25 January 2011

England and Australia hamstrung for World Cup

In 2009 Ricky Ponting complained that the 7 match ODI series lessened his side's chances at the Champions Trophy and in 2011 the same can be said again, this time with the World Cup the looming global competition. If England or Australia win it will not be down to good fixture planning, that's for sure...who needs a 7 match ODI series at any time ever? 5 is quite enough.

The England players needed to return to England for a break and then get out to the sub-continent well in advance to play practice matches there, instead of on hard(ish) Australian wickets. As they haven't they're less likely to win the World Cup. I'm afraid I can't find the article, but there is statistical evidence that team performances slump after 6 weeks away....I'll see if I can locate it again. Not just for the readers of Cricket Burble, but so the ECB can have a read too for when they're next considering fixtures.

Scoring app

This Stephen Fleming and Brendan McCullum backed scoring app is only free for a shortish period of time so download it now if you fancy it....

Lottie Edwards under-rated

Sticking on the women's cricket theme, when I watched England women at Hove last year there were mutterings from those around me that Charlotte "Lottie" Edwards MBE was losing it and that she might not remain England skipper for long. A good tour of Australia - allbeit without being able to bring back the Ashes - and that sort of talk is hopefully long forgotten. I recently suggested that Jacques Kallis was dramatically under-rated and the same could be said for Charlotte Edwards.

Not only has she played exceptionally well over a very long period, as this article at The Spin explains, but she's revered by her team mates and all those in and around the women's game.

Captain or not (and she surely will be for quite a while yet), at only just 31 she's hopefully still got many years of international cricket to play - it's just that people assume she's older because she's been around so long having started at 16. However the rest of her career turns out, it's already an amazing one....long may it continue.

Aussie women take The Ashes

I feel very sorry for the English women who were beaten by Australia overnight to surrender the Ashes - with it being a one Test "series" there's no chance of England fighting back. The two teams seem pretty evenly matched but you have to hand it to Australia's women - attacking captaincy from skipper Alex Blackwell declaring behind on day 2, a hatrick from Rene Farrell, playing only her second Test, and a quality innings from debutant Sarah Elliott on day 4, swung the match in Australia's favour.

22 January 2011

County Finances

You might have noticed that there's been various financial announcements from Counties recently. In particular Nottinghamshire have announced that they made a profit of £190k as they had a Test, an ODI and they won the Championship. When you take last year's loss of £149k, they're just over £40k up on the last two years. I'm not sure of the exact amount the winning County gets but it's around £150k so it's quite easy to take the view that Notts are not exactly 100% healthy financially as they aren't going to win the Championship every year.

And then Leicestershire have announced that they made a loss of more than £400k, with players' wages up £230k.

Looking at a few other Counties, things seem dire with Worcestershire making a pre-tax loss of £118k in 2009, Essex losing £216k and Kent £800k (after predicting break even). Lancashire announced a record loss of £546k in the summer and shortly afterwards Stewart Regan resigned as Chief Exec at Yorkshire and warned of redundancies.

Overall the 18 Counties lose around £29m according to Accountancy Magazine before TV money from Sky (worth £50m approx to the ECB) is taken into account. And Deloitte reported in 2010 that over the last 12 years Test grounds have invested over £150m, with another £56m committed over the next 4 years. The combined debt level from the 9 Test grounds is £91m, and by 2015 the interest on that is estimated by Deloitte to be £36m. In 2011 those Test grounds will make just £17.5m from hosting Tests, if all goes well. When all the Counties are taken together there is currently "184m a year in interest payments and 12 of the 20 clubs are not able to cover their interest payments with their operating profits" according to Philip Morgan, of management consultants AT Kearney.

It's all looking pretty dire when you add in a global financial slowdown and, though I hate to say it, perhaps it will be beneficial in the long-run if some Counties are forced to close down for financial reasons. The ECB may need to look at the way Wales faced a similar situation within rugby and has come through it reasonably successfully. Whatever they do, I hope they have a plan as to how they are working with the Counties to secure an appropriate future for the English game, and there's no doubt their trying with their 2008 5-year plan across County and Club cricket.

