern about not finishing that high in the championship points table. A win in the 3rd ODI against India and England are actually on a par with the last round at the same stage (swapping over a 2-1 win v NZ for a 2-1 loss to India). Performances in the finals are worth much more than those before it anyway. If England did end up having to go through the ignominy of the qualification tournament, they would quite probably win it, and it might do them good, too.

    More concerning is the manner of the performances. Syd is correct to reference back to the World Cup final – England battled out a respectable 228, keeping enough wickets in hand and it turned out to be just enough. The players would do well to recall that innings. It wasn’t a spectacular effort, but it was solid. Scores of 130 or 160-odd are simply not enough against any of the top sides. That never-beaten attitude the side had in 2017 and parts of 2018 seems to have petered out now.

    In fairness we’ve had a couple of bad-looking umpiring decisions. In the second ODI, Brunt’s lbw looked outside the line to me and Elwiss’s was going over the top.

    I think England could consider opening with Winfield again instead of Jones. She’s been more solid recently and Jones keeps stubbornly refusing to give herself a chance early on, looking to dominate when survival is more key. In hindsight it may also have been worth playing Davies and/or Dunkley, as Taylor and Brunt’s contributions on their return, have not been massive so far. The middle order looks to me like it needs the stability offered by a player like Fran Wilson.

    The first leg of the tour has been a big let-down, and with the current approach/form, it’s hard to see England posting a competitive total, batting first or second. At least the bowling and fielding have been good so far! Hopefully work commitments will allow me to follow the 3rd ODI more closely than the first 2. I hope England have a better game this time. Another loss will pile on the pressure to inflict a heavy defeat on West Indies this summer, which will be a tough task.

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  4. Do the ODI matches in Sri Lanka count towards the ICC World Championship? I was of the view that we must play Sri Lanka in a home series during this cycle. During the last cycle we went to Sri Lanka in order to get the final points we needed to qualify for the World Cup. It would seem like a very naive decision to ‘waste’ a home series just because we are in “that part of the world’. It would have been more prudent to play Pakistan in the UAE.

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  5. England have yet again been disadvantaged by these fixtures. A home series vs SL should have been a comfortable 6 points. Instead, we have the potential banana skin of trying to match that result in unfamiliar and punishing conditions. It would be a big achievement to win 3-0 but England might have to settle for something less than that.

    Anyway very good performance in the 3rd ODI by England. Good again with the ball and in the field, Brunt spectacular this time. It looked a bit iffy in the chase early on, with England continuing to make what I consider to be a tactical mistake in being overly aggressive in the power play. The pinch-hitter’s role is a redundant one in these conditions, I believe.

    It turned out that the players who succeeded were the ones who played solidly and within themselves, vigilantly accumulating rather than trying to blast the ball around. The sweep and slog sweep were important shots, and this time the middle order hung around long enough to make them tell. Hard to believe that was Wyatt’s 1st 50 in ODIs, but it was a nice knock and shows she can play according to different types of challenges. Despite her stats, she does look like a player who could score many many more runs for England with this more sensible approach.

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  6. Not sure at all about banana skins…Australia travel everywhere and win. As a huge supporter of women’s cricket, it is important that the game is not dominated by one or two countries, but that there is a genuine talent pool globally, so that international matches are competitive and entertaining.
    As regards England’s performance, it is clearly well below what they were predicting, and India really miss one of the best batters in one day cricket…which probably highlights the frailties of England batting. When you compare them to Australia, there is a clear gap. So ECB should be asking what is it that the Aussies do so well…
    As regards India it is the usual story of a mysogonist culture that has held women back for so long. Even now they barely get paid, the highest ones getting maybe 12.5K a year versus 60K plus in England and Australia (Pakistan, SL, Bangladesh, WI are also terribly paid), so who wants to be a female cricketer in these countries…
    England will make the top 4 and qualify, as will Australia, and probably NZ. As usual the last spot will be a toss up between India and SA…
    The WBBL has been excellent, the KIA league a (pretty much) disaster, so if the women’s game is really going to go up a notch they need a women’s IPL…put some real money and credibility into it, and let every country benefit, like the men’s version has done.

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  7. ODI Career Overall Batting Averages for Englands middle order bats are Wyatt–18,Jones –22,Wilson–21,Elwiss–20,Winfield–22,Brunt–16.

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    • Therein lies the problem. It’s a great point Colin. Lose both your openers for say 20 and it’s suddenly 139 – 8 (on average) That’s not going to set up the win percentages Australia have enjoyed of late.

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