28 February 2011

UDRS in the spotlight again

The lesser version of the UDRS without hotspot is being used in the World Cup, but I doubt anyone knew there was a rule that if the batsman gets more than 2.5m forwards then the on-field umpire can ignore the technology. That seems strange as the accuracy of the technology, from what I understand, is more variable based on how far the ball travels between bounce and impact, rather than distance to travel after impact, but if that's the case, that's the case.

All that needed to happen was that the replays need to be shown in order - front foot from the bowler, did it hit him 2.5m or more away from the stumps, then the straight on replay (only when everyone is aware that it's likely to be irrelevant).

Not surprisingly, the additional layer on the UDRS annoyed MS Dhoni, and Andrew Strauss admitted he didn't know about it. Slightly worrying that no-one has thought to read the laws and match rules inside out as one misinterpretation can prove crucial - maybe the Bell incident will ensure that Strauss has the appropriate bed time reading.

Davies is gay makes front page news....really?

Who cares, who cares? If he wants to go public to tell the world he's gay that's totally up to him, but why is it being covered like it's huge news? One sentence somewhere would be more appropriate. We know the players won't have an issue with it after their naked modelling shoots together and James Anderson's comments when he modelled for a gay magazine.

Maybe it will be the 22nd century before sexual persuasion becomes an irrelevant issue.

27 February 2011

England improving...

England couldn't finish the job having got themselves into a winning position but England supporters can take heart from the main part of the batting display which was perfectly paced. As an Englishman I'm used to match-changing collapses and the arrogant way that the likes of Botham, Hussain and, to a lesser extent, Atherton, assumed England would walk it - with Bell and Strauss batting well going into the final 10 overs - grated.

Sure enough two wickets in two balls saw England's set batsmen depart and the game started to slip away from England. The powerplay worked against the in-coming batsmen (not that it exactly helped the set ones), with Prior in particular drilling the ball straight at fielders inside the circle, and England couldn't have made more of a mess of the part of the game that's meant to work to their advantage. That's where they can make huge strides forwards in their future games. Losing 4 wickets in the powerplay was disasterous, especially when India had to return to their less experienced bowlers once it was over as Khan and Harbajan were bowled out.

The powerplay out of the way and with nothing to lose, Swann and Bresnan belted sixes off the Chawla over that England surely must have been waiting for and expecting big things from. But just as England were getting themselves into a good position Bresnan got bowled leaving 14 required off the final over. England managed to get 15 off the Chawla over but only scored off 4 balls. Shahzad displayed his cool with a straight six in the final over (hopefully England can learn from that - a low risk maximum rather than a swish across the line), and in the end England will feel they could have won given 2 needed off 1 ball. But with 29 needed with 2 wickets in hand and 11 balls to go, they'd have taken a tie every time.

Where does this put England? In a far better position than they were going into the match. Their bowling and fielding still has a long way to go, and I'm sure a level-head like Flower will be able to point out the shot selection issues as the pressure came on in the powerplay and at the end. That's good news - they aren't even playing that well and yet they tied with the tournament favourites.

It would be great if Strauss could show a little more flexibility in the field and to get the best side on the pitch he and Flower need to work out if they have confidence in Collingwood as a bowler. If you're going to give him just 3 overs rather than allow him to take the heat off Anderson given his off day then it is questionable whether they should pick Collingwood at all. On batting alone, Bopara is the more fluent so Collingwood should only be playing if they consider him an all-rounder and Strauss will give him the ball on days like today when one of his bowlers has an off-day. Only Strauss can answer what's going on in his mind in the field, but his batting has been fantastic and long may he remain top run scorer in the competition.

So take heart England supporters - loads of room for improvement and still tieing with India - it could be worse.

Sweat, sweat and more sweat

It's no surprise that the players are finding it hot work in the World Cup given the conditions. Chamara Silva has form for losing grip of his bat from last year, and the same happened again during Sri Lanka's game against Pakistan. What happened next? The clear winner in the world's sweatiest man competition, Shoaib Akhtar, picked the bat up and gave it back to him, ensuring the bat grip would be even wetter....

No wonder Silva couldn't take Sri Lanka to victory!

22 February 2011

It was always in the bag....

From what I've read England couldn't have played any worse and still got a win. Could it be an omen? We started the world Twenty20 in terrible form and ended up winning that...!

