Wednesday, 30 December 2009

2009, a mixed year for England

It has been a funny year for the England team. They ended the year in the exact opposite way to the way they started it. In the first Test against West Indies at Kingston a fairly uneventful Test came to a crashing conclusion as England were skittled for 51. Fast forward to today and another Test that looked like an uneventful draw burst into life as England went to the bowling alley to strike out a panicking South African team for 133. Between those two matches England have won The Ashes (he mentions in passing) and been involved in some really exciting draws. It has been an amazing year for English skin-of-teeth draws:

West Indies v England 3rd Test at St John’s (remember the debacle at North Sound?): West Indies last pair (Powell and Edwards) hang on for 36 minutes to scrape a draw.

West Indies v England 5th Test at Queen’s Park: West Indies pair Ramdin and Edwards hold on at 114-8 and win the series.

England v Australia 1st Test at Cardiff: England’s last pair Anderson and Panesar survive for 11.3 overs to deny Australia.

South Africa v England 1st Test at Pretoria: Collingwood and Onions survived for 19 deliveries allowing England to walk away still level in the series.

Maybe England should come on to the field to ‘The Great Escape’ rather than ‘Jerusalem’.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Ten years on

Statistically and, in my case rather unbelievably, it has been almost ten years since the turn of the millennium. There will not be such a fuss made as 2009 turns into 2010 as there was a decade ago. Can you guess what England’s first XI was for their first Test match in 2000? What do they do now and do any still play? The England XI to play South Africa (which included Jacques Kallis, the only player still playing Test Cricket from the twenty-two named in both sides) was:
  1. Mark Butcher – retired from first class cricket in 2009
  2. Michael Atherton – retired in 2001. He works for The Times and is part of Sky TVs commentary team
  3. Nasser Hussain (Captain) – retired in 2004 after making a winning century at Lord’s. Nasser is part of the Sky TV commentary team.
  4. Michael Vaughan – retired in 2009 whilst still holding an England player contract. Now works for Test Match Special and as an artist.
  5. Alec Stewart – is a member of the Surrey coaching staff and may also work for ‘Essentially’ (his company was bought by them)
  6. Andrew Caddick – retired from first class cricket in 2009 and now sells helicopters
  7. Chris Adams – played his last first class match for Sussex at the end of 2008 and is now the cricket manager at Surrey
  8. Andrew Flintoff – Retired from test cricket at the end of the 2009 Ashes series and is currently recovering from a knee operation
  9. Darren Gough – Retired from first class cricket in 2008 and now works for talkSPORT
  10. Chris Silverwood – Chris was released by Middlesex at the end of the 2009 season
  11. Phil Tufnell – retired from cricket in 2003 and has a successful career in TV and radio.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Ian Bell (again)

There seems to be a push to blame Ian Bell for the close finish in the first Test – or at least for him to be the fall guy. This seems a little unfair: if you pick a guy who is way out of his depth and then he fails – how can it be his fault? Surely it is a failure of selection. Jonathan Trott was interviewed today and asked whether he thought Bell’s place was under threat. Of course he wasn’t about to say anything negative and so said “Ian has proved himself at Test level”. No he hasn’t. Ian Bell has played fifty Test matches. Yep, you heard that right: 50. How can a bloke who averages 38.9 play fifty Tests for England? Remember who is at fault here: Ian Bell doesn’t pick the side.

Friday, 4 December 2009

England beat South Africa... again

Rain: we get a lot of it in England. They also seem to get a lot in South Africa too with two out of five ODIs being washed out. That gives England a 2-1 victory over South Africa in South Africa something that has not been done by any side for 15 home series! More remarkable than England beating South Africa is how poor South Africa looked. Their bowling looked ineffective and the batting flaky. I thought England would get out muscled in the test series but now I am not so sure. If the wickets are flat we could be in for some big scores and sore bowlers.