All entries for June 2009

June 30, 2009

Vaughan set to announce retirement – thanks for the memories!

It appears that Michael Vaughan has played his last game of professional cricket. The former England captain will officially announce his retirement on Tuesday after meeting with Yorkshire officials on Sunday to discuss his
future.

Vaughan was left out of the 2009 Ashes training squad earlier this month and this indicated that his international career was all but over. Therefore, with a return to the England side out of reach, he has decided to call it a day on all first-class cricket.

It is a relatively sad end to what has been a successful career for the 34-year-old. The pinnacle for him was, of course, when he led England to Ashes glory in 2005. It mustn’t be forgotten that he was a world-class international batsman on his day though.

Not only that, he was the most successful captain of all time and a model professional throughout his career. The Ashes win four years ago will be what Vaughan is remembered for in years to come, but it is important topoint out that he achieved more than this during his time as an England cricketer.

As a batsman he scored 5,719 test match runs at an average of over 40, notching 18 centuries along the way. Vaughan wasn’t always on top form – especially during the latter stages of his England career – but when he was on his game, he was one of the most attractive batsmen to watch in world cricket.

It was as a captain that Vaughan really shone though. Nasser Hussain’s England were hard to beat, but Vaughan turned them in to winners. His relaxed approach and excellent tactical nous were to the benefit of English cricket and this will always be looked back on fondly.

Critics will argue that he never quite achieved enough as a batsman and given his ability – they could be right. His average of 41.44 doesn’t really reflect his talent and definitely took a nose dive in the last couple of years. He also failed to make a name for himself in the One-day game during his career.

For his sheer talent, sublime batting technique and captaincy success though, he can bow out of professional cricket with his head held high. His determination to play for England was higher than ever in the early parts of the summer, but the failure to score runs for Yorkshire cost him his place in the Ashes training party.

Vaughan then knew that there wouldn’t be a way back for him. As difficult as it may seem, this may have been for the better. Yes, to play a part in regaining the Ashes would have been the perfect way to head into retirement.

What if he had come in and failed though? What if he played the first two tests, didn’t score any runs and was dropped? That would have been a poor way to end. At least this way he has ended it on his own terms. He even ‘took a break’ from international cricket after his resignation as captain, so he has never been dropped as such.

Like the headline says – thanks for the memories Michael. You were a fantastic captain for England and will go down in English cricket history as one of the greatest. Now, go and land yourself a job on Sky Sports. At least you will be involved in the Ashes that way!

Make sure you keep up to date with the Ashes odds before making your 2009 Ashes bet. If you need to get in the mood for some good old-fashioned rivalry this summer, visit Betfair's new fanvfan site.

*By Thomas Rooney*


June 22, 2009

World Twenty20 best XI

I really enjoyed the World Twenty20 and I think it is fair to say that it was a huge success. There were upsets, fantastic bowling performances, huge hitting and relatively decent weather. All in all, it went according to plan for the organisers.

Today though, I want to focus on which players made the biggest impact. What would be the ultimate Twenty20 eleven based on this most recent tournament? Which team would have the most representatives?


Let’s take a look.


Tillakaratne Dilshan – Sri Lanka

Chris Gayle – West Indies

Kevin Pietersen – England

Kumar Sangakkara – Sri Lanka

AB De Villiers – South Africa

Jacques Kallis – South Africa

Shahid Afridi – Pakistan

Umar Gul - Pakistan

Ajantha Mendis – Sri Lanka

Muttiah Muralitharan – Sri Lanka

Lasith Malinga – Sri Lanka


Not a bad team for any form of the game I’m sure you will agree! It has absolutely everything for Twenty20 cricket though and represents the best players from this year’s competition in England. The batting line-up is destructive and contains plenty of experience. Imagine preparing to bowl against this lot!


As for key roles in the team, Kumar Sangakkara would be the wicket-keeper and the captain. Sri Lanka may have lost in the final against Pakistan, but the Sri Lanka skipper impressed me a great deal. He has a fabulous cricket brain and speaks a great deal of sense in post-match interviews as well. Plus, he is a world-class batsman which

helps!


Opening the bowling would be Gul and Malinga. They both have a fantastic record in the shortest form of the game and took 25 wickets between them in the World Twenty20.


These two would be backed up by Kallis in the seam department before the spin kings Murali and Mendis took over. Even if these two didn’t come off for some reason, there is Afridi and Gayle to get through a couple of overs.


Sri Lanka have the most representatives which is testament to their consistent form throughout the tournament. World Twenty20 champions Pakistan have only two players in this eleven, but what an impact Afridi and Gul had!


Overall, this is a fantastic group of players who each helped the 2009 World Twenty20 become a huge success. For now, we can look forward to Ashes 2009 bettingand, if you're looking to get in the betting mood, check out Betfair's fanvfansite.


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


June 19, 2009

Collingwood reflects on World Twenty20 exit

England Twenty20 captain Paul Collingwood was in reflective mood after his side missed out on a place in the World Twenty20 semi-finals by losing to the West Indies at the Oval.

The hosts posted 161-6 in their innings before the rain intervened to reduce the West Indies target to 80 from nine overs. With ten wickets in hand, this task proved very achievable for Chris Gayle’s men who went on to win by five wickets in the ninth over.

