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England cricket: The endless woes haunting the English team

ANALYST
Feature
643   //    03 Apr 2018, 16:17 IST

New Zealand v England 1st Test: Day 1
Shall we look for a captain with Cook's strength in Root's body?

The end of the much bad-lit winter series took place with the Kiwis sealing the series 1-0. After 34 years of tough grinding, the hosts finally won a Test series against England at home after immense rearguard action at Christchurch. This finally ends the grueling season of over a 5-month long season of overseas cricket for the England team.

After every series, during the break, critics and the team reflect back on all that went wrong during the games and that's the time we're in. Post the handshakes, when both the Kiwis and the English fly to India for the IPL, the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) has a bit of homework to do. From being totally dependant on Broad-Anderson to missing Duckett and Hameed in the side, the Board ought to restructure the team. Also, the endless amount of white ball games being played has brought along some baleful effects.

The pale pillars - Stuart Broad and James Anderson

WA XI v England - Two Day Tour Match
The frontline (and only) pace attacks of the England team

We've gone too many years into England cricket with Broad and Anderson in their pace attack. Remember the over Broad bowled, probably still regretting, against Yuvraj? He is there for the team, yet, as the main pacer after 12 long years.

Both in their 30s, the pace duo seemed to have slowed down, bowling at 130-135 kmph maximum on fast tracks. There was once a time when James Anderson toured India in 2012 bowling at 140 kmph continuously. And today, he stands as the most over-worked bowler in the history of cricket after delivering his 30,020th ball on Tuesday. He was successful in uprooting Williamson and Raval early in the series and later bowled out the troubling Watling and Southee.

After a patchy season until the Ashes, Broad picked up a 5-wicket haul in this series, first one after 2016. The wicket of Colin de Grandhomme, at 50.1 overs after a long sixth-wicket stand, came at such a crucial time that the hopes of England winning the game were halted. It was also a big wicket as it marked Broad’s 406th in Tests, taking him past West Indies great Curtly Ambrose on the all-time list.

These figures iterate the fact that the English team is solely resting on the knowledge of their grueling pacers to win or at least, as it turned out, draw the game.

Missing: Spinners

England v South Africa - 3rd Investec Test: Day Five
Moeen Ali - the leader of spinners in the English team

Current spinners to count on are - Liam Dawson, Moeen Ali and Jack Leach. While England may consider Moeen Ali as their main spinner, that is definitely not the case. He cannot be placed in the same competition as you would place an Ashwin or a Jadeja. He considered himself to be the second spinner when Dawson was likely to join the team.

With Adil Rashid opting for only white-ball cricket, the need for leggies must be acknowledged. India's tour of England in the summer is going to be a nightmare without a strong pinch of spinners in their pack.

Not so dependable middle-order

Australia v England - Second Test: Day 2
The entire middle order of English cricket

If not for Bairstow or Root after the openers, the England team would've kissed their collapse far earlier than they did in the past few series. "They do have inexperienced players coming to Australia - hopefully, they won't be equipped for the fast and bouncy tracks compared to England and we can exploit them a little bit," said Steve Smith before the Ashes began.

Players like Ben Duckett, Haseeb Hameed, and Ian Bell are definitely being missed in the side. Although Tom Westley played with the team during the South African and West Indies series, he was dropped for overseas games. Dawid Malan came on the radar during Stokes' police investigation and he didn't prove to be much of use apart from the 53 he scored during the last Test.

Too much of white-ball, not much of white jersey

England v South Africa - Royal London ODI
The favorite kind of England jersey

After the 2015 World Cup debacle, England switched to playing a lot of white-ball cricket as a sort of repentance. They've played 79 white-ball games (59 ODIs and 20 T20Is) after the World Cup 2015 excluding World T20 and Champions Trophy, as opposed to 45 Test matches. This has just resulted in bowlers not being ready for the long format of the games and over-working of their go-to bowlers.

Adding to all of that, Root doesn't seem to handle captaincy well during summers while it's a little hunky-dory during the pleasant climatic conditions of England. Alastair Cook has managed to elongate his career but just seems like a burden now.

Overall, it's high time the board considered all the facts and render a better squad. This must be done before the no.1 ranked Indian team arrive in June to play the 5 Tests at the home of the Three Lions.

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