The dust has settled and having got over the disappointment of going out early, it’s time to review the English performance and rate and slate the England players.
In all honesty, apart from the Australians, we were probably the most predictable team on show. We lost against all of the top four, but beat everyone else. In the games against the eventual semi-finalists, the Sri Lankan game could/ should have been won, we were undercooked against a New Zealand team that started well but ran out of steam at the end of the tournament, we gave Australia their biggest test (according to Ricky Ponting). Only in the South African game were we out-classed – unfortunately that was the one that really mattered.
If anything, it was probably the manner of our victories that caused the most frustration. Workmanlike rather than comprehensive wins against Kenya, Canada, Ireland and Bangladesh denied the country any sense of excitement or hope of what might be to come. Only in the final dead rubber against the West Indies was there a game to really capture the imagination, and most had given up caring by that point.
Overall, fifth almost by default. Low risk cricket, which became the trademark of the Fletcher era meant we weren’t going to be surprised, in the way that India, Pakistan and South Africa were. However, we weren’t going to do much surprising either.
Michael Vaughan – 6.
An enigma at One Day cricket. The game against the West Indies showed what he can do. However, the South Africa effort was more typical. He can be a brilliant fielder, but is more likely than most to drop a dolly. Bizarrely, the most consistent part of his game was his bowling, which was a real bonus to England and enabled us to go in with Bopara as the fifth bowler. I think if he wants to continue at One Day cricket, we should persevere with him, but the debate will rage on.
Ed Joyce – 4
Following his hundred in the Commonwealth Bank series, there was hope he could kick on. However, despite good scores against Kenya and Canada, he looked out of his depth against the major teams and is lucky to have kept his place in the England squad for the summer.
Andrew Strauss – 6
An odd winter for Strauss, who started off looking in good form without scoring runs. By the time the World Cup came along, he was out of the team, but eventually got back in as Joyce continued to struggle. A good battling innings against South Africa gave hope for the coming summer, but overall a tournament to forget.
Ian Bell – 7
England’s second best batsman – not that that is saying a lot. There were times when he was batting with Pietersen that England looked in a good position, notably against Sri Lanka and Australia. An accumulator rather than a hitter, he looks the best of the bunch to continue as an anchor in the top order.
Kevin Pietersen – 9
Probably the only player from outside the top four sides who would make it into the team of the tournament. Two hundreds, one of which gave us a competitive score against Australia, the other won us the game against West Indies, and at his best against the bigger teams. Scored more slowly than is usual for him, but this was mainly due to the clatter of wickets going on at the other end. Crucially failed against South Africa, and his presence may have spurred them onto their best performance of the tournament. The best one day batsman in the world.
Paul Collingwood – 7
A disappointing competition in the context of his Commonwealth Bank series heroics, but regularly came in needing to consolidate, and in the knowledge that he would be followed by the woefully out of form Andrew Flintoff. One magnificent match winning innings against Ireland, some tight bowling in helpful conditions and the fielding was up to its normal exceptional standard.
Ravi Bopara – 7
When selected, he was compared to Theo Walcott. At the end of the tournament, he should be seen as a regular in the team and (with Collingwood and Vaughan), part of the fifth bowler allocation. His maiden fifty came in the valiant effort against Sri Lanka batting at 7. At the end of the tournament, he was in at 3, which looks like a much better place for him to bat. He’ll be around for a long time to come.
Andrew Flintoff – 4
Nothing short of a disaster for Freddie. He lost the vice-captaincy and any hope of replacing Vaughan as permanent captain when he retires. He lost his reputation as one of the great all-rounders with a wretched series with the bat and has gone from loveable laddish hero to potential new George Best. Consistent, but not spectacular with the ball, he was still England’s best quick bowler.
Paul Nixon – 8
He would probably still be talking if knocked unconscious. A revelation during the tournament, with his ability to get under the skin of the opposition and to play unorthodox effective innings in trying circumstances. Indeed he played the reverse sweep so much, he may have been better playing right handed, but his 6 off Murali was one of the shots of the tournament. He almost got us home against Sri Lanka. He kept the momentum going against West Indies. A fixture in the England team until the 20:20 world cup.
Jamie Dalrymple -3
No runs and hardly trusted to bowl. This could have been the tournament where he blasted onto the world stage. Vaughan’s bowling shows what should have been possible. However, a wretched start saw him usurped by Ravi Bopara, and he now faces a difficult job getting back into the team. Like Joyce, lucky to have made the England summer squad.
Jon Lewis – n/a
One of our tightest bowlers in Australia before flying home injured, but not selected to play in any of the matches, despite the inadequacies of the alternatives. Left early to support his wife through a difficult pregnancy, he must of wondered why he was there at all. One of Fletcher’s failings in the latter days was his favouritism of players. In the England squad for the summer, he must be hoping for better treatment from Peter Moores.
Saj Mahmood – 3
One of Fletcher’s favourites, picked time and again for his supposed prowess in batting, bowling and fielding, he was found wanting in all three disciplines. Only two runs scores all tournament, one good performance with the ball (against Sri Lanka) and conceding runs at nearly 6 an over. Even his fielding was sloppy. He’s still young, but really needs time in county cricket.
Liam Plunkett – 3
Runs in the first game, following on from the successes at the end of the Australia tour promised of more to come. However, his bowling was even more expensive than Mahmood’s, going at nearly seven an over during the tournament. The performances of Plunkett and Mahmood make the treatment of Lewis even more peculiar.
Stuart Broad – n/a
Only played in the last game, so no rating applies. However, hitting the winning runs will help with his confidence and his bowling was tight in a high scoring match. His reputation has probably been increased by missing most of the tournament, and it would be no surprise to see him start for England in the summer.
James Anderson – 6
Played the tournament with a broken finger, but that didn’t seem to upset his bowling. He at least made sure that things were kept tight at one end at the start of the innings, but wasn’t able to take the early wickets that England needed. Along with Flintoff, he was England’s best bowler and is certainly a fixture in the One Day set up. He needs better support though
Monty Panesar – 5
The fielding and batting are no longer comical, but the joy seemed to have gone out of the bowling as well by the end of the tournament. Tight rather than attacking, he seemed to be doing an impression of Ashley Giles and, in the end, he was probably out-bowled by Michael Vaughan. He’s not played a lot of One Day cricket for Northants, and it showed.