21 February 2011

The initial days of the World Cup

So far we've learnt:

- Sehwag is very dangerous when he comes off
- But not just to the opposition - his running is so poor it puts at risk his team mates and himself
- Kohli is a class player in the mould of Tendulkar so capable of playing that role if the little master is dismissed early
- Sangakarra and Jayawardene are superb and crucial to Sri Lanka's chances at this World Cup
- Lesser nations like Kenya are more prone to batting collapses
- Ray Price looks like a good opening bowling option for Zimbabwe - not surprising really as he is rated the 4th best ODI bowler in the world.

So, nothing learnt at all really as we knew all that already....

19 February 2011

England's selection and batting order

I'm a little confused by some of the discussion about England's batting order - I thought the top 7 picked themselves in whatever order....Strauss, Pietersen, Trott, Bell, Bopara, Prior, Collingwood. But several observers seem to be missing Bopara from their potential team - Michael Vaughan seems to be expecting Bopara to miss out. And others don't seem to think Collingwood gets in.

When Bopara came in as a better 6th bowler than Trott, I thought it would mean that doubts about the selection of the top 7 would be banished, but apparently not. I can't quite work it out - the home sides all use all-rounders to fill the 5th bowling slot and many use up to 8 bowlers in a match. England can do the same using Pietersen, Trott and Bopara as necessary.

I have faith that Andy Flower will get this right, but we'll have to see!

16 February 2011

KP as an opener?

That's not something I saw coming - using Pietersen as an opener. It didn't really work today with Pietersen making a start and not converting (no change there then), but it will be interesting to hear from England after he match whether this is the plan for the World Cup when it starts.

Stuart Broad played in the end, despite not being well, although why England felt they needed to ask the ICC for dispensation to play Tremlett (who's not in the squad) in a warm up game confuses me. It's up to them what they do isn't it - other sides have even fielded 12 or 13 players!

Disappointed that Bopara isn't in the side, as I imagine King Cricket might be given their Bopara piece yesterday - I thought the top 7 picked themselves and it was just a matter of working out what order to bat them in....

15 February 2011

Out of The Ashes review

I don't know if anyone else has seen Out of The Ashes but my pre-Ashes deal to get Sky in return for my wife getting a dog meant that I have watched it now. It was eagerly anticipated by John Wright and by most cricket enthusiasts I imagine.

Overall view? It was ok. I know - hardly a sweeping judgement one way or the other, but perhaps it didn't live up to the hype? Maybe I was expecting too much, like knowing the score when you were watching the clips of matches, without which you only had the audio to guide you on the match situation and that happened all too rarely.

But there was one massive highlight for me. After a Shane Watson/Jonathan Trott style running mix up, two players were left at the same end. As the batsman that was out came off the pitch he shouted something which was translated below in English: "He's a bi-sexual. Why did you make me bat with a bi-sexual?"

That's what international cricket is all about....

The reason Australia lost the Ashes...

...has been revealed to be a lack of alcohol!

14 February 2011

Butt takes commentary role after ban

How anyone can offer someone guilty of corruption a job in a related field, is difficult to fathom, but this seems to be what Channel 5 in Pakistan have done as they've offered Salman Butt a role on their commentary team. It says a lot that they must think that this will increase viewing figures, when logically it should mean a mass switch off.

Who know's if he'll be any good as a commentator? It remains to be seen if Butt will talk out of his arse....

Mosquitoe repellant required for Wolrd Cup

It seems that Bangladesh are very keen to ensure that the opening ceremony in Dhaka isn't marred by everyone involved getting eaten alive by mozzies according to the BBC. They're "deploying special teams" to wipe out mosquitoes apparently....if it was that easy then why can't these teams be deployed to The Isle of Skye and other places like that where you can't leave your house without losing a large proportion of your blood?

Cricketers facial hair iPhone app!?!

I know, I know....what on earth? King Cricket report that you can now get an iphone app that allows you to place cricketer's facial hair on any image of yourself or any friend, colleague or team mate.

If that's your kind of thing, then go for it!

13 February 2011

England 1st team for the World Cup

Assuming the walking wounded make it for the 1st match of the World Cup I'd be going with:

Strauss, Trott, Bell, Pietersen, Bopara, Prior, Collingwood, Bresnan, Broad, Swann, Anderson.

If Collingwood finds batting form I'd bring him higher in the order because otherwise you've got four loose flashy players in a row. Yardy can consider himself unlucky and could come in for any of the bowlers on spin-friendly wickets, which some will be.

It's difficult to get concerned about the World Cup at this stage - if England make it to the knockout stage I'll take an interest then! Believe it or not, that's not until 23rd March! Three thoughts for you coming into the World Cup:

Limited squad numbers

I assume there's a very good reason for having a set number of players in a squad but off the top of my head I can't think of one. If the national board can pay for accomodation and flights, wouldn't it be easier to allow them as many as they need or want? That way the likes of Mike Hussey could grace the later stages of the competition....with it being 6 weeks in total, there is the prospect of some of the world's great players watching the final stages from home, fully fit. That seems daft, given that everyone - spectators, players and sponsors alike - want to see the best players available contesting the World Cup.

