All 17 entries tagged Sport
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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 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.
May 11, 2009
Another surprise as Sidebottom and Bell are recalled
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
May 05, 2009
Boycott raised concerns over England – now there’s a thing!
Below is a run down of what the former England opener has had to say. As much as he is being negative, it is hard to find too many faults in what he says. This probably sums up the direction England has gone in since the last time Australia came to town four years ago.
Boycott on the troublesome winter – He says that the whole winter was a ‘fiasco’ with the controversy of Peter Moores and Kevin Pietersen’s departures combined with Alan Stanford and his millions. Overall, it is a winter that could set England back a number of years according to Boycott.
Boycott on Andrew Strauss – The former Yorkshire man believes that Strauss ‘isn’t a natural captain’. This is because Strauss has been guilty of ‘waiting for things to happen’ as opposed to ‘thinking ahead’ like the majority of great test captains.
Boycott on the No.3 position – This has been a problem for England for a while now and Boycott is concerned about the increasingly unsettled team that is being put out. He highlights how Michael Vaughan, Ian Bell, Owais Shah and now Ravi Bopara have all had a go at the No.3 spot in recent months.
Boycott on the future – The TMS commentator finished by saying that although he didn’t think international cricket was at its strongest right now, England are ‘not getting the best’ out of what they’ve got.
As ever, these are strong views from Boycott. Hopefully, over the course of this summer, the England team can prove each of his points wrong. This is more in hope than expectation though, so don't waste your next cricket bet trying to prove him wrong.
By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about international cricket.
April 21, 2009
IPL Update – how are Flintoff and Pietersen getting on?
The Indian (or should I say South African) Premier League seems to have got under way with relatively little fuss. The tournament is up and running with some of the biggest names in world cricket doing all they can to justify their large price tags.
This is more relevant to England’s Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen than most as they were the most expensive players in the IPL auction. So, how have they got on so far?
Well, they came up against each other last night as Flintoff’s Chennai Super Kings and Pietersen’s Bangalore Royal Challengers did battle for the first time. Flintoff was the man smiling at the end though as his team ran out comfortable winners.
The England all-rounder hit an unbeaten 22 off 13 deliveries as the Super Kings made a respectable 179-5 off their 20 overs. In reply, the Royal Challengers struggled their way to 87 all out with Pietersen
getting a golden duck.
It was certainly a bad day at the office for the former England captain, who is skipper of the Royal Challengers. They have now won one and lost one of their opening two games. During their first match,
where they won by 75 runs, Pietersen hit an encouraging 32.
As for Flintoff, his team have the same record as Pietersen’s so far – one win and one defeat. In the Super Kings' first game, Flintoff was hit for three sixes as he conceded 44 off his four overs. He then made 24 with the bat as his team lost to the Mumbai Indians.
Overall, they have had a mixed start and will be hoping that they can push on in the next couple of games. Both of them have shown what they can do in brief spells, but to prove they are money well spent, they need to produce a couple of match-winning performances.
April 14, 2009
England ODI player rankings
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 16, 2009
England Rue Another Collapse
in front of our very eyes any more does it? It just seems normal. The
England cricket team often capitulate with the bat and get a
hammering. That’s how it works isn’t it?
The latest horrific batting performance came over the weekend when,
batting first in a Twenty20 International against West Indies, England
were bowled out for 121 in the final over.
The collapse followed a relatively decent start with Steven Davis
impressing as English reached 55-1. There were then two moments which
set the tone for the rest of the innings.
First, Davis walked across his stumps in ridiculously unnecessary
fashion and was clean bowled by Dwayne Bravo. Then, Kevin Pietersen
got an absolutely horrific LBW decision from umpire Norman Malcolm.
Despite the fact that the ball was blatantly missing leg stump, KP was
sent on his way and England never recovered.
Only Paul Collingwood and Andrew Strauss made double figures after
this as the West Indies ran riot. It was a desperate batting
performance from England and one which suggests that the One Day
Internationals are going to be far from an enjoyable time.
