All 4 entries tagged South Africa

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November 26, 2009

Trott happy to open batting

Jonathan Trott has revealed to England coach Andy Flower that he feels happy to remain at the top of the order for the 3rd One Day International against South Africa on Friday.

The South African born batsman opened the innings with captain Andrew Strauss in the second game of the series to great success.  He scored a crucial 87, playing anchor to the fantastic Paul Collingwood as England emerged victorious by 7 wickets.

Trott looked classy and assured throughout his innings and now it seems he is comfortable with trying to make a name for himself as an ODI opening batsman. He revealed that he has opened for Warwickshire on a number of occasions and that he ‘enjoyed batting there’ on Sunday.

The 28-year-old certainly provided a rare sense of stability at the top of the order in this form of the game. Over the past couple of years, Matt Prior, Ian Bell, Phil Mustard and Ravi Bopara have all tried their luck without consistent enough success to improve the sports betting oddsof the team. 

Hopefully, in the remainder of this series and beyond, Trott can keep making valuable solutions and solve a few problems for Strauss and Flower. He has certainly made an impressive start to his international career – averaging 43 in ODI matches and 80 in test matches  - with many seeing him in the team for years to come.

Should the rest of this limited over series go well, some have suggested that Trott could even open the batting in the test arena. However, he has been less enthusiastic about this prospect saying that he has never done so in first-class cricket and that he is most affective as ‘a number four’.

Thinking about it, this is probably better for England anyway. Trott is clearly more comfortable in the middle order during test matches, so why risk jeopardising the good start he has made by forcing him to open the batting?

If Alistair Cook is fit for the test series, he will open with Strauss. Then Kevin Pietersen, Trott and Collingwood will follow. That seems strong enough for England to be happy with their selections.

As for the remainder of the One Day International series, Trott will be opening the batting again on Friday as England look to go 2-0 up in the five match series.


October 09, 2009

Bopara can benefit from winter break

One of the biggest talking points after England announced their touring part of South Africa this winter was the omission of Ravi Bopara from both the Test and One Day International squads. The Essex batsman was heavily involved in all forms during the summer and now finds himself with a free winter.

This could end up being extremely beneficial for him though. His confidence is clearly low at the moment and maybe a winter away from international cricket is just what the doctor ordered. He can build his self-belief up again and work out his game.

It’s not as if he has to start from the beginning, he just needs to iron out a few technical glitches (that flick shot across the line which gets him out LBW for one) and realise what it takes to become an international batsman. It takes determination, it takes focus and it takes a lot of hard work.

It wasn’t that long ago that Andrew Strauss found himself out of the team and having to do the same thing. Now, he is one of the most consistent batsmen in the world, captaining his country to an Ashes win and being named in the 2009 ICC Test Team of the year.

I’m not saying that Bopara will go to this extreme, but it can make him realise that he can get back into the team and be successful. His talented is unquestioned; he just needs to direct it in the right way.

As for the decision to leave him out this winter, I think it is a sensible one all things considered. Was Bopara guaranteed a place in the team? No, he wasn’t. Therefore, would he have benefited from being the 12th man all winter? Not at all. It could have set him back even further.

The selectors probably looked at it and thought that the best thing for him would be to have a break from the stresses of International cricket. This is a very important winter for Bopara and as a big fan of his, I hope this time next year we are talking about what a fantastic 2010 he had for England.


October 01, 2009

Credit must go to Shah and co

Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say well done to a player
you may have criticised in the past. This is the case with myself and
Owais Shah. After the shocking displays of the England team in the One
Day International series against Australia, I questioned his place in
the team.

Then, when he was promoted to No.3 in the batting line-up, I
questioned the England selectors. However, I have to give credit to
Shah for how well he played against South Africa on Sunday. He hit six
sixes in his fantastic innings of 98 to help England post a
match-winning 323-8 against the hosts.

England went on to win the game by 22 runs to reach the semi-finals of
the ICC Champions Trophy competition

and in doing so, knocking South Africa out of the
competition. It has been a drastic turnaround since the Australia ODI
series and this is represented superbly by Shah’s change in fortunes.

Finally, after constantly getting himself in, Shah went on to get a
big score. It would have been nice if he made it to three figures, but
his innings was just as valuable as a century. It was what England had
been crying out for.

Both Shah and Paul Collingwood – who played well for his 82 – blended
maturity and aggression perfectly to set England on their way and
leave Eoin Morgan with the final power-play to blast the score above
300. It was a near perfect batting performance and boy did I enjoy
watching it.

