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A home World Cup is special to New Zealand and their build up has had people dusting out those dark horse quotes. Some have tipped them to clinch the trophy and to a large extent, that comes down to their abundant and impressive pace reserves. One of them, though, has posed an interesting problem to the captain, coach and selectors. Osman Samiuddin, in the National wonders how they can fit Adam Milne into the XI with Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Kyle Mills, Mitchell McClenaghan, Matt Henry and perhaps a couple of others as well
Milne is something else, though. There is nothing more bracing in cricket than happening on a new, largely unseen and super-quick bowler. If you have ever allowed the evening breeze of Karachi to bring you to life, especially after sweating away the day, it is precisely that effect. The world becomes a better place.
There is no better time for him to be in the side, either, with Shane Bond as bowling coach. There is actually something very Bond about Milne, not just in that upright simplicity as he begins his action but also in the stripped-down style of bowling itself.
Criticism has been as regular as breakfast for Alastair Cook. He saved himself from becoming an "untenable" option as Test captain but the focus has now shifted to his one-day capabilities. With former players questioning if England have the composition to win a World Cup, Stephen Brenkley, in the Independent comes to the support of the embattled England captain
Cook's batting strike rate as captain is 81.89 runs per 100 balls, acceptable even by the era's standards. There seems to be a desire outside the selection room to pack the team with sluggers on the grounds that one or two are bound to come off. England may actually have it right as long as the totals to which they aspire are based on conditions on the day, not some statistical database. The plan is to backload the innings after a solid start with Joe Root, Morgan and Jos Buttler all scoring at a lick
The depths to which England cricket has slipped over the winter has been stark. An Ashes mauling and their shocking defeat to the Netherlands in the World T20 has placed calls for stronger personnel and better strategies, both on and off the field. Michael Vaughan, in his column for the Telegraph, says the reality check should be well heeded.
We concentrated solely on winning last summer and not producing a brand of cricket that would sell the game to the public. Cricket is always fighting other sports for attention so we have to win well but we have produced steady teams capable of boring average sides into submission. It has led the players to believe they are better than they are. As supporters we have been given a dose of reality too about the standard of this England team. We have good players but not great players. Now Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen have gone we need to fill the dressing room with attitude and character, and not pick players on stats-driven form in county cricket.
Mike Selvey, in the Guardian, dissects England's performance in the World T20 and finds their humbling against an Associate nation was almost on the cards with their slippery fielding and their desperate lack of confidence.
To fail to chase a low total against a modest Netherlands side highlighted not only the lack of skills in the English game in general when confronted with alien conditions, but also a lack of commitment and personal responsibility, the latter something that Giles has been trying to drum into players without obvious success.
In the Daily Mail, Nasser Hussain says that it should not be Ashley Giles getting the blame for England's latest debacle.
That said, the real question for me is not about Giles -- or whoever else gets the job. It is about changing the brand of cricket played by England. When there's pace on the ball, and it's going through to the keeper and nibbling around under lights, they're fine because it's the kind of cricket they play at home.