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.

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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there