Friday, 8 February 2008

Mustard and Mascarenhas offer much encouragement

England's tour to New Zealand has begun in the best possible way, with consecutive thrashings - in Twenty20 terms, at least - of the hosts. They will now be confident of winning the two more significant series that await.

There is only so much one can read into two Twenty20 victories against a depleted side, but they were further proof of the fine effect Paul Collingwood is having as skipper of the limited-overs side. They illustrated the extent to which Ryan Sidebottom was missed in the Twenty20 World Cup; he continues to impress, even when, as in the second game, there is no swing. Phil Mustard's 61 runs off 37 balls over the two games showed he can score at the rate required of a pinch-hitter, which Matt Prior never did. However, he still needs some substantial scores in the ODI series to justify England's obsession with trying to replicate Australia in opening with their wicket-keeper. Last domestic season, Mustard averaged 49 opening the batting in 40 and 50-over cricket, which shows he deserves a run in the side there. But Tim Ambrose, batting in the middle-order, was explosive for Warwickshire, averaging almost 70, with two centuries.

The exploits of Dimitri Mascarenhas, who mixed frugal bowling with some characteristically brutal hitting, mean he deserves to retain his place, at seven, for the ODI series, meaning 'golden boys' Ravi Bopara and Luke Wright will have to watch from the sidelines. Alongside Mascarenhas, England's line up should include Collingwood, Swann and Broad, a quartet of three-dimensional cricketers who give England real depth with both bat and ball. These are encouraging times for England's limited-overs side, at least: a third consecutive ODI series win is very much expected, even if Messrs Oram and Vettori return.


Ben Rigby said...

Looks like you might have spoke to soon. I can't believe last night! Well the only way is up I guess.

Tim said...

Clearly, yes! A shambles of a performance; hopefully Dimi will now be recalled.

Ben Rigby said...

And it wouldn't suprise me if Wright is back at the top of the order. Not that Cook was a disaster. Nobody was good, and they cant drop everyone. Hussey seems to have found a bit of ODI form today. Very good under pressure innings.

Chrispy said...

It completely baffles me how they could leave Masca out, and it sounds as if they are going to do it again!

I can understand why Cook came in, especially given his warm up form, but Bopara was awful in Sri Lanka and hasn't really played since. Plus of course, Masca's bowling was made for that pitch, just look at Styris (and he is carrying a few extra pounds these days!)

Miriam said...

And it turns out that "up" wasn't the only way that things could go. Oh dear.