World Twenty20 2014: Three talking points as England lose opener
World Twenty20 2014: Daniel Jolly reflects on England's nine-run loss to New Zealand in their opener
A key part of any innings is the powerplay period – the first six overs – as it gives the batting side an opportunity to build momentum and keep wickets in hand for an often frenetic finish. Failing to consistently take advantage of the fielding restrictions in place has often proved to be England’s downfall in recent times. Power is proving to be a vital commodity in the shortest form of the game, with players like Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi, David Warner and one of Saturday’s opponents Brendan McCullum able to turn an encounter in a matter of overs. While success in powerplay doesn’t always translate into victory, a vital part of picking up a win in this format is to not lose batsmen cheaply and construct a solid base for the rest of the order. Statistics from the previous 10 competitive matches back up this logic, as despite scoring an average of 49.7 during the six-over spell, England were put on the back foot by giving away nearly three wickets in seven of these fixtures. This encounter seemingly brought about a change of fortune for Ashley Giles’ team as they reached 55/1 at the end of the six-over spell. In comparison to other sides in the latest round of fixtures, they notched more runs than the dangerous sub continent nations – Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka – and were only usurped by the incredible 91 notched by the Netherlands against Ireland. While no one of an England persuasion is hailing this as a new dawn, the signs are good for a more positive outlook during this period.
Since making his debut in August 2011 and claiming the limited-overs gloves in January 2013 by ousting former club team-mate Craig Kieswetter in the process, Jos Buttler has increasingly become a vital part of the setup. Scoring an average of 22.55 in T20 internationals, the Lancashire man is always an exciting presence to watch and can score in almost any area with unorthodox stroke play. Does that description remind you of a certain someone? Many have tipped him to fill the rather big shoes left behind by the departure of Kevin Pietersen, who notched 1,176 runs in a 37-match T20 career. Often heralded as a linchpin of the side when selected in this format, Pietersen featured in the top ten run-scorers list in two of the four T20 World Cups to date. Buttler will be looking to be follow in this footsteps of KP and his presence may prove to be even more vital during this year’s version, given the absence of top-order players Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Luke Wright. His quest to produce a good showing in Bangladesh got off to a solid start as he notched 32 before chopping on to his stumps. Looking to establish himself on the international stage and possibly force a path into the Test side, the wicket-keeper underlined his potential and may just prove to be a new maverick figure.
Seam or Spin?
The role of spinners in the 20-over format has often been discussed, with many people disagreeing on the subject. They are expected to be useful figures in this tournament though as the sub-continent pitches are generally slow and will favour these bowlers. England’s recent tour of the West Indies showed the growing importance of spin and medium-pace options as Stuart Broad often employed Joe Root to open the bowling and are trusted with the ball in the latter part of the innings. With a lot of dew in the air in Chittagong, both captains favoured the opposite of this assertion and preferred seam options. During this encounter, the Black Cats used Tim Southee, Kyle Mills, Mitchell McClenaghan and Corey Anderson and just a single slow option – in the shape of spinner Nathan McCullum. This approach appeared to pay off for New Zealand as the pace options recovered from a poor start to take five wickets for 136. Broad decided to mix up his options early on as he opened the bowling with Moeen Ali’s part-time off breaks (the fourth time this tactic has been employed) and used a further four pacemen, including himself, inside 5.2 overs. Their opponents took advantage as the Nottinghamshire man and Tim Bresnan conceded 26 runs in a pair of overs and ultimately this cost England any chance of success in this game.