Striking a Ballance
England won a game, we scored 300 runs in an innings, Ali scored a great century, Morgan played with freedom and some fluency, but one thing is clear, Ballance should not be playing one-day cricket. He is a pedestrian batsman. He has earned his place in the test team as he is steely, determined and crucially, under no pressure to score quickly. To score 10 runs at a strike rate at just a little over 50 against what realistically is akin to an English minor county bowling attack at best, is poor. He scratched around and then played on having attempted a horrible little ‘dab’ down to third man, from a delivery that should have been slapped through the covers. There is no way that any team at the World Cup would be worried to see Ballance walk to the crease. On the contrary, they may make a concerted effort to keep him there for as long as possible, and avoid having to deal with the invention of Root and Taylor and the firepower that Morgan and Buttler can (admittedly seldom) provide.
A Hale storm down-under?
The answer is Alex Hales. His 50-over record for England is not the best, but if he can replicate the form he has found in 20 over cricket for his country, we may have found the perfect opening partnership. In Ali and Hales at the top of the innings, we have a pair that can genuinely get England off to a flier. By dropping Bell down to 3, a position in which he is more comfortable anyway, we have a classy player to build the innings around having hopefully scored some crucial quick runs in the opening powerplay overs.
Our bowling is still a worry. Broad despite being seemingly arrogant beyond his ability, is a major confidence player. He hasn’t been the same since he was trounsed all round the park by the Aussies with the bat and roughed up by Mitch with the ball. Invariably if he scores a few runs with the bat he bowls well and vice versa. If we are to get any further than the quarter finals (even getting there is looking like a struggle) we need Broad to find some form to get our classy opening bowling duo firing on all cylinders. Finn bowled a much better line and length against the Scots, but has no variety in his bowling, so will get punished by the Sri Lankans in the upcoming game. In Jordan, the pace bowler not playing, we have an indiviidual that shows great promise, but in a similar way to Finn, lacks the consistency to be really successful. Although I am a fan of Tredwell, and he has arguably been England’s best bowler for the past couple of years, I can’t help but feel the other test playing nations are laughing at us when he comes in to bowl. There is something about his bumbling run up to the wicket and his general demeanour in the field that makes him seem more like Pingu than Jim Laker.
In Sri Lanka we are facing a team that got beaten in a similar fashion by Australia, beat Bangladesh, but only narrowly beat Afghanistan. The batsmen are classier and more experienced than their English counterparts, but their bowlers are average, perhaps excluding Malinga, who still, is nowhere near as prolific in 50 over cricket as he is in the shorter format. Sri Lanka were Englands best chance of getting a ‘proper’ win under their belts before the quarters when the draw was made, and now represent England’s only chance of rekindling some pride and a sense of finally arriving at the World Cup in Australia.