England must learn to bat to the finish

Andrew Flintoff arrives home on Friday ready for a week of decorating. If he and England can somehow regroup well enough to win the final match of the Cable & Wireless Series today, it is pretty certain that he will be packing in some early practice by painting the town red.

The form so far in the thankfully reduced number of matches, suggests a home victory. West Indies should have won the first and have won the last two with burgeoning authority and élan. Like England, the West Indies are building a new team, unlike England they are positively enjoying the experience.

England have an obvious frailty in their batting. For a start, the order looks slender. After Flintoff, Marcus Trescothick and Michael Vaughan everybody else is at the bottom of a steep learning curve. Only Trescothick and Paul Collingwood have made one-day hundreds and Collingwood is trying to come to terms with a demanding new role at number four.

The way in which they are going about their task dooms them to underachievement. The last 10 overs of a one-day innings are an eternity in which an adequate total can be intelligently transformed into a formidable one. England have taken to treating them as if they had been issued with a five-second warning and must play the first shot that comes into their heads before running like hell for their lives.

It has not been an especially pretty or uplifting sight and it is the principal reason that they are 2-1 down. If they do not address the matter immediately that will assuredly become 3-1. True, there has been the eye-catching matter of the home side's coruscating batting, once at the end and once at the start of their innings, but England's lack of nous has cost them ground that the opposition might not have been able to make up otherwise.

"I think we have got to talk about it," said Flintoff. "Maybe we don't realise how much time we've got at the end of the innings."

How to do it is something they have either not explored sufficiently or have not taken on board. Neither are good signs.

"I think we've got to take singles when they're on offer," said Flintoff. "It's very difficult to hit every ball for a boundary with the way sides bowl now with yorkers, slower balls and mixing it up. We've got to take a run off every ball, and hopefully the boundaries come along as well. Maybe some of us mustn't get too greedy when we get in a good situation.

"The coach talks about training the brain, so that you can get yourself in a position where if the ball is in the area you want it you can hit it for four, but you can also bail out by getting a one as well."

The coach, Duncan Fletcher is clearly aware of the shortcoming, and it is his job to rectify it quickly. "Eight overs is a long time in a one-day match," he said. "There's still a lot of cricket left to play, and they've got to start making the right decisions."

He also mentioned the inexperience of the side but Fletcher would do this if a player had 1,000 appearances. Dwayne Smith, the explosively talented West Indian, has played seven one-dayers, and has looked as though he has never done anything else.

England seem to be falling between the old stools of whether to try to smash it to all parts, or whether to milk it. The dictionary definition of this is panic.

They have ended up doing neither one thing nor the other. In the first match at St Lucia, they made 66 runs in the last 10 overs, superficially satisfactory, but they had lost only three wickets going into that stage and were set up to make substantially more.

In the second they yielded crucial territory by adding a measly 19 runs in the eight overs between the 35th and 42nd, leaving them with too much to do. But there is a fundamental difference in cultures and mindset at work. This is a series-deciding game. West Indies will almost certainly give a debut to the fast bowler, Tino Best, something England would never risk.

* Zimbabwe's rebel players have rejected their board's offer of mediation and will renew their boycott, one of the 15 rebels said. "We're adamant that we've in effect had three weeks of mediation, and we believe arbitration is the only route," he said. "We're meeting [today] to write what will hopefully be our final letter, to say we're rejecting this. We're back to square one, we are boycotting again."

Suggested Topics
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Sport
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
i100
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
News
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam