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England's necessary opening gambit

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Oliver Brett | 15:44 UK time, Wednesday, 31 March 2010

It was a match which could have passed by without attracting a huge amount of attention.

But for an England selection committee that has never settled on even one explosive batsman at the top of the order since Marcus Trescothick began his international exile - let alone a pair of them - it provided evidence they could not afford to ignore.

And there is little doubt that it has heavily influenced the make-up of the 15-man squad to tour the West Indies at the end of the month for the third edition of the ICC World Twenty20.

The match in question was an England warm-up ahead of two Twenty20 internationals against Pakistan in February in the United Arab Emirates. The opponents were England's own second-string, the Lions.

Craig Kieswetter

Jonathan Trott had ended up opening England's innings almost by accident. So wonderful had his first international appearance proved - a century on Test debut in an Ashes decider - that perhaps the selectors reckoned he could do any job going.

His partner was Joe Denly, the Kent right-hander who was beginning to struggle in one-day internationals and was hanging on grimly to his place.

Denly fell in the first over, Trott used up a precious 27 deliveries before getting out for 24, and it required a late-order blast from Luke Wright to take England up to 157-6.

The Lions reply was another matter altogether. Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb shared 17 boundaries and four sixes, scoring all but 19 of the runs required to win the game.

Denly and Trott stayed in situ for the matches against Pakistan, but continued to struggle. Kieswetter and Lumb, on the other hand, have continued to do pretty well and will be the probable openers in the Caribbean, with Kevin Pietersen at three and Eoin Morgan at four.

The first England-born player appears at five, that man being the skipper Paul Collingwood, while Ravi Bopara may find himself in the number six position.

The options for the rest of the team will be dictated by the West Indian wickets, which recently have helped out many a slow bowler in limited-overs cricket.

Having produced a squad that contains three spinners (Graeme Swann, Michael Yardy and James Tredwell), the selectors must be seriously considering picking two of them in the matches.

The trouble is they really must field their top three specialist seamers (Tim Bresnan, James Anderson and Stuart Broad), which leaves only two more spots up for grabs, one of which has to belong to Swann.

That leaves Yardy potentially fighting it out with his Sussex team-mate Luke Wright for the number seven position - and perhaps winning that private battle given the likely conditions - with Tredwell, Ajmal Shahzad and Ryan Sidebottom favourites to warm the bench.

The bowling options are so plentiful that one has to question whether the balance of the 15 as a whole is right, especially given the likelihood that Pietersen will be flying home at some point for the birth of his first child. Replace him with Wright and the batting looks brittle.

Matt Prior

So who can justifiably claim to have been harshly treated by the selectors? The non-selection of Matt Prior will doubtless upset some but the bare facts are that he is not providing enough runs in limited-overs internationals.

The Sussex stumper has improved his glovework massively, but he has only two half-centuries in 50 innings in one-day internationals, and a highest score of 32 in eight one-dayers.

What England will not get from Kieswetter, whatever he does with the bat, is the wicketkeeping expertise of James Foster, whose brilliant stumping of Yuvraj Singh in last year's tournament was key to England's victory against India at Lord's.

Owais Shah may wonder what Bopara has done that he hasn't, but Shah has been a fringe player for a long time and has various negatives associated with him, such as his imperfect fielding and dodgy running between the wickets.

Bopara may not be the best judge of a quick single either, but you can add his under-rated medium pace into the reckoning, along with two half-centuries so far in this season's Indian Premier League.

All three slow bowlers picked are finger-spinners, which is a shame. The only wrist-spinner near the selectors' radar at present is Adil Rashid, and one cannot help but feel his England career is still largely ahead of him.

Aged 22, he played five ODIs and five Twenty20 matches for England last year, but has had the misfortune to face some strong batting line-ups in that time.

His figures have suffered as a consequence and perhaps this is not the time for him to continue his international career in the highly pressurised atmosphere of a global tournament.

However, it does seem strange that he was overlooked for the Bangladesh tour and it would be good to see him performing some sort of role for England during an exhaustive summer schedule.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    If we take, as you sugggest, our first choice line up it will look like this:

    Kieswetter
    Lumb
    Pieterson
    Morgan
    Collingwood
    Bopara
    Yardy/Wright
    Broad
    Swann
    Bresnan
    Anderson

    I feel that out batting is reletively decent: kieswetter and lumb have shown they can bat well, just remains to be seen if they can do it under real pressure. kp, morgan, colly and bopara all doing reasonably well in the ipl so no real concerns there, the biggest worry for me is our bowling attack. We have no-one (other than swann) who can consistently bowl decent, cheap overs. Bresnan was only average against bangladesh, broad as we all know has a fairly chequered past in 20/20, anderson often goes for runs, and wright is a very average bowler. Can't see there being anyway that sidebottom will play, surely a waste of a bowling spot, Does anyone else feel that someone like Davies, Finn or Woates deserves a chance? They have did well last year and surely could use the experience, whereas sidebottom is sadly well past it i feel.

  • Comment number 2.

    I find it difficult to get excited by this format but as it is England I feel obliged to take an interest.
    The fact that Jacques Kallis is currently heading the batting tables in the IPL should indicate that a REAL batsman rather than out and out sloggers can be invaluable near the top of the order.
    If Kieswetter can remember his three innings in the ODI games against Bangladesh and duplicate the third of those with an early patience before going wild, which was his downfall in two games, then it looks a good team.

  • Comment number 3.

    England are truly becoming a South African B team.

