England haven't had much success in the ODIs of late © Getty Images
England haven’t had much success in the ODIs of late © Getty Images

Nottingham (United Kingdom): Aug 30, 2014

England will have criticism from all-round great Ian Botham ringing in their ears as they try to get back on level terms with India in the third One-Day International (ODI) at Trent Bridge on Saturday. Wednesday’s huge 133-run defeat by India in Cardiff was almost a textbook demonstration of what have been England’s major weaknesses in one-day cricket in recent years.

It prompted a disillusioned Botham, now a commentator with Sky Sports, to write off England’s chances at next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. “We have absolutely no chance of winning the World Cup as on the evidence I’ve seen here we are miles behind the rest,” said Botham.

After the match, England captain Alastair Cook labelled retired former teammate Graeme Swann a “so-called friend” for suggesting in his new role as a radio commentator that England “do not have a cat in hell’s chance” of winning the World Cup and that the team would be better off if he didn’t lead them at the tournament.

England did have India in trouble early on at 19 for two but that didn’t stop them compiling 304 for six on the back of Suresh Raina’s hundred.

England’s chase never got out of first gear and they were bowled out for 161 in pursuit of a rain-revised target of 295 as they struggled against spin after Mohammed Shami removed opener Cook and Ian Bell in quick succession.

For Botham, it was a wearyingly familiar scene. “We had batsmen not scoring and too many dot balls and we have three of the top four batters –- Cook, Ian Bell and Joe Root – all scoring at around the same pace, around mid-70s.

“Most other countries have rates in the high 80s or 90s and that’s what wins you games, as India showed by recovering from 19-2 after eight overs to amass over 300.”

- ‘Absolutely clueless’ -

Botham, a member of the England side that lost to Pakistan in the final of the 1992 World Cup when the tournament was last staged in Australia and New Zealand, added: “India also knew that all they needed to do was bring on the spinners to make England look absolutely clueless.

“That’s what happened…something we see everywhere we go. We also didn’t have the discipline to keep the opposition under pressure when we had them in all kinds of trouble when we were bowling.”

India made hay against England’s change seamers, with Chris Jordan’s return of none for 73 containing a worrying 12 wides.

Botham urged the Sussex paceman to be left out for his own good and England do have alternative options in their squad in left-armer Harry Gurney and Middlesex fast bowler Steven Finn.

Finn a proven performer at international level who has been making his way back after effectively losing his action in Australia where he didn’t feature in the team’s 5-0 Ashes drubbing.

“I would give Finn, whose record in one-day cricket is exceptional, a go because in Australia and New Zealand his pace and bounce will be what you want,” Botham said of the 25-year-old, whose 59 ODI wickets have come at under 28 apiece.

For Cook the knowledge that he resisted the calls of Botham and several other ex-England skippers to stand down during the preceding Test series with India before leading the team to a 3-1 win is some kind of consolation. “It’s one game, isn’t it?…It’s not the end of the world at all,” he said after the Cardiff loss. But too many more performances like that and it may be the end of England’s World Cup.

Complete coverage of India’s tour to England here