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England are obsessed by numbers, although 42.2% of the team insist they are not. In the past it helped them to much success, but that was with a more experienced team that could still think on their feet. In his latest Spin column, Andy Bull, argues that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how much to believe the computers.
England's over-reliance on the numbers has become a theme in the coverage of the team, particularly among ex-players. You can hear it when they bemoan, among other things, England's reluctance to bowl yorkers at the stumps. That's a tactic that has worked for years, one that has been honed by hard experience. But England's analysis has told them that slow bouncers and full balls sent wide of off-stump are harder to score off. The thing is, in an age when all teams are using computer analysis, a tactic isn't good or bad because it looks that way, or because it is different to what has been done before. It is simply good if it works and bad if it doesn't.
In his piece for the Guardian's Spin, Andy Bull analyses how Twenty20 cricket and rule changes have made traditional ODI strategies redundant and have disempowered fielding sides.
You may say it's made the game good to watch. It's certainly more unpredictable. In the scramble onwards, who knows what a par score is, or a winning total? But as Finch said, there should be a place for the tight contests too. "From a player's point of view, I think the most exciting games are the low-scoring ones, when you're defending 180 and you've got nothing to lose, they can be really exciting games." One thing is clear: if the ICC is serious about trying to redress the balance of the game, bat-size can wait - it's its own meddling with the regulations that has tipped it out of kilter. It has chosen to disempower the fielding side at the very moment the game was already evolving in favour of the batsmen.