England v West Indies, World T20 2012, Super Eights, Pallekele September 27, 2012

England's top-order mindset needs a rethink

Eoin Morgan produced a wonderful innings against West Indies, but it made the end result look closer than it really was in another troubled England display
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Eoin Morgan awoke to headlines that it was time for him to deliver. At least he did if it is his habit of scouring the English papers online when he is on tour. He did deliver, too, with 71 from 36 balls, which would win most games, but England still fell 15 runs short. It felt like a lot more. Something was amiss.

England needed 180 to win, but as their captain, Stuart Broad observed, the pitch was a belter and the ground was "postage stamp." On the postage stamp ground, Morgan failed honourably with an attempted special delivery. The rest of England's batsmen barely got out of the sorting office, other than Alex Hales and even he was stamped second class, tiring as his innings progressed.

England were up against it from the outset, 0 for 2 after three balls, Craig Kieswetter and Luke Wright both falling to Ravi Rampaul for ducks, Kieswetter to a badly-executed pull against the second ball he faced, Wright steering a catch to slip as he tried to leave a delivery.

Kieswetter persistently looks fretful in the first few balls, as if uncertain how to go about building a first over, which is not a great career move for an opening batsman. As for Wright, not too many batsmen in Twenty20 are caught at slip trying to leave one.

England talk constantly about the need not to lose wickets in the early overs, which might be statistically proven to be an advantage, but it seems to be confusing Kieswetter and Wright, who only seemed suited to a role in the top three if they are allowed licence to attack. Neither would claim to be technically watertight, both need to be encouraged to go big.

England, with this emphasis on not losing early wickets, would have been better picking Alastair Cook, who disproved the notion that he could not play ODIs and would probably make a decent fist of T20 too. If that meant omitting Kieswetter, England could have always entrusted the gloves to Jonny Bairstow.

On this occasion, though, Bairstow's innings was also misconceived. He had been promoted to No 4 to try to allow Morgan to wreak havoc in the closing overs when the field would be more defensive. It was a plan that had a logic to it.

Samuel Badree, a legspinner who opens the bowling for Trinidad and Tobago, but whose international experience was limited to two T20s against New Zealand in Florida, was the vulnerable player who England had to target. But Badree had more confidence than England and, after opening the bowling, he got away with four overs for 20.

With advice about not losing early wickets also ringing in his ears, Bairstow limped to 18 from 29 balls, his ebullience for once lacking. In 20 balls against West Indies' spinners, he made nine runs and a leg bye. His sweeps malfunctioned, his attempted cuts died and when he raced down the pitch to Badree he ended up kicking it away.

The first time he went for broke, he got out. He fell at long-off, trying to lift Chris Gayle down the ground and succumbing to an excellent catch running around the boundary by Kieron Pollard, England were 55 for 3 at halfway, still 125 short. That was not as much a platform as a siding.

West Indies bowled 15 overs of spin, pricking England's frailties, aware that their collapse to 80 all out against India would be bound to have left scars. But how much of it was truly high-class spin? Sunil Narine's talent is unquestionable, but since May he now has one wicket against England for 232. Badree got away with it because England were more worried than he was, Gayle and Marlon Samuels are part-time spinners and on a small ground they were risky options.

This felt like an innings overly ruled by endless advice about keeping wickets in hand, and it felt like that particularly when Bairstow was at the crease. Nobody doubts that the advice is generally sound, but England batted themselves into a position where they could not win the match, not even with Morgan's heroics.

If Hales was seeking to bat through - and, as he tired as his innings progressed and became less effective as a result, even that approach was questionable - then better than run-a-ball innings were essential at the other end.

Hales was dismissed for 68 from 51 balls, stumped by Dinesh Ramdin as he failed in what had become an onerous task to hit the last three balls for six. He spoke about what a good influence Morgan was at the crease, encouraging him to have fun in trying to win a match for England from a virtually impossible position.

Jos Buttler, presented as a potentially destructive No. 6, got one ball. Samit Patel, an experienced finisher, never got in. Graeme Swann is as dangerous a tail-ender as there is in the tournament and perhaps this was a night when from 0 for 2 England were naturally going to have to bat deep.

