21st February 2011

Preparations are finished for tomorrow’s opening group game against the Dutch. Net sessions are complete, 24 hour nutritional plans handed out, and, given what happened when we played Holland in the 20/20 World Cup at Lord’s, a final fielding drill was held aimed at helping Stuart Board master the difficult art of running out a man whilst you’re standing next to the stumps.

It seems the trick is to get Stuart visualising the stumps as a Paul Smith suit on special offer, and the opposition batsman as a rival shopper with a taste for English cut double-breasted and a voucher for store credit. Before you know it he’s whipping the bails off quicker than one of his dad’s co-workers can say “ICC code of conduct level 1 suspended sentence”. Although getting Stuart to hand them back over to the umpires afterwards is proving more problematic. We may have to barter with one of Cap’n Ring-on-a-string’s cravats.

But that, as they say, is a bridge we’ll cross when we get to it.

I can’t see Stuart being quite so keen on the new Australian kit, though. It’s the sort of yellow McDonalds marketing department would reject as being too garish. But then I’m not sure the current Australian set up is particularly interested in subtlety. Going into matches with Tait, Lee and Johnson in your attack doesn’t suggest you’re trying to outthink batsmen with guile. Neither does having Kreja and Smith as your ‘spinners’ come to think of it.

Still, they did exactly what they needed to do in their opening game against Zimbabwe. Win without revealing the exact tactics for their more competitive matches – unless that is, they’re going to continue batting through the initial powerplay overs with all the flamboyance and élan of Chris Tavaré descaling a kettle.

It’s certainly thrown down the gauntlet for England. How can we put people of the scent of our game plan? Open with Bopara? Three slips for Swann? Play a leg-spinner?

I joke of course; we’d never play a leggy, not even if he’d taken 95 wickets last season…

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