It will be wise if Ian Bell replaces the out of form Craig Kieswetter in the final ODI to strengthen the depleted England batting line-up © Getty Images
It will be wise if Ian Bell replaces the out of form Craig Kieswetter in the final ODI to strengthen the depleted England batting line-up © Getty Images


By Tom Heulin


The scoreline reads 4-0. Not quite Manchester United vs Manchester City (ouch!), but still a fair hammering for any side in any sport. England have been outplayed in every department for the duration of this One-Day International series. And even a shuffle of the pack for the fourth ODI in Mumbai couldn’t stop the rot for the tourists.


Scott Borthwick and Stuart Meaker, two young and promising bowlers part of a young England squad that’s building for the 2015 World Cup, came in for Graeme Swann and injured Jade Dernbach in Mumbai – a dead rubber, hardly the stage they were hoping to perform on.


England’s selectors have developed a reputation for being loyal to a fault to the players they put out to play each match, a policy that has reaped dividends in Test cricket. But with a side that didn’t look right from the first ODI in Hyderabad two weeks ago, changes should have been made earlier than the match after this series was already settled.


Of course, it’s incredibly easy for me to say sitting in the comforts of my chair with soft cushions, but England have played only one frontline spinner in all four games on this tour of India – yes, on Indian tracks that’s notoriously slow and spin friendly. That’s just madness.


Swann and Borthwick should have bowled in tandem in Mumbai, if not earlier in the series, which would have given England 20 overs of spin that would have taken the pace off the ball and made scoring harder to come by for India.


Instead, with three seamers trying their best to extract some life out of the dry, dead Indian wickets, the part time spin of Samit Patel and the medium-pace dibby-dobbers of Ravi Bopara, the solitary spinners just haven’t had enough support to build pressure on India, and the home side cruised past England’s totals in each of the four innings played.


Clearly the batting has struggled to post enough runs too, and whilst there has been ridiculous criticism of Jonathan Trott on this tour, questions still remain above the heads of both Craig Kieswetter and Ravi Bopara.


Eoin Morgan has been missed, and presumably he will come in for Bopara when he returns from injury. And it may be that Kieswetter drops out of the team, again, this time for Ian Bell to return.


I’m not sure if it’s mildly embarrassing or even insulting for Bell that he has not been given the chance to play in this tour, or perhaps the selectors know only too well what Bell can do and therefore don’t feel the need to test him out in India. But why take him if he wasn’t in the selectors’ thoughts?


But none of the batsmen have excelled in India, and that includes captain Alastair Cook. In fact, Cook’s form is perhaps the most worrying of the top six in the England batting order. It hardly fills a team with confidence if their skipper is putting the side into bat – as Cook has done all tour – and then falling cheaply, as Cook has also done all too often.


Cook’s appointment as captain was always a curious one given the fact he hadn’t played any ODI cricket for several years before hand. In fact, he wasn’t even in the ODI squad for the World Cup earlier this year, also in India.


Cook is still new in the role, and deserves time to build his team now he had been appointed, but whether he was the best candidate for ODI captain, rather than simply the next in line for the Test side, is another question.


Oddly, worryingly, sadly, England will return home from India with more questions about their ODI policy than they had when they headed out to the subcontinent just a few weeks ago.


The selectors have been loyal for a long time, but perhaps their decision to back the side when it wasn’t set up correctly to begin with was a mistake on this occasion. Sometimes no change is good; other times you need to cut your losses, be strong and make positive changes. That hasn’t happened in India.


It will be interesting to see what England’s ODI side looks like when England play Pakistan in the UAE in early 2012, but I expect some changes from the side that has lost so meekly in India.


(A cricket writer living on a road running perpendicular to Hampshires Rosebowl ground. I am particularly proud of that fact, although clearly it has no bearing on my writing ability! I write about all forms or the game, particularly when England are involved, but will offer my opinion on other teams as and when I see fit! please interact and let me know your views, either on here or on Twitter: @tomhue1)