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Australia v England, 4th ODI, Adelaide

More questions than answers for England despite win

Questions remain over England's middle and lower orders, with several players vying for places. There is no such thing as bad competition for places, but it certainly makes life tricky

Andrew McGlashan at Adelaide

January 26, 2011

Comments: 36 | Text size: A | A

Michael Yardy revived England's innings with a sparky 39 from 27 balls, Australia v England, 4th ODI, Adelaide, January 26, 2011
Michael Yardy helped revive England's innings with an unbeaten 39 at No. 8 © Getty Images
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England gambled in Adelaide and it paid off to keep the one-day series alive. They stacked the team with batsmen who reached 299, giving an attack including just three frontline bowlers enough runs to play with. It provided the latest example of how this team can dig deep and why there are expectations of a decent showing at the World Cup.

Jonathan Trott maintained his excellent form at No. 3 with 102 to take his one-day average to 54, then bagged two crucial wickets for good measure, Matt Prior bounced back from two ducks with a tone-setting 67 off 58 balls and Michael Yardy played his best 50-over innings for England with 39 off 27 balls. Even the horribly out-of-form Paul Collingwood managed to swing himself to a run-a-ball 27 and added a vital 56 with Yardy after the innings threatened to go off the rails.

In one way it's another tick in the selection box for Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower - they are very good at being pragmatic when it comes to selection and were fully justified on the day - but in another it doesn't really help answer many World Cup questions. Seven batsmen and three frontline bowlers won't work very often.

If England had picked their ideal World Cup starting eleven even three weeks ago Collingwood's name would have been in it and not Trott's. Now, though, he is doing his damnedest to become undroppable. His unbeaten 84 at Sydney gained mixed reviews, but this hundred was the ideal one-day anchor role. Pleasingly, too, he was aware of when the innings needed a kick and advanced down to pitch to John Hastings. There is no such thing as bad competition for places, but it certainly makes life tricky.

If Trott maintains this volume of runs at a decent pace and Collingwood's bowling is deemed too important to lose, the spotlight again turns to Ian Bell. At the start of the series he was England's premier batsman, fresh from a career-defining Ashes series, but has lurched back into his previous mode of bright starts. In Adelaide he didn't get that far, edging Steve Smith behind second ball, and could do with a substantial score before the series is done.

Strauss admitted that he won't be able to get away with Collingwood as a main bowler along with help from Yardy and Trott very often. "I don't think he could do it on all wickets if I am honest," he said. "On wickets like this one I think he's as useful as anyone. He's obviously got so much experience, he's got good variety."

For that reason, Collingwood's off-cutters will be valuable on the subcontinent which is why the management are so desperate for him to find form and gave him a chance at No. 7, where he hadn't batted for England since early 2005 against South Africa. Yet he remains the most vulnerable of the batsmen. His 27 included a six over midwicket but also plenty of edges.

So close to the start of a major tournament is ideally when roles need to be clearly defined. Part of England's problem is timing, in that the World Cup squad was named one match into this series, and another has been the injury list with Stuart Broad unavailable and both Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann flying home. At the end of last summer England had a settled unit and all those players were central to it.

But one man who must be wondering what his job entails is James Tredwell. He was first an England tourist in 2007-08 to New Zealand but, three years later, has just three ODI caps to show for his air miles, net sessions and drinks-carrying. He has played one match in this series at Hobart when he shouldn't have and missed another, Sydney, when he would have been useful. And in Adelaide with England wanting just one spinner it was again Yardy, but he was entrusted with just six overs.

Whenever Yardy has batted at No.7 he has felt a place too high in the order but in England's ideal scenario that would be his position. Swann, of course, will make a huge difference when he returns for the World Cup but Yardy can't be relied upon for 10 overs in an innings as he can for four in a Twenty20 match.

Clearly, England picked a team they felt ideal to keep them in the series. They achieved that aim so no criticism can be levelled and they could yet pull off an astonishing turnaround. Four years ago a side with considerably more issues than this one strung together four consecutive wins to take the CB Series from nowhere - although they were still a shambles at the World Cup that followed. Regardless of what happens in the next three matches that won't happen this time, but there remain a few more questions than answers right now.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (January 28, 2011, 18:58 GMT)

Why is it so out of the question that England play Collingwood and he bats at 7 and bowls 10 overs? That's the best side on slow wickets for sure, and the way Collingwood bowled in the last ODI perhaps he's a good option on harder wickets too.

