20th century cricket in a 21st century world
There was a fleeting moment in the first few overs of England’s innings against Sri Lanka when it appeared that they had finally come to terms with the changing face of One Day International cricket, however a bright start was followed by the usual mid-innings malaise as England retreated into their four an over 20th-century cricket shell.
Sri Lanka then became the latest team to dismantle an England attack devoid of ideas, with barely a yorker or slower ball bowled. England are predictable and so are their results. There's short-pitched bowling from Stuart Broad and Steven Finn regardless of the pace of the pitch and James Anderson is seemingly unable to find the swing with the white Kookaburra ball that Tim Southee and Mitchell Starc have used so prodigiously.
There are two main reasons why the England team are so far off the pace.
Firstly, England still labour on with the outdated idea of picking their Test team for a limited over game and trying to apply Test match batting (for the first 30 overs) and bowling to a more dynamic setting. England players only play limited overs cricket in One Day Internationals. They only display their skills, never practice or hone them at domestic level.
Also, England is the least represented major cricketing country in the IPL and the emerging Big Bash Tournament. The 20 over game has revolutionised 50 over cricket, a modern 50 over innings needs a level of intensity throughout the innings, there cannot be any coasting at 4 an over from the 10th to the 30th over. The skill set needed to survive bowling in the IPL goes way beyond the ponderous back of a length pace bowling offered by England.
England now need to beat Bangladesh and Afghanistan to qualify for the quarter finals, a task which may yet be beyond them, even then it is incomprehensible to imagine England beating South Africa or India, unless they apply 21st century solutions to their problems.
Why are England playing so badly at the Cricket World Cup?