Holding: Hales should be unleashed

Published: Thursday 5th March 2015 by The News Editor

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Former West Indies quick Michael Holding believes opener Alex Hales can be England’s answer to Chris Gayle at the World Cup.

Hales has so far been kept in cotton wool despite calls for England’s selectors to unleash the 26-year-old’s hard-hitting talent on a tournament dominated by batsmen.

Holding believes England can no longer afford to overlook the match-winning ability of Hales with their faltering campaign now just one defeat away from disaster.

“You need to have someone who can potentially be destructive,” Holding told Press Association Sport.

“He is in that mould of a Chris Gayle. He might not do it all the time, just like Chris Gayle doesn’t do it all the time, but when he does do it you know you are going to have a huge total.

“At least you are better off having someone that you know can potentially destroy an attack than someone who you think will hammer out a good score over a period of time.”

Gayle lit up the tournament when he hit the first-ever World Cup double-century, blasting 215 against Zimbabwe, while elsewhere the likes of AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell have provided the type of ‘x-factor’ England have not been inclined to trust.

All-rounder Moeen Ali was promoted to the top of the order in the lead up to the tournament to provide the fireworks – and he hit a quickfire century in England’s only win against Scotland – but around him the more traditional stroke-making of Ian Bell and Gary Ballance have been preferred in the top three.

Ballance has been unable to return the faith in him with only 36 runs at an average of nine to leave his place in jeopardy ahead of next Monday’s must-win clash with Bangladesh in Adelaide.

“I’m not sure why Ballance has been used at three – he wasn’t even initially in the squad,” said Holding, who is providing expert analysis for Matchpoint as part of ESPN Cricinfo’s World Cup coverage.

“He doesn’t know what’s going on. I rate Gary Ballance very much as a batsman for Test cricket, don’t get me wrong, but it seems to me that he hasn’t been able to adjust to one-day cricket yet. Perhaps further down the line he will, but right now I don’t think he’s the man for the job.”

England have suggested throughout the World Cup that reaching the quarter-finals was the primary aim and from there they could beat anyone on their day.

Holding points out that West Indies are in a similar situation and that with Gayle they have a man capable of inspiring a shock result.

“I think only three teams can win the World Cup – South Africa, Australia and New Zealand – but it is a one-day tournament and one team can turn up at a quarter-final and have blinder of a game and beat the number one team,” he said.

“England might get that with Hales or the West Indies might get another double century out of Chris Gayle against New Zealand or Australia and they win a game in theory they should not win.

“If that’s the way you’re thinking you have to give it a try.”

England’s early-over problems have not been restricted to the bat with experienced new-ball pairing Stuart Broad and James Anderson having shared just four wickets between them at a combined average of 91.50.

Broad revealed earlier this week he has been too concerned with plans to opposition batsman and has vowed to get back to what has made him one of the world’s top-ranked bowlers.

“I would have thought he would have been doing that anyway,” an unimpressed Holding said.

“Any plans shouldn’t stop you doing what you are supposed to be doing as a bowler first and foremost, especially when you are experienced.

“With England it is too much theory and not enough practical as far as I’m concerned.”

Holding holds some sympathy for Broad and Anderson with the white Kookaburra balls used at the tournament offering little assistance.

Without it Holding believes Anderson has been rendered “quite ineffective” while he believes Broad lacks the required consistency after failing to take a wicket since his two in two balls against Australia on the opening night.

“The white balls have not done a lot either through the air or off the pitch and I think that is why those two have been struggling – as they have struggled overseas on so many occasions,” Holding said.

“We’ve seen if the ball is not swinging that James Anderson is quite ineffective and for me Broad falls down because he is not consistent enough.

“He gets five or six wickets in an innings and then in the next couple of innings he gets nothing – bowlers need to get two or three wickets a game.

“You can offset that if you are being economical in a one-day game, but when you are the lead man, or your other front-line bowler is not taking wickets either, then that damages the team.”

Published: Thursday 5th March 2015 by The News Editor

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