England v Sri Lanka, 5th ODI, Old Trafford July 9, 2011

Six points to ponder for England

Team balance and the batting Powerplay are among the issues for England to deal with after the series win

Alastair Cook will be a satisfied man tonight after he guided England to a 3-2 series victory over Sri Lanka and also claimed the Man-of-the-Series award for his 298 runs. It was a notable achievement to beat the World Cup finalists after being 2-1 down and it was a series full of debate about England's one-day game. Here we look at six key areas.

A balancing act

England were adamant throughout the series that they only needed five main bowling options with the occasional bit of Kevin Pietersen thrown in. The one change they made in the five matches was to replace Stuart Broad with Samit Patel and it felt as though, ideally, Alastair Cook needed one more reliable option to ease the pressure. It would help if Pietersen took his bowling more seriously, but having Ian Bell at No. 6 as a specialist batsman who likes to build an innings was a waste. Within this debate is the role of Jonathan Trott and whether England should be flexible with their batting order. Trott's 72 at Old Trafford suggested the current top order can evolve, but the jury is still out. It would have been nice to see Patel given that middle-order role - longer-term the selectors need to decide about him - and having that sixth bowling option could prove invaluable on the subcontinent.

Winning when it's not swinging

Tillakaratne Dilshan made a telling remark at the end of the series. "Today the conditions were more suitable for us but they played good cricket," he said. "They adjusted to conditions that they weren't used to so they are learning a bit about how they should play on flat wickets." Succeeding when the ball doesn't hoop around corners for James Anderson is a vital part of England's development and the win in Manchester was significant from that point of view. England did find swing, but of the reverse nature, while they fielded two spinners which showed good flexibility. The team will learn much more by winning with the sun on their backs.

The Powerplay issue

Batting in the Powerplays is still very much a work-in-progress for England although there were a few signs. Firstly in the way Alastair Cook and Craig Kieswetter are combining - their opening stand was vital at Old Trafford - and of some encouragingly open thinking from captain and coach. In the two matches where weather played a part - The Oval and Trent Bridge - the batting restrictions were taken early so that England could keep up their momentum. They tried the same tactic here, too, but the result was 14 for 3 so that one will have to be filed under 'could have gone better'. At Lord's they took it after 35 overs to try and utilise a harder ball and a developing partnership but without quite the desired results. At least, though, it is not being left to Anderson.

Keep those boundaries coming

This point can, partly, be connected to the Powerplay one above. There doesn't seem enough oomph in England's lower - well, really, below Eoin Morgan at No. 5 - and that needs to be rectified if England are to be a consistent force. Nothing kills momentum like a batting innings that dribbles to its conclusion rather than a late flurry of boundaries. In mitigation England have had to contend with Lasith Malinga, one of the finest death bowlers around, but he can only operate from one end. The seven players who have filled England's positions from No. 6 to No. 11 in the series hit eleven fours and a six from 282 balls. The likes of Samit Patel, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan are picked partly on the strength of their batting and that strength needs to come through more often.

In a spin

Although England won at Old Trafford to secure the series one of their long-term problems reared its head again: playing spin on a slower surface. Against the new ball they had no problem motoring along at more than six an over, but as the ball got older it became harder work and Suraj Randiv ended with 5 for 42. Trott and Morgan, however, showed the way with an excellent stand of 118 in 21 overs of sensible accumulation and that should be the blueprint for team-mates to follow. It doesn't all have to be about boundaries, but just five fours in the last 41 overs at Old Trafford shows there is still much work to do.

Which quicks

Anderson reaffirmed his credentials as England's leading all-round bowler in home conditions and Bresnan is an effective partner with the new ball. However, the situation over the pace bowlers is not entirely clear. Anderson may not always be the best choice in conditions which nullify his strengths such as India where England tour in October. Then there's the question of who is third seamer. Broad's dropping has shaken up the pecking order as he has been a go-to man in limited-overs for a number of years. Jade Dernbach, meanwhile, has shown impressive skills at the death. Then there's the squad bowlers who didn't get a game - Steven Finn and Chris Woakes - plus those back in county cricket such as Chris Tremlett, James Harris, Graham Onions and Ajmal Shazhad. Having plenty of options is never a bad thing, but picking the right ones can be tricky.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Finn on July 11, 2011, 13:00 GMT