The danger for England is that Morgan's brilliant knock will persuade them they got close. It never felt like that. When Morgan plays with such wonderful abandon, England should win more often than not. This England run chase was not the story of Morgan's brilliance, it was the story of a very English type of failure.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on September 28, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    @Si Baker on (September 28 2012, 15:14 PM GMT) Mate , I don't have a problem with any of what you suggested. Some of the Irish players could maybe play for the Lions but retain their ODI/T20 Status with Ireland. My point was that the guy is saying that we're poaching all the Irish talent when at this stage the only Irish player who has played for England is Morgan. Joyce - who he also mentions - is playing for Ireland again anyway. Also , do you get my point about those 100% Irish footballers of the 90s such as their captain Andy Townsend.

  • on September 28, 2012, 16:22 GMT

    They have put a chastity belt on Morgan,let the man have fun, rmove him from behind the walls of doubt, to attack sometimes is the best defence give him the chance to succede.

  • JG2704 on September 28, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    @Patchmaster on (September 28 2012, 02:54 AM GMT) Funnily enough , I agree with most of your post. We have Briggs out there who I think can do a good job - as good as our pacers anyway - but re "Any bowler who cannot think how to not get hit for six sixes in an over, cannot be trusted to think how his side can go about playing with 40 overs" - what a load of rubbish. Although I think some of Broad's onfield decisions aren't the best and the team selections - which are part Flower too don't forget - aren't the best Broad himself was our most economical bowler yesterday and why must he always be judged on one bad performance 4 years or so ago?

  • JG2704 on September 28, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    @SurlyCynic on (September 27 2012, 22:57 PM GMT) Broad bowled well yesterday. And his buddies - presuming you mean Swann - had one bad over yesterday but has been as good as any bowler in the tournament if you take that out. Also , I'm pretty sure you were one of the main critics of us playing SA born players. So in that case why are you calling for us to recall the main SA born player?

  • on September 28, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    BROADly speaking, poor captaincy compounded the confused minds of a very young and very talented group of batsmen, who will deliver in the future, if nurtured and guided properly. Don't give up on these young ones. But you have to dern back on Dernbachs, and discard ineffective swetters -- whether alpha, beta, gamma or Kei!

  • ste13 on September 28, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    Kiesewetter and Dernbasch should go out. Lumb and Bopara should come in. Wright is also disappointment

  • JG2704 on September 28, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    @Nutculet - I agree with your comms here.I have said before about England's lack of adaptability in the test arena and it seems similar in recent T20s too.It seems they have "It worked for us in the past/It's what got us here" attitude. For me Briggs is a must , and if they want to go for 3 quicks I'd possibly have Bres coming in for Patel. Briggs - successful or not - is used to opening the bowling too so adds another dimension and gives us another option in the opening overs.EG if the pace of Finn looks ineffective in the 1st over we can go with Briggs.If Finn threatening , go with Broad.Re Dernbach despite Swann having that 1 horror over I'd prefer him to have bowled his 4 out than Dernbach. My way of thinking is that if you have a bowler who bowls 2 very decent overs in a row , keep him on for a 3rd or 4th as there's no guarantee that he'll get straight back into his rhythm later in the inns and if a bowler is going for runs and looking unthreatening take him off whoever he is.

  • on September 28, 2012, 12:44 GMT

    England don't have enough leaders to take the pressure off the talented young bats. That's where they are missing KP as well as his runs. Andy Flower is a good analyst but his man management is really getting shown to be poor since Strauss started to burn out. However good your plans are, technique falls apart under pressure without the right leadership to step up (not captaincy). Their batting plans seem more suited to 50 overs rather than 20 and Morgan needs to get in earlier.

  • on September 28, 2012, 12:17 GMT

    Something missing at no3 !!

