West Indies 272-4 England 276-7: Fletcher's flawed logic hinders one-day progress
Monday 30 October 2006
England's last-gasp win in a Champions Trophy match of little consequence should be treated as precisely that: a last-gasp win of little consequence. A speck on the heaving global mass of one-day cricket. But, if you really insist, an indication that all is not lost for the World Cup and also an uplifting win before the real business of the winter, the Ashes, (Brisbane, 23 November, lest you forget).
Had the Barmy Army been present - the good folk of Jaipur and Ahmedabad have been spared their good-natured but tuneless presence - they would undoubtedly have broken into something along the lines of "There'll Always Be an England".
So there might, but not necessarily one containing the likes of Michael Yardy. Poor Yardy is but the latest in a long line of sound county cricketers who will probably be ditched by England. When the coach, Duncan Fletcher, talks of an inexperienced team, and on some days he talks of little else, he is partly right.
Selectors are paid to make tough decisions but it is pushing it to claim that players are inexperienced when judgements have previously been made on others before they have gained the experience. You could call it catch-22 but it takes a lot of one-dayers to take 22 catches.
Yardy, like some of those who preceded him, has made the absolute best of his ability in county cricket but that does not make him an international. It would have been positively heartening had he played a significant part in England's three-wicket victory against West Indies in a competition from which they had already been eliminated after losing their first two matches.
But the vital bit was done by Kevin Pietersen. Without his 90 not out from 86 balls following the dazzling but curtailed start by Andrew Strauss and Ian Bell, there would not have been a sniff of overtaking West Indies' total of 272, which was positively gargantuan for this tournament.
"We're going to be inconsistent until we get a side together that plays together for a long time and gets a lot of games under their belt," said Fletcher. "It's been the same for the last five years when you bring in good young guys and I've repeated it over and over again."
The inconsistency in that remark is on a par with England's performances. If you keep bringing in young guys, you reap what you sow. England have a strategy to start building a one-day side for the next World Cup immediately after the one preceding it. Yet with five months to go until the ninth competition, five of the team that played on Saturday have played fewer than 30 one-dayers, generally considered the benchmark in passing from novice. Only four have played more than 50 times, obviously enough to make a mother proud, but laughable compared with other countries.
"We feel these young guys can do a better job and they're proving it," said Fletcher. "Jamie Dalrymple's bowling was again very good and it was good to see Ian Bell opening the batting showing his class. It was also good to see KP finding form."
KP's innings (Kevin Pietersen, that is) was important for more than winning the match. There had been the suspicion that he was not quite the one-day player he had been, becoming impatient, desperate. "He played like he can," said Fletcher.
But if Pietersen's match-winning was welcome, Andrew Flintoff's five overs were manna from heaven. He reached 87.1 mph and could have bowled more. Fletcher tried his best to avoid purring. Having omitted Stephen Harmison - rightly, but a big call four weeks before the Ashes - he needed that.
"We can get the extra 10 per cent out of Flintoff in the two-week build-up in Australia. Harmison is fit and will need lots of overs in the two warm-up matches. I am confident they will be ready for the Test match." What Test match is that, then?
Cristiano Ronaldo pays €60,000 for brain operation for 10-month-old boy
Bayern Munich 1 Arsenal 1 match report: Lukas Podolski goal fails to inspire comeback at the Allianz Arena as Gunners are knocked out of Champions League
Top 10 funniest football chants - in pictures
The 10 funniest football chants revealed, with poll naming West Ham supporters as 'wittiest in the country'
Barcelona 2 Manchester City 1 match report: Lionel Messi and Dani Alves on target as Pablo Zabaleta sees red and City exit Champions League
- 1 Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
- 2 Hells of residence: Inside Macedonia's horrifying student accommodation - where the walls are green and the food is black
- 3 Boy George: Bad karma
- 4 First Kiss video: Filmmaker gets 20 strangers to make out on YouTube with awkward results
- 5 Rampaging elephant smashes up house but then 'saves crying baby trapped under debris'
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia