In the build up to this vital must win game for England at the World Cup, conjecture surrounded the personnel and order of England’s batting line up.
Just a utterly ridiculous situation. Blatantly un professional, and just one of the myriad of reasons why Fletcher’s time is up as Coach.
“Fail to prepare and prepare to fail”, is a fair summary of matters since the reclamation of the Ashes in 2005, and for this the Coach and bloated staff must take ultimate responsibility.
Fletcher did all the hard work, making unpopular decisions along the way to make us for a time, the best Test team in World Cricket therefore the inertia and lack of vim around the squad seems even more baffling.
So it was the ultimate irony that the pair that nearly snatched an undeserved victory for England only have the grand total of 20 caps between them, but Nixon and Bopara showed grit, determination and above all concentration as they turned matters around with a partnership of 77 but when Nixon fell with 16 still needed the game was up.
Excellent bowling from Lancashire’s finest Mahmood (4/50) and Flintoff (3/35), backed up by fellow Clubman Anderson with a stingy 10 overs for just 39 put England in control at the break but the reason I feel that Sri Lanka may prevail in the overall context of this World Cup was proved by a superbly varied bowling attack.
Malinga and Murali’s eccentric brilliance is well supported by the wily and experienced Vaas and the reliable and newly nerveless Fernando. Add in Jayasuriya who rattles through his overs of deceptively penetrative left arm spin, plus Dilshan and you have the best attack in the Cup.
If the Sri Lankan’s batting can click, then they are better than Australia as the Champs batting prowess is not matched in the bowling stakes.
But when you can score 320 and above without breaking sweat it puts the opposition under such pressure that even the likes of Tait can defend such totals, but if the batting has an off day you can get at the Aussies, as was proved in the CWB Tournament.
Where now for England?
Nixon to open with Vaughan to get some much needed impetus early on. If he fails no big deal, but it shows intent.
Batting order thus; Vaughan©, Nixon+, KP, Colly, Fred, Strauss, Bopara, Saj, Plunkett, Anderson, Monty.
Bell just isn’t cut out for this lark, and Joyce is low on confidence, the result of just simply not having enough games under his belt. Plus his fielding isn’t what it should be.
This team also has plenty of bowling options as Plunkett, Mahmood and Anderson can be unpredictable.
But why, oh why are we having to mess about and change things in the middle part of the World Cup?