Cricket: Reflections on England’s poor form

By Mark Cook   
The England cricket team

England's second test against the West Indies begins this Friday

England were so utterly humiliated by the West Indies in the first test that English cricket fans are now wondering exactly how they will respond when the second begins on Friday afternoon.

The shocking batting performance of England in the second innings is not acceptable, even if it was good bowling by the West Indians.

If the selectors decide to keep the same team and if the same players fail again, then surely enough is enough and the selectors along with the players in question will have to go, and they would have to remember that one does not merit an English cricket test cap just because one is in favour with the ‘right’ people.

For all of Kevin Pietersen’s cheekiness and arrogance – he backs it up, which is more than can be said for the likes of Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood. Ian Bell is one of those frustrating players who looks to be in form and doing well so often but then gets out in a irritating way more often than not and doesn’t go on to capitalise on his early work at the crease.

Where as Collingwood is the dogged performer who may not look a class batsman but has, in the past, made outstanding innings in difficult circumstances, however his recent form has been near to dire.

Many eyes also should be focused on the new captain – Andrew Strauss. His performances with the bat have been rather average and he managed to be successfully humiliated by a West Indian side apparently a lot less competent than this current England side, for which pundits and press keep telling us that this team ‘looks good on paper’ – but seldom do they perform to their potential.

The spin of Monty Panesar was being touted during England’s batting performance in the first innings by television commentators to be a major factor in the destruction of the West Indian’s batting, however again he didn’t rise to the challenge and rather wilted when Chris Gayle started to show intent on his bowling. Questions again have to be asked about whether he is developing correctly in this team.

Kent’s captain Robert Key is a name that has been branded around for a few months now to bring in someone from outside that can shake up this England team and so long as Strauss and England perform like they have done in this test; then the more chance it is on the selectors having to be forced to take a chance on him.

One promising result from this first test however is the progression of young Stuart Broad who picked up his first five wicket haul. With his batting being rather handy to and his decision to focus on playing for England rather than chasing the big bucks in the Indian Premier League (IPL), he puts the others to shame and has a maturity that gives cricket and sport in general the respect it deserves.

Whatever happens, come this Friday, certain players of the England team need to sort their heads out and understand that they are in a privileged position and should play every match as if it could be their last. All eyes will be judging their competence and professionalism.

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