England duly strolled to their 4th successive win in the twenty20 World Cup. A last 4 performances so dominant that their best one day player over the last year Eoin Morgan barely had to contribute. One hopes the focus and hard work continues and extends to the 50 over game. This is an England team who had the bizarre twisted values of being too precious with their wickets in twenty20 and nowhere near the Boycottian defense of the sticks required in Test cricket.
One hopes unlike the last time England had a world class bowling line up in the 2005 test line up of: Harmison pace and bounce first change: Hoggard getting the new ripe cherry to swing into left handers: Flintoff effective with new and old ball: and Simon Jones who could with Flintoff reverse the worn out rock. Now Harmison was already on the decline and the slowing pace of test wickets killed him. Flintoff may have had injuries but hardly could be accused of looking after himself and seemed most up for games only at home in front of a packed house. Jones I guess could never stay fit with that action. However for one summer they stymied the most potent batter line up such that England’s consistent scores of 3 fifty to 4 hundred became winning ones.
This twenty20 line up is nothing to be feared in terms of pace and aggression. However in the context of twenty20 where batsmen are looking to hit it becomes like baseball – pace changes, disguise and movement are more important. Arguably a baseball player gets a benefit from letting marginal pitches be called balls whereas in twenty20 cricket letting 3 balls by without a stroke is wrong. Bresnan one could see getting some stick but he appears to have real pluck. Broad one hopes will continue to improve but already his mixture of slow bouncers, cross seamers and cutters is interesting (by the way notice how bowlers are altering their grips like baseball). Siders who has been a shadow of his first full year of international cricket provided the left arm variety. Many will consider Anderson who did not bowl an over better than some of this side long term as well. Yardy’s darts worked well. In addition after Yardy had been sent Yard (another baseballism) Luke Wright came on and produced a superlative over of 1-5. Indeed Collie is more than adequate. The point is this this bowling with more career left than the boys of 2005 and with twenty20 only requiring 4 overs players should be able to play for years.
Best in show Swann must have balls of steel with only 3 outfielders he floats it up there like it’s day 5 with a 500 lead – he may be the best English spinner of my lifetime – albeit spinners now get LBWs that blighted the career of the likes of Tufnell. Indeed 10 years ago England would have selected anyone who threatened to be a leggie wrist spinner as the career of Ian Salisbury attests*. Swann may not have a doosra but hey no one is studying his action for a bent arm.
* My favourite Boycott moment aside from watching his 100th 100 was when some spark at the BBC decided to send The Great Man down to interview fellow Yorkie Darren Gough and Boycs went off on one about Salisbury’s bowling.
Funnily enough the best part for me was this was not a side of the chums. Sure I have never seen a more confident England team but that comes from winning. However Anderson was dropped for lesser players in other forms of cricket. Cook was actually a leading batter in domestic twenty20 but he was dropped for a murders row (another baseballism) of Keiswetter, KP, Collie, the superlative Morgan, Wright, Bresnan, Swann and Broady. It’s a soberer for the opposition but Broad bats 10 in this line up. Strauss wisely knows his strengths and he and Flower may not make revolutionary leaps (but who does?) but there is now clear evidence of evolution and not the dead end of who Duncan Fletcher personally did not feel threatened by.
It was certainly nice to see after his initial attempt at captaincy that Collingwood was merely happy to be there. England won not by gamesmanship or being apes of Australia but by just playing good hard cricket. I wonder if the team secretly are grateful to KP for removing Peter Moores as not only did England try to win ugly under him they failed as well. Under Moores Collingwood was a contemptible figure.
Now all England have to do is avoid Hubris which sadly even England teams in sports a long way short of no 1 often fail to do.
And finally another Americanism Welcome to your World’s Champions England. Now that has never been said in cricket before.