I wonder if the thought ever crossed Alistair Cook’s mind that maybe he shouldn’t have opened England’s innings on Sunday?
To have any chance when chasing a big score you need to give your best T20 batsmen the chance to score as many runs as possible. Eoin Morgan has proved he can steam along at two runs per ball – so logic would dictate that you need to let him face as many balls out of the 120 available you can.
Spare me the nonsense about openers needing to face the quick bowlers first up. Morgan’s not naïve enough to think he would be able to blast away from ball one, but by the end of the first over he’d have had a couple of sighters so that by the time he’d faced half a dozen balls he could well have be ready to put his foot down in the third over – half way through the powerplay, rather than chewing on his bat handle in the dugout.
It’s probably a moot argument when you’re chasing 240, but another time it might be a 200 run target where a few extra balls for Morgan, or KP for that matter, could mean an extra ten or fifteen runs and the difference between victory and defeat.
It’s a simplistic way of looking at things, but percentages are, by definition, simple things. You look to do as much as you can to give yourself the best possible chance to win the game based on the statistics you have available. Statistics are surely more relevant in the shortest format of the game where there are fewer opportunities for random chance to have an effect. Of course, Morgan could have opened and been out to the first ball he faced, which would have killed the theory stone dead, but at least he would have been in the position to have received as many balls as possible in the first place.
Actually, I doubt the idea of dropping down the order ever penetrated Cook’s mind. He’s been an opening batsman ever since school, so he’s not going to change now. Plus he’s already been anointed ‘next England captain’ so doesn’t need to demonstrate any radical tactical thinking – 'his future is as good as sealed…'
Let’s save the arguments about whether he should be in the T20 squad at all for another time.