Power to the players

Posted: Friday, November 14, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , ,

We know how much technology has affected the world. With the advent of twitter accounts of celebrities, it has begun to affect cricket as well. As I'm saying this, tweets must be coming to your mind, but I'm not talking about them only. It's not only that cricketers are now vocal on social networking sites, but I feel the rise of free speech in the world is making them free to speak as well.

Now that anyone can voice their opinions easily through internet and communicate with big personalities or protest against anything they dislike, I feel cricketers are also finding the freedom to express themselves.

It is well known that cricket boards strictly prohibit players to say anything against them and often give warnings to players who are controversial. But of course players are free to speak once their career is over. It has always been so, but I feel nowadays cricketers are more likely to come out in the open because people are more willing to listen and with the rise in media, it is easier to spread their word.

I suppose as the stories frustrate them, celebrities often feel a need to let people know the truth. Famous people, sportspersons included, care about entertaining people and often care about what people think. Cricketers in their playing days mostly have no choice other than to keep mum.

I find it to be quite unfair the way the board and the coach rule the players. They are not children to be disciplined by strict parents. They have talents we are thankful for and they work hard to bring passion and entertainment into our lives. It is unfair for boards to ruin their careers and watch their lives. The coach and the board should go as far as selecting the best bunch and keeping them only so disciplined that their performance is not affected. It must not be tolerated if they bring personal feuds or profit into team selection and the coach is only there to train the players, he is not their boss.

We often see how careers are ruined and how selection is unfair. The prime focus should be on playing for the country and winning rather than the personal conflicts, such as the one between England's star performer Kevin Pietersen and the ECB. And if you didn't notice, Steven Davies has never made it to the English team post declaring he is gay. It's not a coincidence. He played his last one-day on 6 Feb 2011, announcing he is gay on the 27th of the same month and has never played since. I thought he was pretty good, up with the best options for wicketkeeping for England.  Now where are the protesters?

India turn tables around in One-Day as England continue with old ways

Posted: Monday, September 1, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Just like the last 3 Tests, the one-dayers are proving to be no contest. The 3rd Test was still exciting as it turned the series around after India's victory at Lord's. The win was needed for England to prove they are still one of the best in Tests. Only in Tests. Tests are important for the British, so much that they play with the same attitude in One-Day.

India tour of England has hardly been exciting this time around. There is no competition. You get no brownie points for guessing who will win. If the Indian cricket team was left bare for the world to see, the same is happening with the English team. This is nothing new for them though. They give so much adulation to their Test batsmen that they make up for an unquestionable part of the one day team as well. Since the ousting of the flamboyant Kevin Pietersen, England haven't found a replacement for him yet. Or to say it right, they didn't even think that they need someone to replace him. Alex Hales has just now been given a chance but what can one man do? We have still got captain Alastair Cook in the team, who scored 19 off 33 in the 2nd one day and 44 off 65 in the 3rd. He not only bats at a meagre strike rate for a batsman, he is also the opener and the captain. We must not forget that it's his coming back into form that changed the course of the Test series.

In One-Day, it matters a great deal how you start the innings and also, the captain leads from the front and Alastair Cook definitely doesn't set a good example for his team to follow. If you start out slow, you lose a few wickets and thus the rest of the batsmen naturally feel under pressure. I'm sure Alastair Cook never tells his batsmen to go bang bang. I don't think England can ever dream of being a good one-day team with their old style strategies.

Let's compare England to other teams. Australia's highest ever total in One-Day is 434 vs South Africa and all of their top 12 totals are 350 or over. England's highest total is 391 vs Bangladesh followed by 363 vs Pakistan and their 10th highest total is 327. Compare this to India, who have scored over 400 four times and whose 10th highest total is 373. South Africa too has all of their top 12 totals over 350 and has scored 400 twice. I'm sure England doesn't realise you need massive totals to win one-day games in this day and age. Instead of bringing in swashbuckling batsmen, which are available in their Counties, England has a policy to play all-rounders and have depth in batting. So they have depth, this should enable them to reach 350, shouldn't it? What was Woakes doing coming in at 149/6? Couldn't he take England to a competitive total at least? Hasn't Alastair Cook got batsmen that he relies on all-rounders who would do both jobs? Hasn't England got better bowlers than Jordan, who was also made to play the last 3 Tests?

