Lutters’ World Cup lines (part two)

ENGLAND’S cricket World Cup journey has begun with a less-than-convincing victory over cricketing minnows The Netherlands.

Fielding coach Halsall and bowling coach Saker will certainly be earning their corn in the days leading up to the next game in Bangalore against hosts India.

Sloppy fielding, dropped catches (although in theory since both Anderson and Pietersen left it to each other and therefore neither got a digit on it, can it be classed as a drop?) and pretty woeful bowling (bar Graeme Swann and Tim Bresnan) led to a less-than-convincing performance against a side that should not even have had a sniff against them.

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Having said that, The Netherlands’ recent history against England is pretty impressive having beaten England in the 2009 World Twenty20 at Lords. That’s the nature of the very short form of the game, but it really should not have almost gone the distance in the 50-over version.

With India stuffing Bangladesh (the toughest of the “minnows”) in their first outing, England will certainly have to up their game if they are to taste success in their second game. Australia have smashed Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka annihilated Canada (a team England struggled to post a decent score against in a warm-up game) and New Zealand obliterated Kenya, so England have definitely started the slower of the “big” teams.

England have a few worries in the bowling department, with James Anderson being the main concern having gone for more than seven runs per over with no reward. He may feel his place is under threat. Especially so as you would think that his replacement would be Michael Yardy as a second spinning option, the advantage being that Yardy is very capable with the bat, an accusation that could never be levelled at Anderson.

It was a very friendly batting track, but a bowler of Anderson’s undoubted quality should not be bowling beamers to the extent he was, whether trying to bowl a yorker or not.

The omission of Yardy in the first place raised a few eyebrows, certainly in my household (that’ll be two then). The wickets in the sub-continent are renowned for being a spinner’s paradise, and although Yardy is not a massive turner of the ball, he would give Strauss that “measure of control” that commentator and former England skipper Michael Atherton constantly refers to.

Yardy has also just hit his biggest international score in ODIs in the recent series against the Aussies. The Sussex captain is an unorthodox batter and scores in odd areas, and with the injury to Eoin Morgan he could partly fill that void, especially as the remainder of the England batsmen score in far more orthodox ways. Yardy gives the opposition something extra to think about, something that they may not be used to, and is unlikely to go at over seven runs per over.

England will have to fire on all cylinders if they are to have any chance of winning the competition, and part of that will be down to selecting the right team. There were various points during England’s innings where I thought their day-glo orange opponents would walk it.

It’s strange that when (Irishman) Eoin Morgan is in the side, you always feel as though you’ve got a chance. Hopefully, Ravi Bopara will assume that role during the competition, but as a (not very good) captain, I would far rather set a field to Bopara than Morgan.

I suppose the only way is up now after such a poor showing, and they have the points in the bag I suppose. Let’s just hope that the closeness of this game doesn’t affect their prospects if qualification boils down to net run rate.

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