Simon Hughes: Bell omission sums up Broad’s woes

Stuart Broad could not have had a worst start to his international captaincy career. He lost the toss, selected a strange side, got the opening pair wrong with the bat and the ball, and lost the game comfortably. Of course, not all these eventualities can be blamed on Broad, but a team is ultimately a captain’s responsibility, and England came third in Bristol.

The omission of Ian Bell was extraordinary. England continually misuse or overlook Bell in one-day cricket and it is hard to see why. He is an artist, at the peak of his powers, who does not have to do anything different in any form of the game. Just bat. That will be good enough for any attack. Look at it this way, if you were a bowler, who, at present, would you rather bowl at – Michael Lumb or Ian Bell? It is no contest. So, it follows, always do what the opposition least wants.

The abject way the England openers set about things was worrying. Both Craig Kieswetter and Lumb tried to hit extravagantly over the top before they had the pace of the pitch or the measure of the bowler. They tried too hard. Contrast that with the silky movements of Mahela Jayawardene, who eased Chris Woakes for a straight six in the third over, with a glide up the wicket and an easy swing of the bat. Twenty 20 is not about slogging, it is just about purpose.

Apart from the excellence of Pietersen and Morgan, England’s batting was totally forgettable. And then they opened the bowling with Woakes and Jade Dernbach. Here were two ODI novices with half-a-dozen appearances between them, bowling at two men – Jayawardene and Sanath Jayasuriya, with a mere 785 one-day internations between them. There was only one winner, though that is not to say that Woakes with his thrusting temperament and Dernbach, with his variety, will not make good one-day cricketers.

So Broad – England’s best one-day bowler – had a trying day. I suspect Alastair Cook might have the same experience as he takes over the one-day captaincy. He hasn’t got the game to dominate one-day innings – it is very much about power and range, especially at the top of the order – nor really the bowling attack to take control of versatile Sri Lankan batsmen.

It is a strange call from the usually savvy England management, but they just haven’t quite yet ‘got’ one-day cricket in the same way as they have Test cricket. The messing about of Bell underlines that. He could be England’s saviour, and for all Cook’s general qualities, it should be Bell or Morgan who is England’s one-day captain in all formats.

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4 Responses to Simon Hughes: Bell omission sums up Broad’s woes

  1. It seems that there was a conscious decision to use this game as an opportunity to blood new players (or in the case of Samit Patel, give the old another chance). No-one would seriously argue that Woakes and Dernbach currently form England’s strongest possible T20 pair.

    If selectors did press for a weakened side, it is a touch harsh on Broad who has been made to look silly.

    The problem with using T20 in this way is that England don’t get many opportunities to practice in between WCs. If they are serious about defending their title, they need to send out as near as possible to the side that will play in Sri Lanka.

  2. city hobgoblin says:

    If anyone can explain Luke Wright’s place in the team I would be grateful (and surprised). Is there really need for someone to bat ineptly at 7 and not bowl?

    Maybe we should give the selectors the benefit of the doubt and assume Ben Stokes would have taken Wright’s place had he been fit.

    As for ‘blooding new players’, that only seems to apply to bowlers. Lumb and Bopara are in no form at all – where are Hales, Taylor, Hildreth etc if we want to use an inconsequential game to have a look at some new players?

  3. JackieL says:

    The English management are not savvy about one day cricket. Flower above all. It is very frustrating to see him make one wrong call after another. Prior suddenly picked to open in Australia and Davies despatched. Persisting with Prior even though Bell had displayed skills against Lee at Canberra. And Bell and Strauss had time to bed down as an opening pair. But no, Davies comes back and then KP, managing his hernia, then Prior again! Despite the fanfare of approval, Prior failed with a WC average of 11.

    Bell finally got the nod the day before the quarter finals without any time to prepare. The team were dog tired by then. Flower’s mismanagement of Bell seems perverse. He is a top quality batsman whose County form in one day cricket has rocketed to match his progress in Tests. But Flower persists in ignoring his claims and buries him down the order as a “finisher”.

    Kieswetter, meanwhile, who had a long run of low scores before he was dropped was persisted with and is now back again.

    Shouldn’t a coach be alert to the progress of his best players and how to develop them? Bell has the potential to be world class in all forms of the game but his talent is being squandered. There was blindness from Flower when Bell deserved to be promoted to 5 in Tests when Colly was fading.

    It makes for uncomfortable watching when Cook is catapulted into the captaincy with licence to improve his game and Bell is kept on the sidelines. Was it not a little humiliating for Bell to hear Broad say he needed to work hard to get back into the T20 team? The very team which had just been trashed by Sri Lanka? Broad looked callow but surely the director of cricket was advising him?

    We just have to hope that this continual misuse won’t affect Bell’s form in Test cricket.

    How marvellous if Captain Cook suddenly showed his independence and moved Bell to the top of the order. At the moment he seems to be doing Flower’s bidding. But proteges don’t always toe the line. Juan Carlos was the appointed heir to General Franco, but as soon as Franco died and he was King, Juan Carlos abolished Fascism and introduced democracy! That is the kind of independence we need!

  4. Edward says:

    I really cannot understand the thing about Bell. To my mind, he has had chances in the one day game and failed to take them, He should be dropped.