Saturday, October 28, 2006

England Move Out of One Day Slow Lane

England lost their first two matches in the ICC Champions Trophy match due to poor batting. They won their final match due to good batting, suggesting that bowling is of less importance in one day cricket.

England are no further forward with regard to finding a settled team. Harmison was replaced by Jon Lewis who was arguably the pick of the bowlers, returning 35 from 10 overs, but the previously impressive Anderson disappeared for 72 from his 10. The selectors must feel like the cartoon character trying to plug holes in a dyke, no sooner is one run leak fixed, another appears.

On a two paced pitch Gayle and Bravo both made patient centuries, punishing the bad deliveries and not taking any risks until a large total was assured. In contrast Strauss and Bell both threw their wickets away when they both looked like they were going to emulate Gayle and Bravo. Bravo then blotted his copybook by claiming a catch on the bounce to dismiss Yardy, leaving Pietersen to hit a match winning 90 of 86 deliveries. However, Mahmood's contribution should not be forgotten. When he came to the crease 41 runs were required at more than a run a ball. His 14 off 21 deliveries was also a match wining contribution. England won this match because they were the side batting second.

So now it's the Australians!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Village England Fail Again

My village team often get off to a good start, only for the middle order to throw it away in a vain attempt to maintain the early momentum when they should be consolidating the team's position. The tail-enders then haul the team towards a respectable position (guess where I bat), before the opposition batsmen ensure we all get to the pub early.

The England team continue to remind me of my cricketing experience this summer. Bell batted positively, while Strauss played what I should be describing as a captain's innings. In an attempt to justify his position in the side as batsman rather than an all-rounder, Flintoff continues to bat 2-3 position higher than he should and he continues to bat is if the innings was 20 overs or so older. In fact England only started batting well when they were 7 wickets down with Mahmood and Collingwood and then Anderson and Collingwood, who ensured that we reached 169. About a 100 short, but still the right side of total humiliation. Bell, Strauss, Collingwood(not out) and Anderson reached double figures and Mahmood had the next highest score of 8. The other six batsmen could only muster 13 runs between them.

Inevitably the Austrailian batsmen not only ensured that the players could hit the bar early, they also ensured that the England team can spend more time with their families.

Monday, October 16, 2006

How Green Was My Cricket Pitch: Drugs Scandal Hits The Game

My favourite cricketer when growing-up was the England and Derbyshire wicket-keeper Bob Taylor. His enjoyment of the game shone through, allowing him to fulfil the glovemen's role as the soul of the team. His determination to play the game as it should be played made him a hero that my parents and sports teacher could approve of. In the 5th Test at Adelaide in 1979, he walked on 97 for a thin leg-side edge through to the keeper, denying him what would have been his only test century. He was a cricketer that GK Chesterton's Great Scorer would have approved of.

Years later I heard him despairing of the decline in sportmanship in cricket, stating that in particular the batsman's refusal to walk led to him to retire from the game. I wonder what he thinks of the latest scandal to hit the sport. Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif have both tested positive for nandrolone, an anabolic steriod. Akhtar protests his innocence, but a procession of guilty atheletes attempting to protray themseleves as the victim means that he will not be believed.

The ICC need to investigate the medical teams supporting the players, nandrolone is not something that you get without a prescription, it is not something that a cricketer is likely to take without consulting their doctor. A single international panel of approved doctors, who rate the Hippocratic oathe above national success, would solve the problem.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Still No Sign Of One-Day Recovery

At the turn of the century the English Test team was in the doldrums and the desperate selectors argued that it was all cyclical and soon the England team would be revolved back up to the top. The argument had an element of truth, the results were so bad they simply had to get better.

The One-Day team are now in a familiar position. One-Day cricket should be a great leveller, as a match can turn on a single incident. This makes England's disasterous form all the more baffling. How can a team of talented cricketers only win 2 out of their last 10 One-Day matches? Especially when nine of them were at home. The margins of the defeats also make a mockery of the laws of probability, which suggest that the majority of One-Day games should be close.

Trying anything different would be better than simply blundering along as we are. Perhaps we should simply select the same team for One-Day and Test cricket and see how we go from there.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Thanks Glenn, Our Boys Needed That

Sheffield Shield sides learnt that when playing Queensland it was counter-productive to sledge Allan Border, as this would merely inspire the skipper of the banana-benders to play a match winning innings (when travelling in Victoria I was told that people from Queensland were called banana-benders, as this term is probably derogatory I apologise to anybody I may have offended).

Before the start of the 2005 series Glenn McGrath displayed his own special brand of arrogant optimism by stating that Australia would win 5-0. His point may have been that a person of his competitive nature had to believe this, as anything else would seem weak and pessimistic. Fair enough, but after the gleeful taunts he suffered by the England fans and after the England players admitted that they had been inspired by Glenn’s boastful predictions, wouldn’t it have been better to keep his mouth shut this time?

In his autobiography Mike Atherton ruefully states how he suggested to Steve Waugh that he was Darren Gough’s bunny. Waugh merely commented “thanks mate, I needed that” and went on to score a match winning century.

England's attitude should be the same as Waugh's. I only hope that Hoggard does not repeat his ageist comments of last year.