I doubt I'm alone in worrying that what's planned so far is not going to be enough....time will tell.

19 January 2011

Dickie doesn't want undies

That's right, Dickie Bird has made it clear he's upset that revellers sometimes attach underwear to his outstretched finger that extends from his statue in Barnsley. He'd like the statue lifted higher and out of reach....

Prior ousts Davies and Wright gets lucky

The England selectors have decided that Matt Prior offers a better option than Steve Davies at the World Cup which is a call that it's difficult to find fault with. But the selection of Luke Wright, ahead of the likes of Tremlett, might raise a few eyebrows. It's difficult to see in what circumstances Wright might play so perhaps his fielding is a critical factor in his selection....it's tricky to see what else it might be given his ODI average of 21 with the bat and 51 with the ball.

Presumably Bell will open with Strauss and Prior will bat 6 or 7 rather than Prior opening...

17 January 2011

India lag way behind the rest on UDRS

Time and again India say that they aren't happy with the accuracy of technology and therefore won't use it. But then Dhoni continually criticises the umpires for wrong decisions, and it's proven there are more wrong decisions without the UDRS than with it. The fact that India or any other country are allowed to decide if they use technology leaves the ICC rightly open to criticism, not to mention the fact that the players can use reviews and technology isn't used whenever the umpires want it.

Personally I hope the ICC and India see sense soon because the use of the UDRS in some matches just makes it even clearer when mistakes are made in non-UDRS matches. India won by one run against South Africa in their last ODI match but during the chase South African's Johan Botha edged the ball down to 3rd man for a single, only to be given out LBW despite the fact the ball had missed the pad completely. You could easily argue that just that one wrong decision changed the result and South Africa will now go into the World Cup again trying to get rid of the chokers tag, perhaps unfairly in this case.

And anyone reading the New Zealand v Pakistan bulletins couldn't do so without reading about regular umpiring howlers. The latest of the 7 wrong decisions in the first 3 days was Younis Khan who, with Misbah, was going to open up a significant lead for Pakistan in all probability. Instead, he was given caught off the pad and Pakistan lost 6 wickets for 90odd to finish their innings.

Be patient cricket lovers from all around the world. Even the BCCI and ICC will catch up eventually. It would be great for the game if India go out of the World Cup due to an umpiring howler in a tight match as that might finally get the BCCI out of the dark ages, but assuming that doesn't happen, on present form it may be 2020 before the BCCI and ICC get themselves sorted out....

Two sides with a couple of positions to finalise

As has been pointed out on King Cricket, a massive 7 ODI series just before the World Cup can only be assumed to be a set of practice matches for the two teams, allbeit in conditions completely different to the World Cup. England will be using the matches to finalise their best XI, and will soon announce their World Cup 15-ma squad.

Massive Collingwood fan though I am, I think they did the right thing dropping Collingwood. He'll definitely go to the World Cup and in those conditions his bowling will be an excellent option, far more so than in Australia. So there's even the possibility of him batting as low as 7 and still being an important part of the side as a core bowling option depending on the wickets. Certainly if I was picking between Wright, Bopara and Collingwood, for me it would be the ginga ninja every time. England have all but announced Collingwood will be in the World Cup squad so it's just a question of his role and whether he'll make the starting XI.

In some ways the 1st ODI will have done Collingwood's chances of making the World Cup 1st XI a lot of good, as he watched from the sideline. Jonathan Trott isn't as good a bowler as Collingwood so England had just the five realistic bowling options with Pietersen and Trott in reserve....no doubt that left Strauss feeling a little uncomfortable. They would definitely want to go in with Collingwood as the 6th bowler if they could find a way to make that happen.