What worries me is Strauss' mindset that he only has 3 bowlers. He is scared to give the likes of Collingwood and to a lesser extent Yardy 10 overs, no matter how well they bowl. He needs to assess the bowlers based on that match rather than preconceptions....

Posted by   on (January 28, 2011, 11:40 GMT)

I think Bell and Prior should both be opening, which of course raises the question of what to do about Strauss. Well, he's struggled in all the ODIs so far, so his spot will go to Trott at 3. Yardy is a useful bat to have coming in later on, but his bowling just isn't consistently good enough in my opinion. My team is: Bell, Prior, Trott, KP, Colly, Morgan, Wright/Yardy, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Anderson. Wright/Yardy, KP, Colly and Trott can easily find 10 overs between them

I'd pick Yardy purely for the pitches that suit his bowling, but he's there more as a batsman who can bowl rather than the other way round.

Posted by Something_Witty on (January 28, 2011, 11:26 GMT)

@landl, just one peeve (worth commenting about) with your comment. Aus have "no accurate medium pacers"?? I'm sorry, but what's Watson then?

Posted by Scgboy on (January 27, 2011, 22:56 GMT)

@land47, I dont think gilly4ever was wrong for backing the Aussies , to win the ashes.On paper and in form , they were a strong possibility.Throw in home conditions it was deemed to maybe be just enough.England great and Australia's woeful performances , produced the result they did. yes, it was a painful experience , trust me.

That said our ODI options are somewhat more hopeful.The problem is as you have correctly defined, our need of a miserly medium /fast bowler like McGrath, who was the corner stone of our last three campaigns.plus spinners are needed in India.The cupboard is bare but not all is lost.the talent will come through , though to be honest , it might not be in this world cup.

Posted by sparkatoff on (January 27, 2011, 22:34 GMT)

Let's be honest neither side is at anywhere near full strength, so why we're analysing their chances based on performances in this series is beyond me, especially as sub-continental conditions and Australian conditions are about as different as they come! As an England fan I can't say much about the Aussie side but with England I'd go for Strauss and Prior opening, only because Prior likes to go over the top and will definitely make use of the powerplay - whereas he'll probably be out caught should he bat in the latter overs. Trott at 3 as the stabiliser should we lose one early. KP at 4 because he's a match-winner. Bell at 5 due to his stroke-making and ability to rotate the strike and Morgan at 6 as the finisher. 7 and 8 are the positions that should be picked depending on conditions, with Collingwood, Wright, Bresnan and Yardy all bringing different things to the table with the ball and being more than capable with the bat. Broad, Swann and Anderson are the obvious bowling choices.

Posted by jackiethepen on (January 27, 2011, 21:58 GMT)

The article doesn't comment on Bell being out of position batting at 5. Bell has already written an article about how different and difficult he is finding it. Premier batsman he might have been to the media and the public - but to Flower he was the reserve who had to cover for Colly at 5. Bell has only once batted at 5 in his entire career - against Ireland in 2006! All his experience and preparation is for batting in Powerplays, fat chance now. I think Flower hasn't got a clue. Anyone who puts Trott in to bat at 3 who can hardly hit a boundary or go over the top is just misguided. How can Trott use the Powerplays if he gets in early? The answer is he can't. He would have to change his whole game. A bit late isn't it? A bit like asking Bell to learn to bat at 5 in quick time.

Posted by landl47 on (January 27, 2011, 18:38 GMT)

@RJHB: Australia's problem isn't the batting, it's the bowling. Without a quality spinner and with no accurate medium pacers, Aus is going to go for too many runs. Aus has Tait, who can't bowl a game without an injury, and Lee, who has been out for almost two years. He was wild in the last ODI, which means he's getting tired and no longer bowling within himself. Bollinger hasn't got much, Johnson's all over the place. Hastings isn't the answer. BTW, if Ponting and Hussey come back back, Marsh goes. @GreatIndianFan: perhaps you were too busy supporting India to notice that England and Australia aren't in the same group. @Gilly4ever: Of course you thought Aus would win the Ashes, too. How did that work out for you?

