England need a world-class T20 tournament: Atherton
Adelaide, March 10 (IANS) Former England captain Michael Atherton on Tuesday felt that his country's cricket needs a "world-class Twenty20 tournament", to make them a strong contender in the limited-overs format.
England on Monday slumped to fourth loss in five matches in Pool A of the ongoing World Cup. They lost to Bangladesh by 15 runs in a crcial clash. They earlier had suffered taming defeats against Australia, New zealand and Sri Lanka.
He said part of the development of the next generation is a willingness to promote young players to international cricket faster than England have in the past.
"Twenty20 is the key to developing the next batch of 50-over cricketers because most countries are playing at that tempo now, albeit stretched over a longer period of time. Picking the right kind of players is like picking a good dividend-paying stock," Atherton wrote in a column as reported by cricket.com.au.
"Choose right and stay faithful and they will provide compound interest for years to come. Moeen Ali, (Alex) Hales, (Jos) Buttler, Sam Billings, Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Chris Jordan, among others, provide a nucleus of a one-day squad to move forward with."
Atherton felt England's mindset when it comes to limited overs cricket is years behind the rest of the world which resulted in the failure to make the semifinals of the past six World Cups.
"For too long, England have refused to accept that the game has changed and other teams are playing a more dynamic, more aggressive, more flexible form of the game," Atherton wrote.
"They almost tiptoed to Champions Trophy success two summers ago in England, using that near-success to defend an outdated template. (Coach Peter) Moores suggested England missed Jonathan Trott at No 3. Trott is not the type of player England should be trying to promote in one-day cricket as they move to the future."
Atherton also said that appointing Alastair Cook as the One-Day International (ODI) side captain was a wrong step. He also felt that they persisted with the left-hander batsman too long.
"It was a denial that prompted them to appoint Alastair Cook as one-day captain in the first place, a decision made through the prism of Test cricket and to which they committed for far too long in the run-up to this tournament."
While several pundits - notably Geoffrey Boycott and Bob Willis - have called for heads to roll, Atherton has instead urged the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to be more selective.
He advised the board to assign important positions to those who subscribe to the modern way of thinking in limited overs cricket.
He says former England ODI captain Paul Collingwood would be a good addition to both the selection panel and the coaching staff. The 46-year-old suggested that the current backroom team - besides Mark Ramprakash - lack credibility due to their inexperience as players at the international level.
"It is a problem of perception - people need to have confidence in those making the decisions - but also of substance," Atherton, who represented England in 115 Tests and 54 ODIs, wrote.
"The game is moving on rapidly. Someone such as Collingwood would be a great addition to the panel, with a specific remit for one-day cricket and identifying the right players."
Lastly, Atherton warns against subscribing to "lazy theories" and expecting a quick fix to a problem that is deep-seeded in the English game. He says time and patience are among the key elements that must be adopted by coaches, players, selectors and fans.
"In the past fortnight I have heard that England are too nice, not nasty enough, too insular, and too obsessed with statistics. Over the next few days there will be many more of these blind alleys. Ignore them," he wrote.