England are no certainties to win World Cup

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    Sorry Joe but a World Cup win is by no means a certainty (Photo by Visionhaus/Corbis via Getty Images)

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    Australia’s loss in yesterday’s one-off Twenty20 against England completed their disastrous limited-overs tour of the UK, during which they lost six straight matches.

    Here are three things I learned from the tour:

    Jos Buttler is about to take a stranglehold on world cricket
    With the extreme talent Buttler possesses, it long confused me why he wasn’t given an extended run as a batsman in England’s Test team ahead of the revolving door of limited cricketers they trialled in recent years. While Buttler is only three innings deep in his Test comeback, the 27-year-old was outstanding in England’s 1-1 drawn Test series against Pakistan.

    He showed impressive temperament to go with his limitless ability as he made scores of 67 and 80no.

    Buttler was selected for that Test series on the back of hot white ball form – he had just dominated the Indian Premier League and had become one of England’s best ODI batsmen. He fronted up for the limited overs matches against Australia in perhaps career-best form and proceeded to take the Aussies apart.

    In the ODIs he made 275 runs while being dismissed just twice, all at a blazing strike rate of 112, including an extraordinary 110no to single-handedly deny Australia victory in the fifth match. Buttler returned to boss Australia with 61 from just 30 balls in yesterdays’ T20I.

    He is now, to my mind, the second-most valuable ODI cricketer in the world after Indian megastar Virat Kohli. Buttler is not yet as accomplished in T20Is but has all the tools to dominate that format, too.

    I’m most fascinated to watch how he progresses in Tests. If he can adapt to the longest format Buttler could become a nightmare for Australia to contend with over the next few Ashes series.

    (Photo: AFP)

    England are favourites but no certainties to win the 2019 World Cup
    England deserve to be the favourites for the upcoming World Cup. They are, after all, the number one ranked ODI team and will be playing at home on the ultra-flat pitches which so heavily favour their ballistic batting line-up.

    England have assembled one of the best and most destructive ODI batting units in the history of the format. They are a side which sets its sights incredibly high when they bat first and are intimidated by no total when chasing.

    Their weakness is that they rely very heavily on their batting due to a lack of penetration with the ball. They are not nearly as well-rounded, for example, as the Australian line-up which won the last World Cup in 2015 – David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steve Smith, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

    Australia’s batting unit was beastly, with a commanding, experienced top seven and batting all the way down to ten. Their bowling was also elite, with three major pace weapons in Starc, Johnson and Hazlewood.

    England do not have a single quick who has the same penetration as that trio as ODI bowlers, with their best bowler being leg-spinner Adil Rashid. That Australian line-up was able to conjure magic with either bat or ball, whereas England are extraordinary with the bat and only serviceable with the ball.

    That Australian attack could scythe through batting line-ups, as they did in the World Cup final dismissing New Zealand for 183. England’s attack doesn’t have that same potency – their focus is on limiting the damage caused by opposition batting line-ups, confident in the knowledge their own batsmen will run amok.

    That’s all well and good until your batsmen have an off day, like in the semi-final of last year’s Champions Trophy, and your bowlers are required to produce a stunning performance to win you a match. England’s attack lacks the class to run through opponents with any regularity.

    Such a scenario played out the very first time this new England team played in a knockout match, in the 2017 Champions Trophy held in England. Their batting line-up had a rare stumble, rolled for 211, and Pakistan made a mockery of that chase, making 2-215 from 37 overs in response.

    The reality is that England’s ODI strategy is risky, one-dimensional and unproven in knockout matches. Such is the tsunami of hype which has built up behind them that they will bear enormous expectations at home in the World Cup. Yes, they deserve to be favourites, but they’re the most vulnerable World Cup favourites in memory.

    Spin is the way forward for Australia in ODIs and T20s
    Australia’s pace bowlers were absolutely mauled on this tour of England, combining to return 26 wickets at an average of 44 in the ODIs. The Aussie quicks also went at a massive 7.0 runs per over in that series, compared to just 5.1 runs per over for Australia’s two spinners, Ashton Agar and Nathan Lyon.

    Nathan Lyon

    (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

    It was the same story in yesterday’s one-off Twenty20 match, with Agar and leggie Mitchell Swepson doing a reasonable job, conceding just 71 runs from their eight overs, compared to a monstrous 150 off Australia’s 12 overs of pace. With Agar well capable of holding down number seven in T20s, Australia have the luxury of picking five bowlers, including the West Australian.