So with that in mind I wonder if they have at the back of their minds that Eoin Morgan has done some occasional wicket-keeping. It's not something they will consider unless Davies has a very poor Australian series, but it may just surface if that is the case, and that would allow Collingwood to slot in at 6 and Strauss to have his 6th bowler. It's not ideal but you never know.

Although I think England are unlikely to spring a surprise with their World Cup selection, I would be considering Bopara carefully myself, but would very narrowly overlook him for Shahzad. So the 15 would be Strauss, Davies, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Morgan, Bresnan, Yardy, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Collingwood, Shahzad, Tremlett, Tredwell (assuming Broad is fit). Woakes can consider himself unlucky and could still get a call up if there are injuries.

Australia, despite their brilliant victory are far less settled. Ponting is already injured and Mike Hussey is now struggling to be fit for the World Cup. And any side batting Steve Smith at 4 clearly hasn't got the right line up - he should have batted 7 on merit. What will Australia's 15 be? Assuming the selectors have got over their strange hatred of Nathan Hauritz, my guess is that they will ignore David Hussey unless his brother is injured and go with Watson, Haddin, Ponting, Clarke, White, Hussey M, Smith, Johnson, Hauritz, Lee, Tait, Bollinger, Paine, Doherty, Siddle. Personally, I'd find a place for David Hussey ahead of one of the pace bowlers, pick him ahead of Smith or Doherty, or go without Paine, but I'll be surprised if they do that (although I'm not sure what the rules are about replacing the keeper if he gets injured).

14 January 2011

Defeat by Australia

Loved Bumble's comment near the end 'Australia are in danger of winning a cricket match here'. Obviously losing after 8 victories is not acceptable and our success rate of only 88% over the last 9 matches is not good enough - may I be the first to call for a complete overhaul of our domestic set-up from howzat standard to county level and for all the individuals involved, selectors, manager, coaches , captain and players to be dismissed instantly ?

12 January 2011

Full, straight and out

As I was listening to the radio commentary of Shaun Tait bowling to Luke Wright. I was saying to myself "if it's full and straight it will be out". Whether or not that was the ball that Wright was expecting, we don't know, but I wonder how many others were thinking the same? Wright is a wholehearted cricketer but I can't help feeling that the world's best bowlers will get the better of him every time, and so it proved.

Lovely to see England keep up their momentum. I hope Ian Bell can keep up his form and his luck...I watched his recorded innings against the PM's XI this morning and it was a fine array of great shots mixed with near misses as fielders couldn't quite get to mishits, including one drop. The same seemed to happen today. Cash in, cash in, Shermy!

ECB looking for sponsor

Npower won't be extending their current sponsorship of the men's and women's England Test XIs so it's an opportunity for a brand to come in at a time when many observers think that England cricket is on the up. It would be interesting to know what sort of price is being sought, but I imagine we'll never know....

11 January 2011

Ashes stats

I know many of you love your stats more than I do, so hopefully all these Ashes stats will sate your appetite....

Cricinfo to revamp before the World Cup

Sorry, I still can't bring myself to call it ESPNcricinfo - it's like the ICC's desperate attempts to call the UDRS the DRS to take the word umpire out, but in reverse forcing us to remember the ESPN brand every time we go to Cricinfo. Either way, the site is apparently going to be revamped before the World Cup and as someone who works in that area I'll be interested to see the results. The last time the site was updated when ESPN bought Cricinfo, I wrote a brief review of the site, which was balanced rather than 100% complimentary - I doubt I'll be asked again!

What Tom Gleeson made clear a while back was that Cricinfo's mobile traffic is increasing substantially, and that's no surprise. Mobile visitors are going up for most sites but I wonder how many of the quoted 129m page views are people like me who type in the URL on a mobile and then go straight to the bottom of the page to click on the "full site" link. And then how many of the page views are people going back to the homepage as part of their mobile browsing and having to do the same thing multiple times, scrolling down to the full site link. For me, as someone who reads a lot of the Cricinfo content, their mobile site gets in the way of me browsing the full site via my iPhone.

