England in a spin – again
It is a familiar scenario. England bamboozled and humiliated by high quality spinners. This same failing has dogged the English batting line-up persistently for so long in all formats that it no longer matters if the perceived weakness is real or over-estimated.
Opposing bowlers and captains believe it to be the case. The English batsmen realise the severity of the issue – regardless of public protestations declaring the opposite. If only the ability to play spin matched the talent for spin in the media.
Umpires think the same. A spinner bowling to an England batsman makes the fielders hungry, bowler excited, batsman nervous and umpire’s finger twitchy. The effect is the same, regardless of the actual capability of the man at the crease against the slow men.
For the record, the weakness is real, very real. With apologies to Rangana Herath and the current version of Harbhajan Singh, the fact that it is not just spinners of the highest calibre who routinely embarrass England makes it an unavoidable truth. When under pressure in certain conditions, England consistently fail against spin bowling, which is why they remain outsiders for the tournament according to the T20 cricket Betting odds.
There might be an element of getting bowled out by what opposing selectors and captain think to be your weakness – Kevin Pietersen’s argument about his left arm spin issue – but the evidence is irrefutable.
Good, well-set batsmen suddenly freeze in the glare of a spinner’s spotlight when a more probing opening bowler has been seen off. Imaginary demons are seen in the pitch. Techniques collapse and shot selection goes haywire. Abdur Rehman becomes Warne, Murali and Kumble rolled into one.
Only a notable success or dozen will rid England of this stigma. With a tour to India on the horizon, success in the ICC World T20 is an ideal starting point. Looking at the reaction in Betfair England cricket forums, it seems the supporters are not confident for either campaign.