World Twenty20 2014: Ashley Giles exasperated by England batting woes
'We're not playing well, and haven't done for a period now,' says acting coach
England's acting coach has assessed his side's chances in the World Twenty20, which begins on Sunday. Roughly speaking, Ashley Giles put them between slim and none with slim having left town.
"We've lost five in a row, clearly we're not playing very good Twenty20 cricket and we haven't done for a period now," said Giles. "We'll go into that tournament as underdogs anyway. Every game we play, we go and play to win.
"But we're just not getting into matches. That's the biggest concern. Four of the last five occasions we've been three down at six overs. If you consistently do that, you're behind the eight ball."
World champions only four years ago, England are now ranked eighth in the world and have been outplayed both in Australia last month and now in the Caribbean. Their top-order batting is simply not up to the job and they must change it or perish. Doing nothing is not an option.
The reluctance to pick Ian Bell, although he has been called up to the World T20 squad, seems beyond strange, although Giles insisted he was not yet ready to play because he had not hit enough balls. But as a proven world performer, rather than a supposed T20 specialist, Bell should be in immediate contention.
"We're consistently having problems with spin as well, so we have to keep working on those skills against spin," said Giles. "In Bangladesh it's definitely going to play a part. We'd be naïve and stupid to think that probably every team we come up against is not going to open up with spin against us.
"We have to try to find a formula at the top, I know you will say isn't that a worry going into a world tournament that you don't know what your best top three is, or your No 3. But before the one we won here, the opening partnership changed a couple of games before the tournament, so it's not the end of the world. Sometimes you can fall into formulas."
The opening partnership of Michael Lumb and Alex Hales is causing big trouble. Although they are England's most successful T20 pairing, their partnerships in the run of five defeats have been 14, 24, 11, 13 and 13. Both seem to be bamboozled by spin at the start and England's opponents will have spotted that.
In addition, it seems that England are simply lacking firepower. For all Jos Buttler's virtuosity in his 67 from 43 balls on Tuesday night, in general England are no match for West Indies' litany of sluggers. There may be more where they came from in Bangladesh.
"What we are also doing at the moment is hesitating," said Giles. "You can't do that in T20. We back these guys to go and do their job at the top of the order. Hales, Lumb, Luke Wright has had the opportunity, Moeen Ali. You can't hesitate in 20 overs. If you do, you're dead, you're sitting ducks. As good as [Eoin] Morgan, Buttler and [Ravi] Bopara are, leaving them in those positions all the time, you're not going to win many games, if any."
The ineptitude has been breathtaking, not least because it is such an old story regarding spin. The footwork has been non-existent, the uncertainty pervasive.
None of this is helping Giles to be appointed to the job of permanent coach in succession to Andy Flower. He remains the right man for it because he has a vision for the future and a recognition of present weaknesses but somehow he has to avert disaster in Bangladesh, starting in the third game against the West Indies in Barbados on Thursday.
'We would have still lost with KP in the side'
Ashley Giles believes the absence of Kevin Pietersen has no bearing on England's two T20 defeats to West Indies. When asked if the batsman's sacking was a mistake with the World T20 just days away, Giles said: "No. There is no point in going into a World T20 talking about someone who's not here. Kevin's not coming back – as far as I am aware. What we need to concentrate on is turning this around at the top of the order."
Third Twenty20: Bridgetown details
West Indies C H Gayle, D R Smith, M N Samuels, L M P Simmons, D J Bravo, D Ramdin (wk), D J G Sammy (capt), A D Russell, K Santokie, R Rampaul, S Badree
England A D Hales. M J Lumb, I R Bell. E J G Morgan (capt), J C Buttler (wk), R S Bopara, M M Ali, T T Bresnan, J C Tredwell, S D Parry, J W Dernbach
Umpires G Brathwaite (WI) & J Wilson (WI)
Television Sky Sports 2, 5.30-9.30pm GMT
Odds West Indies 8/13, England 13/10
Weather Hot and sunny with partial cloud. Maximum temp: 27C
Series so far
Sun West Indies won by 27 runs
Tues West Indies won by five wickets
Ashley Giles admitted that England have not resolved their problem against spin in T20
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