As more and more smart phones are sold and used commonly, I have my doubts whether sites like Cricinfo, that aren't transactional, need a separate mobile site. If they feel they do, the world will be full if people like myself, treating the mobile site as an obstacle to get round rather than what it was designed for - to give easy access to content for those on a mobile rather than a computer. Time will tell if that prediction on the evolution of mobile web content works out....I'll come back to you in 2016 if I remember!

New Zealand's batting

I've got to say that watching the New Zealand v Pakistan Test, Tim McIntosh looked all at sea as New Zealand's opener. He has had some success, with two Test hundreds, but he makes Marcus North look like a confident starter. Gut feel having not watched much of him, is that he's going to struggle to be successful (i.e. average over 40) in Test cricket. But I'm equally concerned about the proposed change if he is dropped to bring in James Franklin in the middle order. Franklin is a Test match number 8 - he has talent but a Test average of 21 from 36 innings just isn't good enough to automatically bat above Vettori who averages 30 despite a recent run of poor form. Wherever he bats, is he really the answer to strengthening the batting line up?

New Zealand's batting looks to have a few holes in it, and until John Wright can find a way of patching them up, they will be prone to collapses and occasional quick losses.

Cricketing footballers

It's the depths of the football season but thanks to England's Ashes win and the fact that the top two sides in the world have been playing in South Africa, cricket - for once - has had decent coverage in the sports sections. Here's a nice little piece reminding us that some footballers do actually like cricket!

10 January 2011

Even more Middlesex success

There's been much in the press about England doing well in Ashes series under Middlesex captains ( Brearley, Gatting, Strauss) or, admittedly Yorkshiremen (Hutton, Illingworth and Captain Cook, who found it) but all seem to be forgetting that the only one to regain (as opposed to retain) it twice was 'Plum' Warner, also of Middlesex.
Incidentally I see you can now buy 'Ashes' ODI shirts - that can't be right,surely.

Kallis v Sobers

It seems someone else also has recognised how underrated Jacques Kallis is and considers him the 2nd best all-rounder ever...here his stats are assessed versus Sobers and come out pretty similar. The difference of course is that Sobers could bowl three variations and, from what I hear, having not watched him play, was a more versatile fielder. So he edges it v Kallis, but not by much....

9 January 2011

England's ODI side

It seems strange that Alastair Cook isn't around to open the batting in the ODIs given his form, but I think I'd be wanting to find a way of getting England's second best batsman from The Ashes into the side if the Australian ODIs mattered at all. With Bell back, Trott doesn't have a natural position in the side if Davies opens and the best short-term side might be Strauss, Trott, Bell, Pietersen, Morgan, Collingwood, Davies, Bresnan, Swann, Shahzad, Tremlett (given that Anderson isn't available).

But with the World Cup coming up in the sub-continent it will be interesting to see if Trott gets a look in. Class player though he is, there may be a suspicion that slow low wickets may mean that Trott will find it hard to score quickly. If they're single-mindedly preparing for the World Cup, perhaps the side might end up being Strauss, Davies, Bell, Pietersen, Morgan, Collingwood, Yardy, Bresnan, Swann, Shahzad, Tremlett.

It will be interesting to see if Woakes gets any sort of chance to impress. I can't help feeling that Shahzad could be a little expensive in Australia, but I suspect the England management will be hoping that he can get some reverse swing in the middle overs before the ball change and if he can that would be invaluable in Australia and at the World Cup....

New Zealand's batting struggles again

It was tortuous watching New Zealand batting against Pakistan on day 3 - after the first couple of wickets fell it really was a procession. There is some talent there with the likes of Guptill, Ryder and Williamson but the side's ability to compete still comes down to the big 3 of McCullum, Taylor and Vettori. In the 2nd innings McCullum was given out caught off thigh pad (evening up another wrong decision in the first innings when he was given not out having gloved one), Taylor was run out by his partner Williamson, and Vettori went cheaply having looked in poor health in the field on day 2. New Zealand need to find a way to prosper even when the big 3 fail.

