After England's efficient if unspectacular whitewash of Bangladesh, I thought I'd have a look at some stats from the series, surely they would reflect well on England's bowlers I thought...not really so.
In a series that England took relatively easily, only three England bowlers conceded less than 5 runs per over - Bresnan, Swann and Wright. Similarly three Bangladeshi bowlers went at less than 5 RPO - Razzak, Shakib and Shuvo. That got me thinking when was the last time England bowlers going at less than 5 an over outnumbered opposition bowlers doing the same?
You have to go back to the Natwest Series, West Indies in England in 2009 - a tour which the Windies clearly didn't fancy much - to find such a situation. In that series Anderson, Bresnan, Swann and Collie went at less than 5, and only Sammy and Benn did so for the opposition. But I'm not sure that's saying much.
In the series before that, India v England in India, in which even Andrew Flintoff played, precisely zero England players went at less than 5 (admittedly Fred did go at exactly 5), compared with Zaheer, Munaf and Yuvraj going at under 5 in a run-filled series.
Against South Africa, a series which England won in late 2009, only Bresnan maintained an economy rate below 5, while Morkel, Botha, Duminy and Langeveldt did so for South Africa. Go back one series to the interminable ODI series after the Ashes, and while Swann, Mascarenhas and Wright were below 5 an over, Hauritz, Bracken, Hopes and Siddle did so for the Aussies.
But the most damning analysis comes at the Champions Trophy, where England were actually pretty impressive. Every side bar England (including West Indies) had at least two bowlers going at below 5 an over - Australia had five, Pakistan four, so too New Zealand and India, South Africa and Sri Lanka all had three. England's lone representative was James Anderson, 4.25 runs per over.
Of course looking at one statistic in isolation doesn't tell the story - our bowlers might have been expensive against South Africa last year but we still won the series - but it is interesting that we seem to have had a real issue keeping the run rate down in recent years.
Indeed, a look at all of the 8 major nations over the last five years shows that England have only had 7 players restrict the run scoring below five an over (assuming 20 matches/100 overs) - and one of them is Jamie Dalrymple - interestingly the only nation they beat in this is India, which shows up their bowling malaise as well!
Keeping the runs down isn't the be all and end all, but its a good place to start, restricting a sides run scoring brings pressure and pressure brings wickets, England could do worse than focusing on stemming the flow of runs.
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