India vs England 2014 - 'Unforced errors' against spin hurting England, says Geoffrey Boycott | exclusiveGeoffrey Boycott

Boycott exclusive: 'Unforced errors' against spin hurting England

2 Sep 2014, 0843 hrs IST,  Geoffrey Boycott,  
Boycott exclusive: 'Unforced errors' against spin hurting England
© Reuters
Instead of stepping out to spin, local England players are rooted at the crease, looking terrified.
Now that India have won two games of the one-day series, and very comfortably, too, one might think they've got out of the woods and the team has taken a turn for the better. Well, I would think so, too, had England not squandered two really good starts. Having put themselves under pressure, they have then succumbed to India's spinners.

In the two games played thus far, England got off to starts of 50-odd for no loss and 75 for no loss. That is the kind of platform that would be welcome at any level of the game. Don't get me wrong, because I wish to take nothing away from the spinners, but we have seen, in both the games, the kind of mistakes from England that would probably have been termed 'unforced errors', had this been lawn tennis.

England have always been good at playing slow bowlers when the ball doesn't spin, but they are helpless against turn. For the past two decades, increasingly efficient pitch management techniques and a million-pound overhaul of the country's international pitches have proved a mixed blessing, because England now have mostly flat pitches that seam a little, and youngsters who have no experience of the turning ball in their growing up years.

What I have found markedly lacking in England's batsmen is the ability to push the spinners around for singles. There seems to be an inexplicable focus on hitting the boundaries, which means that when they do not materialise, the runs simply dry up, thereby building huge pressure. Hitting big shots is an integral part of the one-day game, yes, but any batsman will tell you how crucial it is to constantly rotate the strike with ones and twos, so that nobody gets bogged down, and the bowler can't build any rhythm.

The problem with the English batsmen seems to be that their only shot against spin is the cross-batted reverse sweep, which should be an occasional shot, at best. You need a lesson in how to lay spin, look at Kevin Pietersen. But instead of stepping out, the kids are rooted at the crease, looking terrified. As youngsters ourselves, we were taught to play with the spin, rather than against it. For the off-spinner coming in to the right-hander, play to mid-on, and for the left-armer, play to mid-off.

The other aspect of this English team is that three of their top order batsmen - Bell, Cook, and Root - are lovely, technically correct, orthodox players. But they are also old-fashioned players, unsuited to the brawling that one-day International cricket often requires today. They wait for the bad ball to come along, and would probably still be at home in our era, when 220-230 runs were enough to win games. Today, you aren't safe with even 300.

Finally, we need a death bowler, because matches are often won or lost in the last five overs. Our only option, Stuart Broad, is injured, and the others just don't have the skill to choke the flow of runs when batsmen are slogging in all directions.

For the latest cricket news, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. Download our app for Android and iOS.