Collingwood admitted afterwards that the rain played its part in England’s defeat by saying that ‘in 20 overs we’d have had a better chance’. Many argue that the West Indies were handed a huge advantage by the Duckworth-Lewis system and Collingwood was clearly frustrated at the way things worked out.

The Duckworth-Lewis system may well be the fairest way to get a result in these circumstances and it suits the 50 over game perfectly. However, in Twenty20 cricket it doesn’t quite seem to add up. To score at nine per over for nine overs with ten wickets in hand should be extremely easy - much easier than chasing 162 to win in 20 overs anyway.

Nevertheless, England are out and we have to deal with it. Collingwood is positive that the tournament has been a success regardless of the earlier than hoped exit. He says that ‘England are starting to get some players in there who are getting to grips’ with Twenty20 cricket. All the team needs is ‘a bit more experience’ to take things to the next level.

On the more negative side of things, Collingwood said that there were areas that the team ‘let ourselves down in’. The middle order has failed to shine for example, with England often stumbling over the line towards the end of the innings.

Focus must now be placed on the Ashes cricketaction for England. The performances have been a bit up and down in the World Twenty20, but hopefully more consistency can be found in the second part of the summer.

An Ashes win will always be more important than winning the World Twenty20 after all and that’s why England can’t get too down about going out of this competition. Let’s look forward and let’s prepare for the Australians and some exciting Ashes 2009 betting.


June 12, 2009

Pietersen inspires England to victory

There is no doubt that Kevin Pietersen's 58 runs helped England  improve on their batting performance from the embarrassing defeat to  Holland. However, it wasn't just Pietersen's runs that gave England much needed lift during their vital victory over Pakistan yesterday.

From the moment that England's best batsman declared himself fit, the hosts had the edge on Pakistan. The fans were more optimistic, the  batting line-up was stronger and the rest of the team would  have been reassured by Pietersen's presence.

The Hampshire man is a very influential character and is one of  England's few world-class professionals, so his availability was crucial to the victory. KP can make something happen himself or he can inspire others to lift their game. Either way, it was fantastic to see him back and batting well.

As for the game as a whole, well it was much better from Paul  Collingwood's men. In the shortened forms of the game, whether that be  Twenty20 or One Day International, England seem to have performed at their best when they are faced with a MUST win. They don't enjoy being overwhelming favourites that much.

The batting was a lot better than against Holland. Luke Wright was destructive at the top once again, Kevin Pietersen and Owais Shah built an important partnership and Dimi Mascarenas and James Foster finished the innings off well. In the end, 185-5 was always going to  be a match winning score.

In response, Pakistan struggled to get going. They lost Shehzad early  on and when Stuart Broad took two wickets in two balls to reduce them  to 41-3, the game was as good as over. They were constantly behind the  rate and only captian Younis Khan made an impact with an unbeaten 46  as Pakistan finished on 136-7.

As far as England's bowlers were concerned, Stuart Broad bounced back from his nightmare last over against Holland with figures of 3-17. Everyone performed a valuable role though - including man of the match  Luke Wright - and only Adil Rashid finished wicketless. It was a  superb team effort.

Overall, the two performances from England so far couldn't have been more contrasting. This means that it is very hard to predict how far  they will go in this competition. They are capable of winning it, but they are also capable of not winning another game.

Which team will turn up in the super eights? Hopefully the one that was on show against Pakistan yesterday.


June 03, 2009

Collingwood confident of Twenty20 success

Ahead of England’s World Twenty20 campaign, captain Paul Collingwood has claimed that home advantage could be enough for his side to have a genuine chance of winning the tournament which gets underway on Friday.

The hosts take on Holland at Lords in the opening game and Collingwood is confident that this can be the start of a successful couple of weeks. He says that he and his team ‘know the wickets and venues well’, something which could give them an advantage over the other teams.

England’s confidence is certainly high after the comfortable Test and ODI series victories over the West Indies, so perhaps Collingwood is right to feel optimistic. The combination of self-belief, being familiar with the conditions and having the fans behind them could be enough to make England contenders.

They must surely do better than they did in the inaugural World Twenty20 tournament back in 2007. During their time in South Africa, Collingwood’s men only won once in five matches and had a thoroughly miserable time.

England are in much better shape this time though with players such as Ravi Bopara, Stuart Broad, James Anderson and Graeme Swann starting to establish themselves as world-class cricketers. Then, there is the returning Kevin Pietersen to throw into the mix. Overall, the squad looks strong.

Speaking about Pietersen, Collingwood said that the former captain is ‘raring to go’ in this tournament after failing to make an appearance in the recent ODI series against the West Indies. KP hasn’t got the best record in Twenty20 games, so perhaps it is time he put this right.

As for England’s chances of winning the tournament, Collingwood reminded everyone how no England team have won an ICC event before. However, ahead of the warm-up games, the temporary skipper believes that he and his side have a ‘huge opportunity’ to continue the momentum picked up in the early part of the summer.

If you're looking to make a Twenty20 bet, personally, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if England made the semi-finals, at least. They are a happy dressing room right now and should have enough to progress in the competition. As for winning the whole thing, well I can’t look too far beyond current holders India. Their line-up looks formidable.

And, by the time all this is over, we might be able to make slightly more informed Ashes bets!

By the way, if you fancy seeing what I am up to, you can follow me on Twitter @Thomas_Rooney


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