England crushes India to level series 1-1

Posted: Saturday, August 2, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , ,

England vs India 3rd Test: 27-31 July 2014 played at The Ageas Bowl, Sothampton

The teams may have us let down but the series is certainly living up to its hype. It's good that it's a 5 Tests series, rather than the usual 2-3 Tests series we have. 5 Tests are definitely enough to test the teams. While England looked to be all over the place after the Lord's Test, they have come out good in this one and have proved that they really are a good team in Tests. I would not say I was wrong in criticizing them. They were certainly worthy of all the criticism bestowed upon them by everybody. And sometimes, it's exactly what's needed. England must have realised that they need to get their act together and experienced batters like Cook and Bell need to take responsibility rather than depending on newbies and all-rounders for runs.

Cook and Bell responded well to the call. Cook, with a 95 in the 1st innings and 70* in the 2nd. And Bell with 167 in the 1st. England, after having declared at 569/7 and getting India all out for 330, leading by 239 runs, choose not to enforce a follow-on, presumably to give their fast bowlers some rest. In the 2nd innings, after Robson was caught out on 13, Ballance, Bell and Joe Root, all batted with a strike rate better than Cook, as England needed to score some quick runs to set up a total India could not achieve and also to have enough time to get India all out again. While Cook was holding one end nicely, other batsmen did their job well, particularly Joe Root, scoring 56 runs in 41 deliveries.

People are coming up with all sorts of reasons, but in my opinion, Cook's runs are what have changed the course of the series. The captain is more important than many might believe. It's the captain which leads the team and thus, the captain's intent, hunger for victory and form matters a lot. In the same way, I feel India's loss has a lot to do with their captain, MS Dhoni who looks like he might as well be an engineer in a software firm. That is how Dhoni looks to me - old and uninterested.

It should not come as a surprise that India lost. England were very disappointing at Lord's and as soon as they notched up their game, India lost theirs completely. India looked quite dispirited post their victory in the 2nd Test, like it hardly mattered that they won and I suppose that's the reason. If it hardly matters whether you win or lose, why would you put in so much effort as to defeat a team playing well? I do not know what the reason behind this is, but clearly their captain does not look passionate anymore and possibly it's because he has played too much cricket for his like. Or that his interest lies more in the IPL and he has lost interest in playing for India or at least Test cricket.

That will be all for now, dear friends. Tune in to catch the 4th Test match between England and India live from Old Trafford, Manchester, James Anderson's home ground on August 7 at 10 am GMT (15:30 if you are in India). I'd also like to mention that Jimmy celebrated his birthday by taking 5 wickets on July 31 and he has been found not to be guilty in the hearing held on August 1 so he will be playing in the remaining two Tests unless England decides to rest him for the 5th. They may not need to, as England won't be playing a Test match post this until next summer, that is May 21.

England bounced out at home by India

Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , ,

England vs India 2nd Test: 17-21 July 2014 played at Lord's, London

After losing a Test series to Sri Lanka, England are down 0-1 to India. England have always been one-day donkeys but they have been a highly regarded team in Tests. No more. I think England's players should be given a rest until they have rebuilt themselves. Or until they have regained their desire to win. Except for a few players, it didn't look like England is interested in winning. Neither did India, going by their low-key celebrations following the victory.

I'm disappointed. First, by the desire of the ECB and the grounds to make more money (dull Trent Bridge pitch and this series having 5 Tests) and then by both the teams. I wouldn't give as much credit to Ishant Sharma as the scoreboard seems to be suggesting. To me, it looks like neither of the teams are playing good cricket. And it also looks like they are lacking the desire to play and win. I don't know, perhaps it's because they are playing too much cricket. Perhaps both the players and the fans are being given an overdose of cricket and we know, too much of anything isn't a good thing.

I suppose India won because their desire for winning was a little higher than England. The celebrations didn't match the champagne popping ones by Rahul Dravid and Kapil Dev when their teams toured England.

Only Joe Root looked distraught following his dismissal (66 off 146). And he is, of course, the only batsman who batted well in the 2nd England innings. Moeen Ali looked good at the crease but the way he got out, on a short-pitched delivery, isn't how good batsmen do and it is what started the downfall – England batsmen getting out on the short ball, one after another. Except for Jimmy Anderson, the last batsman to be out, who was ran out by Jadeja (yes, Jadeja, of all men!). But you can't blame any bowler for not scoring runs, it's not their task.

Definitely, England need some changes in the team and they should have seen this coming following the 1st Test, in which they were saved by the record 10th wicket partnership of Joe Root and Jimmy Anderson.