  • JG2704 on September 28, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    @mikey76 on (September 27 2012, 21:48 PM GMT) Do you really think the bowling looks good? We were set 180 on a used pitch. For once I think the bowling let us daown as much , if not more than our batting

  • JG2704 on September 28, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    @Si Baker on (September 28 2012, 15:14 PM GMT) Mate , I don't have a problem with any of what you suggested. Some of the Irish players could maybe play for the Lions but retain their ODI/T20 Status with Ireland. My point was that the guy is saying that we're poaching all the Irish talent when at this stage the only Irish player who has played for England is Morgan. Joyce - who he also mentions - is playing for Ireland again anyway. Also , do you get my point about those 100% Irish footballers of the 90s such as their captain Andy Townsend.

  • on September 28, 2012, 16:22 GMT

    They have put a chastity belt on Morgan,let the man have fun, rmove him from behind the walls of doubt, to attack sometimes is the best defence give him the chance to succede.

  • JG2704 on September 28, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    @Patchmaster on (September 28 2012, 02:54 AM GMT) Funnily enough , I agree with most of your post. We have Briggs out there who I think can do a good job - as good as our pacers anyway - but re "Any bowler who cannot think how to not get hit for six sixes in an over, cannot be trusted to think how his side can go about playing with 40 overs" - what a load of rubbish. Although I think some of Broad's onfield decisions aren't the best and the team selections - which are part Flower too don't forget - aren't the best Broad himself was our most economical bowler yesterday and why must he always be judged on one bad performance 4 years or so ago?

  • JG2704 on September 28, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    @SurlyCynic on (September 27 2012, 22:57 PM GMT) Broad bowled well yesterday. And his buddies - presuming you mean Swann - had one bad over yesterday but has been as good as any bowler in the tournament if you take that out. Also , I'm pretty sure you were one of the main critics of us playing SA born players. So in that case why are you calling for us to recall the main SA born player?

  • on September 28, 2012, 13:58 GMT

    BROADly speaking, poor captaincy compounded the confused minds of a very young and very talented group of batsmen, who will deliver in the future, if nurtured and guided properly. Don't give up on these young ones. But you have to dern back on Dernbachs, and discard ineffective swetters -- whether alpha, beta, gamma or Kei!

  • ste13 on September 28, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    Kiesewetter and Dernbasch should go out. Lumb and Bopara should come in. Wright is also disappointment

  • JG2704 on September 28, 2012, 12:46 GMT

    @Nutculet - I agree with your comms here.I have said before about England's lack of adaptability in the test arena and it seems similar in recent T20s too.It seems they have "It worked for us in the past/It's what got us here" attitude. For me Briggs is a must , and if they want to go for 3 quicks I'd possibly have Bres coming in for Patel. Briggs - successful or not - is used to opening the bowling too so adds another dimension and gives us another option in the opening overs.EG if the pace of Finn looks ineffective in the 1st over we can go with Briggs.If Finn threatening , go with Broad.Re Dernbach despite Swann having that 1 horror over I'd prefer him to have bowled his 4 out than Dernbach. My way of thinking is that if you have a bowler who bowls 2 very decent overs in a row , keep him on for a 3rd or 4th as there's no guarantee that he'll get straight back into his rhythm later in the inns and if a bowler is going for runs and looking unthreatening take him off whoever he is.

  • on September 28, 2012, 12:44 GMT

    England don't have enough leaders to take the pressure off the talented young bats. That's where they are missing KP as well as his runs. Andy Flower is a good analyst but his man management is really getting shown to be poor since Strauss started to burn out. However good your plans are, technique falls apart under pressure without the right leadership to step up (not captaincy). Their batting plans seem more suited to 50 overs rather than 20 and Morgan needs to get in earlier.

  • on September 28, 2012, 12:17 GMT

    Something missing at no3 !!

