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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


April 29, 2009

Bopara puts himself in the frame to replace Flintoff

The news that Andrew Flintoff will miss the upcoming test series against the West Indies should come as no surprise. The all-rounder is at a stage now where he is unable to go a significant amount of time without an injury.

Therefore, every so often, there is a debate about who should play the ‘Flintoff role’ when he isn’t there. In other words, who should replace him for the two test matches against the West Indies that start next month?

Well, one man has put himself firmly in the frame thanks to some excellent form in the Indian Premier League. Essex’s Ravi Bopara has been in top form for Kings XI Punjab and recently smashed 84 from 59 balls against Kevin Pietersen’s Bangalore Royal Challengers.

You may remember that in Bopara’s last test for England he managed to notch a century, only to be dropped in favour of an extra bowler for the following match. This, combined with his IPL form, could mean that he gets a place in the side for the first test at Lords.

Speaking about the possibility of replacing Flintoff, Bopara said that he is ‘definitely eyeing up that No.6 spot’. Then, if he manages to achieve this, he will set his sights on ‘moving up the order’.

Bopara has been rather unlucky during his international career to date because he hasn’t batted in his preferred position very often at all. Instead of coming in at No.3, he has either had to open the innings or come in down the order.

For now though, the No.6 position suits him and there is every chance he will get the nod to replace Flintoff. He is probably one of the most in-form English players right now and would add some much needed flair to the batting line-up.

There are question marks over his bowling, but he needs to be given the chance to prove himself in this department. As yet, he hasn’t really been given the opportunity to shine for England with the ball.

The announcement about the England squad will be made on Wednesday with Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell joining Bopara in keeping a very close eye on proceedings. This is my cricket prediction for the team for the first test against West Indies.

Strauss
Cook
Vaughan
Pietersen
Collingwood
Bopara
Prior
Broad
Swann
Harmison (other options?)
Anderson

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about international cricket


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