An up and down series

It was a great finish to the ODI series against Sri Lanka, but over the course of the 5 matches I wouldn’t be getting too carried away with the win as there seemed to be more questions than answers that emerged from it all.

Starting on a positive note and one major plus to take from the series was Alastair Cook’s batting. Cook never took a backwards step, he led from the front and went some way to proving his critics wrong and showing everyone that he is a capable 50 over batsman.

Five games obviously doesn’t make him the finished article, but the early signs are good for Cook and England.

He also didn’t shrink under the weight of the captaincy, he didn’t look out of place or out of his depth at any time. All-in-all, it was a decent start for him.

I’ve made it clear on here before that I’m no fan of the three captain policy, but that’s not Cook’s fault and any criticism on here isn’t a reflection on him, more the policy.

On too other issues, and the reason why I started by saying I won’t be getting too carried away with the win was because of he 2nd and 3rd games. England were woeful, Sri Lanka cruised to victory in those two games without breaking sweat.

In the 1st and 4th games England were victorious more for being able to better exploit the conditions. Why this fails to help England prepare for future tours and World cups is that there is no other countries apart from New Zealand and occasionally South Africa where England will come across these conditions.

These sort of games are no preparation for England, they are just England playing in English condition, where we are expected to perform.

England were taught good lessons on the flat bed tracks of Leeds and Lord’s, the batting on flat pitches is a major problem and is an area of our game where we really need to sharpen up our act.

I’m still not convinced we have the right balance in the batting line up, a lot is made of Cook and Trott at the top of the order, but if Cook continues at his current strike rate then it won’t be a problem.

The real imbalance for me is Ian Bell coming in at No.6, he just doesn’t look suited to batting there. Batting Bell there is going to cost him his place in the side in my opinion.

Another area in which England could improve is with the bowling options. Since Collingwood has been dropped, we haven’t got a reliable 6th bowler.

I would have liked too see Samit Patel get a run in the side as a batsman. He averages 40 in 1st class cricket, so why can’t England take a look at him at No.6? Batting there he gives England a 6th bowler, and also a slow left arm option.

Another positive to come from this series is Jade Dernbach, it was good to see him get England over the line. He looks to have that bit of something about him, the sooner he is made to feel like he belongs in this side the better, his variation and guile could be priceless in limited overs format.

I was also pleased to see England weren’t afraid to drop Stuart Broad. That’s not meant as a kicking for Broad, as I still see him as a long term part of the England set up.

Where I am pleased is in the fact that it shows that England aren’t afraid to make difficult decisions, it is also a further reminder to the rest of the players that none of them are assured of their place in the team.

And finally a special mention for Graeme Swann, congratulations to him on becoming the world No.1 bowler in 50 over cricket. It’s further recognition and just reward for his outstanding form over the last 24-30 months.