“Form is temporary, class is permanent”
or so the old adage goes… we’ve seen it for many years in all forms of cricket, so new players introduced into the arena should surely be allowed to be ‘in form’ when they try and step up a gear and face international bowlers.
Three english players have made fifties against Australia on this trip, but only one was on the park at Canterbury. The other two are on the periphery of the core squad – but when better to blood them than when they have confidence against that attack, when they can share those experiences with those who have not yet been successful against that attack and when the opponents is aware that they were hard to pry out?
For those who experience a drop of form, the question is in this era of contracted players who do not play county or club cricket (or if they do, they might bat down the order and get no actual time in the middle) is; how can they re-gain that form? There are similar questions about those trying to return from injury.
Coaches may say that playing lesser bowling gets them back into bad or lazy habits where they can score quick and easy runs, but is it not similar bowlers they are likely to face in the nets, apart from their team-mates, whom they must get very used to facing. Also, in the nets there tends to be a dearth of fielders, umpires, noisy crowds, photographers and all the other real-life “distractions” that are part of match situations, which is actually what the game is like. This is an eternal battle for all teams with a contract system.
I have seen a number of the current squad making fantastic, stylish, classy, jaw-dropping (pick your own superlative) innings – Sarah Taylor at Chelmsford 120 off 120 balls in 2009 and 89* and 93 in Christchurch as recently as February, Charlotte Edwards’ first ashes ton at Bankstown in 2011 or her astounding 137 off 88 balls in a rain-affected ODI in Christchurch, Heather Knight 150+ in the Wormsley test. This kind of class is permanent, its the form that seems to be “missing in action” at the moment.
Hopefully with the T20s being the next games to play, where “see ball hit ball” must surely be the tagline, and especially at Chelmsford, where the team has been previously successful in multiple formats of the game, even without key players, can be the jumper cables for the bump start some so desperately need.
As the tv pundits like to say, you are only one innings or even one ball away from fluency and certain of the current team are definitely in this frame. With the bat few seemed able to transfer to the “test match” mindset.
Whilst many of our team have vast (in the context of the women’s game) experience of test cricket, their opportunity to bat in any multi-day format cricket outside the ashes series is extremely limited. (For those unfamiliar with the domestic game in the UK, country cricket is limited overs, with a white ball being introduced earlier this year.) In fact it feels as though the academy players have had more multi-day cricket this year in preparing the Australians than the senior England team.
Team spirit is not the issue, class is not the issue, passion is not the issue, but somehow when they get out in the middle, a number of our players seemed to double triple and quadruple guess themselves – not great with the ball coming at you at 65mph+ – form seems to be the issue.