Buttler can open doors as England look to combat spin

 

Contrary to popular perception, England have managed to win one-day tournaments in Asia. There was the occasion in Pakistan immediately after the 1987 World Cup when they won 3-0 in a series which nobody cared about and nobody can quite explain why it took place.

Or there was the Singer Cup in Sharjah in 1997, when a new-look England prevailed in a four-nation competition whose purity was later gravely doubted. Oh, and there have been a couple of riproaring triumphs in Bangladesh – though not in last year's World Cup, when they lost.

There have been some authentic victories, against Sri Lanka and heavy odds in 2007, and a virtuous 3-3 draw in India in 2002 when Andrew Flintoff, after taking the final wicket, offended an entire nation by whipping off his shirt and swirling it round his head while charging around the ground. India were not too happy.

All the evidence suggests that there will not be much in either the four-match ODI series against Pakistan which starts in Abu Dhabi tomorrow or the three Twenty20s which follow. England began this tour as favourites, narrowly, in the Test series and were vanquished 3-0 amid a litany of fragile batting.

Their ODI status is deservedly much lower and their recent away form is disheartening. In Australia last winter they were vanquished 6-1, in the World Cup they sank without trace in the quarter-finals against Sri Lanka, in India last October they were swept aside 5-0.

England are a work in progress at best, Pakistan are full of hard-nosed internationals and fearless youth, greatly emboldened by their Test triumph. In their warm-up match for this series on Friday, they defeated Afghanistan with ease by seven wickets with 77 balls left.

A measure of their strength is that down to come in at No 8 in the order was Shoaib Malik, former captain and scorer of seven ODI centuries. Shoaib was one of four spin bowlers, a foretaste of what England can expect in the next two weeks.

England's preparations consisted of an unsatisfactory match against England Lions in Abu Dhabi. Unsatisfactory because the Lions were shot out for 96, meaning an artificial target had to be arranged to ensure the batsmen had some practice, and unsatisfactory too because it probably demonstrated that not many of the young men are ready to make the step to the senior side. Cubs rather than Lions.

The most exciting change in the England team is the elevation to opener of Kevin Pietersen. This might have been a role for Ian Bell, who was also struggling in the middle order, but the selectors dropped him instead.

Pietersen has not been the ODI force he was for some time. It is 34 innings and more than three years since he made the most recent of his seven hundreds, although his one-day average remains at 40.

The swagger has somehow gone from his game. He gets out to shots that once would have taken him to the stars and his mood must have been affected. If there is a note of desperation in asking him to open, as if that alone will help him to recapture former glories, it makes a kind of sense.

It offers Pietersen the chance to face more balls, to set his stamp on the innings, and the fact that he has been entrusted with the role may revitalise him. England had better hope it works because for the moment there is not a plan B.

Of equal significance, however, may be the inclusion in the squad of the uncapped 21-year-old Somerset batsman Jos Buttler. His statistics in his county's one-day middle order are staggering: an average of 77.36, a strike rate of 143.27, making him the most formidable of all one-day domestic batsmen. Buttler is undoubtedly exciting, he has met every challenge thrown at him so far and if he is still some way away from being a Test batsman he is fearless and innovative. This will be much different from anything he has played in so far but England have to find out about him and should not hang around in doing so.

The spotlight will also shine on the captain in the next few days, Alastair Cook. England have lost 10 of their past 11 matches in all cricket. They need a win and Cook must take them there.

Suggested Topics
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
film
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Goalkeeping howler allows Man City to scrap a draw – but Premier League title is Liverpool's to lose
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal