Lutters’ World Cup lines (part seven)

ENGLAND snuck past West Indies and give themselves hope of qualification, a qualification they barely deserve.

It was only the gung-ho attitude of the West Indies batting that saved them in my view, with unnecessary big shots being played when nurdles and nudges would have done.

So what about England’s performance in general? Once again, they failed to play an all-round good game. It was a gamble of a selection by Andy Flower the England coach, though, and one that ultimately paid off, with the right result.

The batting was very patchy, with many getting starts before playing poor shots to get out. Trott and Strauss, England’s most consistent performers with the willow did fairly well, but should have nailed home more of an advantage. Luke Wright’s first appearance in the tournament was match-saving for England, although his shot to lose his wicket will quickly be deleted from his Sky-plus box.

The main worry for me was the amount of batsmen who were bowled. You could understand if they were trying to score big runs but only Swann could be accused of this. Prior, Bell and Bopara just missed straight deliveries, and once again the side failed to bat the full 50 overs, which is criminal.

The bowling was generally quite good, and the selectors finally saw sense in dropping Jimmy Anderson. The attack did look a bit light, though, with only four out-and-out bowlers in the side. The remaining overs had to be shared between Bopara and Wright, which was a gamble. It was a gamble that paid off, though, as the right result, as far as England were concerned, was forthcoming.

James Tredwell, or Sonia from Eastenders as he is known by some, bowled quite well in taking four West Indian scalps, but he doesn’t look a world beater to me, a view shared by a Kent fan on the BBC live text (I don’t know how I’d cope at work without it). Tremlett went a long way in his five overs, which could open the door for my man Jimmy again, or Jade Dernbach, the South African (another one!) Englishman called up to replace the injured Ajmal Shahzad.

Bopara’s figures were excellent. I’m sure that he’s far more difficult to face than he looks on television, but England should pin all their hopes on the Essex man. Swann was excellent once again, and without him England would already be checking in their luggage.

England must now hope that either South Africa beat Bangladesh (which should be a given) or India beat the West Indies (with also should be a given) in order for them to progress. At least England have made the cricket-a-thon that have been the group stages entertaining though. Perhaps they should have been sponsored per bitten nail or grey hair accrued during games – they’d have raised huge sums for charity.

I would like to add that the officiating by the on-field umpires during the England v West Indies game was exemplary. Unlike football where referees seem to be chastised at every given opportunity (occasionally correctly), cricket has embraced technology and in this particular game the technology backed up the umpires’ decisions every time, which must give the umpires a great deal belief in their own decision-making ability. This will make them more confident, and probably better officials.