The many amusements ECB provides us

Posted: Tuesday, June 28, 2011 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , ,

England vs Sri Lanka 1st One-day International: 28 June 2011

Kennington Oval, London: At the time I'm writing this, England are 35/1. I was sleeping until 13:00 GMT. So, when I switched the TV on, it was raining. However, that isn't what I focused on. I saw the scoreboard and after seeing Alastair Cook in the team, I wondered if this is some old match. Then I saw Ian Bell and I was more doubtful about some old game's scoreboard. The, Bresnan and I was almost certain it's an old match. Then, I saw Dernbach and I realised this is today's match. Oh yeah, I had forgotten Alastair Cook has been made captain. I was just figuring how many changes they have made to the team which Stuart Broad captained on Saturday. And I was thinking they have over taken Pakistan in amusing us.

This does raise questions about my memory, but more than that, it asks us, would Alastair Cook be in the team had he not been captain? Well, he hasn't played a one-day game in a year and the last one came in Bangladesh, where he captained. Prior to that, he hadn't played in a year either. So, I'm guessing no, Alastair Cook only plays in shorter formats when England want to try him as captain or when they don't want anyone else as captain. Like, he did in South Africa in late '09. If he would have been gifted a place in the side in the Word Cup for being unstoppable in the Ashes down under, that would have made sense, but this doesn't.

Let's go back to the game on Saturday and the blonde one. England had some hope until Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan were batting, after that they played for formality. This isn't the first Twenty20 International in which they didn't have victory in mind, so it wasn't a surprise. Paul Collingwood, who retired from Tests, has been left to the sidelines. Stuart Broad was chosen as captain, ahead of the one who captained England to their first ICC tournament victory. Perhaps they are thinking too much about the future rather than the present. He wasn't included in the one-day squad either, so ECB must have put an end to his career. The Englishmen usually depart from the team like this, with no farewell, facing the ECB's brashness.

Here are the changes England made to their Twenty20 side (comparing to the side which starred against Australia in January: Bell, Davies, Bresnan, Yardy and Shahzad dropped for Lumb, Bopara, Patel, Broad, Dernbach. Of course England hadn't dropped Broad in January, they just can't do that, he was injured. In my opinion, Bell and Davies were doing their job fine so they shouldn't have been dropped. And then, Bell has been in a sublime form lately. Bopara hasn't been among the runs for a while and Patel failed to impress me on Saturday. His run out was an embarrassment and his bowling had nothing special. I was excited to see Dernbach in, who turned out to be England's most inexperienced, yet best bowler in this game.

The only Twenty20 International on this tour, was played after a Test series, in which England dominated expectedly, but one which failed to generate much interest, due to being spoiled by rain. There were six changes made to the Test XI to make the side more "suitable" to the Twenty20 game. But, as emails to the Sky commentary team suggested, the Test would have done a lot better than this side so playing the same team wouldn't have caused any harm. One big positive a lot of people and the media is deriving from the game is the comeback of Kevin Pietersen into form. However, in my post The Preview: Sri Lanka hopes for turnaround; England aim to continue domination, I had stated that he is already in form and there is nothing to worry about. The difference is that, he announced himself on the stage in this Twenty20 so ruthlessly that he made everyone against him know that there is no point in questioning the man, who is as talented as anyone can hope to be. The truth is far from him being in the team for his past record.

So, much to talk about and so little time! Anyways, post your views in the form below or on twitter (@jimmymycrushie). Hopefully, we'll see some cricket today. For now, take care. Cheers.

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England keep Sri Lanka on a short lead

Posted: Sunday, June 19, 2011 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , ,

This post has not been written by blog author jimmymycrushie (Sanya). It's a guest post.

