Roles reversed: Test losers champion in Twenty20 as India beats England

Posted: Thursday, December 20, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , ,

England made everyone happy today. They made Indian team and fans happy by preferring to lose, the Test squad by sending them home, the youngsters by giving them a chance. I doubt if anyone watching the match ever felt England would win or even try to win. This isn't anything new. I remember the one-day series during Sri Lanka tour of England 2006, in which England lost gladly. They simply don't care about winning sometimes. Tests have always been the pinnacle. The series which was just concluded was said to be right up there with the Ashes by England captain Alastair Cook, but I doubt if that would be said when England wins the one-day World Cup.

Am I against them on this? Well, not really. I'm myself a fan of Tests and got annoyed by the Twenty20 today. I didn't like that a Twenty20 was held 2 days after the final Test in a 4 Test series. It takes time to get out of the Test mode. The England players didn't really have to switch their mindset though. The only player who played both the Tests and the Twenty20 is Tim Bresnan. Steven Finn and Stuart Broad are still recovering from injuries and the rest and rested. Even Andy Flower is rested. I'm not against their rotation policy but the war between BCCI and the ECB is doing cricket much damage.

The ECB clearly prefers Tests and the BCCI prefers Twenty20s. Where does this leave one-day though? ICC needs to intervene and try to reduce the number of meaningless matches.

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I'm personally with Tests. India focuses far less on Tests than England. One or two years ago, India were playing much were Tests than other teams and the comments from players, both current and former forced the BCCI to increase them. The great players that India speaks of, they aren't going to have more of them. You don't hear of great players smashing boundaries, you hear of great players who bat all day. Even their captain, M S Dhoni captains in Tests just like he does in the shorter formats. He gave all-rounders a chance in Tests, the result of which we have all seen. Tests are a game of pure batsmen and bowlers rather than handy bowlers and batsmen.

Let me talk a little about today's clash before I go. Eoin Morgan looked like a better captain than Stuart Broad. Debutant Meaker was impressive. I don't want to see Dernbach ever playing again for England. Dernbach's behaviour is as disgraceful as his bowling.

India have made a joke of themselves by losing the 'revenge' Test series by 2-1 and celebrating a Twenty20 win against England 2nd XI wildly. For more mockery, tune in on 22 December, Saturday at 19:00 local (13:30 GMT).

England conquer Indian soil after 27 years!

Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Samit Patel, Johny Bairstow, Nick Compton
 and Joe Root celebrating England's win
This was an amazing series. England have registered their first Test series win in India after '85-'86. This one is very special, because India is among the top rivals for England at the moment. The battles between these two teams have been heated and emotional in recent years. England last visited India during the 26/11 attack on Taj hotel in Mumbai. Kevin Pietersen was the captain at that time and some of the England players, like Andrew Flintoff and Stephen Harmisson were reluctant to go back to India to play Tests. It wasn't a tour England would like to remember. The same Jimmy Anderson who bagged the Man of the Match award today, bowled crap on the previous tour. I remember I was expecting better because he had started to learn bowling well in the sub-continent, showing promise in Sri Lanka at the end of '07. Nevertheless, his bowling has come of age and he is no longer the bowler English fans dread seeing in the sub-continent. The opposition batsmen dread him now.

It feels wonderful to not only have beaten India, but to beat them at spin. England has long been known to struggle against spin bowling and as a fast bowling superpower, lacking a quality spinner. But, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann have changed that. Swann has been performing consistently throughout his career and having Monty gives England an advantage on pitches that favour spin. England have James Anderson, Steven Finn, Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann who are all threatening. Having this kind of variety gives England the potential to be world beaters.

Kevin Pietersen with the signatures of himself,
Cook, Compton, Trott, Bell, Patel, Root, Prior,
Swann, Anderson, Bairstow and Flower
This is the series England players would like to remember when things are hard. These kind of contests keep Test cricket alive and make cricketers desire the England jersey. The changes England have made deserve applauding. Picking Monty after the 1st Test, dropping Broad and picking Joe Root for the final Test have proved to be perfect decisions. I'm happy with all of these. Broad is an asset in the shorter forms of the game, but I've never really liked seeing him in Tests and Monty Panesar is definitely worth a go, every time England tours India. Samit Patel also seems to be fitter for the shorter formats. With the way Joe Root batted, he showed the potential Alastair Cook did when he made his debut in the same country, India, at the same age of 21, though Root is almost 22.

In the final game, I am personally most impressed by Root and Pietersen. This pitch was the reverse of what we usually see. It was toughest on Day 1 and flattened as the game progressed. Both Root and Pietersen scored 73 in the 1st innings. This was KP's slowest innings, with the strike rate of 39 and Root batted with a strike of 32. Root played the most deliveries, 229, followed by KP, 188, followed by Prior, 142 and finally Trott, 133. On a pitch like this, it takes great concentration to bat. I was waiting for an innings of patience from KP. England will be very happy with this series as Bell and Trott, the two batsmen who have been struggling, scored centuries in the end.

