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December 18, 2009

Thoughts on the Review System

I am going to come out and say it straight away - I am not a fan of the review system. It takes something away from the greatest sport in the world.

I don't want to be celebrating a wicket, forget about the new rule and then be forced to wait for the decision to come through. Then, either the decision is overturned and my celebrations were a waste or the decision stands and it feels like a bit of an afterthought.

While the change won't have any impact on England South African Test odds, it does seem to have taken something away from the game.

To be honest, I didn't think there was much wrong with just the umpires doing their jobs, at least everyone knows where they stand. Yes, there may well the occasional wrong decision, but that's all part of the game.

The review system should only be used to prevent absolute howlers. In this sense, I think the power should be taken away from the players. At the moment, they are using the 'might as well challenge it' approach, which doesn't suit the game.

When one of a team's best batsman is given out, they think they should challenge it just on the off chance that they will be able to keep their star man in. Again, not quite what the system is intended for.

Likewise, the bowling side might challenge an LBW decision if it concerns an opposition player that is taking the game away from them. They might not think it is definitely out, but if there is an outside chance Hawkeye will say it is brushing the off stump, they will challenge the decision.

So, unless things improve in this sense, I think the decision to refer should be taken away from the players. Let the Umpires or whoever watches the replays decide if a decision should be reviewed.

Again though, there are flaws to this system. Which is why I think it should have been left how it was. If England take a wicket to 'win the series' and I celebrate like a mad man before realising the decision has been overturned – I'm not going to be happy.

The umpires are of the highest quality and they should be left to do their job.

In other sports new, the odds for the 2010 Cheltenham Festival are really starting to hot up.

Blog by Thomas Rooney, Professional Sports Writer


May 20, 2009

Strauss hails Anderson as world beater

Following England’s comfortable 2-0 series victory over the West Indies,
Andrew Strauss has labelled James Anderson ‘as good as anyone in world
cricket’.

The Lancashire bowler recorded match figures of 9-125 in Durham as England
secured victory by an innings and 83 runs. On a flat wicket, Anderson’s
swing bowling was fantastic and it has led to his captain singing his
praises in the aftermath.

Speaking about his No.1 strike bowler, Strauss said that ‘the way he is
controlling the swinging ball’ is very effective and means that he is one of
the best seam bowlers around at the moment.

As for the player himself, Anderson admitted that the ball didn’t really
swing in the first couple of days, but yesterday was a time where ‘it swung’
a great deal. This meant that the West Indies innings was quickly ended to
hand England the win.

Anderson was keen not to take all of the praise though and he had plenty of
good words to say about his fellow bowlers after the game. The 26-year-old
said that England have ‘a great set of bowlers’ at the moment that he hopes
will ‘continue to gel and bowl well’.

This is very true, it has to be said. Stuart Broad is bowling with an extra
yard of pace and improved accuracy, Graeme Onions and Tim Bresnan both made
encouraging starts to their England careers while Graeme Swann has been a
revelation with the ball.

Overall, Strauss should be extremely pleased with the bowlers he has at his
disposal. There is always the option of bringing back Steve Harmison, Andrew
Flintoff or Monty Panesar at some point during the summer as well and you
can always bet on Andrew Flintoff to provide something
different.

For now though, England have a settled and in form bowling attack that is
being led by the constantly improving Anderson. With regards to UK Ashes
betting,
it is a shame that all the other forms of cricket have to come now
because if the Ashes started tomorrow, I’d back England.

March 23, 2009

Amongst England’s failings, Pietersen doesn’t seem himself

After the fiasco of resigning from the captaincy and being installed once again as ‘batsman only’ ahead of the tour of the West Indies, many people (including myself) predicted big things from Kevin
Pietersen this winter.

However, although there has been the odd sparkle from KP, he has been largely disappointing when England have needed him most. Scores of 97, 1, 51, 32, 41, 72*, 10 and 102 in the test matches don’t look too bad on paper, but we have learned to expect more from our best batsman.

These scores in the test matches have since been followed by 12 in the Twenty20 match, 17 in the first ODI and 12 again in the second ODI. Overall, things aren’t going Pietersen’s way at the minute and it is hard to figure out why.

For whatever reason, I feel more nervous when he is facing. Originally I thought it was because he was our best batsman and his wicket would be more detrimental to the team.

However, I’m not so sure that this is the case anymore. I think I am nervous because his technique looks so unconvincing. The unique and original stance he used to be praised for now looks like a technical flaw.

His mentality seems to have changed as well. Where is the KP swagger? Where are the un-English characteristics that made him so valuable to the team and popular with the fans? At the moment he looks more nervous than anything else.

You have to understand that this isn’t straightforward criticism of KP. Everything is in perspective. If he continued in the same form as he did now, averaging around 50 per series, he would still perform an
extremely important role for the England team.

However, he is such a talented player that he shouldn’t settle for this. Pietersen is one of the most exciting players that this England team have ever had and at the moment, we are not getting quite enough from him.

