No variety leaves tourists in spin

Options, options, options. That is what captains require when Plan A has disappeared into the 17th row of the grandstand, but for the third consecutive occasion in New Zealand, England's selection policy deprived captain Paul Collingwood of any choices.

In Auckland, England overcame the handicap of picking an unbalanced side and a bowling attack lacking variety to gain their sole one-day victory of the tour. But in Napier, where they could not defend 340, and here in Christchurch, it contributed significantly to their downfall.

At the toss yesterday, it was obvious that one side had got it wrong. New Zealand selected two spinners for a series-deciding match but England chose to omit Graeme Swann and pick six seamers of varying pace and ability. The result, a comfortable four-wicket victory and a 3-1 series triumph for the Black Caps, highlights England's flawed thinking.

One-day international cricket is predominantly about batsmen scoring runs but there is no point omitting bowlers to fill the side with willow wielders. A bowler can have an enormous influence on a match, especially a good spinner, and each team should select a minimum of three pacemen for every game.

Unfortunately for England, it can hardly be said that James Anderson and Stuart Broad are models of consistency. Broad is young and inexperienced so his unpredictability should be tolerated, but Anderson, who has disappeared in all but the Auckland match and conceded almost seven-and-a-half runs per over throughout the series, is in a precarious situation.

Anderson has been playing ODI cricket for more than five years now but his career does not seem to be going anywhere. There have been times when the 25-year-old has been exceptional and his record, overall, is very respectable. But with 86 games and 121 wickets to his name, he should be leading England's attack rather than looking like a novice.

He seems incapable or unprepared to bowl six consecutive balls on the same spot. Patience is not one of his virtues. From the outside, it seems he chooses to go in search of wickets rather than wait for them to come through miserly bowling.

Bouncers, attempted yorkers, slower balls; in every over Anderson seems to want to go through his whole repertoire. Very few, if any, bowlers can control such variation, and Anderson's approach is not helping his cause.

With his form and confidence low, England had to pick a fourth specialist bowler, and it should have been Swann. Selecting him would have been at the expense of Dimitri Mascarenhas or Luke Wright. That would weaken England's batting, but good teams do not look to No 7 and No8 to get them out of trouble – they provide the icing; it is the responsibility of Nos 1 to 6 to produce a cake with substance.

The problem for England is they do not appear to rate Swann. England's off-spinner had an excellent one-day tour of Sri Lanka last October but his stock has fallen. The size and peculiar shape of a couple of grounds here has influenced England's decision-making but they do not seem to have affected the contributions of Daniel Vettori and Jeetan Patel.

Vettori is the joint top wicket-taker in the series and Patel conceded 3.2 runs per over in the two games he played. England's batsmen came to terms with Vettori just once – in Napier – and his left-arm spin had a huge influence.

The return to fitness of Andrew Flintoff would make a huge difference, as would Monty Panesar developing some of Vettori's dexterity. But if neither makes the progress every England fan wants, the wait for England to become a major force will continue.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
election 2015
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal for Real Madrid against Juventus
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
voicesArmando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power