I think the main difference this time has been in the approach of England and the credit goes to Captain Cook. To me it seems that the Board makes the captain and the captain makes the players and the team. England reflected what Alastair Cook is made of. Before this series, Kevin Pietersen looked unlikely to play but Cook held meetings with him and persuaded the ECB to take him back. I think he knows how to bring a unit together. His own batting and behaviour show a quiet determination and strength of character, which is what the whole team has showed. He is not loud, but he is anything but soft.

Ponting Happy with Retirement Decision

Posted: Monday, December 10, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , ,

Australian cricket legend Ricky Ponting insists that he is comfortable with his decision to retire, after missing out on a fairy-tale ending to his test career.

37-year-old Ponting was unable to prevent the Baggy Greens falling to a comprehensive defeat in the final test against South Africa, with the hosts falling 309 runs short of their victory target.

Victory for Australia would have meant a return to the top of the ICC World Test Rankings for the first time in a number of years, but as it was the visitors stepped up their performance in Perth having narrowly missed out on defeat in the first two tests to hold onto their position at the top of international cricket.

On an individual level things also failed to go to plan for Ponting with the former captain again failing to make an impact on the game, hitting only 12 runs overall from his two innings to take his total to just 32 in the entire series.

Such a poor return probably justifies Ponting’s decision to call it a day after a wonderful career, but the Tasmanian admits that he would have loved to have gone out on a high:

It was not the way I wanted to finish with that performance and that result. However, the decision to walk away was a pretty easy one. I have tried to stay away from watching and listening to everything about my retirement this week. It's not unfolded the way I would have liked. I have and cherished every moment, it was always going to end at some stage I guess.
The retirement means that Ponting finishes his career with a staggering 13,378 Test match runs, and his average of just over 50 means that he is the second only to Sachin Tendulkar in that regard as well.

The South African players took it upon themselves to show their appreciation of Ponting’s achievements by forming a guard of honour after he was dismissed for the final time, and the Australian batsman said that he was touched by opposing captain, Graeme Smith’s gesture:
I was a little bit embarrassed and wish it didn't happen that way, but it was an amazing gesture by Graeme and the South African team. There are so many highlights I guess through 168 Tests. Your debuts are always special, Ashes series are always special, any time we've played against South Africa in my time has been a special series.
If you are a huge cricket fan or like to watch whilst playing online, you cannot doubt that he is one of the best the game has ever seen and will be missed.

Flintoff pleased for KP and Monty

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , ,

Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff has praised Monty Panesar and Kevin Pietersen for their performances in the recent Test against India.

Despite receiving a hammering in the 1st Test, England bounced back to level the series with a superb 10-wicket win. It was an impressive team performance, but man-of-the-match Pietersen and Panesar – who took 11 wickets – stood out for Flintoff.

He said: “The one thing England have done over the years is bounce back well. It was a disappointing first Test, and then the second just shows what happens when you've got someone of the quality of Kevin Pietersen in the side scoring runs.

“It seems his reintegration's going very well. Getting all those runs, nearly half of (England's 413), just shows what a key component he is in that side.

“I was so pleased to see Monty do well as well. He's been a great performer for England and left on the sidelines a little bit but I can see now he's going to be challenging Graeme Swann for that number one spinning spot.

“Monty's a fine bowler and the squad are now in a great position where they've got competition for places.”

It is likely England will keep the same team for the 3rd Test next week too. The only potential change is that Steve Finn could come in for the out of sorts Stuart Broad, but a decision won’t be made on this until next week.

Gambling on selection is something discussed in weekly poker blogs all the time, but it does apply to cricket too. Will England risk bringing Finn in after very little cricket?

What England need to do is replicate everything they did well in the 2nd Test. Cook needs to lead from the front, Pietersen needs to show his class and spin twins Panesar and Graeme Swann need to work together superbly for the second match running.

Then, if other members of the team – including the low on runs Jonathan Trott – raise their game too, England could take the lead in this fascinating series.

Giles handed chance to lead new Era

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , ,

Ashley Giles has been chosen as the man to guide England in limited overs Cricket, after being appointed as their new One Day and T20 Head Coach. Those over at note how he replaces Andy Flower, who will now focus mainly on the Test team although the Zimbabwean will remain in charge of team preparation and strategies.

It marks a return to the England set-up for former international spinner Giles, who had enjoyed success whilst coaching at County level with Warwickshire. The 39-year-old led The Bears to the County Championship title in September and has received praise for his innovative coaching methods.

Now, Giles has been given the chance to prove himself on the world stage and he admits that he can’t wait to get started:
I am delighted to have been appointed England ODI and T20 Head Coach and to be given an opportunity to coach at international level. I have worked closely with Andy (Flower) in recent years as a selector and am looking forward to continuing to work together and to build on the progress that has been made with the ODI and T20 sides in recent years.

England endured a disappointing defence of their World T20 crown in Sri Lanka earlier this year, going out in the Super 8’s stage, but they will hope to climb back up the rankings under Giles’ leadership.