    Over time this can only mean that their fans are less connected with the so called national side. A team full of mercenaries will rarely be as strong as those composed of players who all posses the same desire. Isn't it time for England to cease being a league of nations

  • Comment number 4.

    i dont know what ian bell has done wrong he looked very good as a 1 day and 2020 opener

  • Comment number 5.

    The fact that Jacques Kallis is currently heading the batting tables in the IPL should indicate that a REAL batsman rather than out and out sloggers can be invaluable near the top of the order.

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    I disagree, making runs doesn't necessarily mean you are batting extremely well and will win games. For example Kallis made 51 today but was a big reason why his team lost the match. His 51 took 49 balls and the best thing that could have happened for his team did with peiterson running him out causing him and shaun white to hit 41 from 25 (ish) giving respectability to a scoreline that, if kallis had stayed in, could have been 15 less. This is similar to trott. Scoring at a run a ball in 20/20 is too slow to win. The winning team in the IPL this year score at at least 8.5 runs an over. Punjab IX score at 7.8 runs an over and have only won one game despite having a batsmen that was previously in the top 5 runscoring batsman. Personally i think kallis should be batting at 4 for his team rather than opening. This is why i think collingwood is good. Kallis has actually struggled to set scores but has chased very well.

  • Comment number 6.

    Stunned by the omission of Rashid. He took 3-22 off 4 in that game the Lions won. Not to mention he got out KP, Colly and Morgan, he was exceptional.

    I must say I think the approach taken towards him by England has been very poor. The Bangladesh tests would have been ideal for him. It seems like he had one very bad T20 over vs SA and that was the catalyst for his rejection. I thought he did well in the T20 competition over here last year, with bat and ball. If he's jaded or has other issues then fair play but it's hard to justify otherwise, imo.

  • Comment number 7.

    djazure

    I think you're right that the bowling appears a potential weakness, I only hope we make full use of Colly and Bopara if someone like Broad gets tap. You want as many overs of the slower stuff that you can get in. We are definitely lacking a yorkers-and-bouncers-give-them-nothing-to-slog bowler, a Darren Gough figure if you like.

    hopefor

    Kallis is someone who you don't naturally think of as a Twenty20 success story, but you're right, he is one. Some of our best Test batsmen - Cook, Strauss and Bell - just don't have the "inventive" qualities that Geoff Miller was talking about today to make a statement in the shortest format. Kallis has more muscularity and more range of shots than those three, but the point you make about Kieswetter is a good one. If you're the opener you're probably the one person who has a bit of time to lpay yourself in, don't waste the opportunity.

    To everyone else - Sorry about how long it takes for our moderators to get round to these comments! look forward to reading them soon...

  • Comment number 8.

    What a revelation the IPL has been. Skills and entertainment of the highest order, which is what wins T20 matches I guess. Therefore, why the love affair with seamers? Metronomic seam on the off stump guarantees a shedload of sixes from what I have seen!
    Keiswetter...great choice. T20 keepers have to have Cobra like reactions to get their stumpings. There are few caught behind, and the keepers athleticism is mainly called for in preventing overthrows!!
    Why take blokes that can't bat? Makes no sense at all in this format!

  • Comment number 9.

    The squad looks a little bowler-heavy to me. Also seems to lack experience. Would have possibly liked Shah in there instead of Treadwell, though I'm not sure of his form of late.

    I am never confident that Broad and Anderson can keep it tight, so I think we may miss the miserly medium pace of Mascerenhas. Hopefully Bopara can step it up and bowl (and bat) like he does for Essex.

    With a number of explosive and relatively inexperienced batsmen, this tournament could be a success or an enormous failure.

  • Comment number 10.

    The look of Kieswetter and Lumb certainly looks stronger than the rather randomly thrown together pairing of Trott and Denly. I am wondering a little about the batting reserves if and when KP leaves the tournament; while I am personally glad Shah hasn't made it, as his fielding is iffy at best and his whole demeanour at the crease really doesn't inspire confidence, Wright in for KP doesn't look good to me.

    I worry about Kieswetter's keeping, and if Prior had shown a bit more form recently, I would've advocated putting him in the squad and playing Kieswetter just as a batsman.

    Agree about the bowling looking potentially expensive, although the IPL this year has shown the age-old importance of taking wickets. Yes Anderson will probably be expensive, but he's a wicket-taker, and that's crucial for slowing down the run rates, especially on slower spin friendly tracks.

    I presume from this squad list that Mascheranas' Achilles injury has ruled him out of contention? His lusty batting and useful bowling will I think prove a big miss for us, and I'm surprised his absence hasn't been more commented on.

  • Comment number 11.

    Still unsure about Ravi Bopara for England, while he had 2 scores over 50 in the IPL he also has one duck and two scores of 1 to his name. Would rather see someone more solid in the middle order. Maybe Prior at 6 would have been at bit more solid at 6 in a crisis situation - swithcing places with Wright, at 7, to finish off an innings.

  • Comment number 12.

    Suppose Rob has got a point all these South African born players in the England team isn't right.

    Kieswetter and Lumb the opening batsmen by the looks of it, both South African born, not on in my view we should be gracious that we have such quality to play in the twenty20 game but it's just stupid.

    If he plays well consistenly I believe Eoin Morgan will be the key player, I love his all round game a brilliant player to watch. Hopefully he can knock some of the World's best bowlers for a couple of sixes.

  • Comment number 13.

