Wednesday, 27 May 2009

England show promising one-day form

England has an odd one day side. While coaches, captains and players come and go one thing remains constant: their variability. At times England can be lamentable almost to the point of hopelessness. The batting fails in the same way match after match. The bowlers look like they have forgotten how to bowl and the fielder drop catches for fun. Then mysteriously England flip into a different mentality. The batting looks remarkably solid and the bowling well directed. Even the fielders jump around and all of a sudden it looks like England could give anyone a run for their money.

Currently England is in the manic swing of its bipolar disorder. Twice in a week they have demolished West Indies. A full strength West Indies with Gayle, Sarwan and Chanderpaul while England is without Flintoff and Pietersen. West Indies played poorly but maybe that was because England out-played them. England even managed to get runs off the spinners.

There have been many false dawns for England’s one day form so it would be unwise to suggest they can beat the world. At least at the moment they are not beating themselves and that must be a good thing.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Shoaib doesn't have the balls for the T20

You cannot make this stuff up:

"The medical board has reported that Shoaib Akhtar was suffering from genital viral warts and the wound needs further care and treatment for another 10 days," the PCB said in a statement."

Why wouldn't they just say 'he has a skin problem' or, well, anything other than 'genital viral wart'. Of course if he was a UK MP he could get it fixed privately and claim back the expenses.

Wash out

That was disappointing. Rain, rain and more rain; just a typical May day then really. The Headingly management must be pretty devastated – an ground full of tickets to give back. Given that the next ODI is on Sunday, I wonder why they didn’t schedule a reserve day.

Monday, 18 May 2009


Another Test, another disappointing display from the West Indies. It is not a surprise though; the conditions in mid-May are about as far from West Indian conditions as you can get on a cricket pitch. The ODIs could well be much closer however – in many respects the West Indies are a better ODI side than England. The ODI series is followed by the ICC World Twenty20, so WHY, would England play three 50-over matches and NO Twentry20 games? Why would either side want that?

The eleven who played for England in both Test matches have had a nice tune up and confidence boost. They have made plenty of runs and taken easy wickets – they still had to do it though. The England side can only beat who the ECB put in front of them but I am not sure we have learned an awful lot. Bresnan for Flintoff would be an easy swap for the first Ashes Test and given the performances it is difficult to see how a Sidebottom/Bell/Vaughan selection could be justified... but I am sure they will find a way.

The first Ashes Test is on July 8th and I am worried it could be a huge let-down. My worry is the pitch. Laughably the first Test of the Ashes is on a ground that has never hosted a Test match before. The pitch was today rated as ‘poor’ and Glamorgan fined. This relates to the Glamorgan v Essex match last Tuesday. The wicket seemed to lack any pace and gave excessive spin from the first ball! Danesh Kaneria was just about unplayable. If the Ashes wicket isn’t a high quality Test wicket there will be trouble...

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Chris "Captain of Misery" Gayle speaks

How to lose your cool image in one go:

Chances of West Indies winning in Durham: almost zero

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Ian Bell

Just when I thought some sense had been knocked into the England selectors they do this: recall Ian Bell. The justification is that he has been in early season form, which is true he has had scores of 172 and 108. However it is worth remembering that:
  1. Only one of those scores was a first class century (the 108 was in a Friends Provident match)
  2. Bell’s second century was made on April 19 which is well before the squad for the first test was announced so why would they suddenly make a difference for the second test?
  3. Ian Bell’s first class scores this season are: 12, 172, 13*, 29, 27, 37, 30*. As you can see he is right back in form...

Ian Bell was dropped in the West Indies from the number three position. Dropping a number three is a decision that should not be taken lightly: it is in some way the most important position in the batting line up. To drop a number three and then reselect him for what is clearly no good reason shows the selectors up to be badly flawed. There seems to be something going on here that does not include ‘picking the best player’.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Three days at Lords

So what did we learn from England’s easy victory over the West Indies? Nothing much I suspect. It is difficult to draw conclusions from one match. Great performances can soon lose their lustre after a few poor ones and similarly a poor performance is forgotten when superseded by a match winning one.

For England the big winners were Bopara, Swann and Onions. All three are relative or actual newcomers and all played big parts in England’s win. Swann was particularly impressive knocking his first fifty and dismissing Chanderpaul twice. As for Onions, I wonder if a debutant has ever taken his first three test wickets in one over! Remarkable. He reminded me a little of Peter Siddle and that is no bad thing. England need a workhorse who can keep running in.

I thought Bresnan was poorly treated. He was only given seven overs in the match on debut – what chance has he got to shine there. I wondered if Strauss has a lack of faith in him.

The West Indies were just plain poor. Fidel Edwards bowled with fire and no luck and was by far the standout player. The indiscipline of old returned with a bang. Let us hope they pull it together by the time the next Test starts.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

A bit early in the season for lethargy

The West Indies are playing one day cricket at Lords. To be more specific they are playing two session cricket and those two sessions happened yesterday. After tea yesterday the real West Indies side turned up and took over from the over-achievers that have been masquerading as the Windies all year. Only the noble Fidel was not replaced. What a shower they are. Cannot field or catch. Cannot bat either it seems. This is not that surprising, it is the West Indies after all and it is also early May in England, a time-of-the-year dedicated to making visiting sides feel home-sick. A time when Englishmen say things like “isn’t it supposed to be warm in May?” However that is irrelevant because of all the things in the West Indies side power, trying is one of them! They are not trying even a little. They look like they do not want to be there; at all. Wake up Windies, you are at Lords in a test match and if things don’t improve you will be beaten by lunch on the third day.

Friday, 1 May 2009

England's newish look

Collingwood, Pietersen, Strauss, Collingwood. They are the England Twenty20 captains over the last year. I know Twenty20 is a shortened form of the game but four captains in a year? I say four because of course the last Collingwood on the list must be a different one to the Collingwood that resigned nine months ago. Picking a captain who has recently resigned because it affected his play would be silly. I think you can guess where this is going...

What is even more strange than Collingwood being made captain again is that there is no obvious other choice. Twenty20 is the new cricket cash cow and everyone is raving about it – so why does England struggle to even find a captain? The fact that Collingwood has only been appointed for the three week World competition is pretty telling – he is a fill-in -- for a World event on home soil! Bizarre. Of course some people will say Rob Key should have got the job, but picking a guy who has never played International Twenty20 cricket is just too far out even for the ECB.

The really big news is that Ian Bell and Michael Vaughan are back in the Test team, who would have predicted that (eh Danny)? I am kidding (for the first Test anyway), in fact they have both been left out along with Steve Harmison. Quite right too, even though I hear Vaughan is hitting it beautifully in the nets... Ravi Bopara has been given the number three position which he deserves after his century in Bridgetown. Onions and Bresnan are also in the Test squad and let us hope they both get a game – in early May you really would expect only one spinner to be played and so presumably Panesar will miss out. An unexpected May Test recall against the West Indies two years ago was the making of Ryan Sidebottom, Onions and Bresnan will be looking to take their chance next week.