Ten Things We Learnt From West Indies vs. England
Observant readers, of which we are sure there are many, may have noticed that we neglected to talk about the recent three-match series between the West Indies and England. The reasons for this alleged oversight are numerous, mostly involving alcohol. And keeping our eyes on events down in South Africa of course. Yes, even part-time cricket blogs have to take time off to go and attempt to speak to ladies in northern nightclubs. We did ask the work-experience boy to follow the ODIs and provide some expert analysis as relevant, but he muttered something about ‘zero hours contracts’ and flat out refused to do anything apart from pick dirt from his fingernails with a large kitchen knife.
Nonetheless, amidst the drinking and the dancing and the effusive showering of Steve Smith with our warmest praise, we did see some of the cricket. And damn riveting stuff it was as well – but so are most things when viewed through eyes glazed with last night’s booze. In fact, with the benefit of a clearer head and a constitution that demands something a bit more than just lying on the sofa in pain whilst watching sport, we now realise that the series was a little bit crap. But there were still enough things that we gleaned from the ODIs to fill an article.
- Moeen Ali looks good. As debut series go, Ali’s was far from spectacular, but his batting looked composed, his bowling handy and his beard magnificent. He did enough to warrant further selection and it’s not far-fetched to picture him in a Test team sooner rather than later.
- Yorkers = good. The best thing about the finale of the third ODI, when West Indies looked like they could actually pull off the greatest chase since that one with Fanny Chmelar, was the sound of the pressure inside Ian Botham’s head reaching hitherto unknown levels. As Tim Bresnan bowled length ball after bouncer after length ball, the viewer suddenly realised what it was like to be a Somerset Committee Member. Or Mrs Botham. Thankfully, Bresnan remembered that there is such a thing as a yorker and the game was won.
- Dinish Ramdin is the new Gary Kirsten: they always save their best for England.
- After 91 ODIs, Dwayne Smith averages 17.07 with the bat. That is worse than Suraj Randiv, Ashley Giles, Jack Russell and Brett Lee. When paired with Kieran Powell – dismissed three times in three innings by a part-time spinner – they form arguably the worst opening pair in limited overs cricket since Ravi Bopara and Joe Denly.
- Patience is wearing thin with Tim Bresnan. Although still capable of performing at this level, he looks a shadow of what he was a few years ago. We fear that he’ll be back at B&Q before next winter.
- Talking of players who went from zero to hero, Luke Wright may have just had the worst series since (insert another lazy simile, possibly involving Oh Doctor Beeching!). Nick Knight and Marcus Trescothick were quick to defend Wright and it would seem silly to discard him again with his preferred T20 format coming up, but that’s probably it for the ODIs. However we’ll wait until the end of the World T20 before we decide whether to start calling him Puke Shite again.
- Without senior international players, the England batting just looks vulnerable. Mind you, even with senior international players, the England batting is more than capable of just looking vulnerable. Notwithstanding Root’s century, there was a clear feeling that the team throughout this tournament lacked an anchor. A year out from the World Cup, it’s probably only Eoin Morgan who is guaranteed a place in the top five. That is worrying.
- With the World T20 taking place in Bangladesh, the use of spin was a welcome tactic from England, who all too often in the past have kept their thinking in a sealed box under a sign saying ‘do not touch’. Joe Root and Moeen Ali are both marginally better than proper part-timers (although we did just describe them that a few points earlier), but neither would they be regularly trusted to bowl a full quota. With Stephen Parry impressing and Tredders still just about Tredding, we may see more of this ploy. When it works, it is genius. When it fails and the spinners get whacked for plenty, it is embarrassing. Remember, the West Indies were without Chris Gayle.
- Staying on that theme, England appeared to be mirroring the
dark happy days of the 90s, when any old jack of trades could get a gig, often several of them at one time. Obviously there are significant merits to Root, Ali, Bopara, Wright and Ben Stokes, but all of them at one time felt like bets were being hedged. The issue of balancing a ODI team without forcing the wicket-keeper to open the batting is an old old debate, but we sense it will continue for some time.
- Dark rum is bad for you.