    The opening choice wasn't a hard decision. Kieswetter and Lumb are our version of Gambhir and Sehwag, obviously not at their level, but a similar combination of an effective left-hander with an attacking right-hander. Denly has never convinced me that he was ready for England duty and Trott has been through the same issues that Ian Bell was forced through when it comes to where you slot him in. I didn't like the opening experiments with Trott in all formats. Moving him around when he really is inexperienced in international cricket puts added pressure on him.

    Pietersen, Collingwood, and Morgan forms a middle order that I like a lot. Number six is a key position. I think it'll be between Bopara and Wright as I don't think Yardy has the qualities with the bat for that position at all. Swann, Bresnan, and Broad as the all-rounders, with Jimmy A down the bottom.

    Lumb
    Kieswetter
    Pietersen
    Collingwood
    Morgan
    Wright
    Swann
    Bresnan
    Broad
    Anderson

    Subs:

    Tredwell
    Shahzad
    Yardy
    Sidebottom

    Of the subs, Tredwell might come into the equation. Shahzad will sub for Broad or Bresnan in case of injury. Sidebottom's inclusion is utterly inexplicable. He's not been fit consistently for ages, his bowling has looked down on pace when he has played, he offers little with the bat, and he's in the Gus Fraser category when it comes to panther-like skills around the field. One wonders if he'll actually get crocked before the tournament starts and a replacement will come in.

    Michael Yardy's inclusion is equally baffling to me. Oliver, I remember last month you expressed some surprise when I put his Pro 40 stats for last season up. I'll repeat them again here:

    7 innings, 116 runs @ 16.57 with a high score of 34.
    36 overs for 3 wickets @ 72 with an economy rate of 6.

    His T20 stats are interesting too:

    36 innings, 568 runs at 27.04 with one half century with the bat.
    With the ball, 805 balls (134.1 overs), 32 wickets @ 27.12 with an economy rate of 6.46.

    Certainly I don't think he's been selected for his batting. His List A average with the bat is 22. So he's been selected as a real bits and pieces player who might come good with the ball. Essentially he's been asked to be our left arm version of Chris Gayle minus the runs! I wouldn't have picked him. Malan of Middlesex would have been my choice, perhaps a decent choice given his top score in the first innings of the MCC match and picking up some wickets.

  • Comment number 14.

    My team:

    Kieswetter
    Wright
    Pietersen
    Morgan
    Collingwood
    Bopara
    Swann
    Broad
    Bresnan
    Anderson
    Tredwell

  • Comment number 15.

    In the recent Twenty-20 Lions Tour Bell was the highest scoring batsman after Kieswetter and contributed some match winning partnerships with Lumb and Kieswetter. Agreed he wasn't playing the big hitter role (although he got some sixes) but he crucially kept his head when wickets were tumbling and rotated the strike well against spin. I think Bell is very strong at the moment and in the zone.
    In Twenty-20 you are always going to get low scores mixed with decent ones that is the nature of the game so it shouldn't count against Bopara. But the standard of the IPL is lower than International games and I'm not sure that Bopara has yet recovered his confidence after the Ashes. I think Shah is actually a stronger Twenty-20 batsman.
    We're gambling a lot with Kieswetter. He looked nervous in Bangladesh. Morgan ironically is not doing well in the IPL. There is a lot of inexperience. Only Colly and KP of the batsmen look assured.

  • Comment number 16.

    Anyone wondering what Sidebottom has been doing since leaving Bangladesh early with injury? I think I just saw him at the heart of the Barcelone defence at the Emirates masquerading as Carles Puyol.

    Seriously though, the concern you have to have with him is regards his pace. When he first came into the England team in 2007 he was able to push himself beyond the medium fast mid 80mph range he had bowled all his life. But it took a lot out of him and he has suffered since, and the pace is well down. However, there really isn't an obvious "death" bowler who can replace him. It would ask a lot of Finn to come in and do that job, for instance.

    AndyP - I remember discussing Yardy with you, and hey presto - here he is, the most left-field selection of all. Samit Patel must be gutted. If he did not suffer from what the French call a bit of "avoir du poids" he'd be straight in.

  • Comment number 17.

    Not that I have much interest in this awful form of cricket, but my team would be:

    Lumb
    Kieswetter ( WK )
    Pietersen
    Collingwood ( Capt )
    Morgan
    Wright
    Bresnan
    Swann
    Broad
    Tredwell
    Anderson

    This team bats all the way down to ten ( and even Anderson at eleven is useful with the bat ) and it has five specialist bowlers, which means we don't have to rely on some of the overs being bowled by bits and pieces cricketers, although we do have the option of Pietersen, Collingwood and Wright if necessary.

    I think we're all agreed on the top five, although there is some debate about which of Collingwood and Morgan should bat at four. We also seem to be in agreement that our four best bowlers ( Anderson, Broad, Bresnan and Swann ) should all play.

    The areas of debate seem to be over the number six position and the fifth bowler. I don't like the look of Oliver's proposed team. I would much rather have Wright at six than Bopara. Although Bopara is clearly the better batsman of the two I don't see any point in Wright playing if he isn't going to bat in the top six. I am also mystified as to why Oliver thinks the last place is between Wright and Yardy. Spinners have often proved their worth in Twenty20 and I confidently expect both our specialist spinners ( Swann and Tredwell ) to play. Yardy isn't a specialist spinner. He might be a better option than Pietersen with the ball, but only just. I can only see Yardy playing in the event of injury or illness to Swann or Tredwell.

