England play catch-up in modern game

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The Independent Online
Cricket

David Lloyd believes England still have much learning to do in the playing of modern one-day international cricket.

Lloyd, the England coach, feels the other Test-playing nations are years ahead of his side in experience of the 50-over game. He wants improved showings from England in their one-day series against New Zealand despite Mike Atherton's side kicking off the five-match competition with a four- wicket win in Christchurch. That followed a 2-0 victory in the Test series.

Lloyd said England's players were being given two days off to make sure they were fresh for tonight's second one-dayer in Auckland. "I see these matches as being an ideal learning curve for us. There are two matches under floodlights and a lot of razzmatazz surrounding the games. A lot of our players just have not experienced this.

"It was only last season in domestic cricket that a 50-overs competition was played, and we are some way behind all other countries in our experience of this modern one-day format.

"One of the things which pleased me about the first game was that we anticipated their bowling strategy and we competed well in the field, especially because with a squad here largely picked for the Tests we might have some lesser fielders in certain departments compared to the opposition. The first 15 overs are important, and you have to work out where you put your two close fielders as well as the two allowed outside the circle.

"They used their off-spinner, Dipak Patel, in those early overs and one of our options might be to use Robert Croft in a similar manner. But then the last 15 overs are also vital. When you're batting, each individual has to take responsibility to keep things going, and when you are bowling you have to keep your nerve and try things like slower balls, yorkers, and anything to deceive the opposition."

New Zealand's Australian coach, Steve Rixon, yesterday issued a warning to his players: perform at Eden Park or face the sack. "If we don't play well, I'd expect a witch hunt," Rixon said. "We'd like to stay together as one squad - I personally would like to work with one squad - but if they're not performing, that's the way it is."

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