England in Australia 2013-14 January 27, 2014

Cook to stay with bad cop Broad

Vithushan Ehantharajah
Vithushan Ehantharajah picks the bones out of England's ODI series defeat to Australia and suggests how they can move forward towards the 2015 World Cup

Persist with Bell and Cook
Despite a lethargic start at the MCG, compounded by their opposite numbers David Warner and Aaron Finch putting on 163 for the first Australian wicket, Alastair Cook and Ian Bell bucked up. Their next three partnerships were 57, 50 and 87 before 23 on an arduous Adelaide pitch.

It's worth noting that in batting first for the first four ODIs, England's openers were exposed to the toughest conditions for batting in each of them. Collectively, they were at their best at Perth; closing shop till the threat of swing had passed, four overs in, with the score at 15 for 0, before scoring at nine an over for the next eight overs. Both ended the series with a decent strike rate of just over 82 but they will know this will need to be closer to the 90s if they are to consistently register scores of 300.

They will also be frustrated they didn't capitalise on the starts they made, as only once did one of them - Bell in Brisbane - make it past the 25-over mark. Cook finished without even a fifty to his name, but the increase in the variety of strokes he played spoke promisingly of an established player, feted for his frugal shot selection, learning and executing new tricks.

One boundary in particular, off James Faulkner in the 3rd ODI at the SCG, was audacious. To a ball outside off stump, Cook stepped across and whipped it sweetly through midwicket. His follow-through, the "bus wheel" - a flamboyant quirk, fetishised in Australia, where a southpaw's hands cross over entirely, as perfected by Marcus North - was very un-Cook but pretty damn cool.

Stuart Broad will make a good vice-captain
Throughout the ODI series, the pot shots at Stuart Broad continued. A rest from the first two ODIs led to photos in the Australian papers of the England seamer paddle-boarding and the second "Man takes to beach during time-off" story in less than a month.

While he was rusty on his recall at the SCG, he was back up to scratch at Perth before opening up the 5th ODI with one of the quickest spells of the series. But what was most impressive about Broad was his demeanour on the field. It might have been easy for him to grow weary because of a number of reasons, from the length of this tour to the inane barracking of the local crowds. But he has managed to continue till now with great vigour, fitness and a sense of responsibility that hasn't wavered. He took time to talk to bowlers before important spells as well as having what looked to be some candid discussions with Cook.

When speculation was abound about Cook's future as captain, thanks to his own emotional words at the SCG, Broad came up as a potential replacement, but with forewarning of hot-headedness and a list of cons of having a bowler lead the side. If Cook is to continue, then Broad might be the perfect "bad cop" to rejuvenate England in the field.

How best to use Chris Jordan
Ashley Giles recognised Chris Jordan as one of the successes of this series. He bowled at a sprightly pace and was able to maintain that speed throughout. An economy rate of 5.38 is commendable given he bowled the majority of his overs in the first and second Powerplays.

It was only in Adelaide that Jordan was entrusted with a spell at the death, as James Tredwell, Tim Bresnan, Broad and Stokes shared the load from 30 overs on, meaning Jordan had two overs left for the death.

With four out on the leg side boundary - the shorter side - he varied his approach to Faulkner with great results. Initially he followed him, digging one in at his toes. The following over, he caught him out with a bouncer before Faulkner could only find Eoin Morgan in the deep (in truth, it was the only ball he got wrong).

Of course, this was in the first innings; it's worth noting that when Faulkner completed his smash and grab in the 2nd ODI, Cook had chosen not to bowl out Jordan, whose nine overs had returned 0 for 53. Defending a total brings an altogether different pressure, but the indication from those close to Jordan is that he is perfectly equipped for the challenge.

His ability to bowl in different situations of a 50-over game allows England to be more flexible with their bowling plans.

Does English cricket have a "Big Show"?
It's hard to know what to make of Glenn Maxwell. Behind the WWE moniker and David Brent beard stands an exceptional cricketer whose career path projects a best case scenario as a scorer of great runs rather than a great runscorer. His only score of note in the series came at the Gabba with a 54 that featured four reverse sweeps - three of them in a row - to set up a phenomenal chase.

His bowling was useful and his fielding is top notch. His work in the ring through the series has been second to none, with every pick up on the floor and every throw, whether balanced or not, clean as a whistle. His direct-hit run out of Bresnan in Adelaide, as England lost their nerve, was a formality by his standards.

While Darren Lehmann has warned him about shirking his responsibility with the bat, it's hard not to plump for a maverick.

England's approach to eccentrics is exampled no better than the current state of limbo Kevin Pietersen finds himself in. But it does make you wonder about English cricket's rogues and what chance they might have of making a late dash for the 2015 World Cup.

A brilliant 2013, with eye-catching performance in four-day and limited-overs cricket, sees Samit Patel as the most worthy of the outliers. His ability to manipulate the field and find gaps in front of him would add something to England's middle order. His spin bowling has also come on leaps and bounds, particularly his accuracy.

