15 January 2014

Not long to go now................

We should by now be starting to get excited about the next Ashes series - it's only 17 months away ! But in the meantime the non- cricketers will have to endure, England's players will need to play and we can enjoy 12 Test Matches, 28 ODIs and 8 T20s ( not counting the ICC T20, the Champions League and the ICC World Cup).
We'll soon get over this debacle.
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13 January 2014

An England win!

How refreshing to wake up, check Cricinfo, and see that England have won!!   I had a momentary panic at 5:20 this morning when I read the top headline referring to England men's battering in the latest ODI before realising that wasn't the women's result.   Thank goodness for that....I was worried when Australia came back from 30odd for 5 in their 1st innings to gain a 1st innings lead, but a great partnership in the 2nd innings between Lottie Edwards and Jenny Gunn and some inspired bowling led to a 61 run victory.

Now to consider the men's ODI team which the terrible headline on Cricinfo was referring to.   Watching the start of the match was painful from an England perspective - yes early wickets happen but Root got stuck as if in a Test match.   Those that knock Pietersen should consider what the result might have been had he been batting 3 rather than Root.   (I agree with this piece from Tom Moody saying how much England need Pietersen.)   With the squad they're allowed to pick from (i.e. missing Pietersen/Broad) for the next match I'd be going for Carberry at 3 if they insist on that balance to the side or, ideally, to drop Root for Briggs or Tredwell.   If they're worried about the batting they could drop Rankin for Woakes to ensure they bat down to 8 with Bresnan and Jordan to follow, plus the spinner.   But unless he simply can't hit the cut strip I'd give Finn a go at Rankin's expense- he can't do much worse!

England seem to have settled on the number 6 slot for Bopara in ODIs but he's an option at 3 if England rejig the order and feel there's no one else for 3.   I didn't agree with any of the pre-match chat from the commentators/experts that England were a bowler light on the weekend - Bopara is a bowler in ODIs....his record compares well to Stokes and Bresnan (although in Bresnan's case he had to bowl in powerplays, and Stokes is very light on games played, but you get my point).   Bopara's bowling stats also compare well with Woakes incidentally.

Maybe a little of the resilience shown by England women can rub off on the men - I'm not holding my breath but it would help if they picked the best side.

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11 January 2014

Early season form will be critical

As you'd expect there's been loads of debate about the make up of England's team when they next get back to playing Tests in June.   Alastair Cook, quite rightly, has not given any assurances to anyone about their position.   But nevertheless I'm with Alec Stewart in as much as I wouldn't cull all the senior players.   As the likes of Tufnell, Harmison, Hughes and Vaughan have indicated, there's a few positions up to grabs depending on who hits early season form.   So any predictions made now are likely to change but for what it's worth, here's mine:

Carberry/Compton/Root/Lees/Robson/Ali (depending on early season form)
Carberry/Compton/Root/Lees/Robson/Ali (depending on early season form)
Cook (c)
Prior (although I'd be keeping a very close eye on Foakes with England Lions)
Borthwick (which makes it more likely that Root or Ali will be picked as opener to bowl some overs)

There's plenty of others who could pressure their way in though which is what makes it interesting.   The likes of Bopara, Morgan and Buttler will be thinking that a few decent ODI performances could put them in contention.   Bresnan isn't out of the mix, and Taylor will want a few early season hundreds to force himself into consideration.   Equally, pretty much all English spinners are in with a shout - Rayner, Rafeeq, Ansari and Rashid must all be hoping for a slot.   And in the pace department Jamie Overton and Chris Jordan will be hopeful.

So it actually makes early-season weather-affected County games important which will be interesting...but, as Ed Smith points out, freshening up the approach doesn't mean a team of youngsters necessarily.

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8 January 2014

Prior stops man killing himself

It looks like something good has come from England's tour down under at least!   Matt Prior talked a man down who was planning on jumping off a bridge to end his life, and then he and Stuart Broad stayed talking with the guy until police arrived.   No - it wasn't one of their England colleagues or support staff!

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Getting better !

It almost feels comfortable to be reading again about England batting collapses but, of course, there was improvement during the series. We got within 281 of them last time, which is a better by precisely 100 on the first attempt. Or was that just the dead rubber effect? I said it was a good tour for Compton, Onions and Robson.
"We have to accept the fact that they are better " said The Chairman of Selectors. " I don't think that I have ever seen a team in any sport seek out to destroy another with such deliberate intent. There was a cold brutal anger about the way Australia went into this series. Revenge is too poor a word." said Simon Barnes in The Times....................also in 2006/7.

Incidentally we lost this time by a total of 1,030 runs and 8 wickets , as opposed to 582 runs and 26 wickets 7 years ago.

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3 January 2014

England play Ballance, Borthwick and Rankin...drop Root, Bresnan and Panesar.

Can't say I'd have gone for the team that's been selected but there we go - when a team's losing badly there is always a huge clamour for changes.   If they hadn't and still lost badly they'd have been even more heavily criticised.   Bringing Ballance in was likely and I've no problem with that - given that Borthwick has been selected, I'm surprised they didn't keep Root in rather than Carberry as he can support with his bowling (and definitely not because he's much younger which is a terrible reason that's been quoted by some of the Sky commentators - Carberry is hardly over the hill!).   But having said that the pitch is apparently so green that England may have felt Root wouldn't be needed to bowl anyway.

Assuming he's fit I'd have played Panesar - it's lovely to have Borthwick's extra batting but his first class bowling stats just don't warrant a call up for his bowling.   However he's a great talent and England will hope he can raise his game for the occasion.   My fear is that Borthwick could be more of a Steve Smith than a Shane Warne - we'll see.   We know Australia will target him so fingers crossed he has a far more successful debut than Kerrigan had at the end of last English summer.

Rankin's also a strange one.   Although a decent performer at County level he hasn't shown to date that international players have too much to fear from him.   Rather than play a tall bang it in bowler on a green wicket that seems likely to offer sideways movement, I'd have played Bresnan.   No Bresnan hasn't played brilliantly in his two matches in the series to date, but I'd argue that he'd be more likely to do well given the conditions.

Cue a great match for Borthwick and Rankin!

Given England's selection issues, interesting to see that Geoff Miller was awarded a OBE for services to cricket in the New Year Honours.   His selectorial capabilities are just part of what he has done, but I still find it interesting to see how a consensus view gets formed about someone.   Miller has overseen some decent consistency of selection for which he and his colleagues need a big pat on the back, but at the same time he was also key to Kevin Pietersen being made captain.   He and his team also couldn't seem to work out who they wanted to replace Paul Collingwood at number 6, or who they wanted to open with Cook once Strauss retired.   They went for Compton which was a surprise to many, and then having made that decision, they jettisoned him despite some decent returns for someone in his early career.   Miller's got some witty anecdotes, is clearly well liked, and I'm certainly not begrudging Miller his honour.   I just find it fascinating how perceptions of selectors and - for that matter - coaches, are often rose-tinted or unfairly harsh.

Still waiting for Rankin to bowl as I type...wide long hop to start!

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