All 6 entries tagged Captain
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July 07, 2009
There has been a lot of talking with regards to the 2009 Ashes series. The build up has been substantial and as fun as this has been, the fact that the action is round the corner is very good news.
The first test match between England and Australia starts in Cardiff on Wednesday and every cricket fan around the world will be glued to the action. It is one of the greatest rivalries in sport and you just know that something special is round the corner.
The start of it all is extremely important as well. It may well be the first session of many this summer between the two sides, but is also the most crucial. Whoever sets the tone on the first morning at Sophia Gardens will immediately have the edge so bear this in mind for your Sophia Gardens Test betting!
Remember when England took on Australia in 2005? The tourists lost five wickets in the opening session and Steve Harmison and co bowled with a huge intensity that left Australia skipper Ricky Ponting with a cut cheek.
This sent a message out to Australia that England – for the first time in many series – meant business. In a way, England never looked back from this.
Then, in the return series in Australia during 2006/2007, it was the Aussies that made the first impression on the series. They batted extremely positively and left the England bowlers wondering where the next wicket was coming from.
Overall, it is clear to say that the first session and the first day could go a long way to shaping the rest of the series. It wouldn’t decide anything, but if England could have an extremely productive first session it would plant seeds of doubt in Australia’s minds.
They are vulnerable and can be got at. England have the edge in the build up and seem more relaxed in preparation, so a poor start for Ponting’s men could leave them dreading the long tour ahead.
I will be watching every single ball this week and I hope you will be doing the same. Come on England, make the type of start that can establish us as firm Ashes bettingfavourites in this series.
*By Thomas Rooney*
June 30, 2009
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
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*
May 11, 2009
It seems as though the England selectors are keen to surprise us all this summer. First of all there was the inclusion of Graeme Onions, Ravi Bopara and Tim Bresnan in the first test of the summer and now two men have been recalled much earlier than many expected.
Ryan Sidebottom and Ian Bell have both been named in a 13-man squad for the second (and final) test against the West Indies. To the majority of us, this was undoubtedly a surprise.
Let’s talk about Sidebottom first. To be honest, the Nottinghamshire bowler has had so many injury problems in the last year or so that you would have thought he needed to do more to earn a recall.
Since returning from injury, Sidebottom has played only two County Championship matches and even though he has performed OK, it has been
nothing to suggest that he is back to his best. Overall, he has claimed seven wickets at an average of 31.42.
His inclusion does give Andy Flower another seam option though and there is an outside chance he could be preferred to Bresnan who only
bowled seven overs on his test debut. If anything though, I would say that Sidebottom’s inclusion is just a sign that he is still part of
England’s plans. (I wonder what Hoggard makes of all of this!)
Anyway, what about Bell? His situation has been talked about for a number of weeks now and there was no doubt he was disappointed to be
left out for the first test. However, with there being increasing uncertainties over Paul Collingwood’s form, he has been selected as part of the latest test squad.
It is probably deserved as well. If Sidebottom has done enough to warrant a recall, then so has Bell. The Warwickshire man has scored
320 runs in seven first-class innings, including two centuries early on in the season.
Bell could be called upon should England believe that an extra batsman is needed in what are expected to be bowler friendly conditions at the
Riverside. There is also the possibility that Bell is pushing Collingwood for a place in the side.
To come in at No.5 for England would probably suit Bell down to the ground and Collingwood hasn’t exactly been in the runs of late. Knowing Collingwood though, he will probably record a century in the next test. It is at his home ground after all!
The most significant thing for Bell and Sidebottom though, even if they don’t manage to force their way into the side for this match, is that they are still in England’s plans. They still have a chance of playing a part in this remarkably busy summer for English cricket.
This should give them a huge boost.
By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about international cricket
April 14, 2009
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
March 30, 2009
Since taking over the captaincy from Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss has been in excellent form with the bat. In the test series against the West Indies he scored three centuries as he averaged 67.62 and so far in the One Day Internationals, he has hit one century and averages 67.
