Cricket Statistics: Breaking Down England's Outdated ODI Batting Approach

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Cricket Statistics: Breaking Down England's Outdated ODI Batting Approach
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Despite recapturing a degree of previous excellence in the Test arena in the recent thrashing of India, England's one-day international approach continues to look outdated after another poor showing in Cardiff on Wednesday. 

With a top-order of accumulators—not powerful strikers—Alastair Cook's men fell woefully short of the 295-run target, dismissed for 161 to be dealt a crushing 133-run defeat in a match influenced by the Duckworth-Lewis method. 

As seen in many of England's recent 50-over clashes against Australia, the West Indies and Sri Lanka, the team's batting approach in Wales again felt stuck in a past era; the side's methods and personnel reflective of an outfit still playing with mentality belonging to a different decade. 

"England still treat ODIs as short Test matches; the rest of the world treats them as long T20 matches," Bleacher Report's Freddie Wilde explained.

A look at the composition of the team's top five reinforces that perception.

ODI Strike Rates for England's Current Top 5
Player Strike Rate
Alastair Cook 77.98
Alex Hales 63.49
Ian Bell 76.03
Joe Root 79.34
Eoin Morgan 86.65

ESPN Cricinfo

Stu Forster/Getty Images

It must be acknowledged that the most powerful member of that group, Alex Hales, was on debut in Cardiff, meaning his strike rate isn't reflective of his ability after just one outing. 

But even so, England are without an elite, rapid scorer (think Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell) among the established players of the team's top five. 

Compare that with India.

In Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina, MS Dhoni's side has three players with strike rates hovering around 90. 

Thus, there's an alarming firepower differential between India and England.

ODI Strike Rates for India's Current Top 5
Player Strike Rate
Rohit Sharma 78.25
Shikhar Dhawan 89.01
Virat Kohli 89.82
Ajinkya Rahane 73.06
Suresh Raina 92.21

ESPN Cricinfo

Michael Steele/Getty Images

Yet, it's not just India who lead England in that regard.

Averaging the strike rates of the current top fives for each of cricket's major nations reveals just how sluggish the English top-order is in comparison with the world's leading teams. 

Indeed, at 76.70, the quintet of Cook, Hales, Ian Bell, Joe Root and Eoin Morgan sit above only the top fives from Bangladesh and Zimbabwe for rate of scoring.

Average ODI Strike Rates for Current Top 5s
Team Ave SR
New Zealand 101.35
South Africa 88.85
Australia 86.92
India 84.47
West Indies 80.62
Sri Lanka 79.85
Pakistan 77.61
England 76.70
Bangladesh 71.51
Zimbabwe 68.34

ESPN Cricinfo

Even when outliers such as New Zealand's Corey Anderson (strike rate of 159.39) fall back into line, and when Hales' rate of scoring inevitably rises, England will still be some distance from the sides currently occupying the top spots of the ICC ODI Rankings. 

Indeed, England's rate of scoring across the last 12 months in one-day games only serves to further highlight the team's lack of power at the top of the order. 

Sitting above only Pakistan from the eight dominant countries, Cook's men have been almost one run per over off the mark set by Australia. 

Those extra 50 runs per innings explain why Australia currently rule the No. 1 spot in the 50-over format, while England languish at No. 5. 

Average Run Rate in ODIs in Last 12 Months
Team Ave RR
Australia 6.19
New Zealand 5.98
India 5.65
South Africa 5.44
West Indies 5.43
Sri Lanka 5.33
England 5.26
Pakistan 5.20
Bangladesh 4.99
Zimbabwe 4.47

ESPN Cricinfo

Stu Forster/Getty Images

Lacking the players capable of quickly shifting through the gears, it's also no surprise that England's performance in the Powerplays continues to be sub-standard.

Frustratingly, that's been a long-running theme. 

As explained by S Rajesh of ESPN Cricinfo, England were simply dreadful during the batting Powerplays at the 2011 World Cup, suffering similar difficulties at the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. 

England's Powerplay Performance
Event Mandatory PP Run Rate Batting PP Run Rate
2011 World Cup 5.20 6.11
2013 Champions Trophy 4.82 6.73
2nd ODI vs. India in 2014 5.30 6.31

ESPN Cricinfo

As the above table indicates, England have typically got off to moderate starts before striking trouble when trying to accelerate—the problem being that hardly devastating batting lineup. 

Compare those numbers to India, who won both of the tournaments mentioned.

At the 2011 World Cup, India averaged 6.08 runs per over in the mandatory Powerplay, elevating that number to 7.69 in the batting Powerplay. 

In England for the Champions Trophy last summer, those numbers for India sat at 5.31 and 7.97, respectively.

If England entertain any thoughts of seriously challenging for the World Cup crown in Australia and New Zealand next year, these issues—and the numbers stemming from them—must be addressed. 


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