Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thinking Outside the Box

England's World Cup disaster.

England's recent showing in the World Cup deserves some comment.

First, to make the quarter-finals was probably a good showing. What was disappointing was the way they were embarrassed by Sri Lanka when they got there.

The loonies who thought up the winter schedule for the England cricket team should be organising the bombing of Libya – Gadaffi would be in power forever. Asking the players to perform at the end of an endless round of important matches was just a non-starter; therefore, any criticism must be tempered by realism. They really were expected to go a bridge too far.

Then we have the injuries to key players. Pietersen is a key player, regardless of my opinion that he is greatly over-rated. Stuart Broad is a genuine key player and his injuries smack of “burn out” - much to the detriment of the England set-up for many years to come. Simon Jones syndrome springs to mind. Poor old Paul Collingwood has just had it – though why England chose to jettison

him in the later stages when all the injuries hit is hard to figure. Add Ajmal Shahzad to the list and you have a packet of injury owes – enough to fill a Land Rover.

Still, divorcing the early winter triumphs in Australia and at the 20-20 World Cup, England have under-performed on the Sub-continent. Why? It's too easy to blame the injuries or the scheduling.

Facts are they just weren't good enough.

This the supporters can accept. What I found difficult to accept was the crazy hype-spice added to the mix my the Sky Sports commentators and pundits.

Just take the quarter final against Sri Lanka for an example. Foolish though I was, I listened to England crawl to what I thought was a poor score, only for the commentators to explain that it was probably quite competitive. How did they work this out? They assured us that the dew would affect the ball, the pitch would get painfully slow and the England spinners would turn the ball a mile.

What tosh!

The Sri Lankan batsmen stroked the ball about with aplomb and the England bowling would not have looked out of place in a Sunday Friendly. Swann, who is supposed to be one of the best bowlers in the world, was ordinary in the extreme. The pace bowlers were innocuous. The fielding was amateurish.

To be fair, Sri Lanka have done the same to New Zealand – just not quite so comprehensively.

What was so disappointing was the lack of ideas in the England v. Sri Lanka match. I just can't relate to the way they played – seemingly without any idea of how to win the match.

So, what lessons are to be learned?

First: don't expect England or any non-Asian side to do well in the sub-continent.

Second: don't burden the players with a schedule that is simply impossible.

Third: let's have realistic expectations particularly from the so-called expert commentators.

England will be back with a chance when the tournament is either in England, Australia or New Zealand.