Rajan's Wrong-Un: England need to go to extremes when on the flat – just ask Nasser

World Cup Diary

Reflecting on England's bewildering form in this tournament, it strikes me that we should return to what I call "The Nasser Need".

Nasser Hussain and Duncan Fletcher were a revolutionary pairing as captain and coach of England. They inherited a team that were the laughing stock of the game and turned them into a ruthless and often victorious machine, largely by defeating defeatism, and restoring discipline. But they also made several key insights about how to succeed at the top level. Chief among them was Hussain's recognition that against good batsmen, when pitches go flat, you need raw pace or a bit of mystery to win games.

In this tournament, Australia have pace (Brett Lee, Shaun Tait, Mitchell Johnson), as do South Africa (Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel). Top wicket-taker Shahid Afridi is a leg-spinner with a brilliant quicker ball, and other spinners such as Ajantha Mendis and Imran Tahir are difficult to read – in other words, mysterious.

By contrast, Graeme Swann, and even more so Michael Yardy, have looked predictable. And the fastest ball England could muster against Ireland was a mere 88mph from Jimmy Anderson. Nasser's need for pace or raw mystery was directed at Test cricket; but it turns out his insight explains England's travails so far in the World Cup, too.

Windies get stoned after busting Bangas

How disappointing, given the civility of proceedings so far and the paranoia over security before the tournament opened, to learn that the West Indies team bus was stoned by Bangladesh fans yesterday. The Windies bowled co-hosts Bangladesh out for 58 before romping home with nine wickets in hand. Chris Gayle, their mercurial former skipper, live tweeted the event, managing to cram even more exclamation marks into a single tweet than Shane Warne usually does: "Bangladesh stoning our bus!!! Freaking glass Break!!! This is ridiculous!!! Damn!!! W Cup with so many security an this happen!! Big Joke!!! Trust me I'm not keen here!!!...players lay flat!!!"

Butt just can't resist charms of conspiracy

Talking about Warne, I've made a point thus far of not mentioning the rumours surrounding his magnificent and accurate prediction that the England v India game would end in a tie. But now Ijaz Butt, chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board has said he will raise the matter at the next ICC meeting. What a numbskull. One of these days, Pakistan's cricket officials will devote themselves to cricket, rather than childish conspiracies.

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