Wednesday, 22 June 2011

New guests in England's ODI party

With England and their selections for the ODI series (one T20 and five ODI's) against the touring Sri Lankans, it is less a case of out with the old and in with the new; as out with the past it and in for another try.

Following the appointment of Alastair Cook as the new ODI captain and the feeble exit from the World Cup on the sub-continent, England need to re-assess their format and team selection.  Several players have seemingly written themselves out of the equation and removed from selection - Paul Collingwood, so often the heart of the England side, has been put out to pasture and is grazing in Durham with a groin strain; Michael Yardy, who worked well with Graeme Swann, is out with depression and seemingly played his last game for England.  And as always there is the query over who should keep wicket, and if that person should open the batting.

England made their selection on Tuesday morning; selecting Craig Kieswetter (Somerset) as the wicketkeeper removing Matt Prior, and recalling Samit Patel (Notts) who has won his battle of the bulge and shown enough progress to be given another chance, although he has been warned to not let himself down in terms of fitness.

In terms of Prior, he should not really worry about his position.  Far from him be looking over his shoulder for the test gloves, Prior is firmly implanted in that position and the picking of Kieswetter is England's intention of creating a pecking order.  Prior will have to do a lot wrong (of which he did not in the recent test series) to be usurped from the test side, but his non-selection is more a reflection of his inability to become an effective ODI opener, which saw him bat down the order once Pietersen took charge, and stay there once KP was injured.  Prior never scored an ODI century, and most importantly failed to be an explosive power hitter at the top of the order.  England must hope that the combination of patience (Cook) and bombast (Kieswetter) will prove decisive.

As for Samit Patel, it cannot be construed as a controversial selection, as once his weight was under control his sheer talent with bat and ball could not be overlooked.  His non-appearance in the recent World Cup on surfaces that would have suited his bowling was the x-factor missing from a dormant England side; as Yuvraj Singh showed for triumphant India - a powerful batsmen who could chip in for some profitable overs is something essential in the overall set up of a winning side.

Presumably, the non-selection of Chris Tremlett for the ODI side can be considered one of two things, either he proved too costly or one-dimensional for the one day game, or they want to keep him fit before the touring India side hit town.  You will probably see James Anderson miss one or two games for that same reason, and the inclusion of Jade Dernbach (Surrey) and Chris Woakes (Warwickshire) is indicative of that, as England attempt to breed some youngsters in high intensity atmospheres.

All in all the batting remains the same expect Cook and Kieswetter to open as discussed, with Trott coming in first wicket down, followed by KP, Bell and Morgan in a not too different Test/One day crossover, with Ravi Bopara again being the nearly man as Patel is picked ahead of him for his bowling prowess - with Swann, Anderson, Broad and one other filling up the places.

Against a Sri Lankan side itself in transition, expect a different story from the test side.  Sri Lanka are very capable one day players with proven track records and have the returning Lasith Malinga (who retired from tests) joining up with the squad and the versatile Angelo Mathews, a one-day specialist.

Expect a 3-2 scoreline to go either way, but hey the winner may be the weather who may have the last laugh.

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