The change should also give Flower more time to spend more time with his family with speculation suggesting that he was finding it hard to juggle leading England in all formats of the game, and ECB managing Director, Hugh Morris, believes that the change will be a positive move for English Cricket:
England cricket has enjoyed considerable success over the past five years. In order to build on that success we know that we need to look for ways to evolve and it has become clear that the Team Director role needs to change if we are to ensure we are utilising the role as effectively as possible. Bringing in a Head Coach for the ODI and T20 formats allows the Team Director more time to plan for forthcoming series and tournaments and also have a more realistic and sustainable work life balance.

Third Test to be Tendulkar's Last Chance

Posted: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 by Celia in Labels: , , , , , , ,

The playing future of Sachin Tendulkar has come under severe scrutiny after the batsman failed to impress in either of India’s first two Tests with England this month.

Tendulkar’s career has been a subject of great debate on the Michael Vaughan tips page ever since the iconic batsman scored his 100th international century in March.

Many still claim Tendulkar has a right to be in the Test side currently playing England, as his 54.60 average and +15,000 Test runs show class is permanent.

However, at 39, others want the cricket legend to step down before he harms his reputation, with the third Test in Kolkata his last chance to prove himself to selectors.

For, despite Tendulkar’s dominance in the game over the past two decades, it appears age has finally caught up with him, a factor that former teammate Sourav Ganguly this week claimed may bring his career to an end after the series with England:

“[Tendulkar’s] reflexes have gone down. But that is bound to happen with age,” Ganguly told “But what I feel is that Tendulkar is out of form and needs runs. I want to earnestly believe that he will get runs in the two remaining Tests”.

Indeed, the majority of Indian fans will be hoping Tendulkar ups his game in the remaining two Tests, not only for the player’s sake but for India’s status as a major force in Test cricket.

Tendulkar is currently guilty of underperforming in the Indian whites, with three innings against England yielding just 29 runs. The right-hander looks vulnerable against spin and has notched just one half century in 12 Test innings this year.

The importance of Tendulkar to the Indian psyche cannot be underestimated and, with him on form, the rest of the team will pick up too. However, if the 39-year-old cannot find runs during the third Test in Kolkata, selectors face the difficult decision of axing a national legend, possibly for good.

Dhoni hails Monty Magic

Posted: by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , ,

Guest Post

India’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni has heaped praise on Monty Panesar after the spinner delivered a match winning performance to help England level the series at 1-1. The 30-year-old took eleven wickets in the game as he ripped through the Indian batting line-up in both innings to hand England a convincing win in Mumbai.

The ten wicket victory marks a remarkable turnaround for an England side that were outclassed in last week’s first test in Ahmedabad, where the hosts cruised to a nine wicket triumph. The post-match dissection led to many pundits calling for an extra spinner to be introduced to the side for the clash in Mumbai, and Panesar answered those calls in spectacular fashion after delivering an accomplished display.

Dhoni had expected England to turn to Panesar to help out Graeme Swann on India’s notoriously big spinning wickets prior to the game and he admitted that he was more than impressed with the Sussex man’s contribution: "None of the other bowlers troubled the batsmen in the way that Monty did. All the other bowlers got turn and bounce, but the pace Monty was bowling at made it so much more difficult. I wish we could have bowled fuller ourselves because Pietersen and Cook played really well off the back foot" he said.

With the series delicately poised, attention will now turn towards the third test in Calcutta next week where England will probably once again look to their two front line spinners to make dents in India’s batting line-up. Graeme Swann also had a fantastic game in Mumbai, bagging eight wickets overall, but Alastair Cook will be hoping for more from his pace-men who have yet to really find their feet in this tour. James Anderson and Stuart Broad only managed to claim one Indian dismissal between them in the second test, and with Steven Finn approaching fitness, the selectors could be faced with some difficult decisions ahead of the Calcutta showdown. Perhaps they will relax with a Fruit Machine or two and ponder their decision. Ian Botham is one of many backing Finn’s selection should be he available.

Monty and KP shine as India loses 7 wickets in one session

Posted: Sunday, November 25, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , ,

This much exciting series took a dramatic turn today. England finished Day 2 at 178/2 with Cook and KP at the crease. Thus, there was every chance for England to put on a good total. But given that wickets have usually fallen in the first session in this series so far, which team would win the first session was not predictable.

KP shined and when he shines, he leaves little chance for the opposition. He tears the opposition apart, mentally and physically. Today it was more apparent than ever. At the end of Day 3, India is on the verge of losing at 117/7. Looking at it straightforwardly, Indian batsmen must be blamed.

But it's the psychological damage done while fielding that did them. I think it also has something to do with Alastair Cook, the confidence, strength, calmness and patience he has shown, as a captain and batsman in both of these Tests. Pietersen, Pujara, Cook, Ashwin and Gambhir have been the only batsmen to score 31+ runs on Dhoni's desired track. How can we forget that? MS Dhoni is the only we should be thanking if we liked this game. He is the one who wanted a real turner. Indian fans must forgive him for forgetting this isn't 1990.

