Thursday, 5 June 2014

Mankad-ing - masking England's greater problems?

Thursday, 5 June 2014
So as we can see I very rarely update this blog so I can't expect anyone to be reading this but there we are. I can try. Occasionally.

It's a new era for England, something that seems to be talked about everywhere in the press - new coaching staff, an influx of new players, a general feeling of out with the old and in with the new. It is something already visible in this ODI side - players such as Harry Gurney being given a chance for the first time, plus more game time for those we started to see in the winter like Chris Jordan and Gary Ballance. However, in many ways the same old story looks to be continuing.

The one day series against Sri Lanka has seen its fare share of heroics and controversies for England: Chris Jordan with bat and ball and Jos Buttler's brilliant century in a losing cause being weighed against the great Mankad-ing incident of 2014 by Senanayake, a man already down in popularity after being called for an illegal action. For me the issue has been blown completely out of proportion - of course it is controversial as it is rarely seen in the game, but it is within the rules. The 'Spirit of Cricket' is a much talked about element of the game - yet still batsmen don't walk after giving edges, catches are claimed when they may have gone to ground - or challenged if a batsman isn't sure. To me, if a batsman is trying to gain an unfair advantage by backing up too far - and is warned about it by the bowler - then why not? If you don't want it to happen in the game, then don't have it in the rules. In any case, the whole Buttler/Senanayke incident seems to have served to distract from the real issue in relation to England - once more the batting hasn't looked up to scratch for a modern ODI team.

I am a very big fan of both Joe Root and Gary Ballance - being a Yorkshire fan I am unashamedly biased after seeing them do so well for the county in previous seasons. I do believe they have great futures in the England side, but in this series though they have got runs, it hasn't necessarily been fast enough. It's a great debate that always seems to follow this England team - players such as Cook and Trott regularly accused of scoring the runs but at a pace that only serves to put pressure on the rest of the team - and these two appear to be continuing in this tradition - in this series at least. Often the strategy is one that works in England, but around the world they can particularly struggle. I would love to see Hales come into the side as he would seem to be a player capable of rising to the challenge and has certainly contributed exciting innings in the Twenty20 side. He looks like the man to give the team the impetus at the top of the order that they need. Players like Buttler and Morgan can do it further down the order, but can be left with too much to do too late - as was the case in the fourth game. It is an issue though that seems to crop up time and time again with this England side - you have to wonder if it is something that will ever be addressed.

But onwards we go, and with the prospect of several more new faces in a test side with much to prove after one of the worst winters for English cricket in recent memory. I do find rebuilding stages fairly exciting - players out to prove themselves, the new coach looking to mould a side, and just the matter of who will play - I can't remember a time when so many places in the test team looked up for grabs. With the added spice from the ODI controversies to throw into the mix, it certainly promises to be an interesting summer.

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