One thing stood out for me about England’s World Twenty20 campaign, and that was I felt almost every other side in the competition showed more adventure than we did.
England continue to play quite a traditional game when it comes to Twenty20. We get off to a decent start but then it slows in the middle of the innings; that’s where we tended to falter a little bit by just pushing the ball around for ones and twos.
To my mind, Kevin Pietersen and Ravi Bopara were head and shoulders ahead of the rest in terms of shot-making, but the other guys just seemed to get stuck in a bit of a rut, and this is when other teams are merrily creating shots.
The one guy who I thought had taken T20 batting to a different level domestically, Eoin Morgan, didn’t get a game and Graham Napier, who has shown his power game with bat and ball for Essex, was also left sitting on the sidelines.
Ahead of the tournament, England spoke a lot about freedom and expressing themselves, but in reality that wasn’t there for anyone to see and I think maybe tactics and selection were to blame.
They were clearly thinking about tactics, with the likes of Stuart Broad showing a willingness to come around the wicket, and so the thought processes were in place. It’s all very well talking about freedom and tactics, though, and a very different thing putting it into practice on the international stage.
It looks to me like the players from other countries have the backing right from their top-level management to improvise and play their shots with conviction, regardless of the consequences, but there remains a fear amongst the England camp to play these paddles and flick shots over your head.
I also felt a bit for our Kent skipper Rob Key, who played the one game and went in a bit too late to prove anything. It almost felt like a token gesture to go and bat when he did. It’s hard to say because I wasn’t involved, but there appeared a bit of naivety in how England went about the game.
Paul Collingwood hasn’t played a lot of Twenty20 domestically, but neither have a lot of other guys playing for other countries, and yet they could still come out and do the right thing at the right time. As soon as England picked Luke Wright in the opening position I knew it would be tough for ‘Keysie’ to even get a game, and when they made that call I knew Rob would be carrying drinks for much of the tournament.
I felt some sympathy for him as a friend and we can only hope that England learn from their mistakes in this tournament and move forward.
Here at Kent we’ve had a couple of mixed four-day games dotted in amongst the Twenty20 Cup games. That’s not ideal but at least there were a few days in the schedule that allowed us to get some preparation time.
Knowing the changes coming up, I did some net practice in the indoor school just to get into the mindset for four day batting again, because you have to be aware that you no longer need to score at more than a run-a-ball.
In the Championship it’s getting your mind around the process of letting the runs accumulate naturally rather than the Twenty20 mindset where you’re going out chasing runs.
We have a small squad here, and it’s a bonus to have Amjad Khan back, but any more injuries and we’ll be looking to the future by blooding some young players. We have talked about doing that this year and it may not be long until youth gets a chance.