England has spinners, and in fact better spinners than India, as proven in this game. Swann is the best spinner in world cricket and Monty can demolish any batting line-up on his day. England committed the mistake of excluding Monty in the previous Test and assuming Samit Patel can be a frontline spinner in Tests, but they weren't going to commit it again. What Dhoni probably had in mind before this series began was that England clean swept them at their home and India will certainly do the same. He wasn't happy with a Test win, because a 4-0 win had already happened in his mind, he was certain it would happen in reality, his next wish was to defeat England by an innings through his spinners on a real turner, since India lacks quality fast bowlers. But that doesn't mean England still lacks quality spinners. This is 2012 baby, and Indians need to lose their long-held beliefs.

This day has changed the series. Until now, English players and fans had it in their mind, that they are behind, that they have lost something, a Test, on this tour without gaining anything and that Alastair Cook, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann's hard work in the 1st Test was a waste. Not anymore. The series will be levelled tomorrow. Both teams will stand equally, with an equal chance to win the battle. If only they can make the right selections, England can be the world beater in Test cricket now, they have the players, they have the potential, they have the approach. It's time to show who plays Test cricket best.

India take lead after Monty exposes India's veterans

Posted: Friday, November 23, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , , ,

England tour of India continues to be exciting. The teams were evenly matched on Day 1 of the 2nd Test as the English ripped 6 wickets as India put on 260 odd runs. England were ahead for most of the day as the 6th wicket fell at 169. Pujara, who scored 206* and 41* in the 1st Test, is batting on 114 and Ashwin on 60. The umpiring was disappointing in the 1st Test and today as well. Pujara was out on 94, caught off Swann. The ball first hit Cook's toe, standing at slip and then was caught by another fielder. After checking it out from only one angle, which was clearly inconclusive, the 3rd umpire ruled that he's not out. India is the only team who doesn't use Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS), which is pathetic. The lack of use of technology is apparent in this series. It seems as though the BCCI are reluctant to spend on it, despite being the richest cricket board. No wonder they are the richest. It happens with every team that wrong decisions are given against them, but England seems to be the one most affected. That's because these decisions prove to be pivotal, by coincidence or perhaps because it demoralises England more than other teams. Whatever the case may be, England are a happier bunch with the review system active. It doesn't seem right that a rule is applied in all matches except India's matches. If a rule has been passed by ICC, it must be applied to all International matches. And then, not viewers would have known about this at the start of this series.

Monty Panesar made an impressive comeback, by taking 4 wickets, as predicted by Shane Warne. It was his day. England must be regretting their decision not to play him in the 1st Test, but they should be happy they chose him sooner rather than later. Though Steven Finn is still injured so it was an easy decision. Playing Tim Bresnan in the 1st Test definitely didn't make sense. Monty couldn't have done worse. It's worth the risk to try spinners in India. Why Samit Patel is playing is beyond my ability to comprehend though. He doesn't ever look confident enough to take a wicket in Tests. Plus, he has had more success with the bat than bowl and he doesn't have the making of a Test batsman either. Johny Bairstow replaced Ian Bell, who has gone home to witness the birth of his child. It will be interesting to see how Bairstow, who is playing his 5th Test, bats and if England will omit Patel to keep both Bairstow and Bell in the team in case Bairstow succeeds in impressing.

India are ahead of England at the moment, given India won the toss again and will make England bat last and how the pitch has played so far and their quota of spinners but if England can wrap up the 1st Indian innings early, they'll have a chance to take lead. The English batsmen must come to the party this time as captain Cook, deserves a better chance to win than the hard fought two men against eleven battle in the 1st Test.

Unbeatable Cook leads England fightback on Day 4

Posted: Sunday, November 18, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , ,

England tour of India
1st Test: 15-19 November
Day 4
Brief scores: Ind 521/8 dec. Pujara 206*, Sehwag 117, Yuvraj 74; Swann 5, Anderson, Pietersen, Patel 1 each; Economy rates: Anderson 2.77, Swann 2.82, Patel 3.09, Pietersen 3.12, Bresnan 3.84, Broad 4.04
Eng 191 Prior 48, Cook  41; Ojha 5, Ashwin 3
Eng 340/5 Cook 168* Prior 84*; Yadav 2, Ojha 2
Alastair Cook is trying to ensure this series is not a re-run of previous England tours to India. Showing utmost strength and patience, he led the England fightback on Day 4 as a captain leading from the front. Scoring hundreds in both of his previous Tests as captain as well as today, he becomes the only captain to score a century in first three Tests.

Some of the best Test matches are those which are drawn by fighting back from a terrible position. England has been featured in its fair share of such matches. In these games, the lower order and keeper Prior have stepped up to the plate, Cook has been a run machine for the past 3 years, Collingwood played his part when he was there, Jonathan Trott scored runs consistently from the start of his career (Aug '09) till the end of last year but Kevin Pietersen has failed when it has mattered the most. How does his batting average matter then? Your best players are those who win and save the most matches for you, who can handle pressure when it matters most.