    With the prospect of Pietersen flying home early for the birth of his first child it doesn't really matter who we have in the squad to replace him. The team is bound to be weaker without Pietersen, but I would replace him with Bopara. He could either be a straight swap at three or he could bat at six with Wright moving up to three.

  • Comment number 18.

    im not sure u can call lumb a mercenary his dad was not only british but played for yorkshire

  • Comment number 19.

    Since it is clear that England will not be sending a team to the T20 World Cup, I will only be watching the spectacle as a neutral.

    I am totally and utterly disgusted.

    I refuse to support this entry into the competition.

    Brand me racist all you want.

  • Comment number 20.

    As has been mentioned the big forceable problem is when Pietersen leaves the batting suddenly looks a batsman short whoever in the squad you put in, not to mention who then bats at 3? My guess would be that Bopara will take the number 3 spot and Wright will come in/move up to the 6 spot. I really think they should have taken S Davies, he's a decent batsman and offers a reserve keeper if Kieswetter has an injury or is ill.

    This could all be pie in the sky though as England could realistically not get out of their qualifying group, in the lottery that can be 2020 its not unrealistic that Ireland and WI could beat us, or even this scenario: Gayle plays his big match for the tournament against England so we lose by a large margin, the other WI turns up against Ireland and Ireland win and then England just scrape a win against Ireland. We may have hampered Irelands chances of getting out of the group though by poaching a certain Mr Morgan from them.

  • Comment number 21.

    Don't get the Yardy criticism, solid batsman, good economical bowler. Doesn't take many wickets but given he'll bowl in tandem with some bloke called Swann who gets them for fun, that's not an issue. I'd rather have a team 121-2 than 161-8.

    Sidebottom is a shadow of his former self and England would be well shot of him, too many promising selections in all forms (Finn, Woakes, Shahzad, Plunkett, Bresnan et al) to worry about a left-arm medium pace trundler. Collingwood is about as good a bowler as Sidebottom is now. Plus he can't field well, which is imperative in T20.

    As to Foster, overrated. 'Nuff said.

  • Comment number 22.

    You're right about Kieswetter's keeping not being as good as some others. However, you're overlooking the fact that it's only 20 overs of keeping. The odds on his having to do something important or dropping catches is statistically very small.
    All the batsmen are going to give the ball a hefty "whack!", so dropping a "big hitter" tends to become moot.

  • Comment number 23.

    "England are truly becoming a South African B team. Over time this can only mean that their fans are less connected with the so called national side."

    I don't know where you come from but you need to understand that as a result of England's colonial past, we have a large non-"Son of the Soil" community (of which I am a member) who are nonetheless British. So when a brown, black, or non-English white man plays for our country, we don't think it's particularly unusual or special.

  • Comment number 24.

    22. I take your point that selecting your keeper to be a big hitter rather than an expert gloveman makes more sense in T20s because of the contracted nature of the game. But Geoff Miller has performed a remarkable "volte face" in this regard. Last year, when picking Foster, he made a big point about how it was particularly important to have v strong wicketkeeping skills in T20. I directly asked him if he would show some loyalty in wicketkeepers and he said: "Loyalty will come with performance." England's glovemen have been treated, generally, with total disdain by the selectors since Geraint Jones was axed. Matt Prior has had some faith put in him but others have been cast aside like household trash - Read, Mustard, Nixon, Ambrose, Foster - none of whom were particularly bad. Other countries change their keepers as often as their Prime Minister. Our attitude cannot be good for team morale.

  • Comment number 25.

    One more from me before I get onto the day job - if we wanted to consider a new option for opening/death bowlers then we could have done a lot worse than take a look at Graham Napier at some point. It was partly his misfortune that he was pigeonholed as a champion slogger after a fine 2008 season with the bat, because he is essentially a very accurate, hugely under-rated fast bowler who can bowl yorkers at the start and end of an innings. He also offers occasional explosive innings with the bat. Still, he currently shares a dressing-room with Sachin Tendulkar which can't be all bad.

  • Comment number 26.

    The opening and, particularly, the keeping slot look like continuing selectorial thrashing about that makes it hard to see how any solution will ever be reached and puts pressure on whoever has the poisoned chalice this week.

    FWIW I think that, due to the importance of spinners, the need to constrain batsmen by standing up to seamers and the importance of tight fielding, keeping is as important (if not more so) in the 2020 as in the longer game.

  • Comment number 27.

    So many points suggest trying out players this is usually based upon form. Graham Napier's assessment would be based upon his form last season. Those players lucky enough to be in the IPL have a huge advantage although the selectors have chosen Bopara over say Shah.

    On the keeping front Kieswetter v Prior is a close call but T20 is just the cricketing version of russian roulette for the players and the selectors! I'm sure Prior will retain his test place for now and he will be under pressure to perform all summer to book his place on the Ashes tour.

  • Comment number 28.

    What England are crying out for is an out and out quick bowler! Australia have Lee, Johnson, Tait and Nannes all capable of reaching 150km very useful in this form of cricket where taking wickets dramatically brings down the run rate! Hopefully we can get away with it on the dead West Indian pitches this time around but not for long?!

  • Comment number 29.

    Oliver,

    Napier can consider himself unlucky. As a Somerset fan, I know Peter Trego is a good player but I wouldn't have him ahead of Napier. Putting Yardy ahead of both of them is just baffling.

