Saturday, 14 February 2015

Blue Sky thinking on England's team for 3rd ODI

When in Mount Maunganui you have to climb Mount Maunganui don't you? Well I thought I ought to give it a go, especially seeing as some of the girls had managed it too. It was well worth it. The views are spectacular and photos hardly do them justice, but below are a couple just to show you what you can see from the Mount.

The walk up gave me a bit of time to mull over the first two ODIs. England were below par in all three departments in the first game - bat, ball and field. The run outs of Heather Knight and Charlotte Edwards - two of three players who were in form with the bat courtesy of Aussie domestic cricket - were criminal. But the pressure came from the fact that the Kiwis had batted first and had got runs on the board. True they did not have as many as they should have done. Having been 157/0, 240/8 was a poor return, but having won the toss England should have batted.

This ground is renowned as a batsmen's paradise and England were misled by the green tinge on the grass that was on the wicket. Having played on the next door track in the one and only warm-up game (should they have played more?) and racked up 342/9 you would have thought they would have had the courage of their own convictions and batted first. TMS's Charles Dagnell thought they had done the right thing, but just bowled badly. I don't think that was the case. The seamers did not bowl that well, but there was next to nothing in the track. No life and no movement.

So we found ourselves at 51/3. When the top order fail the middle order need to step up, and, once again, they failed to do so. England really miss Arran Brindle in this regard. She had an ability to hold things together, particularly if Charlotte Edwards had gone early. Had it not been for the hard-hitting of Anya Shrubsole and Dani Hazell England would have finished with only 140 on the board.

In the second ODI England looked sharper with the ball and considerably better in the field (the run out of Bates by Edwards was a huge blow to New Zealand), but the batting was again poor with the exception of Edwards and Taylor.

It is the batting that England need to try and strengthen somehow. The four players on tour who did not play in the first two games are Amy Jones (keeper/bat); Laura Marsh (spinner/bat); Danielle Wyatt (bat/erstwhile spinner) and Kate Cross (seam bowler). England could look to replace either Lauren Winfield or Lydia Greenway with Jones, Marsh or Wyatt. Personally I would like to see Jones given a chance in place of Greenway, but I don't think England will do this. I think the compromise might be to play Marsh instead of Jenny Gunn.

There are two pluses here. She is another spinner and spin might be just what you need on a low, slow third-time track. She will also strengthen the batting. Gunn has slipped to 8, behind Katherine Brunt. Marsh is an accomplished bat, although her stats for England are not that great. England have never really known where to bat her, but I would suggest at 7 she would be an asset.

I would also play with the batting order slightly. I would like to see Sciver at 3, Taylor at 4 and Winfield at 5, and perhaps even a bit of flexibility in the order if the batting situation changes. If they make a good start then Taylor may be a better option at 3. If they make a poor start then perhaps she should drop down to 5. She likes to play with freedom, rather than being "responsible".

Having said all that England may well go with the "don't change a winning team" mantra. That would be the easy option, but at some stage England's middle order needs a bit of a shake-up. Unfortunately there is no real pressure on the batsmen from the seven players who trained in the winter, but failed to make this trip - Tammy Beaumont has had plenty of chances to nail down a place in the side; Tash Farrant is no bat; and Georgia Elwiss only ever bats at 11 for England in ODIs (10 ODIs and 10 times at 11). She is actually better than that. The four non-contracted players are Beth Langston, Fran Wilson, Jodie Dibble  and Sonia Odedra - none of whom it seems are pressing for a batting spot.

It will be interesting to see what happens for the third ODI, and then for the two additional ODIs at the Bert Sutcliffe Oval, in Lincoln. I don't want to remind readers but we have the Aussies coming to see us this summer.



  1. Good to read some though love (on this of all days). At last someone willing to say what is obvious - that the batting beyond Lottie/Taylor looks brittle. As I blogged elsewhere only 3 ODI 50s in the last 2 years from Greenway, Gunn and Sciver; one each and they've in early enough in enough games. The pressure is on Greenway and Gunn (bat not ball) to deliver when its needed. They've played long enough to stand and be counted when needed.
    I think you are correct about lack of alternatives. They clearly take Wyatt as T20 only and dont seem to know what Jones' s role is. Marsh is the mystery card - at her best a great bowler and good with the bat but post injury we just dont know what form she is in. So, looks like is over to the middle order to step up.

  2. You are obviously keeping your ear to the ground - impressive for your first 'official' tour - with some predictions or suggestions that were pretty close to the mark.

    15th Feb : Jenny Gunn's debut was 11 years ago today. Lydia Greenway's was 12 years ago today, presumably not a particularly happy one for the latter. It must be years since Greenway was dropped, if indeed she has ever been dropped. Based on the CC last summer I would have thought Wyatt was (or should have been) ahead of Jones in the queue but the selectors clearly see otherwise. Wonder who will behind the pegs (given Squirt is that unusual style of keeper that quite likes a bit of time in the outfield) !

    Don Miles makes an interesting point about Elwiss. She is almost certainly the best batsman of England's potential medium/quick bowlers (how many of England's medium/quick bowler have a county championship 1st Div century to their name ?). Is Elwiss the natural successor to Jenny Gunn (at some point) ?

  3. Nice piece. There are some interesting times and potentially tough decisions ahead for England.

    As for your last line... It was evident at the time that England were stumbling over the line to hold on to the Ashes, but it's still pretty alarming just how wide a gulf seems to have opened up between the teams in the past year.

    Incidentally, with NZs struggles, I'm really looking forward to seeing how the next set of ICCWC matches go between Pakistan and South Africa in Sharjah. The competition for that top four finish is shaping up very nicely.

    Also, thanks in advance Martin for your coverage of the next match. The ECB and White Ferns accounts are valuable but it's vital I think, to have an independent voice covering the matches as well.

  4. I'm glad I found this blog because you don't often get this kind of insight! Thanks Martin.

    I think we will need to pick Wyatt for T20, and keep her in the side as a middle order bat for the final 2 ODIs at least, come what may. She's a fine player who's been missing for too long given the current problems.