    In the future only two of those five bowlers should be quicks. Australia should look to play three frontline spinners and two specialist fast bowlers, with a third pace option provided by an all-rounder like Mitch Marsh.

    Given that Australia have only very recently toyed with the idea of playing more than one spinner in limited overs cricket, it could be a while before they start fielding three in T20sIs. But it is a necessary change.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (68)

    • June 29th 2018 @ 5:52am
      KenoathCarnt said | June 29th 2018 @ 5:52am | ! Report

      Pakistan or India will run through this batting lineup. Pakistan dismantled Eng in the Champions Trophy.The only hope Eng have is playing important games on a flat wicket where it just comes down to who can hit the most boundries which is where they have the upper hand. On a proper wicket their batting lineup is quite fragile. As well as their pace bowling lineup is quite useless and although they have decent spinners they wont be as affective against teams that can actually play spin again India or Pakistan.

      • June 29th 2018 @ 6:18am
        ozinsa said | June 29th 2018 @ 6:18am | ! Report

        That’s so wrong. This England batting line up may fail but it consistently hammers decent attacks. India and Pakistan May be able to beat England but let’s see how India go over a series.
        I played indoor cricket recently with a good hockey player and his wrist snap meant he hit straight drives so hard. Buttler has the same background and you can see the snap when he wrists drives straight down the ground. Big, powerful, confident – he’s a star.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 6:47am
          KenoathCarnt said | June 29th 2018 @ 6:47am | ! Report

          Look on wickets that haven’t been complete roads they have been useless. A wrist snap wont win a world cup.

      • Columnist

        June 29th 2018 @ 10:45am
        Ronan O'Connell said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:45am | ! Report

        Ken there’s no doubt that this England ODI team is suited to playing on flat decks, that’s where their whole strategy is based around, but it’s overstating it to say they have no hope on any other type of pitches.

        They’ve won plenty of matches away from home, too.

    • June 29th 2018 @ 5:57am
      George said | June 29th 2018 @ 5:57am | ! Report

      We will be a much stronger team by the World Cup, Warner, Smith, Cummins, starc and NCN will all return by that time and if common sense prevails Khawaja at the very least will be a backup batsman if not in the top 4 as he is a better player then the current duo of head and short. I like what I see in agar and would leave him as our spinner, this was a disastrous tour and we need to urgently get some strength into our batting and stop letting allrounders bar at key positions like 3.

      • Roar Guru

        June 29th 2018 @ 9:16am
        Matt H said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        Don’t forget Hazlewood. Most people think of Cummins and Starc first, but Hazlewood is still the number 5 ranked bowler in 50 over cricket, higher than the other two.

        • Columnist

          June 29th 2018 @ 10:51am
          Ronan O'Connell said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:51am | ! Report

          Hazlewood is an absolute star in ODIs, he’s one of the first players chosen in Australia’s best ODI XI. His economy rate is 4.72rpo – that is unbelievable.

          • June 29th 2018 @ 12:56pm
            Perthstayer said | June 29th 2018 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

            Ronan

            Before the 5-0 shellacking Australia’s ODI form was terrible for over 2 years.

            Because certain players were missing in England people assume results will improve on their return. There’s firm evidence to show this will not happen, what’s changed?

            • Columnist

              June 29th 2018 @ 2:34pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | June 29th 2018 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

              I think it’s fair to expect improvement if you replace very ordinary ODI bowlers like Neser and Kane Richardson with proven, experienced ODI stars like Starc and Hazlewood.

              But Australia have a mountain of work to do to become even close to as dominant as they were in ODIs from 1998 up until that disastrous series in SA in late 2016.

              During that period Australia won 73% of their ODIs and claimed 4 out of 5 World Cups.

              • June 29th 2018 @ 2:54pm
                James said | June 29th 2018 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

                How was that answering his question? Starc and Hazlewood played in the 4-1 loss in Australia. The question was about how Australia, with Starc and Hazlewood, have been very ordinary but because they were not playing here when they return Australia will be great again.

