Champions Trophy 2013 June 6, 2013

England blueprint about to be tested



It has been a long time since England have gone into a global ODI event with realistic hopes of challenging. Apart from the 2004 Champions Trophy, when they were thwarted by a remarkable fightback from West Indies in the final, you have to go back to the 1992 World Cup for the last time they have entered an event with such genuine expectations of success.

They may never have a better chance, either. The changes to ODI regulations - particularly the use of two new balls - and home advantage are substantial positives for an England side boasting more players with traditional cricket skills than the explosive match turners sometimes associated with modern limited-overs cricket. England's top-order of Ian Bell, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott may not hit as many sixes as other sides, but they may also bat a lot longer, seeing off the new balls at their most potent and providing a solid platform for those who follow.

The absence of Kevin Pietersen with a knee injury is a substantial loss. Without him, there is a large onus on Eoin Morgan and, to a lesser extent, the two 22-year-olds, Joe Root and Jos Buttler, to provide impetus to innings that are expected to enjoy solid starts but may well require acceleration. The lack of experience of Root and Buttler - they have played 11 and nine ODIs respectively - is one area of concern but, bearing in mind that this event is seen more as a marker on the road to the World Cup than a destination in itself, their early elevation may prove to be the making of them. Neither will be overawed.

The bowling attack is likely to prove almost identical to the Test side. Certainly the four senior bowlers - James Anderson, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann - form an impressive unit, with the seam of Tim Bresnan and the spin of James Tredwell the most likely to make up the final place depending on conditions. The option of selecting Ravi Bopara, an underrated bowler but seemingly a fading force as a batsman, and Chris Woakes, who can change games with the bat but who still looks more potent with the red ball, should probably be considered Plan B.

The appointment of Ashley Giles as England's limited-overs coach may prove to be the final piece in the jigsaw. Giles' elevation means England have a coach with the time to plan and prepare in detail without the distraction of Test series. No longer is limited-overs cricket seen as the lesser game in England and no longer are players selected for the ODI side as a halfway house on the road to Test cricket. Continuity of selection, a policy for so long applied only to Test cricket, has allowed this England side to develop greater role awareness and confidence and their form in England over recent years justifies their position as one of the pre-tournament favourites.

Despite the sobering affects of defeat to New Zealand, anything less than a semi-final appearance would be considered a bitter disappointment.

Key player

Since the start of 2012, Jonathan Trott has been involved in 20 of the 26 ODIs that England have played. England have lost only four of those 20 games and, though they have been bowled out three times, they have never been bowled out for under 200. In the six games without him, England have been beaten four times and bowled out for under 200 on three occasions. Trott's ODI batting average (52.28) is 20% higher than anyone to have represented England in more than 20 ODIs. He will never win over those critics who feel he bats too slowly for the modern limited-overs game but the records show that his will be the wicket the opposition most desires.

Surprise package

It may sound odd to suggest that a man with a batting average of 16.83 can be considered a potential match-winner with the bat. But Jos Buttler, despite his youth, his inexperience and his relatively modest first-class record, is an extravagantly talented batsman with the power and range of strokes to damage any bowling attack. There may be moments, against the very best bowling, when his improvisation gets him into trouble but, so capable of unorthodoxy is he, that even the best could be discombobulated. Only Morgan, of his England team-mates, possesses the same ability to change a game with the bat in so few deliveries.

His keeping remains a work in progress - he is second choice in Somerset's County Championship side - and there may be times, in helpful bowling conditions, when he struggles with the gloves. But England believe he has much scope in that department and he appears to have the temperament to cope with the inevitable setbacks he will encounter.


After years of persisting with 'bits and pieces' allrounders, England have embraced a policy of specialism. They will generally field a team which differs only in two or three positions - that of the keeper, Buttler, an extra bowler in Tim Bresnan and a limited-overs specialist batsman in Eoin Morgan - from their Test side. It is a policy which, in English conditions in particular, makes a great deal of sense.

But their greatest strength may also be their greatest weakness. There is little margin for error in England's strategy. While the likes of Root and Trott could be pressed into service as support bowlers, England will generally expect their five main bowlers to deliver 10 over spells. If one of them experiences an off-day or is injured, England will be over-reliant on part-timers. Similarly, if the top-order batting is knocked over quickly, an inexperienced middle-order may be exposed before they are ready.

Champions Trophy history

Reached the final on home soil in 2004 only to be robbed by a ninth-wicket partnership of 71 by Courtney Brown and Ian Bradshaw that gave West Indies the titles. Beyond that, and a semi-final appearance at the last tournament when they lost by nine wickets to Australia, there has not been much for England to write home about.

