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England white ball – top of the world

In the 50-odd years I have been following and covering sport the England international side has let itself and supporters down competitively.

In international football tournaments we fail to beat the big boys, often as not losing in the quarter finals on penalties.

In Rugby World Cups we produce superb performances as in Japan against the All Blacks but are then too easily beaten in the final by South Africa.

When cricket began to bifocate  into white ball and red ball we were slow to react.

We treated for some years both formats as identical. Only recently have we appointed a dedicated white ball captain in Eion Morgan and recruited players like Jason Roy who are not up to Test standard.

Yesterday I watched the second ODI against Australia.

England’s total of 231 was unconvincing as they did not bat very well. At 144-2, with Aaron Finch and Manes Labuschagne at the crease, the Aussie victory seemed a formality.

Ironically my theory of competitive weakness is best proved against the Aussies.

This time not so. It was the Aussies that had a meltdown.

Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes skittled out the middle order and in the end the victory was comfortable.

Eion Morgan is as responsible as any for this volte-face with his leadership and authority. When Alex Hales committed one misdeed too many off the pitch it was made clear by Morgan that his presence was no longer welcome.

Jos Buttler and David Bairstow have mastered both formats but we have seen more the emergence of the separate white ball cricketer like Sam Billings.

Whilst the England white ball team dominates global cricket I can foresee a negative knock-on effect on Test cricket.

The way poor big Stuart Broad was wrapped in cotton wool after throwing his toys out of the pram when only rested does not compare well with the treatment of Jofra Archer.

With so much dosh to be earned in the IPL, Jofra might decide his commitments to England will not extend to beyond the white ball, as Moeen Ali has already done.

Just as happened in white ball those that govern cricket might have to change and adapt their thinking.

About Douglas Heath

Douglas Heath began his lifelong love affair with cricket as an 8 year-old schoolboy playing OWZAT? Whilst listening to a 160s Ashes series on the radio. He later became half-decent at doing John Arlott impressions and is a member of Middlesex County Cricket Club. He holds no truck at all with the T20 version on the game. More Posts