Ball One – Ryan ten Doeschate is exactly the kind of cricketer who would have got his chance in England’s ODI set up, having had a lot of success in county cricket and being useful in all three disciplines. In List A cricket, RtD averages 47 with the bat and 27 with the ball, which compares favourably with his Essex team-mate and opponent today, Ravi Bopara, whose numbers are 38 and 26 respectively. To RtD’s credit, he has always been completely committed to The Netherlands, even if it’s not the country of his birth.
Ball Two – Disconcertingly for England, their performance in the the field has looked as tired and jaded as their performances in the ODI series vs Australia. With over five weeks of the tournament still to come, this does not augur well for Strauss’ boys. Changes to The Ashes scheduling will mean that World Cups will not follow England’s longest tour again. Putting all that to one side, shouldn’t professional players be able to deal with two days cricket per week, even with significant (comfortable) travel from venue to venue?
Ball Three – Like all the smartest batsmen, RtD has succeeded in making England play the man and not the ball in the field. His belligerence and willingness to take the initiative has worked on England’s lack of patience and got his side up to a very decent score. Half way through Day Four, the tournament feels alive for the first time.
Ball Four – As he gets older, Andrew Strauss is scoring more quickly, with his fifty today coming from 34 balls, an almost Afridi-esque rate and most unlike an England opener. Okay, the bowling was hardly fierce, but Strauss puts away the bad ball as well as anyone in world cricket. He’s not as brutal as Virender Sehwag, but, like Shane Watson, he uses an orthodox technique to go at a run a ball without undue risks.
Ball Five – England, with a stiff, but not impossible target to chase, were ahead of the rate from the first over and have stayed ahead of the rate for the first half of their innings. If England have the skill to do so, it’s not a bad tactic to avoid falling behind the rate, since it can climb very rapidly if a wicket falls.
Ball Six – And that’s what happened. as England’s strokemakers failed to time the soft ball on a dying wicket and watched the rate climb throughout the second half of their innings. Quite how England so consistently manufacture tight finishes from any match situation, is a mystery. It used to be put down to England playing relatively fewer ODIs compared to other teams, but that is no longer the case. While England have shown that they can win T20 matches, any ODI victory still comes after a struggle (for players and fans).
The Tooting Trumpet, whom you can often find at Testmatchsofa.com and on Twitter at @garynaylor999 and @Fakeadil.