The most annoying thing was that 150 would have been a decent enough
score. Ravi Bopara didn’t need to try and smash the ball out of the
ground, Davis didn’t need to walk across his stumps and Collingwood
didn’t need to go for the big shot.
Even when Strauss and Collingwood were together at 82-4 there was an
opportunity to bat sensibly and get the score to around 150. It is
always easier to score quickly in the final three or four overs with
wickets in hand, after all.
Inevitably, West Indies chased the target down with relative ease.
They only lost four wickets and achieved the required total with two
overs to spare. In Twenty20 cricket – that’s a hammering.
Next up for England is the ODI series which starts on Friday. It is an
opportunity to salvage some pride after a rather horrific winter.
However, unless the return of Andrew Flintoff can inspire them enough
to win a few games, this just doesn’t seem at all likely.
By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about England cricket
March 12, 2009
Plenty of criticism over England’s delayed declaration
First of all, it has to be said that England’s bowlers put in an almost heroic performance in the final two sessions of the final test yesterday. However, it proved to be too late for them to force a victory that would have seen them draw the series.
West Indies managed to bat out the final session to secure a 1-0 series win, their first in a major test series for five years. This isn’t the main talking point in the aftermath of the match though.
Instead, many have questioned England’s delayed declaration. Andrew Strauss waited until lunch to call time on the England innings, with many believing they should have declared when Matt Prior was out for an aggressive 61.
Had England chosen to end their innings here, they would have set the West Indies are more achievable target of 209. Surely it was worth taking a risk with the series at stake though?
Several former England players agree with this notion, in particular Ian Botham who described the declaration as ‘pathetic’. The Sky Sports commentator then went on to say that the England players have obviously ‘not got long memories of Antigua’.
Botham then went on to claim that England ‘lost the plot’ by failing to declare when prior was dismissed. The former all-rounder then questioned whether Strauss actually wanted to win the game at all.
Other players turned pundits to criticise the declaration were Alec Stewart who believes that England ‘missed a trick’ by not putting the West Indies before lunch and Bob Willis who said that the only way England were going to win was if the ‘West Indies were going for runs’.
Overall, Strauss and co can expect a lot of negative press for their decisions made in this series. Sticking with Ian Bell for the first test was a mistake, selecting a ridiculously unfit Ryan Sidebottom for the fourth test was a mistake and delaying the declaration in this final test was a mistake.
There were others as well though and in reality, England have caused this series defeat themselves. The cricket odds expected them to defeat the West Indies before the tour began, so it has to be disappointing that they have lost.
The most worrying thing though is that they appear to have forgotten how to win a test match. They got within one or two wickets of victory of two occasions, but failed to close it out. How can a team that declared five times in a series not win a test match?!
Next up for England is a home series against the West Indies in May. There is no doubt that cricket betting will have the home side down as favourites for this one and they should win.
Whether this will be enough to build confidence ahead of a much anticipated Ashes series though, remains to be seen.
By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about England Cricket
January 13, 2009
Who are the options for England’s new coach?
It has been a rather hectic week for English cricket. As we all know, Peter Moores and Kevin Pietersen have moved on from their roles as coach and captain. Then, Andrew Strauss was appointed as the new skipper for the tour of West Indies. In a nutshell, these are the events of the last few days. Much bickering, speculation and fall out have occurred as well.
It seems appropriate to look forward rather than backwards now though. What has happened has happened and there is no way it can be altered. There are still articles around speaking about Pietersen’s role in all of this, but it isn’t about him now. It is about Strauss leading the England cricket team to a successful 2009.
The only thing Pietersen has to think about during this time is scoring lots of runs. That’s it. The England cricket team is much more important than KP trying to defend his role in everything. Time to move on!
With this in mind, it seems appropriate to speculate about the only missing piece of Strauss’ new era jigsaw. Namely - a coach to replace Moores. A full-time man is likely to take the hot-seat in time for the English summer, so this gives the ECB plenty of time to find the right man. So, who are the possibilities?