Warm up matches

Warm up matches need to be against local first class sides - warm up matches between international sides are just World Cup matches without anything riding on them. Completely pointless!

ODIs in general

Although he was quick to deny it, it's been claimed that Kevin Pietersen was considering retiring from ODIs after the World Cup. If he isn't, he isn't, but some will do eventually if the ICC don't take the decision to end ODIs and go back to two forms of international cricket. Twenty20 is where the money is and Test cricket is where the real skill and quality cricket is. Difficult though it is, the ICC and member countries need to take the decision to bring ODIs to an end.

Who will win? I'm going for Sri Lanka given that they're on home turf (until the final anyway). But there's any number of teams that can win it and with the final just the one match it's impossible for anyone to predict with any accuracy.

9 February 2011

What a shame for Bopara

Much as he'll be excited by his elevation to take Eoin Morgan's place I find that I've now lost about 50% of my already dwindling interest in this tournament as a consequence and I bet there's plenty like me.

4 February 2011

All going smoothly for the World Cup

Well perhaps not....one stadium not ready and a wall falling down in Chennai now. 6 hurt, but no fatalities. All bodes will then...

2 February 2011

Simon Jones keeps on trying

You might have thought that Simon Jones had given up any international aspirations given his injuries, but he still thinks he may have a role to play in ODIs and Twenty20s sometime in the future....you have to admire his attitude.

American thoughts on cricket

You might like the "culture clash" cartoon I came across....

England shaping up poorly for the World Cup

Before The Ashes some people were worried that England's preparation was too smooth and of course they went on to dominate the series. Quite the opposite has happened in the run up to the World Cup. The side that is playing these matches has only one or two of the likely bowlers for the World Cup. Both sides are playing on wickets where even slower ball bouncers are in danger of being given as wides for getting too high, where as the wickets for the World Cup will be slow and almost certainly low. So the only advantage to be taken is one of positive morale and England have lost the huge positivity that came from The Ashes win...imagine if they'd had a good break before the two World Cup warm up matches and gone there with fresh players, many of whom were recent Ashes winners and/or World Twenty20 winners?

Instead, England will go to the World Cup jaded and low on confidence after a drubbing from Australia. So are there any positives to come from the incredibly drawn out series of ODIs in Australia? Possibly two.

First, Jonathan Trott is batting sensationally and has proven that he can bowl three or four overs without being a liability. But that's only possibly a positive because it remains to be seen if the confidence he will have going into the World Cup will translate into runs given that the wickets will be almost exact opposites of the Australian wickets he's been successful on.

And second, England may have realised they can play Collingwood as a bowler batting at seven who can be relied upon to bowl his 10 overs just as much as any of the other bowlers. He was England's most economical bowler in the 4th and 5th ODIs and, although that stat doesn't always hold up these days with some bowlers bowling nearly all their overs in powerplays and others not bowling any powerplay overs, he's certainly bowled well. As long as England play on grounds with normal size boundaries, England should have confidence in Collingwood as a bowler, knowing they can get a few overs out of Trott and Pietersen if necessary (and understanding that those guys are just as likely to be needed to fill in for one of the "bowlers" as Collingwood).

Do those possible positives outweigh the negatives? Not at all. If England really had to play 7 ODIs (not to mention two Twenty20s) then they needed to play them over a far shorter period of time and get home for a rest before heading to the World Cup. Winning or losing, 3 days was never a sensible amount of time to return to the UK for.

And what of Australia? They have the positive morale from winning of course, but they also have a couple of other positives - Hastings has found his feet and Michael Clarke has come good. But they also have the problem that form on Aussie wickets may not translate to form on slow sub-continent wickets, and one of their key bowlers - Nathan Hauritz - is now a major injury worry. So there will be positive noises of course, but Australia could have also benefited from a shorter or non-existent ODI series.

I wonder if there are odds on England playing a seven match ODI series the next time they visit Australia?

1 February 2011

Cricketing photoshoot

The black and white photo of me that accompanies some of my posts is one that was taken for my work at Propellernet. We're now updating the website so we've all had another photo taken, but this time properly with professional cameraman, lighting etc. Everyone had to have a prop so mine was a bat and ball....a very surreal experience as I was told to "look natural" while playing a cricket shot with my head in front of the bat!

You'll see some of the offending photos on Cricket Burble at some point....!