Crick Down the Legside

September 7, 2009 3:57 AM

England falter for second time

Not unlike the first one-dayer, England managed to grasp defeat when victory looked easier, only this time it was even more lamentable after such a solid opening stand between Strauss and Bopara.
Even when England were coasting along at 76 for 0, in reply to Australia's 249, I can remember thinking - 'going well, but it might still be 90-odd for four' - and so it proved.
England's middle order wickets are more contagious than swine flu.
The stop-start run out involving Collingwood and Shah seemed to sum up the team's lack of direction. In fairness to the run-shy Shah, he went on Collingwood's call this time - but the fact Colly stuttered is indicative of a lack of confidence with the Middlesex man.
This was a perplexing performance from England. They kept above the run rate for almost the entire duration of their innings - and yet still didn't score a boundary between overs 30 and 40.
England need to find a Pietersen clone soon, someone who sees the ball to be hit and not pushed around endlessly. England don't need people who can hit 56 runs off 84 balls, in Collingwood's case, more the other way round, although in fairness he was lumbered with the anchor role.
England's decision not to take their third powerplay when Collingwood and Swann were effectively last men standing, was reckless, and there must come a time shortly, as Michael Holding observed, when captains realise they should be taken earlier, as runs will come in the last bat-swinging 10 overs regardless.
What will be doubly disappointing for England is that Australia's attack didn't seem quite so potent as the Oval - although the scorecard shows they all pitched in with wickets.
As for Australia, Ferguson is emerging into something of a danger man and, together with White, glued together Australia's innings nicely, laying the foundation for Johnson's entertaining late charge. What England would give for a similar duo.

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