Posted by Lord.emsworth on (January 27, 2011, 16:55 GMT)

Yardy, Treadwell, Prior, Trott, Collingwood,....One can go on and on. The truth of the matter is that England omitted the one man who made a difference between the two(Oz & England) teams...Alistair Cook! The ashes win wasnt a one man effort but it came pretty close to being one. Pity about Finn too. The guy must be wondering what it takes to be selected. Collingwood especially should bow out gracefully.

Posted by phoenixsteve on (January 27, 2011, 16:53 GMT)

Interesting stuff - if a bit naive! The reasoning behind Prior opening is obvious & sound. Prior likes to play his shots from the word go & with that goes a high element of risk & reward. The new ball & an unproven wicket can undoo even the best players - so that's why you save them for 4 or 5 . If Prior comes off (has some good luck) it's a great bonus and he can really rattle the bowlers. (just ask Brett Lee) If your openers can score at 8-10 and over during the powerplay you have a great platform. Putting Bell in first would be crazy! You're 'minesweepers' are going to clear the way for the crack troops (as they would say in military terms!). All this talk of who's the no 1 ODI side is also stupid! We know who the current world champs are and in a couple of months we'll know who the new world champs will be! I think India must be favorites and not because they are the best side? They will have home advantage with fanatical support & flat tracks helping them! COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by crick4life on (January 27, 2011, 15:02 GMT)

I'd say make Bell open and play Prior at 5.It's a much more natural position for him.Sorry but no place for Collingwood going by current form.

Posted by   on (January 27, 2011, 11:57 GMT)

Criket is THE FINEST game for causing conundrums. At the moment it looks very much as if an important aspect of Trott maintaining his place in the eleven is to prove that he can be the "sixth bowler", thus enabling ENgland to drop Collingwood, who is probably the best "sixth bowler" in one-day international cricket.

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (January 27, 2011, 9:48 GMT)

Poms are lucky because they got 12 players & Aussies got 10 players. Clarke is playing for ENG.

Posted by GreatIndianFan on (January 27, 2011, 9:14 GMT)

I think both the teams, Australia and England look very very even : Average.. Just that both are in the same group, it is very unlikely that both will not make it to the quarters.

Posted by MartoAus on (January 27, 2011, 5:48 GMT)

Gopal, Australia ARE the top team.

Posted by msankar on (January 27, 2011, 5:36 GMT)

It seems..... First time in last 10 years england has more than 12 above average players, thatz why they are struggling to pick the best 11.

What I am thinking is, All England players are not playing together, just they are playing independently to keep their place in the playing 11.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (January 27, 2011, 5:27 GMT)

Gopal Krishna Sharma Nandyala: who is the number one ranked ODI team in the world by some considerable margin? I would be very interested to know if you are suggesting India is one of the "top teams"; with it's rag-tag bowling outfit & hit or miss very badly batting line-up. Australia will always be there or thereabouts in the ODI format.

Posted by sidganesh on (January 27, 2011, 5:14 GMT)

I don't understand why Bell struggles so much - it's almost as if he is unable to believe the talent that he so obviously has! And KP needs to be reminded that he is a cricketer first and a celebrity next!

Posted by   on (January 27, 2011, 4:21 GMT)

Seems like counting problem here. Anderson, Shahzad, Tremlett, Yardy. That makes four bowlers. Add to that Collingwood, who bowls regularly but not 10 overs and other part timer options England had of which only Trott was used. India has been using this formula for years. I dont know how come the editor thinks England only had three frontline bowlers. Its a new Aussie way to stack more bowlers than you need and then have a luxury of underbowling someone like Smith consistently in the name of "Grooming".

