Category Archives: Cricket

A mess

Whichever way Ian Bell in one of his “tour diaries” this was frankly a disastrous test match for England. And instead of “building as a team” or “gelling” which is most commonly referred to in those diaries England need to realise that they were a mess.

Monty Panesar will get a lot of blame for the loss; and to be honest he deserves it. He is a class spinner, with a lot of talent and ability and he should have taken a couple of wickets at least in the final innings on an Indian wicket.

He hasn’t been at his best at all recently. Fair enough he’s bowling to the world best batting line-up but Monty has proved he can perform on the big stage before so really there isn’t any reason why he can’t now. The obvious point is he needs more variation is his pace, flight etc.

But Monty might have taken more wickets if the Indian batsman had to attack more in their second innings. And its Kevein Pietesens fault that after all hell broke lose at the start with Sehwag the rest of the Indian batsman were allowed to stroll past the finish line. Sachin Tendulkar is a truly world class batsman but he shouldn’t have been allowed to have scored his runs with such ease had Pietersen declared earlier.

If India were put under pressure to go for either a draw or win then England might have taken a few more wickets with the Indian batsman indecisiveness and gaps could have been opened and England could have pushed on for the win.

England might take “positives”, in the words of an Ian Bell tour diary, but Pietersen needs to realise he made a mistake and face up to the fact that he’s playing the worlds best side, in their own back yard and he can’t make mistakes else England will be punished like they were today. I still don’t think Pietesen is a good captain, or will make a good captain to be honest. After all the hype at the end of the summer when England beat a tired and under-cooked South African side in a ODI series Pietersen should have realised he cant live on that early success and has to lead England from the front.

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Swann song wont last long

Whenever England tour India the selectors first rule is always pack as many spinners in as we can. With the new modern aged dynamics of the game with wicket-keeping batsman and all-rounders up steps Nottinghamshires Graham Swann. Fresh from wanting to buy a pink Ferrari in the Stanford Series he’s now making his test debut.

Two wickets in his first over is something only one man has done before him. Richard Johnson. Exactly; can you remember him? He played a bit in 2003 when Hussain resigned as captain and Graham Smith scored over 500 runs in the first two tests. Time will only tell if Graham Swann will go on to be a world class spinner. To be honest; I very much doubt it.

He can certainly spin it; but when playing against the best (and an in-form Dravid; which is an impossible thing to find at the moment) Swann will be found out. Do his batting capabilities last much more then quick 20’s and 30’s in ODI matches. If England’s first innings is anything to go by then most certainly NOT. His reverse-sweep attempt wasn’t the right shot to play when a gritty, determined knock is needed.

The real test is in the second innings; England could be in a winning position and on a dusty, turning Indian wicket can Graham Swann rip through the worlds best batting line up?

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Mike Atherton: Legend

The word legend is very overused. Especially in sport; and cricket in general. Countless people declare that “so and so is a legend” when really there aren’t. In cricket there are a few players who I’d say are true legends.

Sir Isaac Alexandar Vivian Richards is one, Sir Donald Bradman another. Modern day players such as Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne probably also deserve it. But England’s former captain Mike Atherton is never really associated with legendary amongst cricketing circles.

But perhaps he should be… he captained England when they were really, really poor during the 90’s, he was a brilliant commentator for Channel 4 and now is with Sky. He writes a brilliant column for The Times and his book Opening Up is just pure class.

As you can see I’m a fan of the man but is he really a legend. Well he had to sit through endless England middle-order batting collapses, and then see a tail of Tuffers and co. He captained England during humiliating Ashes thrashings; World Cup failures and just general humiliation.

Aters wasn’t the greatest batsman in the world, not one of the true greats but what he did for English cricket, how he kept them going on a life support machine with resolute batting and strong willingness deserves him the honour of being a LEGEND in my opinion.. do you agree??

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Pietersen praises players, but test matches remain uncertain

England captain Kevin Pietersen has heaped praise on his England colleagues for deciding to fly to Abu Dhabi ahead of the test match series in India. Following terror attacks in Mumbai last week, the team flew back home, but are now preparing for the continuation of the tour.

