England profit from waiting game

Michael Vaughan and his fellow batsmen can take great credit for transforming England's one-day side from no-hopers into potential Champions' Trophy winners. Limited-over cricket is all about scoring runs and England's top order, albeit belatedly, now appear to have realised what it takes to post and chase match-winning totals.

Michael Vaughan and his fellow batsmen can take great credit for transforming England's one-day side from no-hopers into potential Champions' Trophy winners. Limited-over cricket is all about scoring runs and England's top order, albeit belatedly, now appear to have realised what it takes to post and chase match-winning totals.

Fielding restrictions, and the maximum allocation of 10 overs, limit the impact a bowler can have on any given game and this is often forgotten by batsmen looking to take on an opponent's best bowlers when they have a new ball in their hand. On far too many occasions Marcus Trescothick and Vaughan have perished while attempting to win a match in the first 15 overs.

But during the past three weeks there has been a distinct change in Trescothick's game plan. The England opener still has the odd lapse, but his approach now looks as though it is going to give England better starts on a more regular basis.

Every team wants to dominate at the beginning of a one-day game, and sides will spend hours working out how many wickets they are prepared to lose chasing this goal, but England are not a side which can afford to lose two or three of its most influential players in the early exchanges of a match.

"It is something we have talked about, but it has more to do with the pitches we play on at this time of the year," said Trescothick, whose immaculate 81 built the foundations in England's six-wicket victory over Australia on Tuesday. "On these pitches you have got to just sit in for a bit, but we will play on others when you've got to get on with it in the second over."

Trescothick's comments suggest he will revert to his old way of batting when this tournament finishes. This would be disappointing, because he needs to realise how important it is to provide a solid start.

Vaughan's team have won six of the 11 limited-over games they have played this summer. In each of these victories either Trescothick or Vikram Solanki has made a significant contribution - an innings of 46 or over - yet in every defeat neither player has scored more than 14. Solanki, the Worcestershire opener, has stated that one of the reasons for his return to form was that he now looked further than the first 15 overs, when fielding restrictions are in place.

The policy of playing yourself in before looking to get after the bowling has been adopted by Andrew Flintoff. The Lancashire all-rounder's batting in England's last seven matches - 488 runs at an average of 81.3 - has been outstanding and it would reassuring to see Trescothick and Vaughan continue following the example set by Flintoff and Solanki.

Andrew Strauss, however, seems capable of handling any sort of predicament. His 42-ball 52 against Australia suggests he will not be overawed when Ricky Ponting's side returns for the Ashes series next summer.

"It has been a great summer for me, but beating the best side in the world has to be the best moment of all" he said. "There is just something special about the Australia games - the old enemy and all that sort of stuff. I certainly felt a bit more nervous before this one. I don't know why, but that is why we play cricket, to test ourselves.

"We are proud of our efforts, but we can't afford to get carried away, firstly because of our game on Saturday and secondly we are still at a development stage. We don't profess to have all the answers, but this gave us a nice little taster for next year."

* The England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff was named as the Professional Cricketers' Association's player of the year, voted for by his fellow players, at the Royal Albert Hall on Tuesday night. The newly capped England batsman Ian Bell was named young player of the year.

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