From laggards to leaders
England finally broke their world tournament jinx, making the transition from being remotely competitive to ultra competitive. No longer do we look on an England one-day team and despair at a relative lack of power, fitness and athleticism, writes Michael Atherton in the Times.
Despite that, yesterday was not one of those “Where were you when” occasions for a number of reasons. Principally, because there is widespread recognition that it is not the pinnacle of the game — not at international level, at any rate. Take a straw poll of English professional cricketers and ask them which domestic one-day tournament they would like to win and the unanimous choice would be Twenty20. But at international level, cricketers still regard the fifty-over World Cup as the pinnacle of the one-day game.
In the same paper, John Westerby writes on the discovery of the Lumb-Kieswetter alliance, and a stroke of luck, courtesy Stuart Broad.
Broad steadied himself under the catch, cupped his hands in readiness, but the ball mysteriously landed a couple of yards behind him. In the dusky, desert sky, he had completely lost track of the grey-white ball. Sidebottom’s reaction was typically apoplectic. But little did he know that Broad had just inadvertently set in motion a chain of events that would dramatically change England’s Twenty20 fortunes.
A catch on the rebound, a direct hit, reverse sweeps, the six-hitting, the yorkers and the devious, slow long-hops - this is the new England. Suddenly they feel like a force in international one-day cricket and it's all because they made things happen, rather than sit back and wait, writes Vic Marks in the Guardian. But how will this performance affect future selections?
Strauss has to play because he is the captain. So someone has to give way and that will probably be the sacrificial Lumb. It would be surprising if Michael Yardy retained his place in the 50-over game. Yardy's method is predicated specifically for the Twenty20 game. He bowls in a manner that is designed to yield six runs per over, which is not so helpful in the longer format. They must also decide whether they prefer Kieswetter to Matt Prior in the 50‑over game (they probably will).
In the Independent, Stephen Brenkley wonders if Test cricket will be able to survive the assault of T20. He says the ICC must act quickly to make Tests more of a spectator sport.
Test cricket should not be doomed because it remains at its (rare) best a riveting, brave spectacle – the Ashes last summer, the matches against South Africa last winter. But it has lost spectator appeal not only because T20 is more obviously exciting and tends to narrow the gap between competing sides (how refreshing that the two best sides reached the final yesterday) but because too many series are far from being between equally matched teams. Test cricket may be the best form of sport devised by man but it needs people to watch it and that means contests in which both teams have a chance of winning. It was never meant to be a private affair.
In the Telegraph, Simon Briggs says the factor behind England's success was that they had comprehensively ditched what was once an angst-ridden, safety-first gameplan and displayed a swagger from the start of the game. Their gambles paid off too.
Or take Collingwood’s move to call Luke Wright into the attack when Michael Yardy started to leak boundaries for the first time in the tournament. Here was a man who hadn’t bowled a ball all tour, coming on to bowl at the brawny Cameron White. The result? Five singles and a wicket, as White heaved at a slower ball and was brilliantly caught in the outfield.
In the same paper, Andy Bull writes on the reception Kevin Pietersen received from the Bajan crowd.
"KP! You the boss today man! The boss! Stick it to those Aussies, boy! Over the top, everythin' over the top, boy! Who got 500 dollars who don't like England? Who got 500? All my money KP! I got all my money on you today, boy!"
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo