Manchester ODI proves it's the 22 yards and not two new balls that's the pressing issue

Ajit Vijaykumar 19:15 24/06/2018
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Eoin Morgan is clean bowled by Billy Stanlake at Old Trafford.

During a major part of the five-match ODI series between England and Australia, the bat did all the talking. The second, third and fourth ODIs saw scores of 342, 304, 481, 301 and 314.

From current players to legends like Sachin Tendulkar, everyone weighed in on the debate surrounding the incredible run of scores in England.

However, the first and final ODI of the five-match series saw the bowlers hold their own. In the opening match, the Aussies were bowled out for 214 and then made life difficult for England, who crossed the finish line seven wickets down.

Then in the fifth ODI on Sunday, Tim Paine’s men were shot out for 205 inside 35 overs before England lost half their side for 50 before the mid-match break.

In Manchester, all bowlers got an opportunity to take wickets. England left-arm seamer Sam Curran got a couple of scalps while spinners Moeen Ali (4-46) broke the Aussies’ back as he got the ball to grip and turn.

When the Aussies bowled, it was the pace of Billy Stanlake that made all the difference as he produced false shots from England’s batsmen who were playing as they would on a ‘regular’ wicket. Jonny Bairstow chopped the lanky Queenslander onto his stumps while Joe Root perished while pushing the same bowler off the back foot.

England captain Eoin Morgan was castled while defending a straight Stanlake delivery. Other Aussie bowlers – be it finger spinner Ashton Agar or seamers Marcus Stoinis and Kane Richardson – got enough encouragement from the surface to choke the life out of England’s batting.

A marginally challenging wicket at Old Trafford is all it took for bowlers to come into the picture, seam or finger spin.

In ODIs, or any format for that matter, a remotely tough wicket is all that is required for bowlers to be all over the batsmen like a rash.

Most modern batsmen don’t have enough patience to grind their way out of trouble. Which is why you see so many Tests finishing inside four days and teams scoring either 200 or 350 plus in ODIs.

Unfortunately for bowlers, wickets like the one in Manchester don’t come around too often. No board or broadcaster wants a low-scoring white-ball game.

Fans wants sixes, centuries and high-scoring tense chases. While 220-odd games can be very entertaining, it doesn’t feed the ‘basic’ need of fans – sixes and runs – in the T20 era.

It’s fairly easy to make it a fairer contest between bat and ball in ODI cricket. Whether those who run the show want that is the main issue.

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