England’s defeat in yesterday’s ODI leaves them trailing 2-0 in the five-match series and searching for a way to gain a foothold in the contest.
The manner of the second defeat was a mirror image of the first, with Australia accumulating over 300 and England failing to chase it down due to a middle order collapse.
Here I take a look at the five things we learnt from England’s serious case of déjà vu in their latest trouncing.
By Jack Vittles – Lead Cricket Writer – @JackVSport
1. Is 300 a Good Score Once Again?
With the limit on the number of fielders outside of the 30-yard circle being reduced over the last year in ODI’s, fast and frenetic finishes were becoming the norm. The World Cup earlier this year proved that 300 was no longer an imposing total, as a record number of sides chased down scores in excess of the once mythical figure. This trend continued in England’s barnstorming ODI series with New Zealand earlier this summer, as the home side racked up their first ever score of 400 in the format. However, the regulations have now been changed to allow up to five fielders outside the circle in the final 10 overs. The early signs are that this may have just reigned in the par score in most ODI’s, with Australia’s total 309/7 looking like a difficult chase. Of course, this could be down to England’s ineptitude as well as changing regulations.
2. England Love a Batting Collapse
Whilst admittedly chasing two commanding totals in the opening two ODI’s, England’s middle order has been as disappointing as an un-risen soufflé. Despite some decent efforts from Jason Roy at the top of the order, England have suffered a calamitous collapse in both matches. In Southampton they lost 42/5 whilst at Lord’s they lost 68/6 to leave them reeling in both contests. This penchant for the perilous collapse needs to stop… and soon!
3. Obstructing the Field is a Genuine Form of Dismissal
For just the sixth time in the history of ODI’s a batsmen was given out obstructing the field on Tuesday. The unlucky culprit was Ben Stokes, and he and his skipper Eoin Morgan were none to pleased about both the decision and Steve Smith’s refusal to withdraw the appeal. Whilst the decision will be debated ad nauseum, it is the laws that need re-defining; far too much reference is given to interpretation and the decision is too much in the hands of the umpires own musings. At the start of his international career, Stokes must now surely be odds on to finish his playing time with the most forms of dismissals to his name.
4. Two Spinners is Not the Way to Go in September
I’ve always had an issue with ODI cricket in England. Not that I dislike the format, far from it, I think it’s had something of a rebirth over the last two years; my gripe is more to do with the scheduling. To my mind, the best schedule for a series is three T20I’s, three ODI’s, followed by three Tests (five for marquee series such as the Ashes). This way each match retains context, and each series builds to the next. Tagging on a five-match one-day series at the end of an Ashes summer is the last thing anybody wants. Particularly when all these matches are to be played in the less than sun-bathed month of September; two are day/night matches for goodness sake! But, the players and selectors are at the mercy of the boards in terms of scheduling, so must put out their strongest side in the conditions presented. A 10:30am start in September at Lord’s is not the place to be picking two spinners, even if it is as part of six-man attack. Both Rashid and Moeen Ali were selected and their combined figures of 15-1-112-2 are indicative of their inability to gain any reward from the pitch. With Moeen wasted down at number seven with the bat, it would surely make more sense to pick David Willey to provide a change from the bevy of right arm medium-fast bowlers that England have been utilising thus far.
5. A Rest Can Do the World of Good
Eoin Morgan took a break from all cricket last month after a string of terrible batting displays for his county side Middlesex. Having returned, and claiming to be ‘twice the man he was before’, his form has been vastly improved. Two half-centuries and a 38 in three innings for England have displayed a welcome return to form for the ODI skipper. In an increasingly demanding international and domestic schedule, it could well be that England will soon have it’s first limited overs only professional player. Morgan’s lesson may well be heeded by Jos Buttler too, the wicketkeeper batsmen has returned scores of 0 and 4 so far in the series, following on from an underwhelming Ashes campaign. With a tour of the UAE coming up, where proficiency in attacking the spinners may be crucial, the final three matches of this series are a perfect opportunity to give the glovemen a rest.