ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News

England in India 2012-13

England's top order must respond - Bell

George Dobell

January 21, 2013

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MS Dhoni leaps after getting Ian Bell out caught, India v England, 3rd ODI, Ranchi, January 19, 2013
The series began well for Ian Bell, and England, but has gone rapidly downhill in the last two matches © BCCI

Ian Bell has acknowledged that England's top-order batsmen will have to perform far better if they are regain a footing in the ODI series against India. England suffered their second crushing loss in succession in the third ODI on Saturday to allow India to take a 2-1 lead with two games to play and Bell knows that, with England having been bowled out for totals of 158 and 155, they will need to improve substantially if they are to prevent India securing a series victory in Wednesday's game in Mohali.

It is no coincidence that England won the first game of the series following a dominant performance from their top-order. Bell and Alastair Cook posted an opening stand of 158 within 28 overs to allow the middle-order to accelerate in the later stages of the innings.

While Bell accepted that India's opening bowlers had performed admirably in the last couple of games, he stressed the need for one of England's top-order to bat through most of the innings to provide a platform for the middle-order. He hopes that the cooler conditions in Mohali might benefit England.

"If we are going to get 150, that's not going to challenge India at all in these conditions," Bell said. "We need to get runs on the board and get a senior batsman batting for the majority of the overs.

"We haven't done that in the last two games and if we do that we can push India. In the final two games we need to get into a position to hurt India at the back end of the innings.

"Their opening bowlers are very good," he added. "They have plenty of skills and swing the ball both ways. They have made us work really hard. But we need a foundation for our big hitters in the middle to get us going.

"It's a little bit more familiar here than the last couple of games and obviously that's nice. It's been very nice here, very English really. That sure helps everyone."

The situation also presents the first significant test of Ashley Giles' new career as an international coach. While Giles' first series as England's limited-overs coach was always likely to prove demanding - England's limited-overs record in India offered little room for optimism - the extent of the last two defeats has been alarming.

But, while Giles will consider changes to the England side ahead of the fourth match, he is also keen not to over-react. He knows, both from the ups and downs of his time as an international player and from his time as director of cricket at Warwickshire, that a calm appraisal of such adversity is infinitely preferable to any hint of panic or knee-jerk reaction.

"I never, or probably only a couple of times, stamped my feet when I was at Warwickshire," Giles said. "If the coach is on an emotional rollercoaster you end up with a team that is second guessing what your reaction will be if you win or lose. That's not how I want to be.

"Honesty is the important thing. You have to analyse where you've gone wrong, look at your personnel, pull those things together and ask 'are we getting it right? Is this the right mix? Are they the right people?' That's the unemotional way of looking at it.

"The hairdryer treatment works occasionally but not very often, not if you're in it for the long term. If I did that after my third game, there would be a lot of worry."

However, Giles did provide the strongest hint yet that there may be changes to the England side. Concern over Craig Kieswetter's form - though it has not been much worse than Eoin Morgan's - has raised the possibility to him making way for his Somerset team-mate, Jos Buttler, though doubts about the latter's wicketkeeping could count against him.

While England's batting has been their main downfall in the last couple of matches there will also be a temptation to make some changes to the bowling attack. Jade Dernbach has conceded his runs at a cost of an average cost of 7.79 an over in the series to date and, after 21 ODIs, concedes more runs per over than anyone to have bowled over 1,000 ODI deliveries: an average 6.28 runs per over. Mohali may provide an opportunity to take a look at Stuart Meaker.

"That statistic is tough on Jade because he's played a lot of cricket in India and it's a hard place to come and play," Giles said. "But again you have to adapt. What the Indians have done very well is hold lengths and lines, so you have to go at them to try to score. Really that's what we've got to do."

Perhaps the most obvious message to England in the series to date is how much they miss Jonathan Trott. England won 12 out of 13 ODIs involving Trott in 2012 and, in that time, were never dismissed for under 200. In three out of four games without him, however, they have failed to reach 200 and been defeated in all three. Rested for this part of the tour, he returns to the side in New Zealand.

In his absence, England might promote Joe Root to bat at No. 3. Root has faced more deliveries than any other England batsman in the last two games and might offer stability at the top of the order and provide Morgan and Kevin Pietersen with some protection from the newer balls. Long-term, though, Root is the only member of the top five unlikely to feature in England's Champions Trophy side, so Giles is expecting more from his experienced players.

"Changes are something that myself, Alastair Cook and the coaches will talk about," Giles said. "We've got options and part of this trip is to look at those options, because we're missing some senior players. This is where you find out about people, under pressure.

