Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Time for Taylor and Hales to Lift England; with Seven Defeats in Their Last Eight Matches, Duo Must Be Given Chance to Rescue Team. by Stephen Brenkley in Hambantota

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Time for Taylor and Hales to Lift England; with Seven Defeats in Their Last Eight Matches, Duo Must Be Given Chance to Rescue Team. by Stephen Brenkley in Hambantota

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Brenkley

ONE of the blessings of playing a seven-match series the only blessing maybe is that even at 2-0 down there is plenty of time to come back. England should be heartened to know it has happened 11 times in the baseball World Series, most recently in 1996 when the New York Yankees turned it round to beat the Atlanta Braves.

What might be more pertinent is that no team in World Series history have launched a successful reply from 3-0 down. Bluntly, England need to win against Sri Lanka in Hambantota tomorrow or they can forget all about it.

The signs are hardly encouraging. Three of England's preferred batting order, including their captain, Alastair Cook, are in a prolonged slump.

Cook's form he has scored one fifty in 18 ODI innings is made to look positively glowing by the returns of Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan.

Bell, the 150-cap veteran, is averaging 34 in 15 matches this year and continues to get in before getting out, part of the story of an illustrious career. Morgan's present decline is more marked and his year's average is only as high as 28 because he started it with a hundred.

In any other circumstances Morgan, followed closely by Bell as the senior professional, would be fervently promoted to take over from Cook.

But the case for either is difficult to make in these circumstances.

A captain who is neither scoring runs nor winning matches is clearly vulnerable but England appear to have no viable automatic alternative. Replacing one out-of-form skipper with another has no logic and casting round to find someone in form is a fairly fruitless exercise.

Joe Root, who has been unofficially anointed as a likely captain one day by his previous leadership of England A, and indeed of Yorkshire in their titleclinching Championship match in September, has scored two ODI hundreds this year.

But saddling him with the burden of leading a struggling team three months out from the World Cup would not be a rational step. …

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