In spite of the English rain which continued to keep in check both the progress of the game and the momentum of the Sri Lankan first innings, Andrew Strauss’s men have been able stifle any resistance form the touring side – who did little to help themselves with an array of wayward shots to gift wickets to the English attack.
With less than 90 overs played across two rain drenched days, England’s bowling pack, who had come in for some heavy criticism after their insipid display on a flat Lord’s track, realigned their sights on day two of the third test at the Rose Bowl to restrain Sri Lanka with a period of bowling that used the overcast conditions to its advantage nicely.
Rain has been the most prominent factor in this series.
It was ironic Chris Tremlett, the man who struggled to impose himself on the game during his days with the Rose Bowl’s current occupants Hampshire, was able to produce a hostile spell that cramped and hurried Sri Lankan batsman; his three wickets in twenty minutes as the second day got underway was a testament to a man who had found an inner-belief in his abilities.
Having taken the first ever wicket at the Rose Bowl when the ground opened in 2001, he now has the honour of being the first man on the honours board; plenty more accolades seemed destined to be coming his way as he establishes himself as the sharpest point of England’s attack.
The return of Jimmy Anderson will also hearten Strauss and coach Andy Flower, however the form of Stuart Broad will be a concern. The T20 captain hasn’t taken a five wicket haul since 2009 – and his position in the test squad is coming increasingly under scrutiny – especially with Steve Finn waiting in the wings.
Without Dilshan meanwhile, Sri Lanka looked directionless as they prodded around under the grey sky, with Prasanna Jayawardene the sole obstacle in the way of a convincing 2-0 series win for England. Any side whose top four batsman can only compile 28 runs between them will always struggle, so when Jayawardene and to a lesser extent Thilan Samaraweera resistance did come, it had an air of ‘too little too late’ about it.
With a series draw all they could aim for before the third test, they are now staring in the face of  a series defeat and must now deal with the problems that hinder their progress. Sri Lanka have only won overseas series against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh this century despite being graced with some of the finest players in the world. They are a side in crisis at the moment, at least in the test match form of the game,  after losing their captain and selectors board after the world
A result looks possible – although the rain continues to dampen the atmosphere – but both teams have already taken what they need from the series. But both England and Sri Lanka are heading in opposite directions at the moment, and for the time being there is little the visitors can do about it.

Is Anderson the right man to lead England’s bowling attack?

Posted: Thursday, June 16, 2011 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , , ,

England have named James Anderson in their squad for the third npower Test against Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl on Thursday.

The Lancashire paceman, who missed the draw at Lord’s after picking up a side strain in the first Test at Cardiff,  is the sports betting favourite to return to the side at the expense of Middlesex fast bowler Steven Finn.

Anderson, the leader of England’s attack, will shore up the bowling options at captain Andrew Strauss’ disposal after a wayward display at the home of cricket. The bowling attack offered plenty of height, but with the slope causing problems, the bowlers were wayward and not as aggressive as first thought which helped Sri Lanka bat out the Test for a draw. Strauss’ decision to declare when he did was seen to be too conservative against a side who were without injured captain Tillakaratne Dilshan in the second innings.

This Test is significant for England, not just because it’s the first five-day game held at Hampshire’s home ground, but certain players need to show signs of form heading into the biggest series of the summer against India.

That starts with the captain and opening batsmen Strauss, who has struggled for runs in this series so far. Much has been said about Kevin Pietersen’s flaws against left-arm spin but Strauss, who has looked a little off the pace at the top of the order, is also having trouble with left-arm seamers which was also apparent during the tour of Australia.

Strauss’ form needs to show an upturn soon as fellow opener Alastair Cook continues to pile on the runs and re-write the record books. To say his place in the England side was up for debate heading into the Ashes, his transformation is astounding. His minor criticism is the way he scores runs and after been named England one-day captain, Cook will need to go up the gears and score at a faster rate if he is to succeed.

Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell have cemented their places within the side during the last 12 months and the Test at Lord’s was significant for Pietersen, who looked like he had returned to for with a textbook 72 in the second innings. If England are to become the best side in the world, they need KP to fire and score runs quickly.

Matt Prior, fresh from windowgate, needs a better game after his patience was tested thanks to some wayward bowling down the leg-side from the England bowlers and to add insult to injury, his run out in the second innings as he tried to move the score along.

The bowling attack is up for debate as Stuart Broad’s wicket-taking ability seems to have dried up. Finn looks to be the bowler sacrificed for the returning Anderson, but should he after taking wickets at Lord’s. Chris Tremlett and Graeme Swann will continue to make up the four-man attack.

Sri Lanka fought hard and were put under enormous pressure when batting out 58 overs following their 82 all out in the first Test – a result that looked so unlikely sports bets punters were offered odds of 100-1 on a win for either side at one point. The tourists will rely on Kumar Sangakarra, who is set to captain the side as Dilshan’s inclusion looks unlikely as he continues to nurse a broken thumb.

Ambitious England aims for formidable victory

Posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , ,

England have given an interesting turn to 2nd Test, declaring at 335/7 with a lead of 342. England have 58 overs to bowl Sri Lanka out. They would be more optimistic about winning than usual, having won the last Test in a similar scenario, the difference being England winning by an innings at Cardiff, which is not possible now. Earlier today, setting a target of 350 with 60 overs remaining seemed appropriate to me and England came to close to that so I agree with their decision.