They're unlikely to challenge India for the number 1 slot but New Zealand really can (and need to) improve the consistency of their batting given the decent players at their disposal, and no doubt is one of John Wright's top priorities....

Another great Colly article!

I'm sure you're getting sick of the Colly articles but I liked the tone of this Paul Collingwood piece on The Wisden Cricketer site, written by Alex Bowden of King Cricket.

Strange how a guy can deem himself surplus to requirements in one format, and yet he's now skipper in two other formats until Strauss returns as the Test and ODI skipper is now chilling out in his Melbourne property. Nice to have a home-from-home...perhaps Strauss buying a place there was also part of the meticlous Ashes planning?!

6 January 2011

8 reasons to miss Paul Collingwood

8 reasons to miss the Ginga Ninja from the Wisden Cricketer....

Collingwood retires

It was on the cards, and Paul Collingwood has said that the Sydney Test will be his last. Here's just a couple of the things written about him so far...

On Cricinfo....and on Reverse Sweep. Much more to follow no doubt....

4 January 2011

Aggression and frustration from SA

Having thought they got the worst of the umpiring (in the absence of the UDRS) in the 2nd Test, South Africa seemed to get really hot under the collar today. Tendulkar was out caught behind in the first over of the day for 49 but he wasn't given (in fairness to the umpire, not even the bowler Steyn went up for it). Then they thought they got Tendulkar caught behind later on, although from the replays I saw it didn't look like that was the case.

And finally they acted like small children when a Steyn delivery to Harbajan clipped the outside of off-stump quite hard and they mistakenly thought it was an outside edge. To have seen that the ball hit the stumps but didn't disloge the bails was a brilliant piece of umpiring by Gunner Gould. I'm surprised the match referree hasn't taken any action for the way that South Africa reacted to that one.

It's no excuse for players openly questioning the umpires decision, but wouldn't it be simpler to replay and demonstrate to players and crowd alike that it wasn't out...or in the case of Tendulkar in the first over of the day, that it was out? Unless of course you have someone like Ponting who ignores the video evidence and goes off on one anyway!

3 January 2011

Jacques Kallis - dramatically underrated

And on the other side in the encounter between the world's top 2 sides - Jacques Kallis scored his 39th hundred to draw level with Ricky Ponting. Even now, having finally scored a double hundred in this series and then moving to second in the all-time Test century makers list (as he's played less Tests than Ricky Ponting and/or he's earlier in the alphabet?!), I can't help feeling he's massively underrated....especially in England as he's not been at his best against us. Given that he's scored as many hundreds as Ponting, the Aussie skipper seems like a good man to compare him against....

Kallis is a guy who averages 56.4 compared to Ponting's 53.5, averages 32 with the ball at an economy rate of well under 3 (he'll take well over 300 Test wickets by the time he's done - he's on 270 at the moment), and has as good a set of hands as Ponting, having taken 166 catches (to Ponting's 178). A truly class act, and if he were Australian he'd be in the Gilchrist, Warne and McGrath bracket (or perhaps of those only Warne can claim to be his equal) but somehow he sneaks under the radar as an all-time great as he plays for South Africa. He makes my all-time international XI comfortably.


I've always wondered what made Sreesanth an international bowler as when I've watched him he's always seemed like someone who doesn't move it much and who isn't quick by international standards. So cannon-fodder then.

But today, watching him against the South African's, was the first time I've seen what Gary Kirsten and the Indian selectors obviously see in him. The balls he bowled to Ashwell Prince and Mark Boucher to get rid of them in consecutive balls were brilliant and if it wasn't for his childish antics, he could almost become a bowler I'd admire. I'd always thought he lacked talent and character....perhaps there's only one of those that Gary Kirsten has to work on.