‘Never mind Lucy Beale, who the hell killed English cricket’
Writer and Comedian Dan Schneider
Last night, I settled down to watch Eastenders. I want you to understand this is not something I do often, In fact, I can proudly say that I haven’t seen a full episode in about 5 years. Yet through a combination of aggressive advertising and my own morbid curiosity I sat through the entire hour and a half, only to discover that it was actually some child in a fit of rage whodunit. (spoiler alert! Sorry!).
A few hours later I then settled down to do something I do on a more regular basis. Watch England catastrophically fail in an ODI. My point is, I expected Eastenders to be garbage… but England? I expected more from England.
I’m not saying that I expected England to trounce New Zealand, or even to beat them. All I was looking for was decent response from the side after their woeful performance at the MCG. Things started reasonably enough, winning the toss and batting first on a shiny hard deck, followed by a couple of languid drives from Moeen Ali that suggested he was back to his sanguine best. What I didn’t consider was that firstly this was England, and things can’t remain so blissful for very long, and secondly that Tim Southee would bowl one of the most beautiful ODI spells I’ve ever witnessed.
In wasn’t just in his opening spell that Southee was so effective. To gain swing with the new white ball is one thing, but to come back 25 overs later and still produce the same dangerous away swing is another. He was simply too good for England’s pathetically limp middle order. Alongside Trent Boult, he is half of the world’s best ODI pace combo.
While Southee’s praises must be sung, we must also admonish the terrible performance from England’s batsmen. Stuck in a terrible limbo between being desperate to be seen as being necessarily aggressive and trying to preserve their wicket. England are constantly behind the eight-ball in ODI cricket. They seem to have identified that the key to one-day cricket is going hard in the first 10 overs and taking the fight to the opposition’s opening bowlers. Only it isn’t the key anymore. It hasn’t been since the introduction of two new balls and the new fielding regulations in the last 10 overs. The two new balls have meant that openers now have to be more circumspect than in the past. And the final ten overs have now become a slog-a-thon, as only four fielders are allowed outside the 30-yard circle.
Other teams have worked it out. You need to keep wickets in hand now, and allow an explosive middle and lower order to take advantage of the fielding restrictions. England, as per usual, are at least 2 years behind other sides. Having said that, there is no allowing for a freakish talent. In Brendon McCullum, New Zealand certainly have one of those. The manner in which he dispatched of the run chase and England bowlers was the perfect visual representation of his immense attacking prowess.
At the start of the night, if you had told me that I would enjoy Eastenders more than the Cricket World Cup, I would have called you mad. But, thanks to England’s increasing ineptitude, England were far far worse than Eastenders.