"This group has been very refreshing and what we want to avoid is them just feeling beaten up. We have to pick the best team to win the next game of cricket. That will be a hot topic over the next day or two."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 29 
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Posted by John on (January 23, 2013, 4:15 GMT)

@Cpt.Meanster on (January 22 2013, 17:41 PM GMT), I agree regarding Dinda for Ishant. The India selectors seem loathe to go with a pace attack that lacks an experienced member but it's hard to see how Ishant's experience is helping the team when his performance is poor. All the inexperienced pacers have been bowling well and having success so just let them do it. You have to feel sorry for Rahane whom I really do believe is good enough but has been denied for so long and has now done himself no favours in this series. Hopefully for India the selectors have some long term vision with him but I wouldn't bet on it. While India are winning, I don't think that the selectors will feel the need to find a place for Pujara.

Posted by rahul on (January 23, 2013, 2:03 GMT)

how ridiculous can some fan's get "" our batters can smash them blind folded..,. and its all psychology"" well i guess time to open the blindfold fellas... cause most of them were not able to manage a respectable score ... even in the practice matches.... but that doesn't matter to u... cause all england cares about is test cricket.. lol i hope u remember south africa's tour?? oh never mind... there's new zealand's and then the ashes... lets see if ur batters blindfold theory works... if it doesn't.. then i suggest einstien to get them a eye check up ....

Posted by John on (January 22, 2013, 21:40 GMT)

@jmcilhinney on (January 22 2013, 00:51 AM GMT) I do see a reason for KP going in above Bell to open. Just an idea but Bell could be a floating option whereby he comes in at 3 if Cook gets out or lower if KP gets out , so we have 1 accumulator and 1 striker up top. I certainly wouldn't solely blame our last defeat on the slow opening stand but 31 off the first 10 is not good and you're always playing catch up. BTW I think Buttler will come in for Craig

@satish619chandar on (January 22 2013, 05:24 AM GMT) Think we generally need to be less rigid in the batting order.Period. Oh and in the shape of the side too for that matter. I'd bring in Briggs for Dernbach unless the pitch is obviously one which does not take spin so well.

Posted by John on (January 22, 2013, 21:39 GMT)

@subbass on (January 22 2013, 01:21 AM GMT) I still care about the series. We'll probably lose 4-1 but if we win the next 2 we regain the top ranking - not that it means so much

@Greatest_Game on (January 22 2013, 03:23 AM GMT) Prob no need to use the one SA for another line. I'm not sure if Onions OD figures are all that great but maybe I'm wrong. Regardless , while I see it as a change (M for D) I don't see it as more than a sideways step

Posted by Sai on (January 22, 2013, 19:46 GMT)

i think our super fast bowler vinay kumar is better than Dernbach .... LoL I pity your English cricket ....

Posted by rahul on (January 22, 2013, 18:51 GMT)

Eng batting lineup is top heavy. Cook, Bell and KP are their experienced players and they are playing 1,2,3. Combine that with the good spells from Indian new ball bowlers and it is a bad strategy for this series. One of them needs to drop down to 4/5.

Posted by Jay on (January 22, 2013, 17:47 GMT)

@subbass: WOW ! Just when I was thinking English fans are graceful in their defeat... out of nowhere we have Mr/Ms Subbass giving the EXCUSE of the century - "We did what we came to do by winning the proper cricket". So if test cricket is "proper" cricket, then why do the ICC formally recognize 2 other formats ? Also, why do we have an ICC World Cup every four years along with a World T20 every 2 years ? Last but not least, WHY do England even bother playing ODI cricket ? They look so miserable in doing so. Even Afghanistan or Ireland would have challenged India if given the opportunity. Dear team England and fans, please pass over your ICC limited overs place to a deserving associate nation. I bet they will play much better ODI cricket than your boys. Fed up with these kinds of comments.

Posted by Jay on (January 22, 2013, 17:41 GMT)

I don't know what's happened to Kieswetter. He's a good talent. I have seen him play some blinders for Somerset. I feel sorry for him. Nevertheless, Butler is a good replacement. The rest of the team looks okay. India on the other hand should play Dinda instead of Ishant Sharma and also bring in Pujara for Gambhir/Rahane. Dinda bowled okay in that first game but he's being constantly dropped. Ishant Sharma has leaked runs rapidly than a damaged pipe but he's being persisted with. I guess Dhoni doesn't wish to mentally scar Ishant. Anyway, India should wrap this series up here and now. There is a possibility the game could be abandoned in Dharamshala cause of snow and fog. So best of luck and GO INDIA !!!

Posted by Munaf on (January 22, 2013, 13:16 GMT)

AlbertEinstein : Your theory about Eng batters batting blinfolded against Indians is great. Also Indian sloggers will be fooled by mere slow deliveries is great theory too. But hey Einstein, your theory seems to back fire for last few series where scorelines of 5-0 or 4-1 suggest only English batters have taken your theory only partially seriously and come blindfolded to play in all these series.

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