T20 International 2013: Lack of Power Hitters Costing England vs. Australia

Aidan ReynoldsContributor IIIAugust 30, 2013

Aaron Finch beat England almost single-handedly with ferocious power.
Aaron Finch beat England almost single-handedly with ferocious power.Paul Gilham/Getty Images

When Aaron Finch smashed his way to a ridiculous 156 from 63 balls, one thing was apparent even before England started their innings: no one in the home side had that level of power. 

In Twenty20 cricket, sixes often make the difference. With no Kevin Pietersen, England were always going to find it difficult to match Finch's brute force.

With 14 sixes from a team total of 18, Australia's opener took the game away from the hosts before they even had a chance to reply. He also crashed 11 fours in a remarkable innings that ranks as the highest individual score in a T20 international.

England's top order is full of gifted strikers of the ball, but the likes of Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler and Luke Wright are inventive batsmen rather than powerful ones. Ravi Bopara can be aggressive, but no one outside of Pietersen can bludgeon an opponent into oblivion like Finch did.

The rise of Twenty20 has led to the development of the specialist batsman, which has a huge impact on the way the game develops. T20 is the format that offers the glamour and quick money of the IPL, so it's not surprising that players are abandoning traditional techniques in favour of pure power.

It requires incredible hand-eye coordination to pull off the sort of striking that Finch demonstrated, but neither is it surprising to see that he averages no more than 30 in first-class cricket. He's a batsman made for the short format of the game; a boom-or-bust addition to a squad needing runs at the top of the order.

England, by contrast, send out players who could easily feature in the One-Day International series. That's not a slight on their overall ability, as the opening partnership of Michael Lumb and Alex Hales is talented enough to put fast runs on the board, but the feeling persists that more aggression is needed.

We've seen it before when Craig Kieswetter was in the lineup, and it's a shame that Matt Prior seems so woefully out of form. England could do with his approach to the game; always looking to dominate and take the innings away from the opposition.

The home side's five sixes looked woefully inadequate compared to Australia's 18—which set a new record in T20 internationals.

Although 14 of those came from Finch, a lack of Pietersen was always going to result in a lack of maximums.

The purists will scoff that Test cricket should be the focus when developing players, and rightly so. Australia look set to dominate this two-match T20 series but haven't won a Test match since January of this year.

Nevertheless, it's important to be able to emerge victorious in all forms of the game. When England allow players like Finch to get their eye in, they will always struggle in T20 contests. In Southampton this was further exacerbated by the absence of James Tredwell, who is so dependable in keeping the run rate down.

Instead, Joe Root took on the mantle of the extra spinner. He was summarily dispatched for 27 in his solitary over.

England need a tighter performance with the ball and a more destructive performance with the bat in the next game. They can take heart from the fact that they passed 200, which they rarely manage in T20 internationals.

Root's batting was another positive. In stark contrast to his scratchy test form, he looked confident and free to pick his spots, despite taking a blow to the face when a short delivery found a way to his face past his helmet grill.

If the same team is to be fielded, Buttler should also be pushed up the order. He is wasted at the end of an innings, particularly one that is crying out for his improvisation skills.

England have the players to compete with anyone. Whether they have the players to destroy anyone is another matter entirely.