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Cameron Boyle

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Joined June 2019

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The cupboard is pretty bare for quality English batsmen. The name I’ve seen most mentioned is Dominic Sibley who is having an excellent season for Warwickshire and could open the batting, thereby moving Roy down a couple of spots where I think he could do more damage. Other pure batting alternatives could be Dawid Malan or Gary Ballance, who are both having good county seasons but have been tried and discarded at test level. Ben Foakes is the obvious replacement for Bairstow. Foakes was very good in his brief stint in the test team.

The changes England shouldn't make – and the one change they should

Finch is an interesting case study El Loco. He initially started his test career quite strongly and looked one of Australia’s best batsman in the tour of the UAE against Pakistan. As such, I think he is a potentially capable test batsman, but unfortunately hit a dreadful run of form in all levels of cricket once he got back to Australia and was found out by an excellent Indian attack. What impressed me about Finch in the UAE was how he tailored his game to the conditions. It’ll be interesting to see whether Roy can do the same.

The changes England shouldn't make – and the one change they should

Agree, I definitely don’t think Smith can be compared with Bradman but I do think that he sits nicely in second place. Like all batsmen, Smith will decline at some point in his career, however I personally don’t believe he will decline as fast as others may have. Players like Hayden and Ponting were aggressive in the way they sought to step forward to the ball which means they had less time to react and were more susceptible to a degradation in reflexes. Smith plays the ball relatively late which may mean he is impacted slightly less by a slowing of reflexes.

Steve Smith is the best Australian batsman since Bradman

Thanks for the comments James. The analysis of Bradman was a fun one. As much as I love using statistics to illustrates a point, statistics can be a cold, impersonal way of presenting an argument. Sometimes, though, numbers can be so impressive that it tells a story. Bradman’s figures tell such a story, he was something special. I don’t like to say ‘never’, but I can’t imagine we’ll ever see dominance of his scale again.

Steve Smith is the best Australian batsman since Bradman

It’s interesting you mention the linkage between Bradman and Smith. In researching this article, I read a quote from a Bradman researcher, Tony Shillingshaw that compared their techniques. He said “He (Smith) does it differently, but the principles are the same. In other words, his body is completely free to react to the ball. He can score through 360 degrees where orthodox techniques don’t allow you to do that from the first place”
The takeaway of the comment was that Smith was the closest successor to Bradman in moving to a technique beyond orthodoxy and freeing up where a batsman could hit the ball. I think AB de Villiers had a similar ability but has not been quite as consistent in test cricket as Smith.

Steve Smith is the best Australian batsman since Bradman

That’s a great comment Paul. For me, the sensation I get when I watched those great batsmen play went beyond technique. It was a reflection of all they had achieved in the game and the comfort that they gave that they could do it again.
Steve Waugh also could look distinctly uncomfortable against short-pitched bowling and never played the hook or pull shots. Border had a slightly unusual backlift and approach to the ball. Despite those quirks in their techniques, each of these great batsman thrived. It would be interesting to explore what it is about their makeups that helps them succeed, but that is a subject for another day.

Steve Smith is the best Australian batsman since Bradman

I think this is a really good point. It’s easy to overlook structural weaknesses when a team is winning. Whilst there have been issues with NZ’s opening combo for much of the tournament, it has really only come to a head once they have started losing matches. The problem is that it is now too late to make significant changes to the team. They really have to hope that the current players can work through their poor form to give the Black Caps a better start.

New Zealand's batting order rots from the head down

You’re right about how form can change in an instant. And Guptill does have a strong overall record which suggests he can turn it around.

Considering he has been an ODI player for 10 years and over 170 matches, it is unlikely he will change his game dramatically. However if he can rein it in a little, it would be more beneficial to NZ as a whole.

New Zealand's batting order rots from the head down

I would agree that is probably New Zealand’s best team. My only concern is that it is a front line bowler short. Assuming Boult and Ferguson bowl most of the first ten overs, it would leave New Zealand with little wicket-taking alternatives through the middle overs. Most of the bowlers in that team above are better defensive than attacking bowlers which could be a problem if wickets aren’t taken early. Whilst Henry has his weaknesses as a bowler, he at least offers another aggressive bowler.

New Zealand's batting order rots from the head down

Blundell is an interesting case, I agree he is talented and a potential alternative. It would be a big call to select a player to make his debut in a WC semi. Also it may unsettle the balance of the team were Latham to have the gloves taken from him. A keeper is heavily responsible for the tone set by the fielding side.

