Monday, 18 January 2010

Six against five

England's capitulation yesterday can be put down to attrition as much anything else. The six batsmen, four bowler equation has them trapped over long series: they require six batsmen to score all the runs that you need with four bowlers, but they have four bowlers because five batsmen can't score enough runs. 

History says that unless your four bowlers include names like Marshall, Holding, Warne or McGrath, you need five. England need five. The difference on the speedgun at the Wanderers between Anderson and Broad and Morkel and Steyn was telling. England's bowlers were knackered, and the resting of Onions actually made sense, even if there's a debate to be had over his replacement.*

The solution must lie with five batsmen. Six makes it too comfortable, too easy to phone it in for a match or two. Which five should now be the puzzle, starting in Bangladesh. My money is on Ian Bell opening with Cook... You read it here first.

* Matthew Hoggard must have been looking at Sidebottom's speedgun readings with a wry eye. Steve Harmison - from memory the last England bowler before Sidebottom to puke on the pitch - must be pondering his big red face. So what hold does Siders have over the selectors? He even gets to bat above Jimmy Anderson, which is an interesting choice, to say the least. 


Brit said...

Another factor in the equation is whether your wicketkeeper would be good enough to be picked purely as a batsman. If Prior was more reliable, England could happily pick 5 specialist bowlers or perhaps swap someone like Wright, Bresnan or Rashid for Bell.

The best England all-rounder prior to Flintoff becoming good was Alec Stewart.

Brit said...

And another related point - why are England so bad at developing the part-time bowling skills of our batsman? Instead of turning into a bit of a Jayasuriya, KP has gone backwards, and similar happened to loads of others: Trescothick, Vaughan, Bell (used to be pretty much as useful a medium-pacer as Colly, didn't he?). Last properly useful part-timer was probably Hick. The Aussies, for example, are much better at using the part-timers.

The Old Batsman said...

Yes Stewie did us well, although i think most batsmen/keepers [as opposed to keeper/batsmen] yearn to give up keeping. I Can't remember Stewie's figures but I'm sure his average was far higher playing solely as a batter. It's getting harder and harder now for 'em, hence King Kumar ditching the gloves and Dhoni not being too far behind.

England always seem too worried about injuries to risk the batters bowling, too.