New Zealand won the opening ODI by three wickets last night after England batted first and failed to put up a big score after being in a good position. As usual a lot of the blame for this has fallen on Jonathan Trott who is considered to have scored his runs too slowly. The contention is that by scoring slowly he puts too much pressure on the lower order to score more quickly and get the total up and that this time it cost England.
Trott scored 68 off ninety deliveries though, hardly glacial and was in fact England’s top-scorer. He is in the side to lay a platform for the explosive hitters in the tail and he did exactly that. The problem was not Trott, but that the lower order got out instead of getting quick runs. There’s no reason to think they were under undue pressure after Trott’s innings; Jos Buttler, for instance, has a List A strike rate of 120. He is going to score quickly regardless of the situation and the same is largely true of Eoin Morgan. Their role in the side is to accelerate late in the innings; this should not be a surprising or pressure situation for them. In fact one would not expect them to score quickly for 25-30 overs as they would have to if they came in without a platform. They would either get out or have to slow down. But England’s current tactics mean that they do not need to; they can play freely and score quickly for about ten overs after Trott, Bell and Cook have done their job. The reason England lost is because Morgan et al failed, not because Trott batted too well.
This is borne out by looking at England’s results over the past year and a half. England brought in this tactic about the time that Cook became ODI captain and what the people who blame Trott for England’s losses tend to forget is that England have actually been very successful in ODIs since then. Since the start of England’s home summer in 2011, England have had results in 35 ODIs. In the 28 in which Trott has played, England have 18 wins, nine losses and a tie. In the other seven England have won only three and lost four. The tactic of letting Trott lay a platform has been demonstrated to be a success; it is not why England lost the most recent ODI.