Pietersen says that it is ‘fantastic’ that his players are willing to play in India during this time of need and that it is a ‘huge stance’ for the team to be getting on a plane and returning to India.

Speaking about whether any players needed persuading to get on the plane, Pietersen insisted that he ‘didn’t persuade anybody’ and that this includes Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff. Both players were rumoured to have had doubts about returning to the country.

It is worth noting though that the test matches are in no way certain as of yet. For now, the players have flown to Abu Dhabi where they will receive information on the security measures in place for them in India. Should they be satisified with what they have been told – the tour will go ahead.

With reference to this, Pietersen admitted that the squad were ‘buying some time’ by flying to Abu Dhabi. However, he remained confident that the test matches would go ahead as planned as long as no ‘alarm bells start ringing’ prior to flying back to India.

Something that could create such alarm is that some Indian airports – including the venue of the first test match – were put on high alert earlier today with the threat of airborne attacks being discussed. This is obviously something the players need to be briefed on before making their final decision.

Personally, I wouldn’t blame the players should they eventually decide to come home. If they consider it unsafe and the ECB advisors consider it unsafe, then they should make a collective decision and return to England.

Yes, we are all itching to watch some test match cricket, but at the end of the day, the players and their families must come first. There is also the media team and England fans to think about as well. It’s not as if the 23-man England squad are the only set of Englishman making the journey is it?

The ideal situation would be for the players to be satisfied with the security precautions and get on the plane to India. Cricket can be the winner and like Pietersen said, it really would be a very significant stance from the England team.

The first test is due to start next Thursday in Chennai and hopefully by then, my column will be filled with the usual information on cricket odds etc as we all start to focus on the cricket.

By Thomas Rooney – A professional sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

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How long until England get their team selection correct?

England have lost their third One Day International in a row against India to go 3-0 down in the seven match series. Kevin Pietersen’s men lost by 16 runs after the Duckworth/Lewis method intervened with the light slowly deteriorating in Kanpur.

The main talking point as far as I am concerned after this match is England’s inept team selection. It was great news that Graham Swann came into the team, but he replaced a front-line seam bowler to leave England with the likes of Paul Collingwood, Samit Patel and Pietersen himself to bowl the overs of the ‘fifth bowler’.

This is something that you can ill-afford to do against such a destructive India side, especially when the ‘batting power-play’ is brought into the equation. Fair enough, the bad light prevented India making the most of their choice of power play, but there is no doubt that the cricket odds would have backed them to win the game anyway.

MS Dhoni was being remarkably patient in his innings as India looked to chase down 241 to win and there were three reasons for this. 1) He knew the light was going to come into play, 2) He knew he had a power play to use and 3) He knew that England would need to bowl their best bowlers in this power play, therefore leaving their part time bowlers to finish off the innings.

This is a situation that England brought on themselves in my opinion. Patel has done well in his international career to date, but his performance with the ball in this series have proven that he is, quite simply, a batsman who bowls a bit. Therefore, the fact he was used as England’s number one spinner for two 50-over games in India of all places, was ludicrous.

Graham Swann played a huge part in England’s limited overs victories in Sri Lanka last year and there is no doubt whatsoever that he is out best spinner in this form of the game. His figures of 1-47 off his ten overs probably didn’t do him justice in today’s game – he was forced to bowl in the batting power-play, after all.

So, England got it right by bringing in Swann for this game. However, to bring him in for Steve Harmison was ridiculous. The Durham man may have taken a little tap, but he had taken three wickets so far and the same can’t be said for James Anderson who has taken precisely none.

It isn’t Anderson I would have dropped either though. With India in the current batting form they are in, England must go into the game with five bowlers. If this means that Swann replaces Owais Shah, Paul Collingwood or Patel – so be it. We shouldn’t need eight batsman. The top six need to take more responsibility and perhaps a reduction in the amount of batting will help this along.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes the case in the next game on Sunday. However, three matches into the series and 3-0 down, it would have come far to late for England’s chances in this series.

