Champions Trophy 2013 June 14, 2013

England slammed for lack of yorkers


England's bowling performance at The Oval has been branded one-dimensional and "inept" by a leading bowling coach.

Ian Pont, who has coached Dhaka Gladiators to back-to-back titles in the BPL and, as a specialist fast bowling coach, has worked with Dale Steyn, Shoaib Akhtar and Darren Gough among others, has criticised England for "a lack of a plan" and "a complete failure to bowl yorkers."

England scored 293 at The Oval on Thursday, but saw Sri Lanka chase it down with 23 balls to spare. The bowlers, unable to find any conventional or reverse swing, looked bereft of ideas as they attempted to stem the flow of runs.

Now Pont, who recently published a book about fast bowling called Ultimate Pace Secrets, has urged England find alternative options and learn from the experience.

"England's tactics need to be reviewed," Pont told ESPNcricinfo. "Because the decision not to bowl in the block-hole was clearly a mistake.

"On a pitch so good for batting you have to get the ball in the block-hole. The yorker is the clear and obvious delivery to bowl in that situation and for England not to use it is simply wrong. It is a one of a bowler's key tools.

"It wasn't so much that England didn't have a Plan B, it was that they didn't have a plan. They want the ball to do something in the middle overs of the innings, but you can't rely on that. There will be times when it doesn't happen and you have to be able to cope with that. You can't just rely on a ball swinging.

"Even if you just bowl line and length you are sticking to a plan. It's not a great plan, but it is a plan. And yes, they were confronted by some brilliant batting, but that happens. You can't serve up pies or bowl wide.

Pont compared England's tactics with those of Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga, who has developed into one of the great limited-overs bowlers with a reputation for delivering penetrating yorkers.

"Malinga is unique due to his action," Pont said, "but he practises in the nets bowling at a pair of boots to ensure he is bowling right in the block-hole. Maybe the fact that some of England's seamers don't get the opportunity to play much T20 cricket is counting against them. But their slower balls are too easy to pick and they seem either unwilling or unable to bowl yorkers. They aren't poor bowlers, but it was an inept performance.

"There are basic skills, really, and if I was coaching I wouldn't come out of the nets until I sure that every one of the bowlers could deliver a yorker to order."

England's bowling was under scrutiny for different reasons elsewhere. Bob Willis, speaking on Sky Sports, appeared to suggest that the umpires had not changed the ball midway through the Sri Lanka innings because it had gone out of shape, but because someone in the England team had tampered with it.

An England team spokesman, while acknowledging that Willis had made the remarks, declined to comment but did reiterate the official ICC line: that the ball had been changed because it had gone out of shape and there had been no suggestion of tampering.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Trott has emerged as an injury doubt ahead of Sunday's game against New Zealand in Cardiff. Trott did not field for much of Sri Lanka's chase and will be accessed at training on Saturday before any decision is made over his involvement.

"He had a tight right quad and we thought the best thing to do was to get him off before things got significantly worse," England's assistant coach and fielding coach, Richard Halsall, said. "We have to have a look at him at training. We don't know yet if he'll be fit."

There are those, of course, who would suggest that Trott's absence would be of little loss to England. They claim that Trott's contributions are too slow to win games for England in modern ODI cricket.

The evidence suggests otherwise. Trott's ODI batting average of 52.56 is more than 10 runs higher than anyone with a minimum of 20 ODI innings for England while his strike-rate (of 76.42 runs per 100 balls) means that only seven specialist batsmen have scored quicker than him in ODI cricket for England. Perhaps more importantly, England have lost only five of the 22 ODIs in which Trott has played since the start of 2012. In the six games without him, England have been beaten four times.

Certainly Halsall dismissed any suggestion that England were better off without Trott and said that it was the bowlers, not the batsmen, who were more culpable for Thursday's defeat.

"Trott is rated in the top 10 one-day batsmen in the world and he builds a magnificent platform for us," Halsall said. "It's always reassuring to have him there.

"People who continue to talk about him haven't really looked at the black and white facts. He continues to put us in a position to score big scores which we should defend, as was the case at The Oval.

"We were expecting to win the game having scored 293. We didn't bowl in the disciplined manner we did against Australia and we couldn't hammer out the consistent lengths we did against Australia. Against world-class batsmen you have to be world class when you're bowling and we weren't. Our bowlers would say we should defend that total and we didn't."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ScottStevo on June 18, 2013, 21:39 GMT

    Exactly, a practice game which doesn't count for anything...nor does it go in the record books...

