From T20 World Champions to Today: Assessing Scale of England's Fall
On May 16 2010 England were crowned World T20 Champions against Australia.
Three and a quarter years later, following just one series win in their last six, England have slipped to sixth in the T20 rankings. Have England declined? If so, why?
First and foremost, England’s position of sixth in the rankings is not an accurate reflection of the health of their current team.
Six matches away from the World T20 in Bangladesh next March, England do appear to be formulating the base of a competitive team. Indeed, with the return of Kevin Pietersen and Graeme Swann to the side, it’s not inconceivable that England could even be victorious next March.
England’s slide to sixth in the rankings is due largely to two issues that have since been mitigated by England.
The first was overcoming the loss of three key players in that World T20 victory.
Captain Paul Collingwood, all rounder Mike Yardy and fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom were instrumental in England’s victory, but 12 months after triumphing in Barbados they’d all played their final game in an England shirt.
Collingwood took to captaincy very well and was an obvious leader of the team, not to mention his reliable batting, outstanding fielding and canny bowling—his loss hit the team hard.
Yardy and Sidebottom both bowled brilliantly at the tournament in the Carribean and their experience proved difficult to replace.
However, England’s management handled the departures well, and under new captain Stuart Broad impressive young talent from county cricket has been successfully integrated into the team.
Alex Hales, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow are just a few batsmen who have debuted since England’s World T20 victory, whilst Sidebottom has been replaced effectively by bowlers such as Jade Dernbach and Steven Finn, both of whom have graduated from promising youngsters into fully fledged international cricketers.
The second major factor in England’s slide down the rankings was the World T20 in Sri Lanka last October. England’s hopes were significantly diminished when star batsman Pietersen was dropped following his infamous clash with the ECB.
While Pietersen was in a TV Studio, England were struggling to cope with the spinning pitches in Sri Lanka, and England were knocked out at the quarter-final stage by the hosts.
England did show glimpses of being a talented side during the tournament but ultimately failed to adapt to conditions and perhaps, for such a young team, the tournament came too soon.
England's win today maintains their good record in T20 bilateral series. They've only lost two of their last 16 dating back to 2009— Simon Wilde (@swildecricket) August 31, 2013
Indeed, 12 months on and 6 matches away from the next World T20, England do appear in better shape.
The twin factors of England’s slide to sixth in the rankings: transition and the World T20 in Sri Lanka have been overcome, and although they drew the series with Australia, they could do very little in the face of Aaron Finch’s blistering 156 at the Ageas Bowl in the first T20.
Of course with the tournament in Bangladesh next year, England will have to again counter spinning pitches and unfamiliar conditions.
It’s worth noting that the full England team have spent a winter in India since last year’s World T20, and some of the players involved in March will certainly have spent time training in India and honing skills against the spinning ball.
Furthermore, Kevin Pietersen will, barring injury, be available, and his presence radically alters the complexion of England’s middle order.
What’s more, the emergence of Danny Briggs as a spin bowler means England have the rare luxury of being able to take three spin bowlers (Graeme Swann and James Tredwell also) to the tournament.
Another point worth making with regards to England’s decline is that T20 fixtures are played quite sporadically. The rankings fluctuate massively throughout a calendar year, since each result carries disproportionate significance. Not to mention the suspicions surrounding the ranking process itself.
So, while England have numerically declined since 2010, there’s an argument to be made that they are as strong as the team that won the tournament in Barbados.
With more familiar conditions they wouldn’t be far from favourites for the World T20 next March.
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