    I was annoyed to see Kieswetter in the side over Davies as Davies hadn't done anything wrong to be dropped for but Craig has won me over and he should stick in the team for a while. My XI for the India series would be: Kieswetter, Cook, Trott/Bell, KP, Morgan, Patel, Bresnan, Swann, Shahzad, Anderson, Dernbach. Trott has an amazing ODI average but he and Bell can't really be in the same side and Bell should never play at 6 again in ODI's! Trott deserves to continue at 3 but if he slows up or loses form then Bell can come in. KP looks like he maay be back to his old self in Tests and in ODI's the same can't be far off but if not then James Taylor should come in. Patel deserves a run at big hitting all rounder slot as he has the batting talent to cement the spot, we have to have two spinners no matter the wicket in ODI's. Shahzad hasn't done a lot wrong and he should come in for Broad who really needs to be dropped for a few months to give him chance to start getting some form for Nott

  • Dummy4 on July 11, 2011, 9:43 GMT

    When was the last time India won a test series in Australia?

  • Ajay on July 11, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    V Sehwag, G Gambhir, R Dravid, S Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, S Raina, MS Dhoni, H Singh, Z Khan, I Sharma, P Kumar/M Patel will be the likely and strong team to take on England. I think this bowling unit under Zaheer will be the toughest that England would have faced in this year. A Strauss, A Cook to Zaheer, J Trott I Bell to Harbhajan would be an ideal contest. For India everything wil depend on first 3, If sehwag fires then it wil b interesting, otherwise R Dravid will as always be the Wall that ENG have to break upon.

  • Prakash on July 11, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    England at home with no inspirational leader/innovating batsmen/bowler. I predict a 3-1 Indian victory. England all talk and bluster- Match words with action over a period, not just at home. Last time India won 1-0. India are slow starters, that is why we have a 3-1 scoreline. Bring on the poms- on the field- game on !!! That is not to say the English team is not good- JUST not good enough !!!!!!

  • Mat on July 10, 2011, 21:58 GMT

    I fancy England to win 3-1 (if wickets have pace & bounce in them) as indian batsman will struggle with the taller fast bowlers on pacy wickets, lets be fair with all the Indians batting averages are massively inflated by playing on poor flat pitches where everyone makes 500-600 1st innings, also you wouldnt swap the Indian bowling unit for the English bowling unit on a pitch with pacy and bounce

    on a side note a BIG fear is that the over rate (both teams) will be at 12-13 again and it will be a slow, i just hope that the overrate picks up and were not losing 10 overs a day to a poor overate

    the whole series depends on 1 thing, Will England produce wickets with pacy & bounce with the risk of test matches being over in 3or4 days?? or will we have 4 dead wickets, just so the counties can get the renvue from the 5 days???

  • Denham on July 10, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    Congrats POMS, you were the better side yesterday. See you when we see you next.

  • Jeff on July 10, 2011, 15:10 GMT

    Why does Bell have a 'right' to be in the side? We already have too many accumulators in the side, and number 6 is certainly te position where you DONT want one. We already have 2 players of that style who are better then him (Cook and Trott), and we often have a tail that is capable with the bat to 9/10, so we should be looking at an impact player who can hit quick runs for the 6 position. Also, Samit Patel? Samit Patel? What on earth is he doing in the team? He is nowhere near good enough to play at this level and looked like a rabbit in headlights when batting. Rashid is far better and is one of the top bowlers in the CC this year. Jiggle Pietersen and Trott around depending on which of the openers is dismissed first. Take the powerplay when batsmen are set, not when the bowlers are in. Get one of these young big hitting players many people on here talk about at number 6, and Rashid at 7. Dump the dead wood - Patel, Bopara.

  • Mark on July 10, 2011, 14:34 GMT

    This is one of the better performances in a ODI Series from an England side in years. The Flower-Strauss-Cook partnership with Graham Gooch as batting coach and advisor thrown in their behind the scenes to the England team seems to be doing wonders for English cricket at the moment. Bring on India should be a fascinating series. I hope England hammers India in the test and odi series. If for nothing else to keep the deluge of indian comments and others who always have a dig at English cricket silent. I am supporter of England in cricket I think they have great chance of toppling India this summer. England cricket team took care of Australia now go and beat India. GO ENGLAND CRICKET TEAM!

  • Dummy4 on July 10, 2011, 12:50 GMT

    england need a change in batting order - bell at 4 kp at 5 morgan at 6 or 7 if playing patel

  • Jayaesh on July 10, 2011, 12:17 GMT

    Andrew is spot on with his assesment, but England can't have Cook,Trott,Bell playing together....replace them with J.Vince,Jos Butler and an allrounder like B.Stokes...this will give them much more firepower in Batting.

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