The game at Chennai in '08 is an unforgettable one. Kevin Pietersen was England's captain back then, and he set India a target of 387, declaring at 311/9 with 29 overs to go on Day 4. Sehwag made this feat easy, not only achievable with 83 from 68. Sure, the following batsmen had some work on their hands but with such a flashy start, there can be no lack of confidence. Players like Jonathan Trott mostly care about their personal performance, but they are valuable because they care too much about it. There is no doubt about Kevin Pietersen's ability to demolish a team on his own or to be one of the most entertaining but to be a valuable asset in Test cricket, he needs to bat better when it matters. And not just score 40 something, but save the game like Cook and Prior are doing in this Test. Test matches are games of big runs. At least in one of the innings, the team must score 400+ to win or to draw. And this task is for the main batsmen, the middle order.

Coming back to today's play, Nick Compton played 128 deliveries but scored only 37. This is something to be worked upon. There isn't much use of surviving so many deliveries if you aren't scoring many runs. All his hard work didn't account to much considering England must score 500+ to save the match and 37 doesn't make a big part of that. Cook was unbeatable, he was unshakeable. The good thing is that he not only scores runs consistently but also scores big. His early centuries were between 104 and 127 but he now has scores such as 235* (vs Australia), 189 (vs Australia), 294 (vs India) and currently standing tall at 168* against India. Cook now has 21 centuries under his belt, which means he is only behind three Englishmen who have scored 22 tons each. He'll turn 28 next month and taking his career into account, it is unlikely that the ECB will drop him over a tiff. He probably has many more years of cricket left in him, so it is most likely he'll register his name in the list of top run getters and century makers in world cricket. English cricket is being taken to newer heights. Now England have a World Twenty20 championship in their kitty, Ashes '05, '09 and '10, Alastair Cook will probably become the first Englishman to reach 10,000 Test runs. The only feats remaining are the World Cup and a 400-wicket taker.

After the solid fightback from Cook and Prior, England should be able to save the game from here. I mean, it's still a tough task but it'd be disheartening to see England lose from here. Swann, Broad and Bresnan are pretty much all-rounders so I believe England will come through. That will give England the perfect start to the series. Though Bell is heading home for the birth of his child and Tim Bresnan needs to be replaced with Steven Finn or Monty Panesar so England will have some selection to do.

Catch the action live at 9:30 local time (4 am GMT). See you soon with hopefully some good news. Cheers.

Swann takes 5 as India make England toil on Day 2

Posted: Friday, November 16, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

England tour of India
1st Test: 15-19 November
Day 2
Brief scores: Ind 521/8 dec. Pujara 206*, Sehwag 117, Yuvraj 74; Swann 5, Anderson, Pietersen, Patel 1 each; Economy rates: Anderson 2.77, Swann 2.82, Patel 3.09, Pietersen 3.12, Bresnan 3.84, Broad 4.04
Eng 41-3 (18 overs) Cook 22*, KP 6*; Ashwin 2, Ojha 1
England vs India is usually exciting and the 1st Test at Ahmedabad is proving to be no different. Under Alastair Cook, England set out on a brand new mission - that of triumphing in India. England's record in India is not something to be proud of, but they have a better chance of winning this time. England were used to losing but their approach has been changing since Ashes 2005. The captaincy of Paul Collingwood has done them much good and they have cared more about winning in recent years. This is only his 3rd Test as captain but I believe Alastair Cook is a strong and stable person and he can replicate Collingwood. Ryan Sidebottom and James Anderson, who is still here, prospered by the faith showed by Collingwood and it seems Cook believes in his players as well. He is the one who played a big role in bringing Kevin Pietersen back for this series. KP must be raring to score big after his absence from England matches. India is also keen to win as they are seeing this as "revenge series". Their drubbing in England last year (Tests: England beat India 4-0; One-day: England beat India 3-0 in a 5 match series; Twenty20: England beat India 1-0) is fresh in their minds. Unfortunately, Suresh Raina, who commented he wants to give some pain back, is not playing.

The only England bowler who can be praised in this match is Graeme Swann. The man never fails to perform. He does what Trott does with the bat. Other England bowlers lacked lustre and clearly missed injured Steven Finn. As is often said, Nick Compton is tailor made for Test cricket and scored runs in the warm-up games as well. Cook and Compton looked like a solid pair and I won't blame Compton for getting out the way he did. Some deliveries are such that any batsman can be pardoned. James Anderson, who is the permanent nightwatchman for England, was sent in yet again, though he didn't last long this time. England always sends a nightwatchman in this situation nowadays but it definitely shouldn't be this way. I think a nightwatchman is sent when only a couple of overs are left and you can't afford to lose a wicket and perhaps to surprise the opposition, since they have plans for the big batsmen. But, this is a decision which should be taken on impulse. A nightwatchman is not always needed, like when you are trailing behind by 500 and can't let the opposition mentally dominate you. India celebrated the fall of three wickets today. And England were shaken up thrice. Now, when either side looks at the scoreboard, they'll see the wickets as three, not two, even though No.11s usually score less than 10.

Adressing the media after the play today, Samit Patel said Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell can smash big tons. I agree, these 3 are the key. Alastair Cook is most consistent, Kevin Pietersen can dominate and change the game on his own and Ian Bell has often succeeded in helping England to draw.


Aussies out to regain top spot- Clarke

Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012 by Celia in Labels: , ,

Australia captain Michael Clarke has set his sights high ahead of a gruelling year of test cricket for his side. "I make no bones about the Australian team getting back on top," Clarke said, with his team currently lying in third in the test rankings.