    I don't have a problem with Matt Prior not playing in the tournament. T20 should be a route to look at prospective players, especially young players. Kieswetter is a guy who likes solid wickets, as seen at Taunton, and the temptation must be for him to go to Australia this winter in some form or other. Given his pre-Bangladesh form and then his ODI century, he's the form man. His keeping has a long way to go but it isn't bad by any stretch of the imagination. I totally agree with Oliver's point about the rotation of wicketkeepers. I've said many times that it smacked of a lack of direction from the selectors to keep going through so many. Surely now it has to be a simple case of saying 'Right, Prior for Tests and ODIs, Kieswetter for T20 and batting in ODIs, and Davies as our standby man'. Chris Read must surely now be out of the international reckoning and quite possibly Foster too.

    yorker_129-7:

    "Don't get the Yardy criticism, solid batsman, good economical bowler."

    Here's his stats (http://www.cricinfo.com/england/content/player/23523.html). Show me anything there that suggests he's a solid batsman at limited overs level, both internationally and domestically. Sure, he can bowl some useful overs. As I said earlier, he's in the side as our version of Chris Gayle minus the runs.

    But hey, this is the joke of T20 cricket. Yardy has people saying he's worthy of a bowling place when his first-class bowling average is 73! This is why Adil Rashid shouldn't be disheartened about not being in the side. It's clear that we're getting to the point where T20 cricket is seeing a revival of the flat non-spinner who existed in the 80s pre-Warne/Murali.

  • Comment number 30.

    " 5. JamesD19
    I disagree, making runs doesn't necessarily mean you are batting extremely well and will win games. For example Kallis made 51 today but was a big reason why his team lost the match. His 51 took 49 balls and the best thing that could have happened for his team did with peiterson running him out causing him and shaun white to hit 41 from 25 (ish) giving respectability to a scoreline that, if kallis had stayed in, could have been 15 less"
    -----------------------------------------------------------

    James, a set Jacques Kalis who's already got half century is a nightmare to bowl at for anyone. Had the petulant Pietersen not run him out I am confident Kalis would have kicked on to a big score and increase his rate somewhat more than a run a ball.
    Pietersen should learn that he's not Bradman, he can't get off the mark on his first ball, and do a little bit of growing up.

    As for the selcetion, Id have to take Rashid, I just see some promise in the lad!

  • Comment number 31.

    His [Yardy's] T20 stats are interesting too:

    36 innings, 568 runs at 27.04 with one half century with the bat.
    With the ball, 805 balls (134.1 overs), 32 wickets @ 27.12 with an economy rate of 6.46.

    That's actually a pretty good T20 record - his average is decent for a lower middle order batsman in that form of the game (although strike rate is more important and you haven't given a stat for that), and any economy rate under 7 in T20 is worthy of praise.

  • Comment number 32.

    "Had the petulant Pietersen not run him out I am confident Kalis would have kicked on to a big score and increase his rate somewhat more than a run a ball.
    Pietersen should learn that he's not Bradman, he can't get off the mark on his first ball, and do a little bit of growing up."

    I didn't see the incident, but cricinfo certainly disagree with you:

    "Kallis tried to pinch a cheeky single to extra cover and was run out by a sharp pick up and throw by Raina."

  • Comment number 33.

    28. Tait could be anything. He could be the bowler of the tournament or he could be smacked for 40 runs per match. He was awful yesterday in the IPL, but the previous time I saw him in an international he was excellent.

  • Comment number 34.

    AndyPlowright

    His first class bowling average is immaterial. We're not going to be playing first class cricket at the T20 world cup!

  • Comment number 35.

    I agree with what 50shent said a while back about Bell's exclusion. He seemed a perfectly classy 20/20 opener to me a couple of years back. No need for rookies like Lumb.
    Just as Bell is at last in the form of his life he's been completely discarded by the selectors in all forms of one day cricket. Why? Shouldn't he be earning his central contract?

  • Comment number 36.

    Are we going to become more interested in the 20/20 team than the test team? Will players who have competed in the IPL find county championship cricket in empty grounds a huge let-down? Are we seeing the rise of the 6-hitter rather than the innings builder.
    Watching a bit of the IPL reminded me of baseball rather than cricket.
    However, I must admit that the atmosphere and enthusiasm was electric even if the batting resembled slogging for home runs.

    Seeing the details of a bemusing pink ball game in Dubai in which a meaningless one-sided match between Durham and an extremely odd assortment of players acted out in a virtually empty 25,000 stadium and flagged as the SEASON OPENER .....made me wonder just where the "normal game" of cricket is going!!!

    Any comments, Oliver, on MCC's team selection, the venue, Gidman's bowling of 2 part-time spinners instead of established pace-men, the Durham declaration etc etc. The game seemed like a complete farce.
    Hence, the comparison and the concern about the future.

  • Comment number 37.

    I think that it is unfair that Bromsgrove born Davies has not been given a chance to represent England rather than Jo'Burg born Kieswetter..their records in first class cricket are not dissimilar both have a strike rate of 60ish and both have a strike rate of 130 in T20 and he is a much more accomplished keeper. I saw Davies take apart the Hampshire attack scoring a century opening the batting with Solanki at New Road last year, so far England have played him in a single T20 match and a single ODI

  • Comment number 38.

    Oliver Brett, Why is you keep banging-on about James Foster? Reasonable keeper he maybe, but this is the rub, he can't bat an an international level, as he has proved in all forms of the game!
    You are clearly in denial of this, but please try and find some objectivity in your reporting.

  • Comment number 39.

    As with all forms of cricket, a top keeper will be worth around 20 runs per innings on average, though this will usually be made up of one good catch/stumping saving 40+ every few games and a minor saving in the others.