This was going to happen following the exclusion of Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and Jonathan Trott. Losing to Sri Lanka and India at home would definitely be a shame. It's already a shame to have lost the Test series to Sri Lanka and this game at Lord's to India. I hope the ECB and Cook and rest of the England camp see it. Even without the exclusion of key players, England could have done better.

Tests aren't played without a spinner. England must show faith in Monty Panesar or Adil Rashid or some other spinner who may be doing well at the domestic level. They also need to change their captain, who has been struggling with his form. He is definitely not leading from the front. Who is the experienced batter in this team? Who would take responsibilty? Who should be captain then, if not Alastair Cook? These questions are lingering over English cricket. But this English team isn't doing well, so I don't see why experiments shouldn't be tried.

See-saw battle ends in Draw on dull pitch

Posted: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , ,

England vs India - 1st Test: 9-13 July 2014 played at Trent Bridge, Nottingham:
This proved to be an interesting Test match despite being played on a dull pitch and ending in a draw. It looked like a subcontinent pitch, not English at all. I haven't seen such a dull ground in England before. I look forward to Tests in England because of the lush green grass and the swinging conditions.

England's grounds are very interesting. They are not same at all. We have Lord's, which is the only ground in the world to have a slope. This ground also have a legacy attached to it, so much that players are most honored to have played here. Scoring a hundred or taking five-fors means so much more here than anywhere else. England is known to have conditions suitable for swing bowlers but there are also grounds which support spin on Day 4 and 5.

We have been told that this pitch was made so batting friendly so that the ground could make more money since they are at a loss if a game ends early. But if we have pitches like this in England, no difference would remain between playing in the Indian subcontinent and playing in England. Doing well overseas would no longer mean much. Also, in their bid to make money, the grounds and the ECB could eventually lose much more than they gain, because if all Test matches end up in draws and make bowlers toil, people will eventually lose interest in Tests, and perhaps some in cricket itself.

The highlight of the game though, was James Anderson's 81 at No.11. The partnership that he shared with Joe Root turned the game around. Until this point, it was tough to tell whether India are the touring team or if England is. Their partnership of 198 is now the highest partnership in the world for the 10th wicket. Prior to this, punters around the ground could be seen excitedly using their Android betting apps or betting apps for iPhone to put their money on what appeared to be a very likely Indian win. No one could really predict what was coming next.

Joe Root scored his 4th hundred finishing on 154*. He now averages 47.17 after having played 18 Tests. He is a good find for England. Early on in his career, he has big hundreds to his name. His maiden century was against New Zealand at Headingly, Leeds, the second one was 180 vs Australia at Lord's, the third was in England's previous Test series against Sri Lanka, a big one, 200* at Lord's.

Trent Bridge has been Jimmy Anderson's favourite venue, having taken 53 wickets here at the average of 19.24. This is his highest among all grounds he has played on. He is also the highest wicket taker at Trent Bridge. The next five behind him, Bedser, Trueman, Warne, Statham and Snow have all retired so he is in no danger of losing this title anytime soon. After these fellows, Stuart Broad follows with 25 wickets.

Catch the 2nd Investec Test match between England and India live from July 17-21 at 11 am local time (10 am GMT, 3:30 in the afternoon if you are in India), coming to you from Lord's.

Thanks for reading. This is Sanya, signing off.

No room for One-Day

Posted: Saturday, June 7, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , ,

Cricket is definitely changing. For the worse, in my opinion. I wonder why the governing bodies of cricket can't see it. Old cricketers would certainly agree with me, but even 10 years ago they might have said cricket used to be better. That's how people are, they think everything was best in their time. Except for opportunities. We always hear how we have it easier. I won't argue against it, because certainly as the world is progressing, more opportunities are being created in careers.

I can see why some old cricketers used to feel that cricket was better even though I don’t agree. They feel it because cricket used to be more of a test, the bowlers challenged the batsmen more than they did 10 years ago. And the scales are only shifting further in the batsmen’s favour. Though England is not a heaven for batsmen like most other nations hosting cricket. Even in this day and age, teams can be all out for less than 100, as the recently concluded One-day series between England and Sri Lanka has proved.

I don’t really agree with them, because cricket certainly improved as far as I see it. Both the batting and the bowling improved. And the fielding has evolved the most. The catches that are being taken today were unimaginable a decade ago.

Cricket has been going the same way, agony of the bowlers increasing and the struggle of the batsmen decreasing. Sixes and phenomenal catching are the thing of the day. Why am I unhappy then? If I believed a decade ago that cricket is getting better, why don’t I feel so now?

