All entries for April 2009

April 29, 2009

Bopara puts himself in the frame to replace Flintoff

The news that Andrew Flintoff will miss the upcoming test series against the West Indies should come as no surprise. The all-rounder is at a stage now where he is unable to go a significant amount of time without an injury.

Therefore, every so often, there is a debate about who should play the ‘Flintoff role’ when he isn’t there. In other words, who should replace him for the two test matches against the West Indies that start next month?

Well, one man has put himself firmly in the frame thanks to some excellent form in the Indian Premier League. Essex’s Ravi Bopara has been in top form for Kings XI Punjab and recently smashed 84 from 59 balls against Kevin Pietersen’s Bangalore Royal Challengers.

You may remember that in Bopara’s last test for England he managed to notch a century, only to be dropped in favour of an extra bowler for the following match. This, combined with his IPL form, could mean that he gets a place in the side for the first test at Lords.

Speaking about the possibility of replacing Flintoff, Bopara said that he is ‘definitely eyeing up that No.6 spot’. Then, if he manages to achieve this, he will set his sights on ‘moving up the order’.

Bopara has been rather unlucky during his international career to date because he hasn’t batted in his preferred position very often at all. Instead of coming in at No.3, he has either had to open the innings or come in down the order.

For now though, the No.6 position suits him and there is every chance he will get the nod to replace Flintoff. He is probably one of the most in-form English players right now and would add some much needed flair to the batting line-up.

There are question marks over his bowling, but he needs to be given the chance to prove himself in this department. As yet, he hasn’t really been given the opportunity to shine for England with the ball.

The announcement about the England squad will be made on Wednesday with Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell joining Bopara in keeping a very close eye on proceedings. This is my cricket prediction for the team for the first test against West Indies.

Strauss
Cook
Vaughan
Pietersen
Collingwood
Bopara
Prior
Broad
Swann
Harmison (other options?)
Anderson

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about international cricket


April 21, 2009

IPL Update – how are Flintoff and Pietersen getting on?


The Indian (or should I say South African) Premier League seems to have got under way with relatively little fuss. The tournament is up and running with some of the biggest names in world cricket doing all they can to justify their large price tags.

This is more relevant to England’s Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen than most as they were the most expensive players in the IPL auction. So, how have they got on so far?

Well, they came up against each other last night as Flintoff’s Chennai Super Kings and Pietersen’s Bangalore Royal Challengers did battle for the first time. Flintoff was the man smiling at the end though as his team ran out comfortable winners.

The England all-rounder hit an unbeaten 22 off 13 deliveries as the Super Kings made a respectable 179-5 off their 20 overs. In reply, the Royal Challengers struggled their way to 87 all out with Pietersen
getting a golden duck.

It was certainly a bad day at the office for the former England captain, who is skipper of the Royal Challengers. They have now won one and lost one of their opening two games. During their first match,
where they won by 75 runs, Pietersen hit an encouraging 32.

As for Flintoff, his team have the same record as Pietersen’s so far – one win and one defeat. In the Super Kings' first game, Flintoff was hit for three sixes as he conceded 44 off his four overs. He then made 24 with the bat as his team lost to the Mumbai Indians.

Overall, they have had a mixed start and will be hoping that they can push on in the next couple of games. Both of them have shown what they can do in brief spells, but to prove they are money well spent, they need to produce a couple of match-winning performances.

They will get their pay cheque either way, but I am sure that they would like to make a good impression in their first IPL season. Neither of them like losing and it's a safe cricket bet that they will be doing all they can to help their teams win the next couple of games.
By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about International Cricket

April 14, 2009

England ODI player rankings

Last time for Silly Point, I took a look at the first lot of England player rankings for the recent One Day International series victory over the West Indies. Now, after a bit more time to digest the events, it is time to look at how the bowlers did.

Steve Harmison – It could be time for the selectors to say ‘sorry Steve, but we have run out of patience’. He seemed to lack rhythm and confidence in this series, both will probably be regained when playing for Durham though. Therefore, he can’t be ruled out of the Ashes. 6/10.

James Anderson – Finally, it seems as though Jimmy has turned himself into a consistently good international bowler. He took nine wickets at 21.11 in the ODI series to complete a pretty decent tour. 8/10.

Stuart Broad – It is obvious to everyone that, along with Anderson, Broad is the future of this England bowling line-up. He performs a very valuable role in this ODI team with the ball. Could do with showing he can perform more consistently with the bat though. 7/10.

Gareth Batty – Why on earth was he selected in the first place? It's a safe cricket bet to make that even he couldn’t believe it. What Adil Rashid achieved from being the water-boy on this tour, I will never know. Only took one wicket in three games. 4/10.

Dimitri Mascarenhas – It seems to me that England don’t have enough faith in Dimi’s ability. He has been in and out of the team and frequently bats too low in the batting order. Performed admirably in
my opinion, with bat and ball. 7/10.

So, there you have it. England’s players all rated after their performances in the ODI series against West Indies. It was far from perfect and it still remains very unclear as to what the best team is, but a series win is a series win.

There are still plenty of questions to be answered ahead of an extremely busy summer though. Who will be coach? Who will captain the Twenty20 team? Who bats at No.3? Who is going to be the No.1 spinner? Along with Anderson, Broad and Flintoff, who is going to complete the seam attack?

We should get a lot of answers in the next couple of weeks. Then, when the test series against West Indies gets underway we should have a much better idea about how England will shape up in the Ashes later this year.

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about England cricket


April 12, 2009

England ODI player rankings

So, England managed to win the One-day international series against the West Indies. I am still quite bemused as to how, but credit must go to them for sticking at their task and winning the final two games of the series.

As ever at the end of a series, ranking each player out of ten is often a good way to analyse how things went. It could be especially interesting in this case because even though England won the series,
there were more than one or two questionable performances along the way.

So, without further to do….let’s take a look at how each player did. Starting with the batsman this week and the bowlers next week.

Andrew Strauss – He has been fantastic hasn’t he? Considering he wasn’t supposed to be a limited overs batsman, his performances with the bat have been awesome. Then, he has led the team with dignity. Top man.
9 / 10

Ravi Bopara – Had he been batting down the order, his average of 29.29 wouldn’t have been that bad. However, if he is going to open the batting, he needs to make more significant scores.
6 / 10

Kevin Pietersen – KP knows that this wasn’t his best series. Not by a long shot. His attitude has been questioned and at times, rightly so. He had a couple of shocking decisions, but overall it’s been a poor few games.
5 / 10

Owais Shah – Normally, Shah has been able to moan about lack of opportunities after a tour. However, this time has been given the chance. Has he taken it? Not really. He looked scratchy and only
averaged 26.72.
5 / 10

Paul Collingwood – Colly is probably the most reliable player in this team. More often than not, when called upon – he will deliver. Far from a fluent player, he always makes the most of what he has got.
Averaged 37.00.
8 / 10

Andrew Flintoff – I am including Freddie in the batting section of this, simply because he batted No.6. His main contributions, as we know, were with the ball. He is England’s main man and will need to be
on his best form this summer. He can create a buzz that no one else can.
8 / 10

Matt Prior – There is no doubt in my mind that Matt Prior is a very good batsman. His wicket keeping is still questionable though and it is not a safe cricket bet to make that he is certain of a place in the Ashes team this summer. Considering he was batting down the order, an average of 37 is very handy.
7 / 10

There we have it then. Next time, I will take a look at the remaining five players of the England ODI party. I will probably argue until my heart's content about how Adil Rashid should have been given a game as well.

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about England cricket


April 2009

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