How English ODI Cricket has transformed itself overnight and why England pitches are becoming so flat?

One could watch any match in cricket but not a One Day International involving England. I don’t know but the team has never been exciting to watch. Infact why just the audience even the players seem to be disinterested. However, the team was different while playing in whites where atleast there was some intensity to fight. It was difficult to figure why Eng was so poor in shorter formats. They had a decent county cricket setup where ODIs were played as well. It may not have been test level quality but should not have been this poor in ODIs.

But boy, how things have changed. And that too in overnight. There were talks of English Cricket Board building a new team for ODI but those talks have been on for ages. Just that this time, they have  actually walked the talk. More than them, it is the players who have for a change delivered and that too with such gusto. It has surprised one and all.

The recent ongoing series between NZ and Eng is easily one of the most exciting series ever to be played. More so, coming from a team like England. We all thought NZ has set the bar really high in terms of attacking cricket. But this Eng team wants to prove a point and they are doing it really well. It has been one superlative performance after the other. It is one thing that admin gives you licence to kill (and thrill), completely another that the team actually takes the licence seriously and goes on a spree.

In the first ODI they fired a 400 plus total first time for England.  They followed this will three 300 plus scores in all the following three matches, another record. Y’day they chased 350 with such ease in just 44 overs. In the 3rd ODI they made 302 in 45 overs and were all out. If they batted all 50, they could have set NZ a much higher score to chase and perhaps won the match.

And guess what the Eng captain Eoin Morgan said post match yday (he was man of the match as well):

Full credit to the boys, we set the tone early playing unbelievable cricket. We thought their score was 25 over par but we played out of our skins. I thought our bowling was reasonable, we tried to be flexible and change our plans and angles but we got together after drinks and said if we can keep them to around 340 we can chase that down. Woody and Finn were outstanding. The carefree attitude is helping my batting, concentrating on the process rather than the result and I’ve really enjoyed going up to No. 4. I still think the style is most important than the result now up at Durham. It’s very encouraging at the moment.”

Concentrating on the process rather than the result!

There was a huge talk when Indian captain Virat Kohli said we want to focus on results now and not just the processes. The process thing was made popular by former MS Dhoni who said we want to get the processes right and not bother too much about results.

In contrast to his predecessor MS Dhoni’s consistent public emphasis on process over results,Virat Kohli, India’s Test captain, has urged his side to start focussing on winning Test matches, instead of playing with the mindset of “learning all the time.” Speaking to the media before the team’s departure to Bangladesh for a tour comprising a Test and three ODIs, Kohli said that unless the team developed a vision of winning Test matches, they would fall short of the goals they wanted to achieve.

“We have learnt a lot but I don’t think we have to keep playing with the mindset of ‘we have to keep learning all the time’. I think it’s time – we have played enough Tests so that we start executing our skills and getting results our way and have the vision and the focus to win Test matches, not just go out there with the mindset of learning with every game,” Kohli said. “Obviously, you learn about the game every day, you learn watching on TV as well.

This was made a big deal by the media as it usually does. Out came the headlines that results will matter from now on. The old world of processes discarded. Even funnier and ironic was to hear the TV experts dubbing this as the new era, new dawn and what not.

And here we have the English captain saying just the opposite.  He is more focused on getting the process right and hopefully results will follow. Which is what has been happening. I mean people just do not understand this. If you do not get the processes right, you cannot really produce the right results as well. If processes are badly managed, then one might get victories, but they will be once a while.

So it is not as if previous era was doing a wrong thing by focusing on processes. They were actually laying the base for a victory run over a longer term. Some people are unlucky that they have to do this foundation business whereas some are really lucky who just get to execute based on strong foundations. This does not mean the first guy was just a useless non-result oriented person.

Another aspect of these recent matches is pitches in England. Usually posting a 300 plus score is a luxury in swinging conditions in England. But now, these pitches have just become so Asian – just flat plain belters where one can just swing his bat without any problem. Infact Asian pitches slow down a bit as day progresses, the Eng ones just keep getting better.

It will be great for World Cricket, if Eng can sustain this momentum and remain this competitive in years to come. The game of cricket has very few teams at a world level (just 9) and within them there are just 2-3 which are competing and rest come and go. So a resurgent England is definitely a big yes for the game.

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