Clarke, who took over from Ricky Ponting as the Australian test captain in early 2011, faces a tough challenge in trying to revive the glory years of the early 2000’s and go into the upcoming series with South Africa as underdogs.

But Clarke feels that their recent home demolition of India should stand his young test side in good stead. "We started well against India and we are wanting to build on that," Clarke said. "It is a really exciting time for this young side."

Where in the past the Australian side could rely on stand out individual performances from the likes of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne, Clarke knows that his side will need to work together to get back to the top of the test rankings and he is confident that his team have the determination to succeed. "I can guarantee you it certainly won't be lack of work ethic that lets the Australian cricket team down" Clarke said.

Australia are currently behind South Africa and England in the test rankings and they will face both of these sides in the next year. Clarke knows that these series could define his time as captain of his country so he is keen to ensure that his team take care of the Proteas before worrying about the Ashes; "It's a really exciting 12-15 months, as big a time that I will have in my career” Clarke said.

"We have some really tough opposition in South Africa, the number one side in Test cricket, coming to Australia very soon and our main focus is on that," he added.
Australia’s first Test against South Africa begins in Brisbane on 9th November and if Michael Clarke can inspire his side to defy the cricket betting odds, then they could well take their first step towards regaining top spot.


Flintoff believes KP saga can be forgotten

Posted: Friday, October 19, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , ,

Former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff believes that the Kevin Pietersen saga will be forgotten about if the Three Lions do well in their upcoming tour of India.

Pietersen was recalled to the England set-up on Thursday afternoon after being left out of the initial squad to tour India last month after sending ‘provocative’ texts to members of the South African team during the recent Test series between the two sides.

Now though, after a few months of uncertainty, the 32-year-old will be involved for his country in the winter’s action and now Flintoff thinks this Test series will be key in whether the situation is forgotten about or not. He said: "I'm sure there'll be a few words in the dressing room, in certain ears, to make sure it's a smooth transition going back in. But in a few months' time, if we start performing well in India, this will be forgotten." Flintoff then added: "What tends to happen is that when a team's doing well, everyone talks about the team spirit, togetherness and how everyone gets on. It's tested when you don't perform. When you start having a few bad results, little groups form in the dressing room and people start talking, and that's when it can happen."

Many people know that with Pietersen in the England side, they are a stronger outfit and he certainly does increase the chances of a victory in India. Experienced players are just what new captain Alistair Cook needs in these kinds of tough conditions and Pietersen’s quality with the bat and ability to play spin could be key to the team’s hopes. With Ian Bell likely to return home at some point of the series for the birth of his child, it does make the South African born player all the more important to the number two side in the world.

It is going to be a long and tough tour for England, but one they are capable of winning. Whether you will be watching every ball of this series, or keeping an eye on it whilst playing some Classic Fruit Machine Games, it looks to be a thriller and hangs right in the balance.


Will we see the same KP?

Posted: by Celia in Labels: , , , , , ,

So, after months of awkward talks and a bizarrely named period of ‘reintegration’, Kevin Pietersen is back in the England squad.

His route back into the international fold has not been straight forward, and has only really been possible due to a number of grovelling apologies.

Pietersen clearly has been made to jump through some hoops to get his place back and reflect on the damage his over-inflated ego has had on the squad.

But it is that ego that is also the 32-year-old’s greatest strength. Pietersen thrives on his status as a superstar cricketer. With the crowd behind him and the cameras pointed in his direction, he flourishes.

He is one of the game’s most devastating batsmen, capable of turning a game in his side’s favour within a few overs.

Of course, that huge ego needs massaging and has to be carefully managed. That has not been the case in recent months, with his expulsion from the squad the all too inevitable outcome. But in welcoming a remorseful KP back to the fold, have they taken away his greatest weapon?

Like players who need to be angry in order to play well, Pietersen needs that supreme confidence and belief that he is better than anyone else in order to operate. If he is going to stride out into the middle conscious of his place within the team, will his natural free-flowing game be hampered?

It is clear that England need Pietersen in India, one of the toughest countries to play cricket against. But the whole messy process over the last few months may have come at a price, something which can only be assessed when KP strides out into the middle in Mumbai next month.


Performance equals power: Kevin Pietersen beats ECB

Posted: Thursday, October 11, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , ,

Kevin Pietersen doesn't lead the life of a movie star but he sure lives in a movie. There has been no shortage of drama from him and the ECB over his future international career. Things finally seem to be going Kevin's way as he was welcomed warmly everyday in the TV studio of ESPN if not in the England dressing room. He offered his charm as well as witty remarks. He fitted well among the experienced commentators and showed that he is almost as entertaining off-field as he is on-field. Just like his switch hit, the gangnam style dance he performed won't be forgotten any time soon.