I’m aware that we shouldn’t place all of our hopes on one batsman, but if England are to push on this summer and win back the Ashes, they need more from Pietersen. More centuries, more confidence, more influence and more passion.

Before closing things for today, it is just about worth mentioning that England lost a One Day International yesterday. They failed to make the most of the fielding restrictions and lost regular wickets as they failed to chase down 265. Who’d have thought it?

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


March 21, 2007

All fun and Games?

Sports teams today at the highest level play such an intense level of sport and the players are expected to be fitter today than they ever have been. Gone are the days when professional footballers would sit down and have a fried breakfast before a match and even the days when you’d see snooker players sitting beside the table with a cigarette in hand and a mug of tea on the side. Today’s diet includes fish, white meat, carbohydrates and water while red meat, sugar, and dairy products are strictly off the menu.

But is cricket a different game? Shane Warne was famous for his smoking at the breaks during play and it didn’t stop him from being the best spin bowler the world has ever seen. Cricket being the sport that it is though breeds different types of players. The batsmen don’t necessarily need to be fast on their feet (Inzamam-ul-Haq being a perfect example) but it does help with running in between the wickets.

Indeed it is definitely possible for a batsman to play while not being fully fit, although not advisable. Out of determination to be the captain to lift the urn, Steve Waugh did after all scored a brilliant 157* on one leg at The Oval in 2001, after being denied a runner because he entered the match with his injury.

There is more pressure on fielders today than there were on fielders a decades ago, with everyone in the international arena being expected to be an all round fielder. But there are certain fielders on the pitch who won’t be required to make much of an exertion if they can be relied on to catch well. For example the slip fielders or the close-in catchers such as those at silly point will not need to run much or make many diving stops. So it is entirely possible for the less agile to be able to make it at the top level.

What about bowlers, then? Again the variety of the game means that it is entirely possible for there to be a variety in fitness levels. A spin bowler trots in off only a few paces and doesn’t have as far to walk back in between deliveries.

This is not to say that it is not hard work being a spin bowler, spinners are often asked to bowl long and tiring spells but it is more an issue of stamina than physical fitness.

Fast bowlers, however, have to be of the utmost fitness. They often run in off a lengthy run up, regularly bowl over 80mph then walk back and sprint in and do the same again.

So do only fast bowlers need to be at top fitness? Not at all, if a batsman or slow bowler is completely fit he will be able to spend longer at the crease or bowl longer spells, will be less susceptible to injury, will be able to put in that extra burst of running when necessary and will in general give themselves the edge over their opponents.

It is for this reason that it the late night shenanigans of six members of the England squad are not to be taken lightly. By all accounts a group of men are allowed to go out and have fun but they must not forget their responsibilities.

The average footballer will lose seven pints of fluid in a 90 minute football match; I can only assume that a cricketer will lose more than this during a 6 hour ODI in the hot Caribbean sun. The post match pint is a part of cricketing tradition but is it really the best thing for an international cricketer playing in the middle of a World Cup who needs to be at the top of his fitness?

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that the body will release more liquid in urine than it takes in. This means that drinking alcohol will make the body more dehydrated than it was before drinking which among other things can lead to fatigue and a loss of endurance and stamina.

Alcoholic drinks also take longer to be absorbed into the body than water so will not provide as quick a relief to dehydration as non alcoholic drinks will do in the short term either.

The timing of the late night bender could have been much better too. The night in question was after the England v New Zealand match and after having lost that match it was imperative that the team won their next too matches which were against Canada and Kenya.

With the Canadian match less than 48 hours after the conclusion of the New Zealand match the squad needed to maximise the time they had available to them for training and tactics. The incident involving Flintoff and the Pedalo reportedly took place at 4am which even if not drunk would mean that the players involved would be excessively tired when turning up the next day for training and would not be able to apply themselves fully. Factor in a hangover and the actions prove even more irresponsible.

The issue is made even worse by the fact that two of the team management were involved too, Jeremy Snape and Kevin Shine were both sighted in the nightclub with the 6 squad members and have been asked to submit themselves to voluntary fines by the team management.

Cricket today is an intense game when played at an international level. Fielding sides need to be on their toes to prevent quick singles, to save the two, to take that difficult diving catch. Batting sides need to be fit and agile to make those ones into twos or to play those innovative shots we see today. Such an intense level of play requires and demands a high level of professionalism to maintain fitness and to be able to compete at the highest level.

It can be understandable, even if not forgivable, for the younger members of the squad to be caught doing these things but I would expect better from senior members such as the vice-captain Andrew Flintoff or the coaching staff. If England are going to make a turn around and come good in this World Cup and in ODIs in general they need to get the right attitude towards the game.

Steve Waugh talks in his autobiography of when Bob Simpson and the Australian team management imposed an alcohol ban on the team at a time when Australia were struggling in Test and ODI cricket. This was a move which I am sure, although it would have been unpopular at first, would have contributed to the start of what was the rise of Australia to the number one spot and to becoming the best team to have taken the field in the game of cricket.


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