Posted by   on (January 27, 2011, 3:04 GMT)

I guess the last para sums it up pretty well. They can get away with these combinations and performances against Aus, but its a different matter altogether against the top teams

Posted by RJHB on (January 27, 2011, 2:22 GMT)

Incomprehensible that Bell could even be considered to be dropped with the form he is in. However he has definitely got a head wobble going and is going too hard too early for his own good. Can't believe England are mucking around with Prior opening and Bell stuck down the order. Anything Prior can do Bell can do 10 times better surely. Its a bit like Australia wasting time with Haddin opening when perhaps White or Marsh should be up there. Haddin is NOT a Gilchrist!! @landl47 some of what you say makes sense, though I disagree that England match up better than Australia. We've still got Ponting to add to that order, maybe Mike Hussey too. And if England are banking on 10 overs from Collingwood and Trott then they aren't going too far! Slinging party pies as they do will go for 70 runs far more often than taking 2 or 3 for 30!! And they're not even guaranteed to play! There's no way that lineup is set, no way.

Posted by phoenixsteve on (January 27, 2011, 2:19 GMT)

Interesting article - if a bit on the gloomy side! I must be missing something because in my book Tremllet, Shahzd, Anderson and Yardy equals 4 front line bowlers - one of whom can bat a bit! I've long felt that Collingwood had been under used and it's quite something to see Trott holding his own. Bottom line for me is that the batsmen need to find some form and hopefully they'll hit ppeak form during the World cup. Whilst it's always nice to beat the Aussies, I don't mind England losing these few games as long as lessons are learned...... COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by Trickstar on (January 27, 2011, 0:28 GMT)

@sgh142 This is the 2nd comment you've left about KP,so I don't know if you have some agenda or not, but KP has only had a couple of low scores since he topped scored for England in the first Odi , where he looked in great form and was only out due to a flukey run out. There's a few other players, who you'd pick out before him for not performing but it seems KP gets pulled up first. The thought of going to the sub continent without him, would be madness, apart from the fact he averages over 50 in India and you would put money on him doing well in the WC. Some one mentioned he's a lazy fielder, are you having a laugh, sure he made a mistake today, so what, but he's easily England's best out fielder the guy is a athlete and saves England god knows how many runs out there.It makes me laugh that people would leave KP out and put Bell in, Bell could only dream of playing a innings that would England a game, especially in a WC.A few clowns said he should be dropped before the W 20/20.

Posted by Meety on (January 26, 2011, 23:48 GMT)

@Gilly4ever - always going to be conjecture about thsi squad being sent, I think it is a huge luxury Oz can't afford in sending Paine. I think Haddin will be gone in about a year's time - so Paine will be getting plenty of opportunity before the next WC - assuming he can hold off other contenders like (Wade, Hartley, Ronchi 7 the 2 NSW reserve keepers Neville & Smith). I see a lot of potential in Christian & he probably would of been in my 15 man squad - but he really did fluff his opportunity during the PMs XI game - he probably bowled his worst game of the Summer. Was that because the Poms were good - or was it because he wasn't up to it? I dunno, maybe he just had an off day. I thought Hastings was crap in Game 4, but was good previously - a very useful knock in Sydney under pressure. I don't think Tait is as big of a gamble, because if (or when) he breaks down he can be replaced like for like- I hope that doesn't mean Siddle as I don't think he is an ODI bowler. Perhaps Rimmington?

Posted by SixFourOut on (January 26, 2011, 23:27 GMT)

Sorry, but why would Bell be dropped over Pieterson?.............................I now Pieterson is good on his day, but if I had to bet my hard earned cash on one of those two to score runs it's all going on Bell.............................................................................Morgan hasn't exactly been in startling form either.

Posted by Roger_Allott on (January 26, 2011, 23:13 GMT)

We should definitely be playing Tredwell in every remaining match of this series. By putting upon him the maximum possible workload, we can hope he gets an injury (not too serious - I'm not a sadist!) so that we can replace him with Adil Rashid for the WC.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (January 26, 2011, 21:45 GMT)

What surprises me is that England are the 2nd favourites to win the World Cup, almost joint favourites, according to bookmakers. While they are an outside chance, I rate them as 6th, and would consider it a major upset if England were to win the World Cup. I have them making the quarter finals but not the semi finals. I think Australia are more likely to win the World Cup than England, though that is a fairly remote chance too, given that Australia's team doesn't feature a 2nd regular opener (only Watson) and is missing both Brad Hodge and Dan Christian, Australia's 2 best one day players. I also don't see why we need 2 keepers and why we are risking injury-prone Shaun Tait, who has shown that he can't handle bowling 10 overs regularly.