Early this month, he signed a contract with the England board. They say, both sides are at a loss in a war as both lose their men, resources and peace. It's no different in this battle. Both the ECB and Kevin Pietersen must have done a lot of thinking as the changing scenario kept them on their feet. Neither could guess the next move of the enemy. But, to me it seems KP enjoyed it all. One day, his heart spoke of being 100% committed to playing for England. But, the ECB wasn't satisfied, they asked for more apologies and explanation. They are never satisfied with anything if you ask me. Why else do they keep picking new players every month? Anyway, the next day his ego growled that lions don't bow to anyone. So, he didn't explain further and later accused Swann, Broad and Anderson of bitching behind his back. A few of the English players said they can win without KP. But, KP wasn't concerned, he always knew they were jealous of him. Plus, it wasn't going to take along for them to be proved wrong. Actions speak louder than words but England's inaction in the ICC World Twenty20 without KP spoke the loudest.

No wonder, Flower commented KP is on his way back into the English side a day after the tournament. Whether that was meant to distract us from England's dismal performance or to shut those who think England must bring KP back, it was a welcome statement. And no wonder now England Twenty20 captain Stuart Broad wants to have a beer with KP, the English team could worship KP if that's what he demanded to come back to the side. England have learned that you can't throw your top performers because of your so-called values. We don't need to get serious though folks, the ECB, KP and Stuart Broad never do. It's just a game they love to play. They don't want to make cricket boring by winning all the matches and making all the right choices.


Australia primed for cricketing comeback

Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 by Celia in Labels: , , , ,

Cricket Australia has continued its resurgence under new captaincy after George Bailey’s side cruised into the ICC World Twenty20 semi-finals on Tuesday, upsetting the world rankings in the process.

The Australia cricket betting considered them as outsiders for the tournament at its outset, but they have now shot up to sixth in the world rankings following their exploits in Sri Lanka.

Yet in beating India and South Africa earlier in the group, Bailey and co. proved they have what it takes to raise to the top of short-form cricket once again.

They now face West Indies again, looking to equal their final appearance two years ago. Punters who bet on cricket are even lumping their money on a Australian World Cup triumph, as they finally look to be taking the format seriously.

All this success comes in contrast with England, who crashed out of the tournament following humbling defeats to Sri Lanka and West Indies. While Bailey’s men were preparing to notch up the 112 needed to secure progression to the semi-finals, Stuart Broad’s side limped to an uninspiring 15-run defeat to the Windies in Pallekele.

The defending champions are already home while Australia look to win the title they almost lifted in 2010. The Aussies look resurgent under Bailey and with Test captain Michael Clarke in the middle of reforming his side ahead of a busy year to come, suddenly Australia strike the pose of future world dominators once again.

While Australia rise, England continue their fall and their T20 humiliation comes after a difficult summer of cricket where Alastair Cook’s Test squad lost their number one spot to South Africa

Although not expected to win the World T20, the fact that Australia are in the semi-finals proves they have turned a new leaf. This success – matched with a reformed Test side that will welcome South Africa this November – could propel Australia back to cricketing fruition in time for back-to-back Ashes series next summer.

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The batting
Crazy, crazy stuff from England. We could not guess it was the semi-final of a world cup if we didn't already know. England gave Luke Wright a go at the opening position, which is a laudable decision as Kieswetter wasn't doing his job. But, to send Bairstow at No.3 was a blunder. He is a finisher and a new member of the team. One of the openers can be so, but No.3 is a position where you need solidity. Samit Patel at No.4 wasn't a bad move though, because Bopara is not in form and Buttler is yet to prove his worth. Though in a big tournament like this, you shouldn't be experimenting with the likes of Bopara and Buttler.

The dictator: Stuart Broad brings his electric aura to the side.
The captain who loves to give surprises
The whole team was an experiment. Some were new, others not in form. I wouldn't blame Bairstow or Hales. The easiest way to make new players uncomfortable is to send them at positions they are not suited for and shoving all the responsibility on their shoulders. The ball before Bairstow got out, Hales and him were involved in a terrible mix attempting a run. And on the next ball, Hales got out as well. It takes time for batsmen to gain an understanding of each other and form partnerships. At least someone experienced like Morgan could be sent at No.3 to support Hales. It did work in the previous game when Wright came at 3 and Morgan at 4. There was no need for these crazy experiments. Broad reminded me he is the same man who couldn't hit the stumps from a two feet distance against Netherlands in the ICC World Twenty20 at home.

The bowler who doesn't get tired of performing
Steven Finn was once again impressive. His progress and consistency is something I'm very pleased with. England would benefit a great deal if they play him regularly in all 3 formats. Only Watson, Balaji, Starc and Mendis have taken more wickets than him in this tournament. And Yuvraj Singh has taken as many as him. Yuvraj and Finn have the best economy rate among these. Finn has also bowled the most dot balls in this tournament so far.

The bowler who doesn't get tired of being smacked
I was stunned to see Jade Dernbach back in the side. Only Raza Hasan, James Franklin, Shapoor Zadran, Chris Gayle, Zaheer Khan and Shahid Afridi have taken less wickets than him. And all of these, except Afridi have bowled less overs than him. He has the worst economy rate of 9.83 among all 38 bowlers in this tournament. And only 8 have a poorer strike rate. Only Cummins and Afridi have a worse bowling average. I don't think I need to say anything more on this.