Speaking after restricting South Africa to 301 to win the game, Shah
admitted that he was ‘low on confidence’ going into the game, but that
he and the batting unit showed just how ‘dangerous’ they can be on
their day.

The key for the Middlesex man (and the team as a whole) is that we
take things on from here. Shah must produce more innings like this and
they must perform with this freedom, aggression and purpose more
often to ensure that Englands cricket betting odds
keep increasing.

Let’s face it, if they manage to do so twice more in this competition,
we could be celebrating a very unexpected ICC Champions Trophy
victory.


February 18, 2007

The Numbers Game

2523, 2324, 2526, 337, 16.8, 58, 128, 126. Statistics, cricket is littered with them. As a sport it is almost unique in the degree to which statistics play a part in the general watching and playing of the game. Everything is recorded: runs, balls faced, time taken, catches taken, sixes hit, wickets taken, maidens bowled. These figures could be recalled not just for a match but for someone’s entire career.

What do these statistics mean? 2523, 2524, 2526: These are possibly three of the most significant matches in South African cricket history. The first is the final match of the recent South Africa v Pakistan ODI series, the next two are the first two matches of the Australia v New Zealand Chappell Hadlee trophy.

337: The number of runs New Zealand scored to win the 2nd Chappell Hadlee match and take the series with one match to spare. It is the second highest ODI chase of all time.

16.8: Shaun Pollock’s bowling average over his past 6 matches.

58: Glenn McGrath’s bowling average of his past 6 matches.

128: South Africa’s rating points standing in the LG ODI world rankings.

126: Number of rating points Australia have in the LG ODI world rankings.

For the first time in the history of the rankings system, a statistical wonder of its own, Australia has been knocked off the number one spot. South Africa had done all they could by securing a win over Pakistan in their final match but they relied on an unlikely Australia series loss to New Zealand.

But are South Africa really number one? It is true to say they have managed to give Australia a run for their money just recently. When Australia posted the then world record 434 in an ODI at Johannesburg last March, most people would have said the game was as good as won. Most people except the South Africans that is, who clinched a second to last ball, one wicket thriller against all the odds. South Africa even won the series 3-2.

But look further back by just a few months when South Africa played the VB tri series down under against Australia and Sri Lanka and the Proteas failed to register a single victory against their hosts and finished with a below par net run rate of -0.81.

The bowling averages given for McGrath and Pollock perhaps show how much the teams rely on a few key players to perform. McGrath has been such a key player for Australia for many years that it is hard to imagine life without him. His metronomic action and pinpoint accuracy that he has held throughout his career have enabled him to dry up the scoring at one end. In a limited overs format where run rate is essential this has meant that the batsmen have had to take risks to up the ante, either against McGrath or the bowler at the other end.

McGrath however, has no outright pace to boast like Brett Lee, meaning that when his accuracy fails he becomes just another medium pacer. It sounds almost blasphemous to say so but removing reputations alone, would you feel comfortable bowling someone who bowls in the high 70s with accuracy you cannot rely on.

Those ever present statistics tell the story on their own, in the past six matches; McGrath has taken 5 wickets at 58 with an economy rate of 5.2. Compared to his career figures of 355 wickets at 22.62 with an economy of 3.85 runs per over, the difference is striking.

South Africa on the other hand have found fortune in the fact that Shaun Pollock, their metronomic accurate seamer has found a rich vein of form of late. Over the same last 6 match period, his bowling average is almost seven runs-per-wicket lower than his career average and his economy rate is 3.08 compared to a career figure of 3.71. They say it’s a batsman’s game, and they may be right but bowlers today still have a very significant role to play.

Excluding the Champions Trophy, Australia has lost 3 out of their past 4 ODI series with their only win coming against Bangladesh. South Africa on the other hand has won all of their last four. On these figures Australia don’t deserve the top spot they are not worthy of the world championship if that carries on. But in my mind, they are still the best team in the world.

Picture the situation, your life depends on it. Your team wins you’re safe. Your team loses you’re gone. Who would you want playing for you? It would be Australia for me without hesitation. There is something about the Australian team. They step up to the mark when it really matters. When the Champions trophy came around in October, Australia hadn’t played a match since their tour of Bangladesh early in the year. But faced with a tournament they’d never won, the only empty space in their trophy cabinet, they fought, and they fought hard to win. Australia are still world beaters, they’ve just shown that they, like all others are mortal.


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