Monday, 16 February 2015

England's best T20 team

Everybody likes to think that they could pick a better team than the one that strolls out onto the park to play. No matter what the sport. No matter what the level.

Women's cricket is no exception. We all think that we know best. We all have our favourite players. We can all justify the inclusion or exclusion of certain players. Sometimes it is very difficult to see how others cannot see what is so blinding obvious to us. 

Of course none of us has all the facts. We have no knowledge of player injuries, niggles, worries, form in the nets. We only get to see them on game days, and sometimes then all too briefly, if they have a bat in their hand or bowl a bad over. We have no knowledge of how the wicket is going to play or the atmospheric conditions that prevail on game day. 

What we do have of course is the stats. Cricket followers love stats, as they can always support your point of view, no matter what it is. "The stats never lie" is an oft-quoted misnomer. Stats can be misleading, and particularly T20 stats. They have no context. There is no differential between an over bowled in or out of the powerplay; nor at two batsmen who are well set and tonking the ball to all parts of the ground; nor at the death of an innings when a team are happy to throw caution to the wind. Likewise a batsman may be facing the best bowler in the world, moving the ball miles; or come in when her team are 5 for 3 in the second over of the game; or 150 for 1 with just eight balls to go with the message "just fling your bat". 

Stats do lie - frequently. 

So, it is with this proviso that I asked "The Cricket Bloggers" to select their T20 team for the first game at Whangarei on Thursday (not the team that they think will be picked, but the team they would pick). I was not prepared for the diversity of thought (or lack of it?) that went into each individual team. Given that there are only 15 players in the squad you would expect a certain degree of uniformity - far from it. All 15 players make at least one team and only five players make all five teams - Edwards, Taylor, Brunt, Shrubsole and Sciver. No player holds down the same batting position in any more than three teams and each team has a completely different opening partnership which casts seven different squad members in this role. 

What does this prove? Well absolutely nothing of course. We are all right because we can always say that "our team" batting and bowling in "our order" would have done it better. We can pontificate all we like (and we do), but at the end of the day it is down to the girls on the day to perform to the best of their abilities.

And don't forget cricket is a cruel game. You can be bowled first ball by a jaffa or whack a horrible half-tracker straight down square leg's throat. Those of us that have held a bat in anger have all done it. Alternatively you can bowl like a demon and end up with 0 for 35 off your four overs or bowl like a drain and get 4 for 15. 

Actually I think it is the vagaries of the game, as well as the delight of seeing someone bat or bowl brilliantly, which keep us watching. 

So here are our selections, for what they are worth. Feel free to disagree. We know you will.

Don Martin Raf Ruth Syd
1 Shrubsole Sciver Wyatt Marsh Edwards
2 Edwards Winfield Knight Edwards Knight
3 Taylor Taylor Edwards Wyatt Wyatt
4 Wyatt Knight Winfield Taylor Taylor
5 Marsh Edwards Taylor Jones Winfield
6 Brunt Jones Jones Greenway Greenway
7 Sciver Marsh Sciver Sciver Sciver
8 Knight Brunt Brunt Brunt Marsh
9 Jones Shrubsole Gunn Shrubsole Brunt
10 Hazell Hazell Shrubsole Hazell Shrubsole
11 Cross Cross Cross Grundy Gunn



  1. Wow - Don's team is a bit left-field, what with Shrubsole opening and Knight down at number 8! Not sure that would work for long, but it might catch the opposition by surprise for a one-off. My favourite 2 general teams are probably yours Martin or Raf's. You've definitely solved the middle order problem by putting Knight and Edwards at 4 and 5.

    Although this might apply more for the final 2 ODIs rather than T20, as we don't know if the middle-order collapses will still happen then, this is one tactic to prevent them. That is to say, intersperse the normal offenders with more solid players, move numbers 4-5 either higher or lower in the order which you've done. So that may work in ODI too.

    Strange that Gunn only features twice. Wasn't long ago she was one of the strongest consistent performers.
    I think we have a chance in the 2 T20's but it will be difficult. It depends in no small part on what mental attitude they take. They might just as well have a blast out there, given the tour so far, and take some risks, anything can happen in this format of the game. At least theere's a chance of getting some confidence back that way. I don't think anybody would complain too much if we did lose both games, as long as we had a real go and played positive cricket.

  2. Swap Knight and Shrubsole around in Don's list and it seems a pretty decent lineup.

    If Knight and Edwards in the middle order is the solution that just shows the scale of England's problem.
    I don't think you should be banking on having to consolidate in that manner at that point in the batting order. Neither of them should be entering a T20 at lower than 3 IMO.
    There must be a way to get the middle order to step up without sacrificing the openers. I'd rather have a more positive approach.
    From no evidence whatsoever, I've decided that the mental attitude is the issue rather than the personnel and the solution lies with Dr. Steve Peters. :)


  3. "Stats do lie - frequently" - actually they never lie. The challenge with stats is understanding what they mean and dont mean. Lawyers like you and mathematics like me could make money out of stats !!

    Good to see several team selections, particularly the diversity, although there some strong messages in there (Greenway and Gunn would have made all 5 not so long ago).

  4. Don's selection of Shrubsole to open is very left field! Does he know something the rest of us don't?

    I understand that Gunn is having a nightmare tour, but it's a bit early in the day to drop her after only 3 bad performances, surely? She was our best player over the summer by a mile. Everyone else seems to get quite a few more chances than that - how long did Greenway have to go without a score before being dropped, for example?

    I'd like to see them play all 3 quicks (Cross, Shrubsole & Brunt) because given that Knight now appears to be our best spinner by a mile, I'd argue we could get away with not playing another specialist spinner (assuming Wyatt is not really bowl-able at the moment).

    Basically, if they pick my XI...all will be right! (That's what they all say...)