The players who are exchanging roles
Also, Patel went for 27 in his two overs and Bopara for 12, England need to take note. As we have seen lately, Bopara no longer performs with the bat but he does perform with the ball. And as Samit Patel impressed with the bat, might we say they should swap their roles?

The all-rounder
If there was any man in the English side who looked like an all-rounder, it was Graeme Swann. He not only took 2-26 in 4 overs but also struck 34 off 20 in a tense situation. This is something he always does. Bats with a good strike rate, never wastes deliveries and stays calm under pressure. His strike rate in Tests is 80, in one-day it's 90 and 117 in Twenty20. His bowling averages in all formats are better than James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan. This man must be given an award.

The end
That's all I have to say about England's ousting in ICC World Twenty20 2012. We can only hope they'll learn their lessons. Until then, we can only make fun of them and enjoy the drama caused by Kevin Pietersen and everyone's comments on him. Thanks for reading. Good day!

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Title defenders must look for a fresh approach ahead of New Zealand tie

Posted: Saturday, September 29, 2012 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

England is no stranger to failures, but there is something different this time. They have the memories of lifting the trophy in the Caribbean a couple years ago. So, what if the captain has changed? So, what if Man of the Tournament Kevin Pietersen is nowhere to be seen, except for the studio of ESPN? So, what if Yardy has succumbed to depression? They still got Stuart Broad, this time as captain. Swann, Morgan & Kieswetter too. Finn, if not Sidebottom.

Johny Bairstow looks like a mythical mystical character, like he could beat anyone for the role of prince charming in the TV series Once Upon a Time. Wait, is there something wrong in talking about the looks of a cricketer? Not in the first year, but definitely in a World Cup. When both strike together, you know there is something wrong.

Standing tall: Captain Broad never hides his face.

It's obvious there are too many new players in the English side. Bairstow is merely 23, 4 Tests, 7 ODIs and 13 Twenty20s old. Jos Buttler is 22, has played only one ODI and 14 Twenty20s. Alex Hales is 23, 10 Twenty20s old. And although Kieswetter and Wright have played far more matches than these, they are not reliable or regular. Am not saying fresh energy is bad, it's just that it needs to be balanced out with consistency. England have dug themselves a hole by not taking any experienced batsman like Trott, Bell, KP or Cook with them. But, all is not lost. Winning both of their warm-ups didn't help, but losing to India and West Indies should be enough to provide a wake-up call. A change in tactics and mindset can still take them to the semi-finals. Lumb, in place of Kieswetter and Morgan at No.3 can definitely give the batting line-up a boost. Throw the gloves to Bairstow, Butler or Hales. They are all wicketkeepers for their counties, the latter only an occasional one though.

Jade Dernbach is proving to be too expensive. And England have kept Briggs out in favour of Samit Patel. It would be better to give all 3 spinners a shot. England is a team who is known for it's lack of spinners. But, times have changed. Like other teams are doing, England could make spin a weapon in Asia.

England are next up against New Zealand on September 29 at 10:00 GMT (15:30 local). This game will be played at Pallekele and not Colombo (where England were bowled out for 80 by India) so they should be able to walk past this. A tougher challenge will be posed by home team Sri Lanka, though still at Pallekele. History tells us home teams have not gone beyond quarters in the Twenty20 World Cup, but Sri Lanka is a stronger contender at home. England's run in this Cup was always going to be unpredictable with promising but inexperienced players, so I'll be disappointed if they don't throw any more surprises our way.

One-man Urgency not Enough for Stuttering England

Posted: Friday, September 28, 2012 by Celia in Labels: , , , , , , ,

England are on the brink of World T20 elimination, after falling to West Indies in the first game of the Super Eights round. The uninspiring performance is unlikely to please their captain, Stuart Broad, as his side battle to defend the title they won two years ago.

On a turning pitch in Pallekele, England struggled to put their fast bowlers to any use as Johnson Charles and Chris Gayle put on a staggering 103-run opening partnership to hand West Indies a decisive advantage.

Despite Broad’s best efforts to expel the middle order, his side faced a mountainous 180 to win against an opposition buoyed by their group stage success.

Indeed, in sticky Pallekele conditions, England came undone early in their reply and, after Craig Kieswetter and Luke Wright both fell for weak ducks, England’s comeback was over before it even began, the side falling 15 runs short of their target.

What was most disappointing about the game for fans, however, was not the loss itself, but instead the manner of England’s run chase. For Broad’s side looked incapable of playing against spin, with Chris Gayle and Samuel Badree superlative with the ball in hand.

While Badree stunted England’s fightback with a magnificent 20 runs lost from four overs, Gayle picked off a crucial Jonny Bairstow wicket to ruin all chances of a late flourish from the 2010 champions.

Indeed, the only source of inspiration in the England side was Alex Hales, whose staggering 68 off 51 deliveries gave Broad hope before he was stumped late on.

With a complete inability to play against spin, England lost an early chance to top their Super Eights group and secure safe passage to the semi-finals. Broad and co. have it all to do now, and the top order must learn from Hales’ superb innings if they are to avoid catching an early flight home next week.