This was a very English performance and it was disappointing to see a lack of unorthodoxy from a side who we hoped would show us something a little bit different from England teams of the past. They were a bit predictable.
It would have been nice to see England open up with Moeen Ali against Chris Gayle’s men and bowl Adil Rashid in the first six overs.
Consider that New Zealand opened with Nathan McCullum, Ravi Ashwin bowled the first over for India, Samuel Badree for West Indies and Shahid Afridi for Pakistan.
But England went with swing and seam and not using a spinner in the first six overs was such an English thing to do. Rashid is England’s best bowler.
But the fact he only bowled two overs sums it up. England just did not get it right. They lost confidence in him too soon. He has been a revelation in Twenty20 cricket so leave him on but instead they turned to English seamers.
I guess they feel that Reece Topley and David Willey are most likely to take wickets when the ball swings in the first couple of overs which is why they did not open with a spinner. If that is the case then it tells me they have their selection wrong. They do not need two bowlers offering the same thing. I would look at Liam Plunkett, who offers extra pace, for the next match with probably Topley dropping out.
Gayle is vastly experienced and he was batting against a very inexperienced bowling attack with many playing their first international match in India. I am afraid it was men against boys.
England were intimidated. It makes me laugh when people say Twenty20 is a young man’s game. Rubbish. Look at Afridi and Gayle yesterday. Gayle was reading England’s bowlers like a book. He knew what they were going to bowl before they delivered the ball.
Bowling was always going to be England’s weakness and it is clear with the bat they will need to make 15 per cent above par to be in the game. It is why I would think about moving Ben Stokes up the order. I keep watching him bat in one-day cricket and think he is coming in too low. You need to push him up the order, possibly to open one day in the future, to give him more opportunity to get in. You want best players facing as many balls as possible and even though this is not the time to panic I do wonder if longer term that is something they need to look at.
In 50-over cricket England win matches when they make massive scores. I am afraid it is likely to be the same in this tournament because they just do not have the know-how with the ball to defend par scores, especially when up against teams with vast Indian Premier League experience in their ranks.
I do not want to be too critical because this is such a young England team and they have talent. But having played in such a risky way for a whole year, entertaining us so much along the way, they all of a sudden became cautious in the first game of a World Cup. They now have to beat South Africa tomorrow and that will mean taking a few more chances.
The advantage they have over South Africa is they have played in Mumbai and know how the dew impacts on bowling in the second innings. They also know the score they have to go for, but one more bad loss and they are out.