  • NP_NY on June 16, 2013, 17:40 GMT

    @ScottStevo: India did play Aus in the practice game and bowled them out for 65. At this level no one plays the practice games to lose, so I am pretty certain Aus didn't either. So I am counting the practice games here. Another reason I am counting those games is we hardly get any full games in this wretched tournament so I'll take whatever full games I can get.

  • ScottStevo on June 16, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    @NP_NY, I think you're confusing the facts, mate. India have not played Aus in this tournament, they're in different groups.

  • NP_NY on June 16, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    If the ball don't swing, the poms don't sing. The only team that has consistently taken 10 wickets in the tournament is India with their very underrated bowling. They have done this against Aus, SA, and Pak (WI was 9 wickets down). Aus didn't last 25 overs and Pak didn't last 40. No one knows what will happen in the upcoming matches because anything can happen in sports, but so far India is the only deserving team to win the championship. The teams in Group A are lucky not to have to play them.

  • Jayzuz on June 16, 2013, 2:58 GMT

    I am not bashing anyone, @ Mayan Mansilu, simply pointing out how media distorts reality. Every time AUS has a bad game, the mediais onto it like a pack of vultures. This creates a heavily distorted image of the team. The media hype is that the team is getting whopped every game and that they are in crisis. The reality is that it has lost only one of its last 8 ODI games and remains an excellent, talented & well-balanced ODI team. The fact is their batsmen all have far better averages than the SL team and their record is better. So why is there not a media perception that SL has gone to the dogs? Because when they lose or have a team problem nobody pays much attention.

    BTW, citing T20 games is irrelevant, as it is a totally different format and there are hardly any T20 internationals played.

  • the_blue_android on June 16, 2013, 1:51 GMT

    England players need to punished without the entire event being pushed under the carpet. Only Englishmen can get away with these things. Remember Stuard Broad STOOD on a ball in an international game and got away scot-free.

  • dummy4fb on June 15, 2013, 23:33 GMT

    @Jayzuz thats bcoz aussie kept getting bowled out under 200 lol u guys think u really need to comment on these artciles when u have no knowledge of the things u comment? bashing teams or even for trolling still u need to use correct info, otherwise u gonna look like a fool, as for Aussies, sl has won 8 out of 14 games they played in aussie in last few years , and we have beaten them in last 5 t20's and for eng sl has won 8 out of 11 matches they played against england in england, last few years , lots of people dont know this but our odi record in so called fast pitches like aus,eng and sa has been superb in last few years, impact sl has won more away games in last few years than they won at home,

  • Baseball-Sucks on June 15, 2013, 19:47 GMT

    @ Front-Foot-Lunge ; To be honest , nobody is buying what you are trying to sell here. lol How in the world do you come up with such a claim that SL batsmen asked for a new ball. Its hilarious. LOL In fact the batsmen have no rights to make such a request. There are only 2 possible scenarios which could have happened.

    1) The fielding team can request for a change of the ball and in this case it clearly didn't happen.In fact they were pretty furious about it.

    2) The umpires can change the ball if they notice that the integrity of the ball is compromised and that's what happened in this case. But, how that ball was damaged is a real MYSTERY !!!

    English fielders kept throwing the ball to the keeper on the bounce , off the practice pitches. And the umpires were seen advising the fielders not to do so. And it happened quite a few times. And finally they changed the ball. I think you should feel quite lucky that this incident didn't go too far. G'luck!!!!

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on June 15, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    This is very, very old news for England now. I don't think Broad and co. know what a yorker is! When things go wrong, the only thing England's bowlers seem to revert to is short-pitched rubbish - which at their bowling speeds is only going to go one direction: straight to the boundary for easy 4's.

    Yorkers can go badly wrong and end up as easily hit full-tosses, or within comfortable driving zones of set batsmen. I appreciate not every bowler is blessed with Malinga's accuracy and consistency. But there is no doubt that confidence, bravery and practice is severely lacking in the England camp. Consequently, their bowling can become too metronomic and boring. The sooner they drop Broad (or Bresnan when Broad has his short purple patches) for another spinner like Tredwell, the better.

  • jmcilhinney on June 15, 2013, 16:19 GMT

    @clarke501 on (June 15, 2013, 13:36 GMT), it's always quite funny to see people talk about others being biased just as they make a biased remark themselves. It's not like 62 is a small number of matches. It's certainly not 200 or 300 but it's not insignificant. If you've only played 10 or 20 matches then your average can be skewed by one or two big scores but can you really say that about Trott? If there's a criticism of Trott it is his strike rate early in his innings and his inability to really turn it on if required, not his ability to consistently make good scores. Credit where it's due, as I once read somewhere.

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