Pakistan v England ODI Betting: Rookie bowling attack will make life tough for Morgan's men

Working on wobble . . . England's new bowling hope David Willey
Working on wobble . . . England's new bowling hope David Willey

England have given Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad time off from the One Day series to rest before South Africa. Ralph Ellis fears for the bowlers who must fill their boots...


"With Anderson and Broad taking a rest, none of the seven front-line bowlers in the squad has played international cricket in the UAE before, and with just a single warm-up game that’s asking too much."

Medium. It's the one word that gets used about every single pace bowler in England's cricket squads.

Take a look at cricinfo.com, the online version of what Wisden used to be as far as being the game's bible, and you'll see what I mean. Whether it is Reece Topley, whose bowling is described as medium-fast, or David Willey, who is categorised as fast-medium, the 'M' word is always there. (No, I'm not sure I understand the difference between the two either, but no doubt somebody does.)

It's a worrying thought as Alastair Cook's side take a few weeks off from Test cricket ahead of the trip to South Africa. Take a look down the list of their side currently on tour in India and there's no medium attached to Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel or the 20-year-old prospect Kagiso Rabada. They are all just plain "fast".

The difference has fanned a debate about why, with all the sports science and resources flung at the game by the ECB at their coaching centre in Loughborough, we remain bogged down in a world of average without anybody to smash the ball in at 95mph and take wickets on flat pitches.

Kevin Shine, the lead fast bowling coach (or given his record should that be "lead fast-medium bowling coach"), blames the high workload to which England's front line players are subjected.

"Our bowlers bowl more than any others in the world," he has claimed. "We can compete at high pace, but to sustain that is really tough. We look at seam positions, reverse swing and wobble seam. We have got pace but doing it day-in, day-out is very, very tough."

Now am I wrong, or is one of the reasons that the likes of Steyn, Morkel or Australia's Mitchell Johnson have a lighter workload is that they get on and bowl people out double quick with their extra speed?

Either way Shine's apparent policy to take some of the shine off the ball might explain why with Steven Finn perpetually injured we can't find the right back-up bowlers to the front line attack of Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad.

The problem is one for Test cricket, but it will come into focus in the One Day series against Pakistan that begins tomorrow. England are 4.47/2 to win it and while our cricket expert Ed Hawkins puts up an excellent argument for siding with the tourists, I'm afraid I can't agree with him.

Northamptonshire's left-armer Willey is the big hope to bring something fresh to Eoin Morgan's side, and was the stand-out bowler with four wickets in the practice match against Hong Kong on Sunday. But even he is talking about the need to rely on getting the ball to reverse as soon as possible, because in desert conditions he doesn't have the pure pace to get wickets early on.

With Anderson and Broad taking a rest, none of the seven front-line bowlers in the squad has played international cricket in the UAE before, and with just a single warm-up game that's asking too much.

Even if they do learn quickly, it will make the first match of the series a tough ask, and I think Pakistan should be shorter than 1.845/6 to win at the Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi.

At the top level of international sport you need cutting edge skills and exceptional pace. "Medium" just doesn't do the job.


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