Alec Swann - Graeme’s right so what’s the fuss?

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann

I can’t say that I agree with everything England’s recently retired off-spinner has to offer on the subject that relates our professions.

The best part of two decades living under the same roof and the age-old tendency of siblings to disagree for the sake of disagreeing sees to that.

But Graeme’s belief that England have got next to no hope of winning the World Cup in Australasia early next year finds one supporter in this writer.

The comment regarding England’s ‘old-style brand’ of cricket is the crux of the whole matter and every other opinion stems from this central factor.

And why it has created any kind of controversy - pundit gives considered opinion, whatever next? - is hard to fathom.

Our national side have had their moments in the 50-over game in recent years and will continue to do so becuase of the quality of player that is fielded but having your moments does not a tournament-winning team make.

To simplify the approach even more, there is a tendency to lean strongly towards the conservative by those with the responsibility for selecting which is a constant Achilles heel.

Keep wickets in hand, take few risks against the two new balls and save for an assault in the final overs.

A perfectly sane modus operandi and one that I for one was brought up on during my time in the professional game.

But my career in the paid ranks ended a decade ago and unless my eyes are deceiving me, the limited overs game has moved on in leaps and bounds since then.

If you batted through the innings for 110/120 at the turn of the century then you had done a fine job but if 150 deliveries are used up now for that kind of output then, usually quite fairly, an accusation of tardiness will quickly be forwarded.

With the recent modifications to the playing restrictions – as seen in the Royal London Cup – making totals of 270 seem totally inadequate, the need for a more aggressive mindset has never been more stark.

Should Alastair Cook’s side triumph in Melbourne in March then I’m prepared to eat this column with a pinch of salt but playing a different game to the competition isn’t the way to go about accomplishing that task.

But it isn’t all negativity, it never is when you think about it, and the ascension of Alex Hales from the Twenty20 ranks is a ray of sunshine in whatever clouds are circling.

A prototype of the modern-day batsman, Hales marries a decent technique with the ability to hit the ball very hard and very far and is made for 50-over cricket as we now know it.

His colleagues Jos Buttler and Joe Root are of the same ilk and this trio should form the backbone of the top order for a while to come.

But a fast car is of little use if it has the wrong tyres and while the younger brigade may constitute a step forward, the reticence of the old guard will do no favours.

Given England’s record in World Cup cricket – they haven’t been as far as the semi-finals since 1992 – there is little to lose.

And yet, and yet.

The stubborness of the selectors in persevering with Cook in the Test arena, when getting rid must have been tempting to say the least, should be applauded.

But the unwillingness to cast aside a method that is now way past its sell-by date should not.