Posted by landl47 on (January 26, 2011, 21:03 GMT)

There's a lot too much being made of England's problems. The line-up for the WC is pretty much set; it's just that the injuries mean that in this series England is shuffling all the time to cover for the missing players. Australia's doing the same thing, but they've had a couple of good innings from Watson and Marsh and a miserable batting display from England (Trott excepted) to gain their three victories. I'll say categorically that if these two teams play this kind of cricket at the World Cup, neither will be anywhere near winning it. However, both sides will be improved by the time the WC starts and in my view England will be stronger than Australia. Given that Colly is the closest thing England have to an all-rounder, he should bat at 7 and England must hope that he and Trott (if necessary) can bowl 10 overs. Then it's Broad, Swann, Anderson and either Bresnan or Yardy, depending on the conditions. If they're all fit, that's a good side. As Something_Witty says, simple.

Posted by 5wombats on (January 26, 2011, 20:32 GMT)

@Levi Boorer; I'm CERTAIN Rashids time will come! Experience will be needed in this WC - Rashid not quite ready for the big time yet....

Posted by BazzyKhan on (January 26, 2011, 19:37 GMT)

1)Strauss 2)Prior 3)Trott 4)Pietersen) 5)Morgan 6)Collingwood 7)Yardy 8)Broad 9)Swann 10)Shahzad/Bresnan 11)Anderson

^Should be England's World Cup Starting XI

Posted by jackiethepen on (January 26, 2011, 19:18 GMT)

Not sure how Bell is supposed to flourish out of position at 5. It is clear that Flower has as much regard for Bell as he had for Davies. Bell was in superb form opening only two weeks ago in the one day friendly and the Twenty20s. But Flower prefers Prior at 2 and Trott at 3. It will unravel. Prior will be exposed and Trott will bat too slowly in the WC and will find it hard to play spin. He will meet plenty of skillful spinners in the WC. Too late to undo it now. Bell will be dropped for Colly. With KP and Morgan also under pressure to improve on Trott's SR, they will struggle too.

Posted by wiseshah on (January 26, 2011, 18:02 GMT)

i wonder why cook doesnt play ODI, a batsman in such a good form

Posted by   on (January 26, 2011, 17:43 GMT)

Im sure it has been "done to death" but 5 overs of Ravi Bopara on slow low decks would make the side more balanced and he would be a natural replacement for Bell who seems to like the ball coming onto him. God only knows how Tredwell gets a ticket ahead of Rashid who has been ripping out Aussie batsmen for fun in the Big Bash

Posted by Tigg on (January 26, 2011, 16:52 GMT)

I agree with sgh142. Pieterson hasn't been great this series and offers nothing but free hits with the ball and, if in the wrong mood, lazy fielding.Ii think the ideal line up for the world cup would be:

Strauss, Prior, Trott, Bell, Colly, Morgan, Yardy, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Anderson

For the rest of this series:

Strauss, Prior, Trott, Bell, Colly, Morgan, Yardy, Tredwell/KP (at 4 depending on pitch), Shazad, Tremlett, Anderson.

Posted by Rockyyyims on (January 26, 2011, 16:32 GMT)

I think luke wright should plat at no.7 with yardy at 8 ,swann at 9,and then anderson and broad.the openers prior and strauss with trott, pieterson,morgan and collingwood. Spinners and batsmen win matches in the subcontinent or bowlers like waqar or wasim.England's problems lie in batting which they rightly corrected for this match and they won.

Posted by sgh142 on (January 26, 2011, 13:46 GMT)

Time for Pietersen to pack his bags and head for the Oval and a 2nd divison County campaign.

Posted by Something_Witty on (January 26, 2011, 13:16 GMT)

England seem to be having the same problem Australia did before the Ashes - not knowing who their best eleven are. Best bet is just to pick their 5 best batsman, have Prior/Davies in the top 6 as well, play their best all-rounder at 7 (if that happens to be Collingwood then so be it), then the best 4 specialist bowlers. Simple really, no need to overcomplicate things.

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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