This, by anyone’s standards, is fantastic. However, the fact that Strauss has performed as well as this during what has been a difficult time for England, is something that deserves a lot of praise.
Not many previous England captains have raised their game with the bat and this makes Strauss’ performances all the more impressive. He loves responsibility and he enjoys leading from the front. Two essential attributes if you want to be a successful cricket captain.
Having looked at the statistics, it seems clear to me that Strauss hasn’t received enough credit for his form with the bat. This is probably because the team hasn’t been winning much and, as captain, he
shares some of the blame for this.
However, imagine for a second that Pietersen was still captain. Then imagine that he had scored exactly the same amount of runs that Strauss has this winter. It is fair to say that the press would be
raving about him as one of the best players around.
Strauss hasn’t enjoyed as much attention for his runs and even though this is probably the way he likes it, it seems important to show some appreciation for the job he has been doing. The results haven’t always been great, but this hasn’t been anything to do with Strauss’ role as an opening batsman.
The latest knock from Strauss led England to victory in the 4th ODI yesterday and it was an innings that showed how he can perform in this form of the game. The Middlesex man hit an unbeaten 79 to help his team chase down a revised target of 135 in 20 overs.
It also proved something that I believed to be the case since the humiliating Twenty20 defeat a couple of weeks ago. If Strauss is going to play in the Twenty20 team, he should open the batting. He is capable of scoring quickly and shouldn’t mess around with coming in down the order.
As for the team as a whole, well they have the chance to finish the tour on a high this Friday. With the series tied at 2-2, the game in St Lucia acts as a decider for the two teams.
Victory would not only be an excellent way to end a rather forgettable winter, but it would be an appropriate reward for Strauss and the way he has batted since becoming England captain.
By Thomas Rooney, a sports writer who blogs about English cricket.
March 21, 2007
Much has been talked of the antics of Flintoff and Co. after the New Zealand game and the disciplinary measures put in place by the management. Perhaps the most notable of these is the fact that Flintoff has been stripped of the vice-captaincy. This presents a number of issues: the effect it will have on Flintoff as a player, the effect it will have on the team and who to appoint as vice captain for the rest of the tournament.
Flintoff is a leader, even if not captain he is an inspirational figure within the team and it usually goes that when Fred is doing well, so are England. He loves playing for England and loved being captain. In the lead up to the announcement of the Ashes squad he made it very clear that he really desired the captaincy. It is entirely possible that being stripped of the vice captaincy in this way will have an effect on his game.
If England are to hope to progress in this tournament they will need their talisman firing on all cylinders so England hopes that Flintoff can put the politics to the back of his mind and focus on being one of the best all rounders in world cricket at the moment.
Flintoff is such a liked figure in the England camp that it is also entirely possible that a decision like this could cause fractions within the squad. Even if Flintoff is still 100% behind Vaughan (as I am sure he is), politics can be complicated and it could come about that players find themselves drawn more towards Flintoff than they do to Vaughan or the management.
So to the new vice captain: It is highly unlikely that we will never know who the new second in command is unless Vaughan himself actually does get injured. England have a habit of not appointing official vice captains and the Ashes squad announcement was the first occasion in quite a long time that a captain and vice captain were announced.
It is that vice captaincy choice which presents one of the significant problems here. While in Australia, Flintoff was appointed captain and Andrew Strauss his deputy and although Vaughan returned for the CB series, the matches he did miss due to a ham string injury were captained by Strauss while Flintoff was off the field which indicates that Strauss was an unofficial deputy to Flintoff in the one dayers too.
Vaughan tripped in a pothole yesterday while training and hurt his right knee, the knee which had given him trouble over the past year and kept him out of the Ashes this winter. Although the England management have assured us that he will be fit to play against Kenya, they have told us such things before and have been proved wrong on the day.
