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Friday, September 18, 2009

Lax performances in one day series could cost England dear

I will freely admit that, following England’s dramatic and euphoric Ashes test victory, I looked upon the proceeding One Day Internationals as a bit of an anti-climatic sideshow.

Curiously placed between the test series and the Champions Trophy, on the fringes of the English autumn, to say it was like a case of “After the Lord Mayor’s show” is an understatement.

Flash back to 2005 and the one day series was before the test matches, nicely wetting our appetites ahead of the main event. I can understand the scheduling this time round is maybe to do with the hastily re-arranged Champions Trophy at the end of the month. But to ensure interest is maintained, I can’t help thinking they should return to their pre-test slot in 2013.

I sensed that feeling from the crowd from game one and as each inevitable defeat followed I could imagine the players thinking to themselves: “we don’t care, we’ve won the Ashes.”

Added to the general malaise hanging over the series was England’s poor one-day record so it became increasingly evident that this was never going to be classic.

And so it has proved. Australia have held England at arms length, toying with them at times, offering them the slimmest chance of victory, before ruthlessly going in for the kill with a few balls to spare.

They were wounded after the test series defeat and although this one day win will not get the Ashes back, they know a convincing victory - which still could be a whitewash - will re-dress the balance, score a few psychosocial blows ahead of future contests and tell the England camp that one swallow does not a summer make.

Another thing that has bothered me in the series has been England’s approach, or more accurately their lack of one. It appears they are unsure how to play the one day game, with field placings, batting orders and powerplays failing to fit together into one cohesive plan. Instead it comes across as ill-thought out and reactionary. Strauss apart, the batsmen have failed to build on starts while the lack of depth in the bowling attack has let them down at key moments. A back to basics approach is needed.

When we look back over this summer our overriding memory will, of course, be that of Strauss lifting that famous little urn once more. But that shouldn’t be allowed to gloss over what has been a desperately poor one day series.

England said they had learnt the mistakes of ’05 and wanted to prove their Ashes win of 2009 was no flash in the pan. But if these past few weeks are to go by, those old mistakes have already been made and the International cricket betting odds show this.

By Tom Mallows

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