Rather frustratingly, I have had some broadband issues since Tuesday which has prevented me from giving my views on England’s ODI win over Pakistan, and the Ashes squad announcement.
Firstly, I suspected that whoever won the toss on Wednesday would win the match, and so it proved. But with England at 106/4, that theory wasn’t looking too clever as the first part of the process is to post a competitive total.
Up steps Eoin Morgan, yet again to bail England out. How good was this knock? It’s not just his improvised unconventional shots that make him currently one of the best ODI batsmen in the world, but also his temperament to adapt his batting to a match situation.
We didn’t see too many of the unconventional shots early in his innings, as he knew it wasn’t the right time for them. Only after he had carefully rebuilt the innings, did Morgan start to unleash his vast array of shots.
A couple of years ago, England would have almost certainly have lost from the position of 106/4, which shows how much character this side now has. And Morgan typifies this character, we have seen in the past players like Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara, and at times Ian Bell, who appear to have all the shots and plenty of skill, but not the composure or temperament to match their talent, luckily for England, Morgan seems to have the lot.
On the subject of Ravi Bopara, I have at times on this blog given him some abuse as I don’t believe he makes the most of his talent. I still stand by this, but I am impressed to hear that he is going to play in Natal this winter to try and improve his game, it shows that he is prepared to work at it, and gives the impression that he badly wants to succeed – and I hope it works out for him.
Moving onto the Ashes squad, and I also wrote on this blog at the start of the year that maybe Chris Tremlett’s move to Surrey might be the catalyst for him too at last produce the sort of results his talents suggests he should.
Getting this call up is recognition of an improvement in Tremlett’s game, so lets hope he can now show Andy Flower that he has got it in him to produce the sort of cricket on the international scene that his size and ability suggests he is capable of.
The inclusion of Monty Panesar is also another positive for me. It would have been easy for the selectors to have taken James Tredwell in a so-called like for like replacement.
I don’t buy that one as I don’t see Trewell as like for like, he is no where near as attacking as Swann, and in my opinion would only be used as a containing bowler. In taking Monty the selectors have been positive and shown attacking intent, which is vital against Australia.
All in all I think it is probably as good a squad as we can take down to Oz. Abdul Shahzad is a bit unlucky not to be included as I can’t really see much of a role for Tim Bresnan in the test team, but it’s probably come a bit too soon for him.
My main concern though is the batting. If we can put runs on the board I believe we have the bowlers to put Australia under enough pressure to force mistakes from their batsmen, but only if we have 400 on the board more consistently.
250-275 probably isn’t going to be good enough. It’s now time for Cook, Bell and Collingwood to really stand up and be counted. It’s not enough to just score one 80+, and a two or three 40’s in a 5 match test series, big hundreds are needed if England want to win.
To be fair to him, Collingwood has done it here before, but he struggled against Australia in 2009, and also did nothing this summer in England. He seems a bit susceptible to the swinging ball, maybe foreign conditions suit Colly better .
Andrew Strauss didn’t have his most productive test season either, but unlike Gough and Pringle I’m not calling for him to be dropped from the test side just yet!
It would be a great boost for England if both he and Kevin Pietersen could get back to top test form again, and imagine the psychological impact that might have on Australia. They will probably be the key figures if England are to regularly post 400 runs.
The England squad is now a settled unit, and from what we are told team spirit couldn’t be much better. Strauss is a good leader, and we currently have the best and most effective spin bowler in world cricket.
I really hope Kevin Pietersen returns to the squad in the frame of mind he showed pre-captaincy, because with all the other poitives England currently have going for them, that could be the key ingredient to a successful tour.
I await it all with great interest!