Jonty Rhodes' blog

Posted on/at 7:46 AM by The Cricket Corollary

Another disappointment for South Africa in an ICC world event but what unexpected joy and delight for the England players and their supporters who have had precious little to cheer in one-day cricket for some time.
It’s natural to talk about where the game was ‘won’ and where it was ‘lost’ depending on your allegiance but, as poorly as South Africa bowled, the third wicket partnership of 163 between Owais Shah and Paul Collingwood was superb and deserved to be the match-winning contribution.
The difference between the England team of ten days ago and the one which played Sri Lanka and South Africa in the Champions Trophy is hard to believe let alone explain. I didn’t watch much of the one-day series against Australia but every time I did tune in all I saw was players who appeared to lack conviction, belief and intensity. Perhaps they were just tired. Or tired of playing Australia!
I have no idea what the catalyst was for the change but it has worked wonders. The tentativeness which characterised their six successive losses to Australia had disappeared by the time they arrived in South Africa and they were positive – even aggressive – against Sri Lanka.
Sometimes it can be a blessing when you are genuine underdogs in a two-horse race because it allows you to relax without the weight of expectation of victory and that seems to be what happened with Andrew Strauss and his team. It’s like when a batsman losses form – he can either try to graft his way back to form or, if that fails, smash his way back to form.
There comes a point when you just get fed up with losing and throw caution to the wind in a desperate bid to turn things around. Perhaps there has been an element of that in England’s change of fortunes.
Andrew Strauss’s refusal to allow Graeme Smith a runner will no doubt come in for some scrutiny but, obviously, he was within his rights to do that because Graeme had cramp rather than an injury and the playing conditions are quite clear.
The England captain could have agreed to the request and probably would have done in many other circumstances – it’s not uncommon for a batsman with cramp to be granted a runner in a first-class match or even a Test match but with so much at stake, including a guaranteed place in the semi finals and the little matter of $2 million for the winners, he decided to play by the rules. Perhaps he thought he used up his quota of good sportsmanship by recalling Angelo Matthews after the run out mix-up against Sri Lanka!
The tournament rolls on, however, and England – incredibly given their pre-tournament odds – must now be regarded amongst the favourites having qualified for the semis with a game to spare. Who would have thought it 10 days ago.


Purna said...

Jonty's very passive aggressive isn't he? LOL.