New Zealand's batting order rots from the head down

That’s fair, probably slightly inelegant phrasing on my part. India are indeed a bloody good team. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, but I still had England slightly ahead going into the tournament because they were playing at home and I thought that England had a slightly more well balanced team from 1 to 11.
India have star power which is the envy of any team in the tournament (notably with Kohli and Bumrah), but I thought they had some weaker members of the team that could be exploited.
You also raise an interesting point about how easily the British media can transition from unbridled optimism to stark pessimism. Strong opinions sell papers.

The reports of England's demise are greatly exaggerated

Part of the reason I haven’t mentioned their bowling attack is that I don’t actually think it has been the problem. Across the World Cup, England have ranked 3rd in both net bowling average and runs per over. Only New Zealand and India have better figures in each of those stats.

Of the 60 bowlers at the World Cup who have played at least 3 games and bowled at least 15 overs, both Jofra Archer and Mark Wood are in the top 10 for both wickets taken and bowling average. All three of Archer, Wood and Ben Stokes are in the top 20 for bowling economy. I agree that England’s spinners have been disappointing, but their fast bowling attack has been really strong.

Lastly, England’s strong performances in the lead-up to the Cup were largely driven by their batting. Their bowlers have performed in a manner which is largely consistent with their past performance (if not better in some cases), but their batsmen have performed worse. That’s why I think their slightly substandard efforts so far have been driven by a dip in their batting.

I agree with you in saying that an inflexible mindset may also drive some poor performance. I’d thought about saving a discussion on that for another article, but I was going to look at what they do against India before writing.

The reports of England's demise are greatly exaggerated

In line with other comments, I can’t see India playing in such a way that increases the chance they’ll lose. In addition to the points made about Kohli’s mindset, it’s also really dangerous as a team to drop the mental intensity required to win tournaments. If India relax for a match, it may well introduce bad mental habits which could manifest itself in a knockout game.

The reports of England's demise are greatly exaggerated

Agree completely about the net benefit to the tournament. Even if England had won their match against Sri Lanka (let alone the matches against Pakistan and Australia) it could have meant a high number of dead rubbers at the end of the group stage.
I’m thrilled at some of the games to come. Especially can’t wait for India and England on Sunday night.

The reports of England's demise are greatly exaggerated

Like a lot of negative human traits, arrogance is just a positive trait taken to an extreme degree. Depending on your perspective, this arrogance could be perceived as confidence, which is a fairly necessary skill for elite sportsman. I think with the English team, the view on whether their actions are confident or arrogant can depend upon your personal views and perception of England.
For me, I thought they were merely confident coming into the tournament and justifiably so. They have been the best ODI team over the past couple of years. Yes, Wood made a poor comment which put a bullseye on their back and also deligtimised the World Cup. But this does not mean they are arrogant as a team.
However, I’ll be fascinated to see how they respond in the next two games. If there is a seaming wicket and England make the same mistakes they made against Sri Lanka and Australia, that may be evidence of an arrogant mindset. After all, repeating a failed strategy is often a good indicator of arrogance.

The reports of England's demise are greatly exaggerated

He was a tough one to drop. It was between him and Nathan Bracken for the final spot in the team. The reason I went for Bracken was that he was a slightly more consistent ODI performer over a longer period of time. Reid was a damn good bowler, but injuries limited him from performing at his absolute peak.

A left-handers Australian XI to really flummox England

Thanks Paul. I’d thought about doing a similar lefty Global XI. A team with players such as Brian Lara, Kumar Sangakkara, Wasim Akram and Sanath Jayasuriya would be tough to beat.

Gilly, Warner and Hayden were all openers and one of them had to miss out at the top. The only reason I went for Gilly was that he started his ODI career in the middle order and actually did pretty nicely. Whereas Hayden and Warner have been pure openers in both their test career and ODI career.

A left-handers Australian XI to really flummox England

I will completely admit there is a degree of arbitrariness to it. I looked at a cricketer’s primary role before deeming them a lefty or not. As an all-rounder, one of Faulkner’s key roles was his batting which means he just missed the cut.

Even though I’m a lefty I wouldn’t have made my own team either (putting aside the fact that I am terrible at cricket) because I bat right handed.

A left-handers Australian XI to really flummox England