Luck of the Irish?? Or signs of bigger English Problem?

Ahhh… the minnows of the ICC World Cup breathe fresh air into world’s largest cricket tournament. Due to the time differences between Australia and India I missed most of the action. But is there anything better than waking up to find that the Poms had been beaten? And by lowly Ireland no less. After setting 327. I don’t think so. Especially after the most recent Ashes debacle.

Unknown Irishman Kevin O’Brien was the star for the Irish. Coming in at 5/111 the Irish were on a fast-track to a crushing defeat. O’Brien then blasted his way to the fastest World Cup century,50 balls, before being diabolically run out for113, with the Irish only requiring 11 runs off 11 balls to complete their historic victory.

Now it’s not all doom and gloom for the English. Sure they will get a pummeling in the media but the loss is reminiscent of the 2010 Twenty20 World Cup in which they won after being beaten minnows the Netherlands. There is still plenty of time for the English to regroup. They are still 2nd on the tougher Group B ladder though they have played more games than other country, and are still firm favourites with India, South Africa and the West Indies to progress to the quarterfinals.

Qualification won’t be the problem. Their biggest concern is bowling. England failed to bowl out the Dutch outfit. Conceded 338 in their riveting draw against India and couldn’t defend 327 against Ireland. Their main strike bowler James Anderson has been ordinary since returning from his post-Ashes break. In his three World Cup games he has taken 2/212 at an average of 106. Graeme Swann has really been the only bowler consistently performing for the English taking 6 wickets at 23.5o. He has bowled very economically but two wickets per match is not enough for a struggling side. Tim Bresnan was brilliant against India taking 5/48 but has only picked up one wicket each against Ireland and the Netherlands.

Lower ordering batting is also a problem.  The top-order has batted well in the tournament. Captain Andrew Strauss has led the way with 158 against India and averages over 93 for the tournament. Kevin Pietersen has combined well with Strauss at the top of the order and averages 43. Jonathon Trott averages 56.57, including 92 against Ireland and Ian Bell 61. It is after the fall of the fourth wicket England’s batting troubles have begun. The Poms collapsed from 4/281 against India to be 8/325 and earn a draw. Last night they where 4/288 when Trott departed to finish there 50 overs at 8/327.  In order to succed especially against tougher opposition the middle and lower order, especially Paul Collingwood and Matt Prior, need to stand up or a quarterfinal departure will be a fair result for the English.

This upset will probably be the moment that kickstarts the English World Cup campaign. But maybe the fresh breath of Irish air could just be the start storm about to reign down over Strauss and his men.

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