England vs Australia, 2018: 3 shortcomings in the English side
Unleash a throwback to when England could not do well in ODIs no matter what they tried. However, truth be told, they did not do well just because they did not try a lot. They had Alastair Cook bat for them at the top of the order 92 times. Ninety-two! He had a strike rate of 77.13 playing in a post-Jayasuriya era and yet got persisted with. They eventually snapped and made a knee-jerk reaction of a squad revamp right before the 2015 World Cup.
Right before a World Cup.
Naturally, that did not work out either, so they revamped their squad yet again, with a bunch of players that were not faced with high stakes to begin with and were all on the same page as far as a modern outlook to the one-day game was needed. Thus, England finally had a side that was radical, albeit relatively. To the rest of the world, they had finally come of age to play ODIs like they were meant to be played, nothing special.
It was special. Over the next three years, they recorded six of their seven highest team aggregates banking on a line-up that rode on a wave of positivity, with a refurbished batting and potent bowling array that covered all bases. Since then, England have become arguably the best side in the world and for the first time, they will go into the lead up to the World Cup as the favourites by a significant margin.
However, England's attacking spree has shown signs of fallibility and on closer inspection, they are not the invincible side they seem to be. Let us observe four vulnerabilities in the English outfit that, if exploited well by the opposition, can derail their bid to win their first ever World Cup after decades of crashing into the final hurdle or just comical cluelessness in the group stages.
No stabilizing element in the batting order
It looked like the most glamorous way to go about playing cricket when England kept on looking for quick runs despite wickets falling in their first ODI after the 2015 World Cup. And in a stunning reversal of fortunes, they racked up 408. However, suddenly, it was the most juvenile way to go about approaching an ODI innings when they kept doing the same and crashed to 5 wickets for 8 runs against Australia on a seaming deck in Adelaide.
The ultra-aggressive thought process has become so deep-rooted in that English line-up that they hardly have a player who looks to assess the conditions or tries to play out a particular bowler who is on song on that particular day. In that Adelaide match, Joe Root walked out at number 4 with the score being 4, saw Johnny Bairstow flash at a wide one and get out and then in the next over, with the score three wickets for six runs, attempted a wild hook only to be caught at long leg.
With strikers of the ball left and right in the roster, England might run into trouble if someone like Kagiso Rabada gets the ball hooping around on a gloomy afternoon in Nottingham. Perhaps, if Root moves down to number 5, he will have a more defined role of being the conservative man and the hitters can bat around him.