Thursday, September 27, 2012

England vs. West Indies Key Questions

Can Eoin Morgan fire for England in the subcontinent?
There is a lot of pressure on Eoin Morgan. In light of Kevin Pietersen's controversial absence, Morgan is the one batsman with the x-factor that England can rely upon to deliver a game changing knock. The fact of the matter however, is that Morgan has not delivered for England in the subcontinent for quite a while.

Morgan has the ability to score across all areas of the park, with his innovative strokes and powerful bottom hand. Morgan might find the West Indies battery of medium pacers to his liking, enabling him to get some form. However, the main challenge will come against the wily Sunil Narine.

Should Badree partner Narine?
It's a tricky conundrum for Darren Sammy. Should he make a call based on the playing surface of Pallekelle which has generally favoured bounce over spin so far? Or does he go for the temptation of playing two spinners after England's batting unravelled so spectacularly against India's spinners?

Samuel Badree has already delivered the goods against England previously, helping skittle England out of 88 in a twenty20 match last summer. Narine's mysteries on the subcontinent are already known. With the English batsmen likely to play out Narine's overs watchfully, Badree could tempt the inexperienced middle order into giving their wickets away.

Should Briggs partner Swann?
By the same token, should England also play an extra spinner to partner Graeme Swann? It's a guarantee that Samit Patel will return to the playing eleven for this match. England could really go for the extraordinary and pull a rabbit out of the hat and play the talented t20 specialist Danny Briggs.

Briggs also has the ability to deliver the new ball with control allied with craft. Chris Gayle can at times struggle to get going in the early overs against spin, so it might be an option worth trying. However, if the pitch plays true, it could end up being a gamble too far against the plethora of big-hitters in the West Indies batting line-up.

Can Russell and Bravo both play?
Johnston Charles has yet to play a defining knock and justify his place in the first eleven. Considering his one-dimensional style of batting its rather unfair that the Windies have to drop one of either Dwayne Bravo or Andre Russell to accommodate Charles in the team.

Bravo's bowling has been receding in quality and potency for some time, yet his batting remains strong especially in the closing overs of the innings. On the other hand, despite some erratic deliveries, Andre Russell has the ability to deliver balls at 140k plus, a trait that could come in handy at Pallekelle. Furthermore Russell has consistently proven himself with the bat in t20's over the last year in all conditions. Facing a lower middle order featuring Bravo, Russell, Kieron Pollard and Darren Sammy would be a frightening proposition for the opposition bowlers.

Should Lumb be given a chance?
Michael Lumb and Craig Kieswetter had an instrumental role in helping England win the last World Twenty20. Second in importance only to Kevin Pietersen's consistent brilliance in the Caribbean, Lumb and Kieswetter launched many England innings with scintillating hitting in the powerplay overs, establishing a great launchpad for the team to score big totals or chase down targets with ease.

Lumb hasn't featured much for England since then, but it might be worth bringing back this winning partnership for England. On the other hand, Alex Hales' best twenty20 knock for England came against this West Indies bowling attack in the summer, so it might be worth persisting with the talented youngster.

Can Broad and Finn trump Gayle and Samuels?
Stuart Broad has already identified that getting Chris Gayle out cheaply will be the bowling attack's main focus. The challenge for Broad and Finn is that unlike most opening batsmen, Gayle is most comfortable when the ball bounces, as his pull shots and square cuts are second to none.

If Broad and Finn can alter their natural lengths and pitch it up, they might have a better chance of snaring Gayle. With Dwayne Smith and Johnston Charles already susceptible to high-quality new ball bowling, Broad and Finn could potentially set the tone of the West Indies innings, if they manage to get Gayle, and then West Indies' best batsman of the year, Marlon Samuels. However, if the Jamaican duo survive England's best bowlers, then England could be left chasing shadows in the field. If Gayle and Samuels flourish, West Indies are unlikely to lose the match.