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Highlighting the reasons for England's sparkling ODI resurgence

The 10 ODI matches England has played since the disastrous World Cup campaign has showcased a welcome change in approach to the format.

FEATURED WRITER
16 Sep 2015, 20:17 IST
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England Cricket ODI
The England ODI side has been a completely different one post the disastrous World Cup campaign 

10 games – not enough to etch a pattern; not enough to draw a conclusion; not enough to extol a team; not enough to paint a trend on a blank canvas but barely enough to talk about a paradigm shift.

10 games – not enough to make a milestone, not enough to describe a journey, not nearly enough to define an odyssey.

10 games – That’s how many the new-look England ODI team has played since their World Cup debacle where the ODI format held them by the scruff of their neck and threw them out like bartenders do to repeat offenders.

Ignominy surrounded them and Morgan had no words to explain why and how Bangladesh could make it to the quarter-finals and not England in a format that was orchestrated to make sure that the big teams do not fail, much like an exam paper set by a teacher to make sure his own favourite student in the class doesn’t fail, because it is unfathomable that they would get all the multiple choice questions wrong.

But England managed that feat, which should rank right next to finding the Mariana Trench or bungee jumping from Burj Khalifa. But the fact that in just 10 games, England have buried memories of that World Cup fiasco, albeit not entirely and the English fans are happy and upbeat and that itself should say a lot!

All the right decisions

Defeat hurts – That is a very obvious observation. But stuck amidst the crossroads where England arrived on a bullock-cart when most other teams had long shifted to SUVs, it was easy to find scapegoats.

Morgan had a terrible World Cup. Had he been uprooted, no one would have raised an eyebrow. But sanity prevailed. He continued to be in charge of the team and lo and behold, was handed the reins with greater powers and a team that suited his mindset. The team was allowed to rediscover itself, not chained at the elbows and ankles like slaves of an old tradition, but as a free entity.

A decision was taken to shed the snakeskin of conservativeness and instead evolve towards playing attractive cricket in coloured clothing. It helped that Morgan gained some of his touch back playing at the IPL, form that helped him to script England’s turnaround. So much for England, demonising the IPL.

Morgan was given the right ammunition. Players were given security. A single failure was not going to be etched on their epitaph. They would get to live and die by the sword, go all guns blazing without worrying about embarrassing themselves. Against the formidable opponent that decimated them in the World Cup by eight wickets with 226 balls remaining, New Zealand, England had to go through trial by fire.

10 games; And they walked out of the fire redeemed. The score-line of 5-5 doesn’t suggest the beginning of a trailblazing era. But that score-line was earned against the two World Cup finalists. Prior to these 10 games, England lost to Sri Lanka 2-5, lost three consecutive games at the tri-nation series involving Australia & India and then ended 2-4 at the World Cup, the two wins coming against Scotland and Afghanistan.

Now take a look again at 5-5 against New Zealand and Australia and you’ll realise that the unthinkable happened! England’s record since the beginning of 2014, with the win against West Indies being their only triumph prior to New Zealand’s arrival, tells you what the war-torn, battle-weary English fan had to survive before the heavenly manna arrived!

England's recent ODI series' (including the World Cup)

Opponents

Scoreline

Venue

Australia

1-4

Australia

West Indies

2-1

West Indies

Sri Lanka

2-3

England

India

1-3

England

Sri Lanka

2-5

Sri Lanka

Tri-Nation Series

2-3

Australia

World Cup

2-4

Australia

New Zealand

3-2

England

Australia

2-3

England

 

So what has changed? 

1. England have had good bowlers before, but where they have changed is in possessing ODI bowlers – that breed that can field, bat a little and is street-smart enough to get wickets. Ali and Rashid are classic examples, with Stokes, David Willey and Plunkett having their moments.

2. The older philosophy was to preserve wickets and have a flourish in the end. Invariably they never got nearly as many as should have been scored. The new mantra is to go bang-bang from the start, with Roy and Hales capable of exploiting the power-play. In Morgan they have someone capable of blending the big shots with the field-manipulating singles and doubles.

They have an excellent lower order with Stokes, Ali and Buttler/Bairstow capable of going over a strike-rate of 100. That the batting power-play has been done away with has cleared their mind further of all confusions.

3. England have two spinners that can control the game, the flow and the ebb of it, which is a big deal even on non-spinner-friendly surfaces. Men like Dhoni have won a World Cup with that kind of facility on flat tracks.

Moeen Ali Adil Rashid
The spin duo of Adil Rashid & Moeen Ali have played a major role in England’s revival

Win-loss margins

Opponent

Batting first

Batting second

Winner

Win/Loss Margin

New Zealand

408 (Eng)

198

England

210

New Zealand

398

365 (Eng)

New Zealand

14 (D/L)

New Zealand

302 (Eng)

306

New Zealand

3 wickets

New Zealand

349

350 (Eng)

England

7 wickets, 36 balls

New Zealand

283

192 (Eng)

England

3 wickets, 6 balls (D/L)

Australia

305

246 (Eng)

Australia

59 runs

Australia

309

245 (Eng)

Australia

64 runs

Australia

300 (Eng)

207

England

93 runs

Australia

299

304 (Eng)

England

3 wickets, 10 balls

Australia

138 (Eng)

140

Australia

8 wickets, 154 balls

 

There is a lot of information in that table that will please an England fan.

1. England registered their first 400+ total.

2. England scored 300 in a chase thrice, winning two and almost winning the third if not for the rain intervention that messed with a lower-order resistance.

3. England won big but lost narrowly barring the disastrous series decider against Australia when Eoin Morgan was hit on the helmet.

4. The 192 in a rain curtailed game against New Zealand came in just 25 overs.

5. The series against New Zealand had three of their top 5 scores - their highest first innings total, their highest second innings total and their highest successful chase beating New Zealand at their own game – the attractive, free flowing flamboyant game that made New Zealand a crowd favourite.

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