Twenty20 like all games of cricket is

a game of numbers.

But I do wish England would stop playing by the numbers.

Three overs to go in what was effectively a quarter final match between England and the West Indies at the Oval last night and you knew what was coming.

James Anderson. And the great possibility he would lose it right there and then. And he did.

The last over isn’t the most important, England seem to believe this and go about things with that in mind. The second and third last overs tend to be more important, restrict the batting side in those two and the last over becomes much more of a formality when the team needs knocking on for 20 off the last six balls. But no England bring on Mr. Four Ball Long Hop When It’s Not A Wide Anderson and there goes 13 runs all the pressure and the game.

It didn’t matter that Broad put in his worst over of the tournament straight after the game was over as soon as Anderson gave away two boundaries. The pressure was off the two West Indies batsmen, the run rate was drastically reduced to an easily achievable level. What was an easily winning position for England an over earlier was now going to take a hell of a task to produce a victory. He did it in the win over India as well, what should have been a comfortable victory was reduced to just a 3 run winning margin. You look at the stats and he’s given up nearly as many extras than the rest of the squad put together.

The pundits keep telling us how much he’s improved over the last couple of years and he has but would you risk your life on an over of his? Would they? An important over, when things are tight and victory is in site, one over where he has to go for a run a ball or less, no extras and no boundaries. Would anyone in their right mind risk it, to see him looking at the ground in his delivery while a slow long hop, down the leg side, gets smacked into the crowd.

But saying all that they shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place, there should have been more runs on the board and a higher D/L total for the Windies to reach. But no you knew that wasn’t going to happen when you saw the run rate killer captain Paul Collingwood, almost apologetically come into bat. Now the two Windies batsmen, Chanderpaul and Sarwan, that saw out the victory aren’t exactly Gale or Pietersen, they don’t smack it all over the place but they kept things ticking over and hit boundaries when needed. Collingwood doesn’t as he scratches about trying to play himself in, in five games he hit a total of 6 boundaries all fours no sixes, you need far more from the middle order in the last few overs of the shortened game.

Surely there has to be better options on the county scene than that, players that play the domestic version every year, Napier sat on the bench all tournament and he can destroy bowling, better than someone who didn’t even get a game in the IPL. But England doing things by numbers again, crowbarring in players they all ready have under contract.

Having Foster as wicketkeeper worked exceptionally well because he’s top class at that job and you’d like to see him in the Test side, but a better bat was required batting as high up the order as he did in this form of the game, you think Prior would have been a better bet playing as just a batsman than the captain.

The worst thing about it all was the fact they got me bothering about this throw away version of the game. It’s not cricket, now the Ashes that’s real cricket.

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