England is no stranger to failures, but there is something different this time. They have the memories of lifting the trophy in the Caribbean a couple years ago. So, what if the captain has changed? So, what if Man of the Tournament Kevin Pietersen is nowhere to be seen, except for the studio of ESPN? So, what if Yardy has succumbed to depression? They still got Stuart Broad, this time as captain. Swann, Morgan & Kieswetter too. Finn, if not Sidebottom.
Johny Bairstow looks like a mythical mystical character, like he could beat anyone for the role of prince charming in the TV series Once Upon a Time. Wait, is there something wrong in talking about the looks of a cricketer? Not in the first year, but definitely in a World Cup. When both strike together, you know there is something wrong.
|Standing tall: Captain Broad never hides his face.|
It's obvious there are too many new players in the English side. Bairstow is merely 23, 4 Tests, 7 ODIs and 13 Twenty20s old. Jos Buttler is 22, has played only one ODI and 14 Twenty20s. Alex Hales is 23, 10 Twenty20s old. And although Kieswetter and Wright have played far more matches than these, they are not reliable or regular. Am not saying fresh energy is bad, it's just that it needs to be balanced out with consistency. England have dug themselves a hole by not taking any experienced batsman like Trott, Bell, KP or Cook with them. But, all is not lost. Winning both of their warm-ups didn't help, but losing to India and West Indies should be enough to provide a wake-up call. A change in tactics and mindset can still take them to the semi-finals. Lumb, in place of Kieswetter and Morgan at No.3 can definitely give the batting line-up a boost. Throw the gloves to Bairstow, Butler or Hales. They are all wicketkeepers for their counties, the latter only an occasional one though.
Jade Dernbach is proving to be too expensive. And England have kept Briggs out in favour of Samit Patel. It would be better to give all 3 spinners a shot. England is a team who is known for it's lack of spinners. But, times have changed. Like other teams are doing, England could make spin a weapon in Asia.
England are next up against New Zealand on September 29 at 10:00 GMT (15:30 local). This game will be played at Pallekele and not Colombo (where England were bowled out for 80 by India) so they should be able to walk past this. A tougher challenge will be posed by home team Sri Lanka, though still at Pallekele. History tells us home teams have not gone beyond quarters in the Twenty20 World Cup, but Sri Lanka is a stronger contender at home. England's run in this Cup was always going to be unpredictable with promising but inexperienced players, so I'll be disappointed if they don't throw any more surprises our way.