Alastair Cook, who made 96 in the 1st innings, struck yet another century. 18th for him. At 26, he is not too far away from scoring most centuries by an England player, 22. One notable positive aspect is Kevin Pietersen's 72. He must not be satisfied and it wouldn't shut up critics but it's always good to see him among the runs. I don't think his critics know, but he averaged 41.55 last year and 60 in Ashes 2010. The former is good for a batsman and the latter great. Though nothing less than the consistency of Alastair Cook (Ashes and this series) and Jonathan Trott (in England and Australia) will be enough for a batsman of his calibre in the eyes of the audience.

England's run rate in the 2nd innings was 4.28, which closely matches their 1st innings run rate of 4.30. In the last decade, 21 matches have been played at Lord's, out of which a win has been obtained in 13 of them. But, either Lord's has witnessed victories by huge margins or draws. During this time, England and Sri Lanka have faced each other twice, both resulting in draws. Though some England fans are positive Sri Lanka won't survive without Dilshan, who had his thumb injured by the bowling of Chris Tremlett, who struck the same area twice during Dilshan's 193, the second time being 192. Tremlett hit the same spot at Cardiff as well.

At the time I'm writing this, 32 overs are left. So the series will probably be levelled at 1-1, the decider will be played at The Rose Bowl.

Earlier, I had to tweet about my blog posts again and again or to different people manually but at least that task has been made easy by scheduling tweets through socialoomph. Apologies to anyone who has been annoyed by this practice of mine! If they are too much to tolerate, do let me know!

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The Preview: Sri Lanka hopes for turnaround; England aim to continue domination

Posted: Friday, June 3, 2011 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , ,

Pietersen on the verge of big runs
Unlike the media, Andy Flower isn't too concerned regarding their star batsman's form. For my take on it, read on...

Sri Lanka's confidence has sunk to its lowest in a long time, with their bowlers being written off before the start of the tour and their batting having collapsed for 82. Tilakratne Dilshan wants his team to forget about this match while Jayawardene only wants to forget Day 5. Fair enough. While Suranga Lakmal and Thisara Perera are not established, with only a few Tests under their belt, Maharoof has a bowling average of 62 and a batting average of 19.10. Mendis was regarded as the new sensation of Sri Lankan cricket, but has averaged over 38 on each year, except his first year in cricket. In all of his Test career, he has struggled everywhere except while bowling in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Sri Lankans are masters, but only at home as Herath too, averages over 45 on foreign soil.

After a successful start to their summer, the English don't have much to worry about. Their only concern is the injury to the leader of the attack, James Anderson. In the 2nd innings at Cardiff, England had to bowl without him, but Swann and Tremlett's 4 wickets each, followed by Stuart Broad's wrapping up of the tail, didn't let England miss him. In a perfect world, any two of the three paceman - Finn, Dernbach and Onions would be brought in and Broad would be out. Nevertheless, Surrey's 25-year-old Jade Dernback has been called up as cover for Anderson in the twelve man squad but it's Steven Finn who is expected to take his place. I love Finn but Dernbach sounds like an exciting prospect. Though Lord's being Finn's home ground, he holds an advantage over Dernbach.

For Sri Lanka, it would be obvious to attack, there is no way they are coming back in the series without triumphing at Lord's. After being bundled out for 82, it would take nothing less than a satisfying victory to gain momentum. England will look to push Sri Lanka down further below. If England go for Finn, they will have a pace attack, Sri Lankans will 'look up to' as Finn, standing at 6'7", will add to Stuart Broad, 6'6" and the giant Chris Tremlett, 6'8". They will be among the tallest of all time. Strauss indicated Dernbach's inclusion is not out of the question as he will bring variety. Among these bowlers, Stuart Broad has played the most number of matches, 35. But, considering his performance at Cardiff, Tremlett, will lead the attack, despite having played fewer Test matches than even Finn.

Kevin Pietersen's form has been cited as another issue by the media, but England don't have to do too much in that case, as the man knows what he has to do. It should be kept in mind that the Ashes down under was a successful tour for him. Although left arm spinners have been troubling him but even though they have taken his wickets, he has shown he can smack them around as well. All great batsmen face such challenges and I'm sure he'll overcome this hindrance the way he has tackled others throughout his career. The good thing is that the coach and captain are behind him.

The show begins at 10:00 GMT, June 3 live from Lord's, London. Watch out!