Recent form

Good, despite the 2-1 defeat to New Zealand, which dropped them to fourth in the ODI rankings. England were No. 1 - albeit fairly briefly - in 2012 and enjoyed the longest run of successive victories (10) in their history between February and July. New Zealand ended England's sequence of eight ODI series unbeaten at home - before that, you had to go back to 2009, against Australia, to find a loss, though South Africa drew in 2012 - but, since the start of 2010, England have won 23 and lost only 11 of the 37 ODIs they have played at home.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on June 8, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster on (June 8, 2013, 3:06 GMT) JMC had already shown up your lack of knowledge (if that's what it is) If you look at our likely ODI side it's pretty similar to our test side. The only differences are that in ODIs we play 5 specialist bowlers (which I have always said we should play in tests) and batting wise Compton out , Morgan in. Jos instead of Prior as WK but if you look at Prior's ODI record for Eng - rather than presume by his aggressive nature in tests that he'll do well in ODIs you'll see why. So out of all our ODI players only Jos has been nowhere near the test side

  • kdevil on June 8, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    Australia will win today..... thwy will bat first will take 270 ... england 205 allout

  • John on June 8, 2013, 8:36 GMT

    @jmcilhinney on (June 8, 2013, 6:21 GMT), Oops! I meant "you seem NOT to have actually looked at Prior's stats".

  • Krishnadeep on June 8, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    I am all for technically correct batsmen at the top in view of new rules to have 2 new balls and fickle English weather. However I believe Cook, Bell and Trott are a bit of an overkill and at least one of them needs to be replaced by a power hitter(we have seen 300 plus scores being posted). From the existing squad I can only see Bairstow pick up the mantle, however he hasn't done much yet in ODIs. I would still get him in for Bell and see how it works

  • John on June 8, 2013, 6:21 GMT

    @sidganesh on (June 8, 2013, 5:08 GMT), like many, you seem to have actually looked at Prior's stats. He has an average of 24 at a strike rate of 77 and that's after 62 games. Would he really walk into most teams based on that? Like many, you see Prior play Test cricket and assume that he would do well in ODIs but he has been given many chances and, inexplicably, has never really been able to. He's in the form of his like in Test cricket though, so maybe he would succeed if given one more chance. It's far from guaranteed though.

  • Siddharth on June 8, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    As an outsider, it is impossible for me to believe that Matt Prior is not in this team. He would walk into most ODI XIs just for his batting. Play Buttler if you must, but surely Prior is a far better ODI batsman than some of the current lot?

  • John on June 8, 2013, 3:36 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster on (June 8, 2013, 3:06 GMT), once again you embarrass yourself. The term "specialist" is not used to refer to players who specialise in limited-overs cricket but rather players who specialise in their position, i.e. specialist batsmen and specialist bowlers rather than "bits-and-pieces". Basically, it means that England are playing Test-style players rather than limited-overs "all-rounders". The story is, in fact, saying the exact opposite of what you think it is saying and in fact England are doing exactly what you say they should. If you're going to insist on posting negativity all the time then you should at least learn to read properly.

  • Jay on June 8, 2013, 3:06 GMT

    If England play their test XI most of the time in limited overs cricket, especially in ODIs, then they could win a lot more games. This whole crappy mentality of having 'specialists' has not worked for them in the past and it ain't gonna work for them in the future either. Most teams will put out more or less same teams for their test and ODI line ups. Not England, cause they want 'specialists' who end up not being so special in their assigned roles. For the sake of English fans, hopefully this group can do something different on home soil.

  • Duncan on June 8, 2013, 1:04 GMT

    As an England fan, I hope this selection strategy works.

    There is a perception - at least amongst my peers - that England very much see the ODI team as a development step for the Test team. I have always viewed Test cricket as the ultimate challenge so in this light, I certainly applaud if that is the case. There are exceptions to this - Buttler particularly - who I very much doubt will ever keep in tests.

    Trott, Cook and Root are relatively slow batsmen for ODIs but valuing their wickets as they do makes them potent forces, particularly if the conditions are favourable for bowlers. The specialism is certainly a risk but I'm glad that the mediocrity of - say - Samit Patel has not pervaded the thoughts of the selectors. Bopara is an interesting selection but I'm convinced that his issue is psychological rather than technical and that is a hard issue to solve. I was impressed with his bowling against NZ.

    Pietersen is a loss but I think the selectors have been prudent.

  • John on June 7, 2013, 21:11 GMT

    @TallHawk on (June 7, 2013, 10:28 GMT)

    I have a feeling you're right for 2 reasons

    1- They won't drop/rotate any of the techically adept trio - iow plodders

    2- And I'll repeat this again at some point , but I have a feeling that we won't be seeing much more of Morgan for England. The reason being that when his central contract is up I can't see it being renewed and I'm not sure how lucrative his shorter formats contract would be compared to what he'd make in IPL and all the T20 formats. He's not shown much action in return for the CC so I have an inclin he might decline the shorter format contract.