Strauss has been left out of the starting team for the four matches England have played so far in the Caribbean (the two warm up matches and the first two matches of the main tournament). It would therefore be very difficult for the England management to make Strauss captain should Vaughan fail to pass fit for the match against Kenya because they would be putting someone in a position of seniority who was not even in the main team the match before.
With Vaughan, Flintoff and Strauss the only names to have been bandied about in captaincy conversations recently it would mean that the job would have to go to someone who is not a natural choice.
A sensible choice would be to give the position to Paul Collingwood. The Durham all rounder is a senior member of the side, he was on panel of selectors as an advisor during the Ashes with a small group of senior squad members, he is one of England’s most reliable ODI batsmen, an excellent and agile fielder and a more than handy bowler.
It is through watching his batting and bowling that it becomes obvious that he is in touch with the situation of the game: as a batsman he is aware of when the need to up the tempo arises or when it will suffice to just knock about the singles and twos; as a bowler he is able to assess the batsmen he is bowling to and is constantly thinking about where to bowl and when to vary his bowling.
It is also important for the captain of the side to set the example in the field, something which no one would deny that Collingwood would be able to do. He has long been accepted as one of the best fielders in England, having substituted for many years in Test matches long before he was an established member of the Test side.
An option for looking to the future could be Ian Bell. In my mind, Bell is the England captain for the next generation. He is a classy batsman who is now coming into his own and growing in confidence and has hopefully established his place in the side after some good knocks.
Again, Bell is a good fielder and one of the best catchers in the England side and his bowling is not to be sniffed at although he seldom gets a chance to show it with Collingwood, Dalrymple and Pietersen usually being the fifth, sixth and seventh choice bowlers.
Giving Bell the captaincy would show a vote of confidence from the England hierarchy which could in turn help his form as a batsman. He has admitted himself that he did not feel like he fully deserved his place during the 2005 Ashes and he had a poor series as a result but he has shown extra self belief of late and has improved with the bat as a result.
A decision to give the captaincy to Bell could of course have the adverse affect, it is quite possible that his inclusion for the 2005 Test series was a season too soon and it could be that if introduced to the captaincy at too early an opportunity he could react to it as a captain as he did in 2005 with the bat.
Perhaps the only other senior established figure in the team is Kevin Pietersen. Although almost laughable at first thought, there are few reasons not to give Pietersen the captaincy. He is by far the best batsman in the side and would hopefully be able to lead from the front with the bat. As a fielder he is again one of the best in the side, despite his poor form in the field in his debut test series in 2005 where he didn’t hang on to a single chance and even his bowling is tidy. In fact, while playing in South Africa in the early part of his career he wasn’t even considered as a batsman and played for Natal as a bowler and batted low down the order.
I am sure that Pietersen would want the job, he craves attention and the captaincy would certainly be a perfect opportunity to gain some of the press coverage and some of the best captains to have ever graced the game have been those who had a real desire to lead their nation.
Does Pietersen hold the responsibility for such an important job? Perhaps one of his flaws as a cricketer is that he can at times appear too arrogant, which could be a downfall of his as a captain. After his successes in the Ashes of 2005 and before the tour of Pakistan in November and December 2005, he expressed that he was keen to give more to the team as a bowler, a feeling which was quickly dampened by the management.
It is entirely possible that given the captaincy he could over bowl himself or be too much of an attacking captain. There are always these risks of course; no one can ever know what type of captain a player will be until they are actually given the opportunity to do the job.
It would be a difficult decision for the management, should they be in a position where they have to make it, so much so that I can’t put my finger on a preference. I would be happy to see Bell, Collingwood or Pietersen leading England out on Saturday (or whenever it may be necessary) as each have their merits. Bell is the choice for the future, Collingwood would be the safe option and giving the job to Pietersen would show that England mean business and would take the game to the opposition.
But of course I suppose it’s all irrelevant isn’t it? Because after all, as the England management have reassured us: Vaughan will be fit to play on Saturday. And the England management have never led us astray over a key player’s fitness before have they?