              • June 29th 2018 @ 6:27pm
                BrainsTrust said | June 29th 2018 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

                We need to pick our full strength squad very simple answer i don’t understand why selectors rested Cummins and stark for tri series in Zimbabwe yes they are injured for odi series in England but resting them for tri series not good. At all Australia need experience players at the moment but they still following their resting policy after 6-0 lose to England and 2 thing finch Tim pain finch not right choice for captaincy job Travis head or mitch marsh or khawaja are the right candidates for captaincy job

              • June 29th 2018 @ 9:12pm
                George said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:12pm | ! Report

                I do tend to agree. On paper Australia’s best XI looks very decent. But somehow selections and tactics diminish this. I don’t personally think the Scorchers cohort offer much in a 50-over format.

              • Columnist

                June 29th 2018 @ 9:28pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:28pm | ! Report

                Who would you offer instead Ross Fleming?

              • June 30th 2018 @ 12:18pm
                Ross said | June 30th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

                That wasn’t me with the comment above ronan, I am a fan of Langer and the Scorchers

      • June 29th 2018 @ 2:21pm
        Krishna Singh said | June 29th 2018 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

        We will go through pain but we can win the next world cup for 50 overs. Trolls will mock us which will only fire up the team even more. All this happened before the last WC 50 over which we won. So I expect we’ll win it again. Last time round we dropped in the rankings before the ODI WC then we went to the top after winning it. We experiment between WC’s which is why we’ve won it more than any other nation has. We’ll get our stars back. Missing 6 super stars incuding khawaja and not to many teams would win by dropping a few great players let alone 6.

    • Roar Guru

      June 29th 2018 @ 7:29am
      DingoGray said | June 29th 2018 @ 7:29am | ! Report

      Stop picking part timers (can’t even call them all rounders) and get back to picking genuine batsmen

      • Roar Guru

        June 29th 2018 @ 9:56am
        JamesH said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        Who are the part timers? Head, Maxwell, Marsh and Stoinis are all picked as batsmen first. In the cases of Marsh and Stoinis, their bowling is definitely a factor in selection but it’s not as if they are keeping more deserving batsmen out of the side.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 2:22pm
          Krishna Singh said | June 29th 2018 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

          We can’t have stonis batting at 3 when a class act like khawaja is killing it in county and how many chances will head get before he starts making some big scores

    • June 29th 2018 @ 8:01am
      Paul said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:01am | ! Report

      I can’t remember a WC winning team that has effectively had only one strength – it’s batting. All sides going back to the Windies team of the 70’s had both great batsmen and great bowlers. If you throw in fielding, England is not a strong team all round.

      The other aspect not discussed is their ability to manage pressure and expectations. I’m not talking about playing an Australian “B” side in a meaningless series, but playing as favourites at home, in front of highly expectant home fans for the tournament they’ve never won. There’s little doubt they’ll make the final 8, but from then on, only one poor game will cost them.

      Personally, I think their lack of all round ability will bite them and they’ll miss the final

      • June 29th 2018 @ 8:12am
        George said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:12am | ! Report

        England’s dreadful bowlers have done ok against Australia in recent series.

        Ronan pretty much wrote this same article pre-Champions Trophy.

        • Roar Guru

          June 29th 2018 @ 9:18am
          Matt H said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:18am | ! Report

          That’s because their dreadful bowlers were more than matched by our even more dreadful batting. Look at what happened to their bowlers against Scotland recently. India will be a good barometer of where their bowling is at.

        • Roar Guru

          June 29th 2018 @ 9:58am
          JamesH said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

          …and look what happened to England in the CT semi final.

          • June 29th 2018 @ 10:22am
            George said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:22am | ! Report

            One match.

            England’s dreadful bowlers have largely overcome stronger batting lineups than Australia in the past 2 years. NZ for instance.

            • Roar Guru

              June 29th 2018 @ 2:59pm
              JamesH said | June 29th 2018 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

              ‘One match’ is precisely the point. When you’re in the knockout stages you can’t afford that ‘one match’.

              Do you honestly think Scotland would have scored 371 against our first choice attack on any deck?

              • June 29th 2018 @ 3:02pm
                George said | June 29th 2018 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

                Thanks for that pearl. So because any team can lose a match, England’s strong form and credentials are diminished? No need to discuss ODIs at all then really.

                Re Scotland, no. Not against England’s first-choice attack neither.

    • June 29th 2018 @ 8:12am
      George said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:12am | ! Report

      England’s dreadful bowlers have done ok against Australia in recent series.

