‘I don’t think we’ve got a cat in hell’s chance of winning the World Cup’, says Graeme Swann

"I love Alastair Cook dearly but I don't think he should be bothering playing ODI cricket anymore"

“I love Alastair Cook dearly but I don’t think he should be bothering playing ODI cricket anymore”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Former England off-spinner Graeme Swann believes that the national team haven’t “got a cat in hell’s chance of winning” the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Swann, along with former captain Michael Vaughan, have criticised the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) decision to allow Alastair Cook to continue captaining the ODI squad.

“The good Test form has made it easier for the selectors to have a more conservative selection than most people want to see,” Swann said. “Alastair Cook is the most stubborn man in the world. He has almost backed himself into a corner where he’s got to carry on. I don’t think we’ve got a cat in hell’s chance of winning the World Cup.

“I used to sit in the changing room and I always felt we were so far behind other teams because we play such an old-fashioned brand. Some of my best mates – Cook, Bell, Ballance – are not one-day players who are going to win you a World Cup.

“Alex Hales is going to win you a World Cup; James Vince, Jason Roy, Jos Buttler, Eoin Morgan. They’re players I wouldn’t want to bowl at, who can build a total of 360-370.

“I love Alastair Cook dearly but I don’t think he should be bothering playing ODI cricket anymore. He doesn’t need to. He has proved a very good point in Tests. Enjoy being England Test captain. Let young people play, people who want to smash it everywhere and win you the World Cup.

“We won’t win this one, there’s no chance, but in four years’ time we might have a chance of winning a World Cup if we get all these young exciting players, people who have been brought up on one-day cricket and have none of the baggage of this old-fashioned style of cricket we play. We play a ten-year-old game.”

Vaughan echoed Swann’s comments and added that the national selectors have to start taking more risks instead of playing it safe all the time.

“After the Sri Lanka losses I think there was going to be big change,” he said. “I look at Alastair Cook and he has proven all the critics wrong in the Tests. I was wrong; many people were wrong. He’s been playing since he was 21 and this would have been the perfect time to move over. As a captain and opening batsman, he’s taken on a massive challenge he didn’t need to take on.

“We’ve made the same mistake now as we did in my time, five-six years ago and in the 1990s. We’re picking one-day squads on Test form. English cricket has always had Test cricket at the pinnacle, but the games are so different.

“England are looking too much at these new white balls. The other teams have gone power at the top and all the way through. It’s a completely different era because of T20. We got to a Champions Trophy in 2004 and we were rubbish. We just happened to get to a final in English conditions.”

Vaughan was also fuming with England’s decision to omit all-rounder Ravi Bopara from the ODI squad for the ongoing five-match series against India.

“I’m amazed and staggered Ravi Bopara is not here,” Vaughan said. “He could be considered England’s best one-day cricketer in the last one-and-a-half years. To throw away all that experience, know-how, bowling ability. I’d be amazed if he’s not back in by the World Cup.”

Swann called the decision “absolutely crazy”, and added: “Ravi gives you so much more than batting – bowling, unbelievable fielder. I would build a batting order around Joe Root. He has proved he can score at a run a ball or more, play crazy shots, and bowls offspin. James Taylor is in incredible form. Taylor and Root can both score very quickly and they’re your two proper players. I think someone higher up doesn’t rate Taylor and it’s a crying shame.”

The 35-year-old also pointed out that Alex Hales should have been drafted into the ODI squad three years ago.

“Hales should have been in this side for three years,” he said. “He scored 99 in a T20 against West Indies at Trent Bridge in 2012 – how the powers that be didn’t see him as the future in ODI cricket…

“I know why they do this. I’ve sat in these meetings for the last five years. It was a statistics-based game. There was this crazy stat where if we get 239 – this was before the fielding restrictions changed a bit so it would be more now, I assume – we will win 72% of matches.

“The whole game was built upon having this many runs after this many overs, this many partnerships, doing this in the middle, working at 4.5 an over. I used to shake my head thinking: ‘This is crazy’.”

Swann recalled how batsman Jonathan Trott followed the team’s plans to a tee when he scored 86 off 115 balls in the 2011 World Cup quarter-finals against Sri Lanka. However, due to their slow and steady approach, England ended up losing the match as Sri Lanka chased down their target with plenty of overs to spare.

“I remember Trott getting close to 100 in Colombo,” Swann said. “We’d batted to our batting plan perfectly, got 229, everyone said ‘brilliant’ – they knocked it off in 29 overs. That’s how we always played it. It’s crazy.”

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