Andy Flower - The former Zimbabwe batsman is likely to take over the role on a temporary basis in the West Indies, although given his loyalty to Moores, it perhaps wouldn’t be ideal for him to get the nod. Especially when player unity is more important than ever.
Tom Moody - In my opinion, this is the man England should have turned to back in April 2007 when they appointed Moores. He is a very well respected coach and could excel in the high-profile role.
Graham Ford - The former South Africa coach is currently in charge of Kent has admitted that he would be ‘interested’ in the position.
Darren Lehmann - A surprise name perhaps, but many (including Shane Warne) believe that Lehmann would be perfect for England. He is currently coaching Australia’s academy.
Dav Whatmore - Anyone with the pedigree of this man is bound to be linked with a job as big as this one. The former Sri Lanka coach seems to be in the Duncan Fletcher mould, so England could do a lot, lot worse.
Ashley Giles - This is the least likely as far as I am concerned. Yes, he is coaching at Warwickshire right now, but this would be far too soon for him. Many of the players, including Strauss, Pietersen and Flintoff would struggle to consider him as a coach and not a team mate.
Overall, it is going to be an interesting couple of months for English cricket. It is a very significant appointment considering recent events and I just prey they make the right one. I’d personally go with Moody, but should the West Indies tour prove successful, the cricket odds will back Flower to get the job on a permanent basis.
Other than that, I am far more likely to place my cricket betting money on Whatmore or Ford than Lehmann or Giles.
By Thomas Rooney - A sports writer who blogs about England cricket
December 29, 2008
Vaughan Misses out – and rightly so
Vaughan rightly misses out on West Indies Tour
Former England captain Michael Vaughan has missed out on a place in the England squad for the tour to the West Indies. Some had expected the Yorkshire batsman the nod in place of Ian Bell or Owais Shah, but it wasn’t to be and he now doesn’t have much time to get himself back in contention for the 2009 Ashes series.
To be honest though, I am quite surprised Vaughan was even considered for this tour. What has he done to prove that he deserves a place? It was unfortunate that he didn’t get the chance to impress for the England performance squad, but the reality is that the man hasn’t played any cricket of late.
Had Vaughan been given the chance on this tour, what message would it have given out to the likes of Joe Denly, Robert Key and Ravi Bopara who have been working hard and scoring runs in county cricket?
The only reason that I may have been on board with the Vaughan selection would have been his record against Australia. It is superb. By selecting him for the West Indies, it would have given him time to find his form before the Aussies come to town.
Overall though, the correct decision has been made. Had Vaughan come in and really struggled, it would have left the England selectors in a very difficult situation. The best thing he can do now is score runs for Yorkshire and try and get back in contention at some point during the West Indies test series in England.
Anyway, in terms of the rest of the test squad, there were no real surprises. Ian Bell – who has struggled for form of late – has held onto his place in the squad and Ryan Sidebottom has been included despite recent injury problems. The only other talking point was the selection of Adil Rashid.
The uncapped Yorkshire all-rounder has been called up as ‘extra competition for places in the spin-bowling department’ according to national selector Geoff Miller, but also to allow the coaching team to ‘monitor his development closely.’ Rashid is obviously a very talented young man and England seem very conscious about getting the timing of his selection right.
This is fair enough I suppose, but I have always been a fan of his and I really hope he isn’t just the water boy on this tour. In fact, given the poor form shown by Monty Panesar, I would stick him in straight away. I may be alone in this opinion, but if he is good enough – he is old enough!
With this in mind, this would be my starting eleven for the first test against West Indies at Sabina Park in February:
This means the likes of Ian Bell, James Anderson, Graham Swann and Monty Panesar miss out. This may be a bit too drastic in terms of changes from the tests in India, but I actually like the look of this team. Realistically though, I imagine the cricket odds will favour this being the team that does play at Sabina Park:
We will just have to wait and see I suppose. Cricket betting suggests that England should win this series, but it will be fair from easy. West Indies have some decent players and will always raise their game at home, so anything could happen.
With just six tests left before the Ashes though, all of which are against the West Indies, it is very important that England start to dominate Chris Gayle’s team sooner rather than later.
By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about England cricket