    So, as with all kepper selections the ECB have made since they dropped Jack Russell, the question is, do you think the new keeper is really worth 20 more runs with the bat than the incumbent, as the new man is (seemingly) never as good a keeper as the one who already has the job?

  • Comment number 40.

    Kieswetter seems an automatic coice. Even when he fails will probably get 12 off 8 balls, which is not disastrous in T20.
    Lumb has been quality in the games I have seen him in.

  • Comment number 41.

    36. The move to play that game in Abu Dhabi is sensible, if rather odd. In fact, it is because the MCC is infinitely more forward-thinking than the ICC and the ECB that the game is being played there (warm weather as opposed to gales in London - match would have been half lost to rain at Lord's, plus opportunity to trial pink balls which could revitalise dwindling interest in the Test game). I am no huge fan of the slave-to-commercialism otherwise known as the IPL but it has a sustainably strong global audience even if it needs to learn that less could eventually be more.

    38. Yes I am a fan of Foster's but no impartial lover of the game could fail to be. He is a superb technician with the gloves, arguably one of the best in the world, and after scoring 37 off 32 balls in last year's IPL in five very short innings coming in during the death overs every time I am not sure the phrase "he can't bat at international level" is exactly justified. Besides, his sublime back-foot driven six at The Oval off Shahid Afridi and his stumping off Yuvraj Singh at Lord's were two of the best moments of the tournament.

    I am not going to stand here and say he should play for England instead of Kieswetter, nor should he replace Prior in Test cricket. In another era I am sure we would have seen a lot more of him however.

  • Comment number 42.

    GHBRich:

    "36 innings, 568 runs at 27.04 with one half century with the bat.
    With the ball, 805 balls (134.1 overs), 32 wickets @ 27.12 with an economy rate of 6.46.

    That's actually a pretty good T20 record - his average is decent for a lower middle order batsman in that form of the game (although strike rate is more important and you haven't given a stat for that), and any economy rate under 7 in T20 is worthy of praise."

    His batting average is helped by being not out 15 times in those 36 innings. Compare that to Alistair Cook who averages 29.73 with a 100* being his only not out innings in 16 knocks. For Yardy's strike rate, the stat is 105.77. Cook's for comparison is 127.79. I compared Yardy to Cook as Cook has obviously been doubted over his speed of runscoring in ODI cricket over recent years.

    Perhaps a better way of judging their batting would come through balls faced versus boundaries scored.

    Yardy. 537 balls, 49 fours, 5 sixes. That's a four every 11 balls and a six every 107 balls rough.

    Cook. 349 balls, 50 fours, 8 sixes. That's a four every 7 balls and a six every 43 balls.

    Throw in Luke Wright, someone who may compete with Yardy for a place, and you get figures of 649 balls, 101 fours, and 33 sixes, meaning a four roughly every 6 faced and a six every 18 balls.

    I don't disagree that Yardy may be able to keep things tight with the ball. However, if he's bowling 4 overs for 24 and then can only score at a run a ball, does the relative slowness of his batting actually counteract the tightness he can exert with the ball?

  • Comment number 43.

    Why take blokes that can't bat? Makes no sense at all in this format!
    -------------

    Actually it is a perfectly valid tactic. Bowlers are more impotant in a way than batsmen in 20/20 because every single tight over is almost as good as a wicket.

    Most teams in 20/20 do not get to more than 5 or 6 wickets down so the batting ability of the guys at 9/10/11 is really an irrelevance, they may save or win you the odd match in several dozen with the bat but they will sure as anything win you more with the ball.

    To my mind a 20/20 team needs at least three top class bowlers (two seamers and a spinner ideally) even if they are all bunnies, the other eight overs can go to slightly lesser bowlers who can also hold their own with a bat and play explosive shots over the 2 or 3 overs they are likely to get with it.

    With England they are fortunate in that their top 3 specialist bowlers would include Broad (despite his occasional hammerings) and Swann who are both test match capable #7s and one of the other likely 5 is Bresnan who is just as good. Thus the fifth bowler spot can be free to be a specialist as well.

  • Comment number 44.

    Ian Bell is without doubt a good player in all forms of cricket but I for one am glad that he is not been selected.
    Indeed, I would prefer all out test players to be excused T20 games.
    How often have we seen Strauss, Cook, Pietersen, Collingwood and Prior losing their wickets recently to strokes learned in the shorter versions of the game.
    My concern at the moment,is whether Pietersen will revert back to the ODI style of play that cost him and England so dear in SA. His return to T20 so soon after having found a great technique in test cricket worries me.

  • Comment number 45.

    If England are to win the championship, the key question is not just who can play score quick runs and bowl economically, but also who can be depended on to play at their best under extreme pressure?

    In that category we know we can put: Collingwood, Pietersen, Morgan, Swann, Anderson and Broad.

    Bell, Cook and Prior would also tick that second box.

    But Wright, Sidebottom and Bopara all have top level experience but are all slightly suspect under pressure if you ask me.

    The others that have not played at the highest level are all a bit of a risk.

  • Comment number 46.

    PS. What a pity Freddie Flintoff is not fit.

  • Comment number 47.

    Michael Lumb's father opened the batting with Boycott for Yorkshire in the 70s - he's hardly South African.

  • Comment number 48.

    im quite pleased with the squad as a whole, its a positive response. there was an article about martin johnson and the england rugby rolling the dice going for a 3 and being happy with it. here we have tried to roll for the six, but could end up being exposed and getting a 1. looking forward to this one. we do miss the gough bowler, but tredwell needs to perform well with jimmy and broad not going for too many. think colly should be used and bopara a little too.