  • JG2704 on September 28, 2012, 12:14 GMT

    @mikey76 on (September 27 2012, 21:48 PM GMT) Do you really think the bowling looks good? We were set 180 on a used pitch. For once I think the bowling let us daown as much , if not more than our batting

  • crindo77 on September 28, 2012, 11:47 GMT

    England look like a team that's very confused. The 2-0 drubbing by SA at home in the Test series, preceded by the annus horribilis of 2011-12, has rapidly eroded the team confidence. The KP affair, and subsequent attempts at a rapproachment, show how badly England need KP, with Flowers's much quoted "respect" and "bigger issues" clearly out of the window. As for playing spin, the lesser said the better. What was surprising was that after all the computer analysis, constant note-taking, team talk, video reviews, Stuart Broad's talk about the 3 lions, England look like rabbits in the headlights and more worryingly, there appears to be no tangible plan. Am watching SA vs Pak, all the grass and bounce seems to have disappeared overnite, and Amla and Kallis look like they are wallowing in the mud.There are some people who think that the only quality cricket worth playing is in England, Oz and SA; turn up their noses and say "oh that's a subcontinent wicket". Well, the plan's working.

  • landl47 on September 28, 2012, 11:43 GMT

    As the article says, it's a question of matching the game plan with the players. That's especially so when the team is as young as this England team is. When a side has 120 deliveries to score 180 runs, for one player to take up nearly a quarter of them scoring 18 makes the task impossible. I don't know about Alastair Cook, but Ian Bell, a mature player who can adapt tp different situations, would have played better than Bairstow. However, this England team always looked like one for the next world cup rather than this one. Put it down to experience and look to the future. However, can we please end the Dernbach experiment? He has never looked like an international bowler except for an occasional good spell. He's just not accurate enough. Put in Briggs- he'll bowl just as well and is a much better fielder, and he needs the experience for when Swann retires.

  • satish619chandar on September 28, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    England picked the youngest of the squads available with perhaps the worst lots of players of spin bowling. With one game pending against Sri Lanka, i am certainly not hoping that England making it to the semi's. May be, they might beat NZ(MIGHT) but SL have way to classy spinners in their line up. If they somehow manage to do it, they might well face Pakistan in the semis too. Very hard line ahead.

  • SalimLangda on September 28, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    England made a bad mistake by leaving out KP.

  • joseyesu on September 28, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    Bairsow atleast could have made 28 of 28. MAN under Pressure.

  • Jimmers on September 28, 2012, 9:54 GMT

    England are so reliant on stats and formulas and plans that they have taught their players not to think for themselves. Whichever way you dress it up, they need KP back. They're a third class team without him.

  • Nutcutlet on September 28, 2012, 8:31 GMT

    With all the talk about players 'knowing their roles', it seems to have become elevated to become a replacement for thinking (i.e. responding to the match situation as it develops). In this respect, the captain especially needs to depart from pre-conceived plans; be bold & be prepared to go off-piste. The world knows that Dernbach will bowl at the death, even if the misfiring Swann had one over in the locker. Is the batting order set in stone? At no stage does Broad throw down the challenge to the opposition, making them think: what's going on here? Planning a strategy against England becomes easy in consequence; it's like peeping at the answers at the back of the schoolbook. We know what England will do, so we'll plan accordingly. And get our answers right. So, to the NZ match. How about Briggs in place of Dernbach? Ah, that would be different, dangerous, & just possibly a masterstroke! He who dares..

  • Jingels_SA on September 28, 2012, 8:11 GMT

    Solution seems obvious - Prior should be opening. He has shown an ability to adapt his game to any given situation (the Lords run chase Vs SA being a prime example). Has the temperment and ability to open in the shortest format.

  • crick_sucks on September 28, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    he he he....mendis and co. will be enjoying this performance fom eng

  • 100_rabh on September 28, 2012, 7:31 GMT

    I wanted England to win but their approach to chasing was really confusing. You got to go for full montly, if not from 1st ball then at least afetr 5 overs when chasing 180. Bairstow made Badree look like a more dangerous bowler than Naraine. Why Hales was still trying to not get out when he should have taken some risks. Also, probably time to bring in Bopara now

  • on September 28, 2012, 6:46 GMT

    To my english fellows: Why Bairstow is in the team ? He dont know how to play spin, even against bowlers like Badree he was unable to touch the ball. He created the pressure by missing too much deliveries. By sending him up the order was a big mistake and thats why England lost the match.