I’m just unhappy because this new form of cricket, Twenty20 is spoiling the other two formats. At first, I had mixed views about it. My first reaction, “What, 20 over games? Might be good for domestic cricket.” I found it a bit interesting as the first time I heard of it, I saw Stuart Broad bowling for Leicestershire and boy wasn’t he impressive. It was the first time I saw him so naturally my interest was heightened. It was the summer of 2006.

8 years later, I feel Twenty20 is the worst thing to happen to cricket. Even earlier, I didn’t like the idea of a Twenty20 series, 3 of them being played on a tour. I heard the cricketers too first thought of it as a joke. Why wouldn’t they? Children play 5-10 overs games. I -thought grown-ups were made for sturdier stuff than that. The audience has turned a joke into the most popular form of cricket.

What’s sad is that one-day cricket is losing out the most. There are old fellas and also people like me who prefer both Tests and One-day to Twenty20, but at times I’ve found Twenty20 to be more interesting than one-day and that’s because of the interests of cricketers themselves losing interest in one-day.

Who would like one-day now? Some prefer the fast paced 20 over action which only requires you to give as much time as you would to a football game and there are others, who have been fans of Test cricket and the legacy that comes with it for many years. This tells us there are two types of people only. Either those who like history and tough tests or those who like to see sixes and are happy to have the time to watch a full cricket game in 3 hours.

Kevin Pietersen Sepia Wallpaper

Posted: Sunday, June 1, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , ,


Created by Sanya. © England Cricket Blog
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This wallpaper is my first one of Kevin Pietersen. I have often felt he deserved one, along side those of players like Stuart Broad, Alastair Cook and Steven Finn. This is a tribute to him as the ECB have ended his England career.

It came at a time when Kevin Pietersen had more runs than any other Englishman currently playing, in Test cricket. Only Graham Gooch, Alec Stewart and David Gower are ahead of him. Alastair Cook is close behind him with 8047 runs. Kevin has 8181 runs in Test cricket.

Kevin also has the highest runs by an Englishman in Test, One day and Twenty20 combined. In Twenty20 Internationals as well, he is the at the top among English players with 1176 runs with Eoin Morgan close behind at 1076 runs. In an all time list of career runs in the world in Twenty20 Internationals, KP is at 11.

ECB sure knows how to waste talent. I doubt if any English player will ever score 10,000 runs in Test cricket. Alastair Cook must be aware of the ECB.

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Has IPL changed cricket for better or for worse?

Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Everyone would agree the IPL has changed cricket. For better or for worse, remains a topic to be discussed. Surely, it is fast-paced and more suited to the younger generation and can help in increasing cricket's popularity. However, the people who take interest in IPL are not cricket fans and they will never be.

I'm not totally against IPL. It's not like I think it should be banned or would start a protest against it. It can't be banned of course. People wait for the IPL more than any other cricket tournament or series. If they enjoy it, who am I to complain?

But, I don't think it's a good thing to happen to cricket. It's a lot of things but it just isn't cricket. It has taken the focus of the players and the fans away from country matches, which is pathetic. It's not like Big Bash or the Twenty20 championship in county.

Both of them are domestic tournaments while IPL attracts more attention and disrupts the International calendar. The parties and high pay interest some players more than playing for their countries. You might say there is nothing wrong with it. If the players and fans prefer IPL, what's the harm?

But I say there is. Humans don't always know what's best for them. Like, people prefer reading novels over course books but that doesn't mean novels are better for them. I don't think the IPL is good for the world. And most importantly, it just isn't cricket.

Being an England cricket fan, I used to enjoy England's Test matches the most. Now, I have lost interest in cricket as the interest in International cricket has decreased. Also because the players themselves aren't as interested in it as they used to be. Playing for your country just doesn't mean as much as it used to. Since, cricket is going around all year, fans have lost interest as well.

What makes a team win?

Posted: Monday, April 7, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , ,

There is much to be said about what makes teams successful. Do incredible players make a team successful, or is it the captain? The coach? The management?

While most would say all these factors matter, but I reckon what matters the most are the people behind the players. A lot goes into making a team. A lot goes into making a player as well. How does one become a player good enough for International standards? Surely, no one is born with it though some have better genes suited for sports.

I guess it's the conditions you grow up in, the type of cricket you play when you are young. What after it though? We see so many players playing well at the county level yet their potential isn't exploited when playing for the country.

