Cow Corner

England lose their sting

Cow Corner

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The Champions Trophy is not a tournament that deserves a great semi-final - and it didn't get one.

A quick glance at the Top 100 list that the football bods are doing on the site shows that often semi-finals are the greatest games: the drama, the tension, the 'what if' we miss the showpiece finale.

And few would argue that the greatest one-day international of all-time was the 1999 World Cup semi-final where Lance Klusener's brawn had powered South Africa to the brink of the final before his brain let him down.

But - unless you are a keen entomologist - proceedings at Centurion were extremely dull.

Victories over Sri Lanka and South Africa prompted some naively positive pre-match talk from some pundits, conveniently forgetting that England had been stuffed on six successive occasions by the same opposition in the last month.

However it was easy to ignore the 6-1 series defeat and England's 14 per cent chance of winning as the batsman were now "playing without fear".

And yes, the top order played without fear, but also without much skill as the men in blue collapsed to 100-odd for six.

A beekeeper trying to dislodge a swarm of bees from a television camera providing the only sting in the innings before Tim Bresnan bounced back from Twitter-gate with his highest international score to give England about a 14.2 per cent chance of winning.

Despite the introduction of England's secret weapon - a mini-plague of flying ants that prevented Australia's run-chase from starting for 12 minutes - in the end a pitch that wasn't causing any mischief didn't cause any mischief and the Aussies cantered home.

The way Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson were playing England would have struggled to defend 357 let alone 257.

So therein ends another one-day international adventure for England.

Six different nations have won the Champions Trophy and five different nations have won the World Cup - England is the only country of the established Test nations not to feature in either Roll of Honour, a sad indictment of our limited-overs cricket over 34 years.

But this event - recently nominated one of the five most spurious events in sport - will soon be forgotten if England return to this ground in 10 weeks and win the first Test against South Africa.

This was England's last international cricket before the announcement of the Test squad and Bresnan would have done his chances of Test selection no harm with his innings, making himself the ideal candidate in some eyes if Stuart Broad continues to suffer from problems in the gluteus maximus.

A late innings knock in a one-day international has zero relevance to being able to bowl out South Africa in a Test match but there is history here: Robin Smith's Test career was kickstarted by a cameo innings in a Lord's limited-overs final.

And who knows what exactly goes through the mind of Geoff Miller and co? If they can pluck Darren Pattinson from thin air then you can imagine them sitting in a selection meeting with phrases like 'big match temperament' and 'bounce back from adversity'.

The 24-year-old had become a prolific tweeter during England's stay in South Africa before the Yorkshire all-rounder swore in response to a mocked-up image of him by another user which made him look overweight.

Hardly a leap of faith from the Tweet bully with Andy Flower admitting that Bresnan "has always had a slight struggle on the weight side".

His resemblance to Ian Austin, the former England all-rounder from across the Pennines, in both girth and method is uncanny.

The simple facts are that an 80 on a flat track is all well and good but this and three wickets on a seamer against West Indies at Durham is hardly a body of work for Test selection.

Eight overs for 51 at Centurion and a first-class bowling average of 32, rather than an ill-advised Tweet or an ill-advised late-night kebab, are far more significant reasons to keep Bresnan well away from the Test arena.

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