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

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India v Australia – Who is your money on?

As promised I will be continuing my preview of the India v Australia test series with a look at some cricket betting. I will be giving my opinions on who the winners of the series, the leading wicket taker and the leading run scorer.

Who will win the series?

Australia have only won once in India during the last 35 years. This single victory came in 2004 and since then they have lost a number of key personnel to retirement, including Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist. Never the less, I expect this new look Australia side to cause India a lot of problems. It will be a very, very close series.

India will be without Sachin Tendulkar for at least the first two test matches so will be relying heavily on Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid for the runs. Much is also expected of their experienced bowling line up – especially the spin kings – Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.

Verdict: India will crumble under the expectancy in the first match; will recover to win the second, before two draws mean that it’s a 1-1 draw. Apologies for sitting on the fence.

Who will be the leading wicket taker?

Often for Australia, Warne and McGrath would lead the way in terms of wickets. However, with them moved on, it is time for the likes of Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee to set the example. It is the latter I expect to have the most success for Ponting’s men. Lee is one of the most experienced players in the sideand his pace and aggression will test India’s batsmen.

As for India, I think their main bowling threat will be their captain Anil Kumble. Spin is often the way forward in India and Kumble and Singh should get wickets by the bucket full. Singh in particular has a rather impressive record against the Australians.

Verdict: I think it will be a close run thing between the Indian spinners, but I expect Kumble to lead the wicket taking table come the end of the series. It could be his last series against Australia and he will want to make it count.

Who will be the leading run scorer?

Much will be expected of Ponting as he provides one of the few names remaining from 2004. He has a poor recent record in India, but one innings will change all of that.

For India, Dravid is the man they often rely upon for runs and this will be no different in this series. However, I think the attacking attitude of Virender Sehwag will produce plenty of significant innings.

Verdict: I’m going to go for Sehwag to be leading run scorer. The cricket odds would probably have him as one of the outsiders, but I think he will take the attack to an inexperienced Australian bowling attack and be rewarded with lots of runs.

So, that’s my predictions ahead of the India v Australia series. It will be interesting to see how close I am. I have to say that the one I am most confident about is Sehwag. I really expect him to have a superb few matches.

Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

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Changes have to be made

England’s test match win wasn’t really that special. It’s been built up a lot. It was Pietersen’s first as captain but really South Africa weren’t bothered about the prospect of having to play a side that they’d already beaten in the series again. There is still a lot that needs to be done in the England side to prepare them for next years Ashes.

Wicket-Keeper

Tim Ambrose simply can’t carry on as the England wicket-keeper. He makes far to many errors, more than Prior and hasn’t really made a significant contribution with the bat this season. Chris Read, the best glove man in England, has scored bags of runs but never seems to get a decent run in the side. For me, he’s the best option if England want the best wicket-keeper in the land. With Read they’ve also got somebody who’s prepared to score runs at seven.

Bring Simon Jones in

The sooner Simon Jones is fully fit the better. His reverse-swing was one of the largest contributions behind the Ashes win in 2005. He’s a better, safer, bet than Jimmy Anderson. The only problem being is do you drop Broad, the young 21 year old with bags of ability and is bound to get better. Or Jimmy Anderson?

The middle order

Players like Paul Collingwood always seem to come under fire for poor form, then just when there about to have their careers ended score a century. Then there’s another run drought and the cycle continues. Get Collingwood out, bring in a run-scorer. Somebody like Shah or Key.

All-rounders

Can England play with two all-rounder in the form of Flintoff and Bopara? Do they need two all-rounders? Bopara really came under fire in Sri Lanka but has hit brilliant form here in England.

  • Don’t miss tomorrows exclusive look at the TV rights deal.
  • On Friday Past Point examines the test series in detail and tries to find out where England went wrong.
  • Don’t miss Thomas Rooney’s weekly column on Thursday.

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