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July 07, 2009

The end of the waiting – Ashes 2009 is upon us!

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 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.


May 27, 2009

Strauss can enjoy his break after England thrash woeful Windies

The next time Andrew Strauss plays international cricket will be on the 8th July in Cardiff against Ricky Ponting’s Australia. The England captain will play no part in next month’s World Twenty20 tournament, meaning that he has a significant break from playing for his country.

Strauss can go back to Middlesex with his head held high though after leading England to the perfect start to their very busy summer of cricket. Strauss’ men secured a 2-0 One Day International series
victory against the West Indies yesterday by thrashing the tourists by 58 runs at Edgbaston.

This follows the 2-0 test series victory over the same opposition and it is fair to say that England have looked very commanding on home soil. Yesterday’s display in particular was extremely ruthless. This
isn’t something we have associated with England recently, so it has to be taken as a positive sign.

In fact, the whole summer has been positive so far. The only downer has probably been the low crowds that have turned out to watch England play so well. On field matters are looking firmly under control though and credit must go to the partnership of Strauss and Andy Flower.

It seems like they have created a happy and united dressing room that is brimming with confidence. The likes of Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ravi Bopara are all stepping up to the
plate in the absence of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff as well. New heroes are developing and the England team is moving in the right direction.

Whether this will be enough to defeat Australia this summer, nobody knows. It is likely to be a very close series against an impressive Aussie side, but England have every chance of winning. With regards to Ashes bets, I am much more likely to back them now than I was a year ago anyway.

Before Australia come to town though, there is the ICC World Twenty20 tournament to deal with. Paul Collingwood will lead the team in Strauss’ absence as England look to improve on their showing in the
same tournament two years ago.

Despite not being involved, Strauss has claimed that the hosts will be a ‘good outside bet’ to win the competition because playing in familiar conditions can give them ‘the edge’ over the other teams. This, combined with the fact that the team are ‘playing with confidence’ mean that Strauss expects England to be there or there abouts come the end of the competition.

Personally, I think England have every chance of emerging victorious if they play with the aggression and belief that they have done so far this summer. They haven’t played too much Twenty20 cricket though, so this could end up costing them.

Overall, as long as the momentum gained from the two series wins over the West Indies can be maintained somewhat, England are in good shape to face the biggest test of them all – the Ashes.

By Thomas Rooney


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