This, that and the other. Mostly the other
Going to the subcontinent? Need a strategy? Let the England team show you how with their tried and tested method, established since 1996.
Position 1 The tone-setter. India have Sehwag, Australia have Watson, Sri Lanka have Dilshan. Even Bangladesh have Tamim. But ignore all this and pick a wicketkeeper to open, even though in the history of this game this has never actually worked for you.
Position 2 This is where you can hide your captain. Ideally he won't have played 50-over cricket for at least a year before being given the armband and/or will have an ODI record worse than Robin Uthappa and Marlon Samuels. Look forward to years of trying to ram a square peg into a round hole.
Position 3 The get-out-of-jail card for the other 10 players. Go with a hitter who will get in, get out playing a big shot, and get pillared when he gets out. Or go with a nudger who will get in and get pillared for staying in. Just make he is dislikeable enough (read "South African") to be your sacrificial lamb.
Position 4 This is where you can slot in a player you aren't quite sure what to do with at the moment. You know the one: he "lacks bottle" or "needs to establish himself". If it is completely unfathomable why he is only averaging 17.5 after 80 games, give him another chance to try to figure it out.
Position 5 The one who occasionally wins you a series on his own. The No. 5 needs to be able to bat at 200 for 3 and (more regularly) 40 for 3. This player should be able to clear the ropes, but will rarely get the chance, due to "rebuilding". This player will be recognisable by his tired, hangdog expression at the non-striker's end.
Position 6 Everyone knows that to win in ODI cricket, you need young players. But how to shoehorn them in? If they have the ability to give the ball a good clump, get them in at No. 6 to score your quickfire 25s at the end of an innings. Get rid of them after six months because they are only averaging 25.
Position 7 Your selections elsewhere mean that this player has to cover more bases than Babe Ruth. A big-hitting batsman averaging 30 with bat and ball would be ideal, but there is a slight problem. This player does not exist. Stick with a maligned figure of fun instead. Bonus points if they have girly hair or a bit of a belly.
Position 8 An earthy type who can give the ball a good clump, wobble it off the seam, and generally seem like a jolly good chap. Fitness training has sadly meant that the portly days of Ian Austin and Mark Ealham are over, but there is still a place for someone who just looks English.
Position 9 The spinner who will "keep it quiet" for 10 overs in the middle of the innings (also known as "the quiet period" of the innings). One wicket for 35 later, you remember that if the other team has seven wickets in hand for the last 12 overs, it means they can pillage as many runs as they choose off everyone else.
Position 10 A young seamer with "variations". His off-cutting bouncer has foxed many a university student in the Pro40. Just pray that international opposition don't realise it is a slow long-hop. For longevity of role, see Position 6.
Position 11 Will average around 30 with the ball - 10 at home and 50 away. This player needs to be kept in because the law of averages means a World Cup will be coming to England in May at some point. Until then, roll with the punches.
Steve Coleman blogs at The Blockhole
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