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Englandís Ďcan bat, can bowl, can fieldí era

Sandeep Dwivedi

Posted: Sep 12, 2011 at 1155 hrs IST

London: As all-rounders Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann walked back to the dressing room at The Oval flashing their toothy grins into the camera, the reason behind Englandís domination in the one-dayers ó and the entire tour in general ó stared India hard in the face. Such has been their depth that skipper Alastair Cook doesnít lose hope even when wickets tumble in a bunch, nor does he ever run out of bowling options on the field. Having achieved an unassailable 2-0 lead, the odds of England winning the ODI series with the same margin as in the Test series are quite high. This time with a perfectly balanced shorter version outfit.

In their pursuit for another whitewash, England are expected to include another all-rounder Samit Patel at Lordís, in place of batsman Ben Stokes for the fourth ODI on Sunday. That change will ensure that the home side will take the field at the home of cricket with nine batsmen, eight bowlers and a wicket-keeper, who opens the batting along with the captain. The details of this startling factoid follow.

Wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter, skipper Cook and Ian Bell are the only pure-bred batters in the eleven, that is those who donít bowl. James Anderson and Jade Dernbach, No.10 and 11 respectively, happen to be the only bowlers who can be addressed as tailenders. As for the rest, Jonathan Trott and Ravi Bopara are batsmen who are also disciplined and nippy pacers, Samit is a left-arm spinner who is a right-handed slogger with the bat, while Swann, Broad and Tim Bresnan are equally adept with both bat and ball.

Success, not a guarantee

Since the advent of ODIs, weíve learnt that despite an overflow of all-rounders, a team isnít guaranteed success. Just ask England. The Three Lions had a long drawn tradition of drafting in bits-and-pieces players in an effort to find the right balance. But as someone famously said about Englandís all-rounders of that era, they were of the Ďcanít bowl, canít bat, canít fieldí variety ó something that their abysmal international record in the last couple of decades shows.

But the turnaround has been a lot quicker than the decline. Both the World T20 triumph in 2010 and their current domination over the 50-over world champions has proved that Englandís all-rounders arenít just heavyweights on paper; they are excellent in 3D too.

At the opposite end, the Indian team has struggled to get the seven batsmen, four bowler combination (the bare minimum ratio) in place. And thatís the reason it becomes almost impossible for MS Dhoni & Co to match England on any front. Unlike Cook, Dhoni doesnít have the resources to deal with a crisis or form a contingency plan. Thanks to this, a semi collapse or one bad spell has easily opened non-healing scabs.

It was only when Ravindra Jadeja, the only genuine all-rounder in the current squad, joined the team that India managed to resurrect a collapse and steady the middle overs with the ball. Jadeja may be a spinning all-rounder but not in Broad, Bresnan or Boparaís league. It is this disparity that makes it supremely difficult for India to record at least one win before they leave these shores.

There is though one problem for England in their quest for their second 4-0 on this tour. According to weather reports, heavy rains are expected to play spoilsport at Lordís on Sunday.

4th ODI at Lordís Live on Star Cricket: 2:45pm

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