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England specialists do nothing special

ENGLAND arrived in South Africa for the ICC World Twenty20 with high hopes and an apparently dynamic 15-man squad. They came, they saw, they certainly did not conquer.

A meaningless win over Zimbabwe and four losses on the trot

later, the opinion held by many cricketing hobnobs that they had over-theorised the selection of their T20 campaigners turned to fact, as they crashed out of the inaugural tourney.

Regular members of England’s limited overs set-up like Ian Bell and Monty Panesar stayed home while Dave Graveney, Peter Moores and cronies thought it best to litter the touring party with chaps who had proven successful in their domestic T20 competition.

However, when it came to stepping it up a notch to international level, hardly any one of them got it right, the “specialists” definitely did not gel with the usual one-dayer crusaders and at the end of it all were left to fend off the hounding critics.

Hard-hitting opener Mal Loye, at the outset bitterly disappointed to be left out of the equation, is left smiling with thoughts of “I told you so” and “that’ll teach them” as the disgraceful English are left to lick their wounds, head off to Sri Lanka without their heavy reliance on Andrew Flintoff and ponder how it all went wrong down south.

The answer is simple really. All the hypothesis and speculation the England selectors did about the relative unknown that is international Twenty20 cricket all went to pot.

The big guns misfired, the bowlers pitched it everywhere but in the right place, the final XIs were tampered with too often and most failingly of all, supposed T20 authorities such as James Kirtley, Jeremy Snape and Luke Wright plainly couldn’t hack it in the big time.

Let their stats speak for themselves…

Luke Wright kicked off his series with a first-baller courtesy of Zimbabwe’s Elton Chigumbura. The next day he stuck around for five balls longer, managing three against Oz.

England then tried him as an opener where he promptly coughed up another duck. Unbelievably not axed after three single-figure scores in a row, he pitched in with 24 and 16 at number seven to wrap up his tour with too little too late.

Darren Maddy’s longing for a chance to impress was well-publicised before the tournament. He was the proverbial rose among the Twenty20 specialist thorns racking up knocks of 14 and 20 before being inexplicably dropped for the clash against the Saffers, as the English panicked on the back of their loss to Oz.

He bounced back with a thrashing half-ton against the Kiwis and followed that up with 29 against India. Collingwood only called on Maddy’s little medium-pacers at the butt-end of the trip, three quality wickets leaving Colly scratching his head as to why he didn’t bowl Maddy earlier when they still stood a decent chance of making it to the semis.

The most perplexing selection of the bunch, 34-year-old Jeremy Snape, cracked the nod for the clash against the Proteas, bowled one entire over that went for a dozen runs, came in at seven and awkwardly prodded his way to seven, got out and spent the rest of the expedition sitting on the sidelines as his beleaguered countrymen faltered at every turn.

Four too many average spells from spinner Chris Schofield finally saw him make way for a more reliable bowling option in the last of their five matches. He hardly turned it, the wickets he did take were merely consolation and the times he did come into bat down the order he looked like a fish out of water.

Vikram Solanki looked certain not to get a game for the duration of his time in South Africa. Disaster struck for England as Matt Prior broke his right thumb trying to go big in the nets. Solanki, somewhat of a keeper in his younger days for Worcestershire, was thrown the gloves as well as the opening berth.

He performed affably behind the stumps, grafted through 24 runs at less than a run-a-ball (criminal in T20 cricket) against the Black Caps and got out in the 40s against India.

James Kirtley’s stint in South Africa was one of bench warming, drinks carrying, nets bowling and a sole over against Australia in which Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist sent him to the cleaners. — Cricket365.

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