  • Comment number 49.

    46: what a pity Freddie wasn't South African!

  • Comment number 50.

    OO shock horror - powers that be treat Owais Shah shabbily..again.. and demonstrate absurd faith in Bopara...again. As for Foster, if he's so talented I guess that makes Chris Read superhuman and godlike in his keeping! And Rashid? I would be surprised if he can bounce back from this last year when England's trademark patented 'Confidence to Young Players of colour' scheme has really worked its wonders on him. Good on yer, Flower/Strauss/ECB/Sky/Agnew/other assorted fools.

  • Comment number 51.

    Batsmen who score in T/20 at nos. 4-8 under pressure in overs 14-20 ,may have lower averages but often are the match winners.
    [Oliver, I really appreciate your blogs. Well balanced and well expressed. Please keep them coming!
    However(!), I can't see the point of having the "season opener" played in an empty stadium ,abroad. It seemed to be more an experiment in pink balls than a valid game, partly because the MCC team chosen didn't compete but also because, frankly it doesn't have much validity or general interest.
    If the ECB is forward thinking, perhaps it should invest in giant tented canopies until it can afford retractable roofs for stadiums such as Lords. I fear that most matches scheduled for early April will fail as "season openers". Climate warming hasn't changed that much since the days when the LAST 2 weeks of April heralded warm-up matches against the universities.]

  • Comment number 52.

    rob i don't think i get what u r talking about when you say, "A team full of mercenaries will rarely be as strong as those composed of players with the same desire" when all these players have said they desire to play for england and are doing so, obviously this means they haven't the desire to play for SA!

  • Comment number 53.

    Anyone who thinks that Tim Bresnan should be in the 20/20 team is clinically insane. He's a handy ODI player and works against ok test teams but the likes of Yuvraj, Mccullum and Clarke are going to absolutely slaughter him.

  • Comment number 54.

    I think that Michael Lumb is an altogether odd choice. We have been playing a fair amount of 20/20 inernationally and i havent heard him mentioned till now. I agree with Oliver's comments in his blog about the slow nature of the West Indian wickets. Pick 3 spinners but pick Swann, Blackwell and Patel. All three have done well in international cricket one day internationals. I also rate Patel as a test cricketer of the future , even if it is just with the bat. Here's my team (and Harmison hasnt retired from international cricket).


    1. Kieswater
    2. Pieterson
    3. Collingwood
    4. Morgan
    5. Bopara
    6. Patel
    7.Blackwell
    8.Swann
    9.Broad
    10.Harmisson
    11.Anderson

  • Comment number 55.

    First and foremost, can BBC please stop referring to Kieswetter and Lumb as South Africans. Do your nation (England) a favour and refer to them as being English now that they have qualified to play for ENGLAND.

    Secondly, I think the team is very poor. How the heck can Yardy, Shahzad, Lumb and Tredwell get in????? All four are not of good quality to play for this team, much like Denly, Rashid, Foster and Read who have all been found out.

    Surely Prior had done enough to keep the wickie position and leave Kieswetter do simply bat at the top of the order, and players like Trego and Blackwell have deserved a place. The latter being totally ignored for many years inspite of his huge talent - the game of 20/20 was made for him. To pick a lesser bowler like Tredwell ahead of him who has nowhere near Blackwell's batting ability is beyond belief.

    ...and where is Owais Shah?

  • Comment number 56.

    thegreatmeloni, i am glad to finally find someone who thinks people should stop saying england are becoming an sa b team. although i dis agree with your views on michael lumb. i saw him playing at hampshire and he is defintely a player who should be playing for England

  • Comment number 57.

    Prior must be gutted being demoted to SA third XI

  • Comment number 58.

    @ 56. Only us English would demean our own team by referring to them as an SA B team or the players as South African when they no longer should be.

    Makes me sick really that the BBC rest of the media do this - certainly not supportive of our team and the players.

    As for my comments regarding Lumb, this is a surpise to me because there are numerous players that should have been above him in the pecking order...i.e. Shah and Prior. Good luck to him though, I hope he takes his chance well - more so than Denly.

  • Comment number 59.

    It isn't a surprise to anyone that Trott and Denly failed as openers, especially Troot since his batting style is not that of an opener. But to judge the quality of 2 batsmen based on the sorry bowling attack that the England first team uses is a bit silly, especially going into a World Cup where all the other nations will be using their proven openers. Yes our opening pair has been a problem since Tres stepped out of the International scene and we've had plenty of time to bring in new openers and let them get some experience but for some reason our selectors have not done this and to even more dispair they think that in a World Cup environment is the proper time to start 2 new uncapped, unexperienced batsmen, the logic just isn't there. However it really doesn't matter who opens the innings for us or how many batsmen we throw into the lineup as long as we continue to go with the current bowling attack were not going to win matches plain and simple. Any doubters just need to re-watch the entire series against Bangladesh, or re-watch the series against South Africa. An integral part of any bowling attack is the fear that attack bestows upon the oppossing team, and since Freddie and Harmie have gone so has that part of our game. There isn't one International side or opening batsmen who is going to be to worried facing Broad, Bresnan, Sidebottom, or Finn and thats the bottomline. It won't matter if we score 250 runs in a 20 over game because the bowlers that our selection panel choose to use will give up 300 everytime.