  • guptahitesh4u on September 28, 2012, 6:26 GMT

    Rightly said, the margin of defeat might be just 15 runs but in actual, England never looked like they can win this match.

  • venkatesh018 on September 28, 2012, 6:18 GMT

    England should face the truth. THEIR BATSMEN DON'T HAVE THE SKILL TO PLAY SLOW BOWLING. That is why they play pre-determined shots. England should not typecast players and should pick their best players of spin ie Trott and Bell(and of course KP) for their future T20 fixtures. Bairstow and Butler(and Morgan too) look clueless against quality spin. Although Morgan hit the big shots well against Windies, he too enjoyed lot of luck in his innings.

  • on September 28, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    analyze it all you want but when people like gayle or sehwag are in good touch, there is little that anyone can do. there's always if and buts. if gayle had got out early, england would have prolly won.

  • on September 28, 2012, 4:46 GMT

    English get drowned in their own hype and miscontrued theories on how innings could be constructed. Guys like Bairstow needs to play spin better, thats when they deserve No. 4 spot. Thats the reality which English will never simply accept.

  • capt.India on September 28, 2012, 4:37 GMT

    playing on fast tracks and tricky tracks are two different things ......on fast tracks u know whats happening on tricky tracks u got me make sure what ever is happening..these English players are directly from coaching schools they have not played any street cricket so they r not street smart that is why they struggle outside english conditions ........they will be thrashed in India as well later in the year.....they r robots listening to the coaches so often that they dont have brains at all .....Broad is still thinking of 666666 and not about the world cup

  • on September 28, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    Awesome knock by Morgan. He looked to pull of extra ordinary turn around only to ad let down by Hales in end stages. But reigning champions hopes of making it to semis looks very bleak

  • on September 28, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Spot-on, David. England, clearly spooked by that kamikaze shambles against India, initially approached their task as if they were trying to save a Test on a raging 5th day turner at Galle rather than win a vital T20 World Cup game chasing nine an over. Bairstow's innings defied belief. What on earth was going through his head? At times it seemed as if he were attempting to emulate Gavaskar's infamous 36 not out off 60 overs against England during the first game of the 1975 World Cup. If his performances against spin in Sri Lanka, allied to his feeble efforts on last year's ODI tour of India, are a forestaste of what we can expect from him, thank goodness we've picked seven specialist batsmen for the Indian tour. Hales, too - although he clearly tried his heart out - never even came close to matching the required scoring rate, while we'll never know whether Morgan could've won the game for us on his own, as he was mystifyingly demoted to No. 5.

  • Patchmaster on September 28, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Another captaincy failure from Broad. Any bowler who cannot think how to not get hit for six sixes in an over, cannot be trusted to think how his side can go about playing with 40 overs. Bairstow should have the gloves. Cook should be picked to bat right through. Dernbach is too expensive to be a T20 Bowler, and Broad couldn't think his way out of a paper bag. Morgan should be captain, he's clever and he knows what he's doing. Michael Lumb must be gutted to miss out - a genuinely gifted player. How on earth they didn't play Tredwell or similar, and drop Dernbach is again, the fault of the Skipper.

  • Moutarde on September 27, 2012, 23:17 GMT

    The only point at which England "could not win the match" was with about 4 balls left.

    I think this article could have been a bit briefer: "England needs to replace tactics with confidence."

  • SurlyCynic on September 27, 2012, 22:57 GMT

    No, England's selection needs a rethink. Drop Broad and his buddies and bring back the best batsman and man of the series last time. There will be less 'banter' but more runs.

  • on September 27, 2012, 22:35 GMT

    Good analysis! How the wheels have come off...

  • on September 27, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    For Gods sake lets give Jimmy Adams of Hampshire a chance and also James Vince.

    Proven players in the one day scene and players who give 100%

    We will win very little with the current set up but I woukd be very happy to be proved wrong.

  • on September 27, 2012, 22:23 GMT

    I guess this performance clearly indicates the value of KP in the English T20 side. Not just as a hitteer but more so as a intimidating figure. With Sri Lanka and NZ ahead Eng look unlikely to progress any further.

