Tuesday, 13 February 2007

World Cup squad

With England's unexpected success in claiming the CB Cup I am actually looking forward to the World Cup with some hope for once. On the generally slow and unpredictable West Indies pitches some shock results are likely and England might just be the surprise team of the tournament. If they can latch onto the momentum they've built up over the last couple of weeks they have a chance to progress into the latter stages, where anything can happen.

To win the World Cup they will need consistency in both bowling and batting, as well as a squad which can adapt to varying conditions and overcome injuries. Taking wickets is crucial, so attacking bowling options are important. The batting line-up needs stability as well as aggression, a combination England have shown in their last four ODIs.

With these factors in mind my squad would be:

Vaughan (Captain) - Though he has not been a consistent one-day player he is the leader the team has so desperately needed over the last few months. It is not a coincidence that his return saw England's resurgence. Flintoff may have carried on the good work in the finals, but it was Vaughan who inspired a seemingly beaten team. Plunkett was just one of the players who praised the positive encouragement given to him by Vaughan, which led to an unthinkable improvement in his own and the team's performance in the CB series. On his day Vaughan is still capable of a match-winning innings and is essential as England's on field leader.

Flintoff (Vice-captain) - Simply one of the top one-day players in the world and capable of immense contributions with both bat and ball. His accurate and aggressive bowling and destructive batting make him irreplaceable. He has also shown good tactical sense as a stand-in captain.

Joyce - His wonderfully crafted century spurred England's recent revival. A left-handed batsmen of elegant strokeplay, he has also shown the ability to read the game situation and play accordingly. Most surprising of all, though, has been his aggressive shots in the powerplays, which make him the ideal one-day opener and possibly the man to take Trescothick's mantle.

Pietersen - One of the best one-day batsmen currently playing and England's trump card in a rapidly improving batting line-up. The only question is whether he should bat at three or four. I would be inclined to get him in as early as possible as he obviously has the technique to deal with all types of bowling and would be equally destructive in the first few overs as he has been in the middle overs of matches.

Collingwood - Just when the doubters were turning on him he plays three great innings on the bounce, takes wickets, executes run outs and makes spectacular catches. The man in form, without doubt, and England's best finisher. Seems to play well with both the top order and the tail and will need to maintain his current form if England are to have a chance in the Caribbean.

Bell - Still a bit Jeckyll and Hyde in one-dayers, but a class player nonetheless. I don't think he should play at three, rather five or six, depending on the match situation. If he can be consistent he will be a real asset for England, as he is a wonderful fielder and offers a bowling option on slow low pitches.

Strauss - His form has been awful lattely and he has rarely sparkled as a one-day player, yet I cannot leave him out of the squad. He has class and can be consistent. I believe he will find his form if he is given a run of games in the middle order, though he would struggle to make the first team if everyone is fit. As a replacement he offers cover as opener, number three and in the middle order, and he is a fine slip fielder. It would be a mistake to omit a player of his class.

Nixon - Though the runs have not flowed from his bat, Nixon has kept well and offered a very vocal presence out in the middle. His vast experience seems to have been a good influence on the younger players around him and it would be a serious error to return to either Jones or Read, both of whom showed they are not up to the task. He is not a long term option, but should be England's wicket-keeper for the World Cup.

Dalrymple - He has not done anything amazing in recent matches, but his bowling will be suited to the West Indian pitches and he is capable of great cameos with the bat. He has also established himself as a very good fielder and part of a winning team. He seems to be an integral part of the momentum England have built up recently and should be left in the squad, though not guaranteed a first team slot.

Plunkett - Over the last few matches he has shown his wicket-taking ability, despite bowling under extreme pressure. He may go for runs, but wickets will ultimately win more matches than economy rates. if he can tighten up his line and length a bit he will be excellent - at the moment he is merely very good.

Panesar - A world class spinner, who has adapted his bowling to suit the one-day game. He still attacks and exerts pressure on batsmen, but can spear it in a bit if required. In the World Cup he could be one of the star performers and is clearly a potential match-winner. His fielding and batting have also improved, making him a first choice for every match.

Anderson - When he's fully fit he is an excellent one-day bowler, possessing pace, swing and control. England need him if they are to progress in the tournament, as their only failing recently has been conceding too many runs to the new ball.

Mahmood - Frustratingly inconsistent, but blessed with huge talent. If he can find his rhythm quickly in match he can disturb any batsman. His excellent use of the slower ball recently shows how he is learning and improving. With his armoury Mahmood must be in the squad, though he is unlikely to make the first team.

Lewis - An experienced and canny performer, who can bowl devastating spells with the new ball. At the moment he would be second choice behind the rampant Plunkett, but Lewis will be needed in England's squad for those matches when conditions demand an extra seamer or injury strikes.

Broad - Young and still developing, but possessing all the ability necessary in an international bowler. He would be last in the pecking order, but seems to have the temperament to make the most of any opportunities he is given.


Chrispy said...

Good squad Nick and what they will probably pick, bar Broad. Think you might be a bowler heavy. I reckon two of Lewis, Broad and Mahmood will go, with Broad the likely one to miss out as they didn't decide to give him a game unfortunately.

I'd take two keepers and Nixon wouldn't be first choice, but as he will be and we can't change that fact, I'd take Matt Prior as the final member to cover the wicket keeping and also provide an extra aggressive batsman (who averages 20 overall and 23.5 when opening compared to Loye's 20. Interestingly they both have a top score of 45!)

Chrispy said...

Well I didn't see Mr Bopara coming! Bit of a crzay selection considering they failed to play him instead of Loye, when they could. I'm glad he is there as he is a bright talent, but I can't understand the selector's thinking on selection yet again. Why didn't he play if they wanted to take him?!

Tim said...

Your squad was 14/15 right, with the only difference Bopara in for Loye. I would have gone with your squad but Loye in for Strauss and Bopara for Mahmood.