Moving onto the uncapped muscle, Peter Trego and Steven Crook are unhindered heavy-hitting, seam bowling allrounders that are more than worthy of mentions. Crook would be a smart acquisition for an IPL franchise and good performances in high quality competition will turn heads.

Trego's worth is clear for all to see and he underlined his quality with excellence in last year's Yorkshire Bank 40, which he finished as the competition's leading runscorer. But Trego himself admits that the international bridges he burned as a hotter-headed youngster may be beyond repair.

Perhaps more likely for selection are the younger livewires, such as Leicestershire's Josh Cobb and, if he enjoys a record-breaking 2014 for Surrey, the enigmatic Jason Roy. It's all hypothetical whimsy, but as Ben Stokes showed during the Test series, sometimes the punts come good.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Prasanna on January 29, 2014, 12:24 GMT

    Upon reading the head-line, i was thinking that Cook was staying back to help Broad through-out the T20Is. Am I the only one to think so ?

  • Prasanna on January 29, 2014, 12:20 GMT

    @Lawton Ratnam, what else are your predictions for the rest of the year mate ? How would Wall-Street fair ? Will this be the hottest ever year ? Can you enlighten us ?

  • D on January 29, 2014, 5:58 GMT

    @JG2704 - sure mate. I've seen him play a couple of the (extremely rare) t20 games that are televised in Aus.

    Aside from that I read a LOT of the reports from county, one-day and t20 cricket in England.

    I play International Cricket Captain and often use Trego's side, but naturally as that is a video game I can't use his form in that to shape my decisions (lol), but that is where I first saw his name crop up.

    England have a lot more depth than they are credited for, Foakes, Bell-Drummond, Roland-Jones, Ballance, Buttler, Stokes, Borthwick, Vince - some corking youth there.

    Even Northeast and Cowdrey (both of whom have been slaying it at the Sunshine Coast in QLD, where I live by).

    So yeah, re: Trego, I wonder what he did wrong?!

  • Adrian on January 28, 2014, 20:01 GMT

    Was enjoying reading this...

    Then an endorsement for Samit Patel!

    Had to stop reading at that point.... couldn't stop the laughter.

    Samit has no place in any England team. I was willing to countenance Bopara in the limited overs format but have now drawn the conclusion that he too should be put out to pasture.

    Too inconsistent, buckles under pressure and not quite good enough at batting or bowling. That goes for both of them equally.

  • Dummy4 on January 28, 2014, 19:12 GMT

    No mention of Davd Willey?

  • John on January 28, 2014, 19:10 GMT

    @RYSE on (January 28, 2014, 5:53 GMT) Just wondering where you have seen Trego play - being an Aussie? I'm not sure about him burning bridges either as a youth. I know he did play some non league football as a goalkeeper but was he ever touted to be anything bigger than a county player as a youth. Hell , a family friend played cricket with him for Callington and from those days he reckoned that he wouldn't go much further let alone to being a star for Somerset. He played for Somerset , then joined Kent for a while and then only when he came back to Somerset has he kicked on so it's only the last 5 years or so

  • Chris on January 28, 2014, 18:47 GMT

    Forgot about Pieterson in my previous post. If he can come in and analyze the game situation and play accordingly to benefit the team, by all means include him at 4/5. Does he refuse to bowl any overs of off-spin or do the captains choose not to use him?

  • Chris on January 28, 2014, 17:59 GMT

    I think England should have tried opening with Carberry and Bell and if if Cook HAD to play, he could have come in at 3 or 4, depending who was out, with Root or Morgan at 4/5 trying to keep the LH/RH combination going to make it more difficult for the Aussie bowlers. Not sure about next in, but definitely not Bopara ever! He cost us the last match. He seems to always play for himself. He came in when England needed 64 from 84 balls and he failed to knock the ball around for singles and two's, unlike Morgan, who did just that, while putting the bad balls away for boundaries and still had a strike rate of close to 100! In fact, I think that he should captain the ODI team. That opinion is based on how he played/adapted in all the matches.Maybe Stokes next or Buttler, who did well and deserves to keep his place. Broad,Bresna Jordan OK, but England need a fast and accurate bowler as well as a spinner, who can take wickets and keep the R/R down. Root and Stokes can cover some overs.

  • John on January 28, 2014, 10:40 GMT

    @Juiceoftheapple on (January 27, 2014, 22:34 GMT) You're spot on. Trego had a huge 2013 and now would be an ideal time to take a look at him. In tests , Woakes had a massive 2012 and we're struggling and we didn't have a decent number 6 back then and he was ignored. He had a lesser 2013 and gets picked when the team are actually doing ok with the 6/1/4 formation.

    "After the horse has bolted"

    for me - sums up much of England's reading of the game these days

  • John on January 28, 2014, 10:33 GMT

    @Mitty2 on (January 28, 2014, 1:02 GMT) Why would you bat Stokes above Buttler? Stokes is below him both in averages and SR and struggles big against slower bowling. Realistically you may have to plan a side without KP and Trott

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