I feel the selectors, coach and the dressing room environment plays a big role. While tough conditions while growing up makes incredible players, as we have often seen, like Don Bradman practicing batting with a wicket in his childhood, talented players need support to grow and do something for their country.

Common mistakes made by captain and selectors:
1. Picking/dropping players based on their personal preferences rather than performance.
2. Wasting time of players by keeping them on the bench for too long.
3. Not giving players any reason for dropping them. If you don't tell them where they are wrong, how would they know what they need to do to get back?
4. Dictating them like bad bosses instead of nurturing their talent and confidence.
5. Placing your ego above winning matches for your country.

Thank you for reading.

Who will win the 2014 English County Cricket Championship?

Posted: Tuesday, March 25, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , ,

Although it doesn’t receive the same level of media coverage as the exploits of the England national cricket team in international test matches (at least outside of England), County cricket is a very big deal to fans of the sport. This is the cricket equivalent of Premier League football, and is what most fans of the sport watch – and put bets on – throughout the majority of the year. Things are gearing up for the new season now, with the fixture schedule having been released, and the bookies odds are also now available for those interested in betting on the winner.

Last season’s champions Durham are unsurprisingly listed amongst the favourites again for the 2014 title – but they are not the hot favourites ahead of the season. At the moment Warwickshire, at 5/1, have that status with bookmakers. They will have England batsman Jonathan Trott back in the fold, following his recent illness, and certainly have an impressive record in this competition. 2013 was a somewhat disappointing season for them, as they finished fourth in the Division One table, but with seven previous titles it is likely that they or Durham will attract a lot of the gambling – at least amongst those who don’t decide to play The Umpire Strikes Back instead.

The notion of cricket fans choosing to go to a site like GamingClub.com/au to play a slots game instead of the winners of the County Championship would have seemed ridiculous a few years ago, but games like this one are huge these days. This particular slot, complete with cartoon umpire and Star Wars pun, is a lot of fun for any cricket fan. It is also very cheap to game on, as you can bet with a deposit as small as $0.10 a time. This entitles you to play for a jackpot of $10,000, as well as the chance to play the various cricket themed game bonuses, all of which makes it at least as attractive as betting on county cricket – and less likely to be interrupted by rain!

Thanks for reading.

England Clever in Recruiting Colly

Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014 by Laura in Labels: , , , , , , ,

England's decision to give former all-rounder Paul Collingwood a coaching role for the upcoming limited-overs tour of the West Indies and then the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh seems like a smart move.

England, who are still smarting in the other sense of the word from their defeats in all forms of the game in Australia, must pick themselves up for the trip to the Windies and then attempt to get themselves right for an assault on the World T20 - a competition they memorably won of course back in 2010.

And in bringing in someone like Collingwood they have on board a winner and a great character who can add plenty to the staff as they plot to bounce back effectively from the dismal tour down under.

The Durham skipper has been named as assistant to limited overs coach Ashley Giles and it is hoped he will inject some much-needed postitivity into the England camp after a dire winter. Colly is held in high regard by cricket betting fans and many felt he called it a day too early when retiring from Test cricket in January 2011.

His experience in defying the cricket betting odds and leading England to the World T20 title four years ago means he knows exactly what it takes to win the competition and his role may well prove vital if England do go deep into the competition. At that stage it will be all about holding your nerve while ensuring the best and most explosive T20 players can be at their best.

Collingwood's playing career - especially in limited overs cricket - speaks for itself. The 37-year-old is England's most capped ODI cricketer and leading ODI run scorer so he clearly has something to give in terms of coaching if he can pass on some of his old skills to the squad.

However, maybe more importantly, Collingwood can offer a fresh input and help revitalise some struggling players. Having not been around the camp in Australia, he will enter into his new role without any pre-conceived negativity from the failed Ashes and One-Day tours and can be a breath of fresh air in the upcoming months as England aim to regain their pride and move on into a new post-Andy Flower era.

Thank you for reading.

The misery called English cricket

Posted: Sunday, February 16, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , ,

Being an England fan is not easy. Ask anyone who supports England. It could be the best, it has the potential everybody would tell you. They could be better. Why aren't they then?

We aren't talking about Bangladesh, who have reached a certain standard, give you glimpses of hope from time to time with incredible victories. We are talking about England, who are not short on talent, or cash, or management, or technology, or coaches. They aren't even limited to picking players from their own country.