      Ronan pretty much wrote this same article pre-Champions Trophy.

      • Roar Guru

        June 29th 2018 @ 9:18am
        Matt H said | June 29th 2018 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        And England lost. So he was right.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 10:23am
          George said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:23am | ! Report

          He wrote it in the context of England playing Australia in the Champions Trophy. Basically, Australia were set to win easily… And England to win down under this past summer – forget about it with Ronan’s whipping boys in their attack (he rates them even less than he does Usman Khawaja).

          • June 29th 2018 @ 2:23pm
            Krishna Singh said | June 29th 2018 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

            Ronan’s assessment of khawaja in the last few months has been dissapointing but i saw him include khawaja as a reserve in the T20 side which is good to see

            • June 29th 2018 @ 6:28pm
              BrainsTrust said | June 29th 2018 @ 6:28pm | ! Report

              Hard to deny khawaja is batting on another planet right now

    • June 29th 2018 @ 8:28am
      jimbo said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:28am | ! Report

      you guys underestimate rashid and plunkett… they are world class

      once they get Jofra Archer into the fold i doubt we’ll be hearing anything about them not being well rounded ever again…

      • June 29th 2018 @ 8:33am
        jimbo said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:33am | ! Report

        Bairstow
        Roy
        Hales
        Root
        Morgan
        Buttler
        Stokes
        Woakes
        Archer
        Rashid
        Plunkett

        … that team is a world beater

      • Roar Guru

        June 29th 2018 @ 10:08am
        JamesH said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

        Plunkett is a very good death bowler but outside of Rashid the England attack doesn’t have genuine wicket-taking power. Woakes, Stokes and Ali are reliable but generally unthreatening, Wood is in and out of the side and the Curran boys are unproven.

        Their new ball attack doesn’t stack up to the likes of Australia, Pakistan, NZ, SA or even India. Early wickets will be hard to come by against good sides – which is not a big issue when your batting lineup fires but becomes problematic when you don’t have scoreboard pressure to work with.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 10:24am
          George said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:24am | ! Report

          Woakes was far from unthreatening in the recent ODI series played in Australia and NZ. He’s their best ODI bowler.

          Ronan doesn’t rate him though.

      • Columnist

        June 29th 2018 @ 10:54am
        Ronan O'Connell said | June 29th 2018 @ 10:54am | ! Report

        Archer is going to have a massive impact for England when he qualifies to play for them, in Test cricket perhaps more than any other factor given he’s what they’ve never had – a high-quality express quick.

      • June 29th 2018 @ 11:35am
        Paul said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

        Rashid rates 9, and Plunkett is a distant 21st. Not sure I’d call that world class.

        India though, have 4 guys in the top 15. That’s world class. Even Australia rates a better attack when you include Hazlewood (5), Starc (11), and Cummins (17), none of whom played in the recent series.

        • Columnist

          June 29th 2018 @ 11:45am
          Ronan O'Connell said | June 29th 2018 @ 11:45am | ! Report

          India unquestionably have the best ODI attack in the world now due to the emergence of Kuldeep and Chahal over the last 12 months.

          Two gun wrist spinners, to go with a superstar quick in Bumrah and a very good quick in Bhuv Kumar, plus a solid 5th bowler in Pandya – that’s a sensational attack.

          • June 29th 2018 @ 8:02pm
            Bas said | June 29th 2018 @ 8:02pm | ! Report

            You are spot on here ronan. Regarding b. Kumar though, he has to be most underrated fast bowler going around for me. Year in year out he is the purple cap holder in ipl. No mean feat considering the pitches and top class batsmans playing from around the world. Secondly if pitches are helpful, he is as deadly as anyone. He is one of the few bowlers who can move ball bothways at will atm. I can only recall jimmy anderson the other one. In recent ind vs sa series how he set up abd with outswingers and bowled him driving with inswinger was as good as it gets. Very very underrated bowler for me.

        • June 29th 2018 @ 2:47pm
          jimbo said | June 29th 2018 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

          since when has ICC ranking meant anything??

          if you go by that rating even Tim Murtagh from Ireland is a better bowler than Plunkett…

          i dont know about but i know who i would be more worried about facing…

          • June 29th 2018 @ 3:07pm
            George said | June 29th 2018 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

            +1

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