  • Ms.Cricket on September 27, 2012, 21:54 GMT

    When Australia were dismissed for less than 100 in a Test against South Africa last year, captain Michael Clarke let his team and the world note it hurt badly and they would work hard to overcome it. And they did, winning the next two Tests and the series. Contrast this with Stuard Broad's words after the humiliating loss to India saying he could not care less. Silly and immature from Broad (as usual). Who made this talented player but mindless player captain? Who makes up the ECB now? Some stupid decisionsand selections coming from there too.

  • mikey76 on September 27, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    Kieswetter has to go. Promote wright to open and move everybody up a slot so Morgan gets to the crease sooner rather than later. The bowling looks good, they just need a bit more nouse with the bat.

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  • mikey76 on September 27, 2012, 21:48 GMT

    Kieswetter has to go. Promote wright to open and move everybody up a slot so Morgan gets to the crease sooner rather than later. The bowling looks good, they just need a bit more nouse with the bat.

  • Ms.Cricket on September 27, 2012, 21:54 GMT

    When Australia were dismissed for less than 100 in a Test against South Africa last year, captain Michael Clarke let his team and the world note it hurt badly and they would work hard to overcome it. And they did, winning the next two Tests and the series. Contrast this with Stuard Broad's words after the humiliating loss to India saying he could not care less. Silly and immature from Broad (as usual). Who made this talented player but mindless player captain? Who makes up the ECB now? Some stupid decisionsand selections coming from there too.

  • on September 27, 2012, 22:23 GMT

    I guess this performance clearly indicates the value of KP in the English T20 side. Not just as a hitteer but more so as a intimidating figure. With Sri Lanka and NZ ahead Eng look unlikely to progress any further.

  • on September 27, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    For Gods sake lets give Jimmy Adams of Hampshire a chance and also James Vince.

    Proven players in the one day scene and players who give 100%

    We will win very little with the current set up but I woukd be very happy to be proved wrong.

  • on September 27, 2012, 22:35 GMT

    Good analysis! How the wheels have come off...

  • SurlyCynic on September 27, 2012, 22:57 GMT

    No, England's selection needs a rethink. Drop Broad and his buddies and bring back the best batsman and man of the series last time. There will be less 'banter' but more runs.

  • Moutarde on September 27, 2012, 23:17 GMT

    The only point at which England "could not win the match" was with about 4 balls left.

    I think this article could have been a bit briefer: "England needs to replace tactics with confidence."

  • Patchmaster on September 28, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Another captaincy failure from Broad. Any bowler who cannot think how to not get hit for six sixes in an over, cannot be trusted to think how his side can go about playing with 40 overs. Bairstow should have the gloves. Cook should be picked to bat right through. Dernbach is too expensive to be a T20 Bowler, and Broad couldn't think his way out of a paper bag. Morgan should be captain, he's clever and he knows what he's doing. Michael Lumb must be gutted to miss out - a genuinely gifted player. How on earth they didn't play Tredwell or similar, and drop Dernbach is again, the fault of the Skipper.

  • on September 28, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Spot-on, David. England, clearly spooked by that kamikaze shambles against India, initially approached their task as if they were trying to save a Test on a raging 5th day turner at Galle rather than win a vital T20 World Cup game chasing nine an over. Bairstow's innings defied belief. What on earth was going through his head? At times it seemed as if he were attempting to emulate Gavaskar's infamous 36 not out off 60 overs against England during the first game of the 1975 World Cup. If his performances against spin in Sri Lanka, allied to his feeble efforts on last year's ODI tour of India, are a forestaste of what we can expect from him, thank goodness we've picked seven specialist batsmen for the Indian tour. Hales, too - although he clearly tried his heart out - never even came close to matching the required scoring rate, while we'll never know whether Morgan could've won the game for us on his own, as he was mystifyingly demoted to No. 5.

  • on September 28, 2012, 3:56 GMT

    Awesome knock by Morgan. He looked to pull of extra ordinary turn around only to ad let down by Hales in end stages. But reigning champions hopes of making it to semis looks very bleak