  • Comment number 60.

    im really happy-the selectors have actually picked a squad that 99% of people would agree with-only 1 or 2 possible changes, but lumb,bopara-successful in ipl are good choices. i dont think we have the best team in the world-but at least we have picked the best possible squad to have a go, i wish england luck

  • Comment number 61.

    I like the squad, with one or two exceptions.

    Dont know what Bopara has done to get back into the squad; two 50's in the IPL wouldnt - in my book - get him back in the squad. It looks like we are one specialist batsmen short, or at least an all-rounder who can come in at 6/7 and hit boundaries.

    I dont know why we dont pick players to bat in international cricket where they dont for their county. Bopara is an opener Oliver has him batting 6; Yardy bats 4 for Sussex.

    I personally like Wright, he can hit boundaries, bowl decent seamers, fields well and he has shown a few times that he can play well under pressure. Examples: last over in New Zealand he bowled and went for 6runs; hitting 50 against India; and batting with Bresnan in South Africa in Champions Trophy.

  • Comment number 62.

    Obviously I've come to this blog a bit late but one thing that hasn't been commented on surprised me: Bopara may be able to bowl a little and bat a little in this format, but he is an appalling fielder and an international side cannot carry any poor fielders in this format. When selecting a T20 side, a players ability in the field should be given equal weight to their ability with bat/ball. One simply needs to calculate the value of a whole side of dynamic, mobile fielders in terms of runs saved and wickets gained. It also seriously puts the knockers on batsmen looking for that extra run.

  • Comment number 63.

    Have England ever had a more exciting looking one-day batting line up?

    Bar Swan the bowling does look average though.

  • Comment number 64.

    "Jonathan Trott had ended up opening England's innings almost by accident. So wonderful had his first international appearance proved - a century on Test debut in an Ashes decider - that perhaps the selectors reckoned he could do any job going."

    Or maybe it was because he set a record in 2009 for the most runs in a Twenty20 Cup season. As an opener.

    Or that he scored 51 (in 40 balls)in the last T20i in South Africa.

    Surely you could manage just a little research?

    And maybe the England selectors could show just a little bit of consistency. Seems we're back to 'one bad innings and you're out.'

  • Comment number 65.

    59. You seem to have missed the fact that we have a well established, in form opening partnership ... two proven players by the names of Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook! Strauss in particular impressed me in the one dayers against South Africa when he attacked the opening power play overs positively, but not recklessly. He is also a smart captain who can lift his side in tough situations, which cannot be underestimated. Ian Bell has impressed recently and has to be worthy of a place.

    All cricketers go through dips in their form. The difference is, the fringe players like Lumb and Napier get to have their off-days quietly in the corner, whereas the England regulars have theirs in the full media glare. Bell, Cook, Strauss et al. have all had their share of fairy-tale 1st class innings, in all forms of the game. Most top teams change a couple of players between formats, it's only England that tries to run three different teams!

    My 20/20 world cup 11:

    Strauss
    Cook
    Pietersen (Paternity Sub: Bell)
    Collingwood
    Morgan
    Wright
    Prior
    Swann
    Broad
    Bresnan or Tredwell (Conditions dependent)
    Anderson

    Subs: Kieswetter, Rashid, Mascarenas

    And yes that's 16 players, I'm assuming when Pietersen flies out we can fly in a replacement? If not, Mascarenas misses out on some nice sunbathing!

    Trott would come into the test squad but maybe not into my first choice test 11. Has anyone considered giving Morgan a trial outing in the longer form of the game?

  • Comment number 66.

    Oh dear Rob, where is your head ? Any national team reflects the nature of the country. If you have a fairly high percentage of immigrants in your population this will be reflected in the national team. The NZ All Blacks are heavily dependent upon Samoan and Fijian immigrants, but it doesn't cause anyone in NZ any problems. As for 'mercenaries' not having a strong sense of committment - you obviously havn't seen the All Blacks play lately.
    There are large numbers of emmigrants leaving SA and they feature in many sports teams other than England cricket and will continue to do so. It just so happens that England have a particularly good bunch of SA born cricketers available at the moment. You should be so lucky. Do you really think that other countries wouldn't wellcome them with open arms.

  • Comment number 67.

    Very well said wellikiwi (#66). I sometimes wonder if the people complaining about the make-up of the England side are the same people who complain about 'those bloody foreigners coming over here and taking our jobs'. Ultimately it is in no wqay different. I employ staff who have immigrated from Jamaica, Somalia and South Africa. All now have dual nationality and are proud of their new country. All do their jobs well. They arrived in this country in some cases to further their careers. I have no problem with employing them, as I have no problem with naturalised Englishmen playing for our cricket team, regardless of their place of birth.

    I have no doubt that we would all like to see more youngsters who have come through club and county getting into the first XI, but selection is based on meritocracy and rightly so.

  • Comment number 68.

    Just a small point I would like to make that hopefully all cricket commentators will see. In the IPL it has annoyed me that the commentators say things like "They'll need more boundaries or sixes" or "I thought it was just a boundary but it actually went for 6" - I don't know why I should need to clarify this but a boundary is a four, OR a six. It's not just being petty, it can be confusing when you're paying full attention (and lets face it not many people have the time to even watch a full 20/20 game)

    This lack of correct terminology has manifested itself on the BBC website:

    Craig Kieswetter and Michael Lumb shared 17 boundaries and four sixes (so really they shared 21 boundaries - including four sixes) Not difficult is it.

    Anyone else irked by this or is it just me?

 

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