Wherever you are from, you can play for England, as long as you are eligible. It doesn't matter where you come from. Your history, your heritage, your blood just do not matter.

Why then does England lose so badly so many times? Why did the team and the fans go from celebrating Ashes 2005, 2009, 2010-11, 2013 wildly to sobbing after Ashes 2006, 2013-14? That's one thing similar between Bangladesh and England. They celebrate their victories so wildly that they probably don't need more. England could easily win more, only if they cared more about winning.

Only if they cared more about winning than their inner differences.

I had felt this about BCCI first, that the board rules the cricketers, as if they are slaves. BCCI asks Indian cricketers to watch their words. ECB selects the team based on personal bias, rather than merit. We have had many many examples of board's perspective being more important than the team winning.

Be it Steven Davies, Owais Shah or Joe Root, ECB chooses players by their personal bias. And with the Kevin Pietersen scenario, they have gone over the top. Had it been India, the crowd would have eaten the selectors alive. Steven Davies has never been selected since he announced he is gay, Joe Root has been supported more than he should have and Kevin Pietersen, from time to time has faced trouble from the ECB. And only the ECB and the god know why Owais Shah was dropped.

England doesn't know how to handle its players. End of the story. Who cares if Kevin Pietersen has an ego? Or if he has no friend in the current English squad. You select the team which makes your country win games. Nobody cares if the players don't get along, with each other or with the board. It's up to the players and the board to solve their conflicts. Only the best shall play.

ECB Could Rue Pietersen Decision

Posted: Friday, February 7, 2014 by Laura in Labels: , , , , , , ,

So, Kevin Pietersen has been shown the door by England after weeks of speculation over his future on cricket websites, and the ECB will hope their rebuilding plan brings with it a quick improvement or there will be plenty of people questioning the wisdom of their controversial decision to axe the batsman.

Pietersen has often divided opinion during his time in the side and there are clearly flaws within his game but when at his devastating best, KP is simply unplayable and the 33-year-old has proved it countless times for his adopted country down the years. Let's not forget, Pietersen is England's all-time leading run-scorer across all formats and so often in the past decade he has been the 'go-to' man when things have not being going well.

The ECB, along with the selectors, have wrestled with this decision for some time, well aware that there will be plenty of fans and pundits who will be against the move. Pietersen himself has made it plain that he feels he has been axed far too early, saying he has "deep regret" his time as an England player has come to an end now, while he claims he has plenty more to give to the game despite his advancing years.

Clearly something had to be done in the wake of the Ashes and One-Day debacles down under and it has been decided getting rid of coach Andy Flower and talismanic batsman Pietersen was the way to go as the powers that be try to take England forward. But in axing the South African-born star, England are dispensing with one of the most talented players to have ever graced the game and someone who, despite his mistakes, will be awfully hard to replace.

The exact reasons why KP has been shown the door have yet to be revealed and it will be interesting if a detailed explanation for the change is forthcoming. There has been much speculation, hearsay and rumours about Pietersen's supposed disruptive influence in the dressing room and, while he obviously has had his issues with some team-mates in the past - most notably former captain Andrew Strauss - those closest to the squad in the very recent past say there has been no rift behind the scenes and Pietersen has got on with things with the utmost professionalism.

It appears the selectors have decided England need a fresh new start and, with that policy in mind, expect a few more senior players to be told their time in the squad is up as they look to build a new side around emerging talent like Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Johnny Bairstow.

There have been widespread accusations that Pietersen's inability to be a team-player has cost him his place in the side in the end and, certainly, the way he often threw away his wicket with some outlandish, glory shots, back up these claims. But fans who follow cricket regularly know the very best winning teams need a mixture of characters who can bring different qualities and offer varied skills. Pietersen was a maverick at times and one the ECB have grown tired of, but it's a decision they may just come to rue over the next 12 months.

Swann – KP still important for England

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 by Laura in Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Graeme Swann has insisted England need to include Kevin Pietersen in their plans following rumours in the cricket press the batsman could be set to be dropped. Swann, who announced his retirement from the game following England’s third Test defeat in Perth, has made it clear Pietersen still has a big role to play for England in the "short-term" future.

In the wake of the 5-0 Ashes humbling this winter, Pietersen appears to have been singled out by some as being part of England’s problem rather than their solution – with Andy Flower reportedly even issuing a “him or me” ultimatum to the ECB.

While the Ashes was by no means a success for Pietersen, the batsman still finished as his team’s leading run-scorer during their dismal series Down Under – which will rank as one of KP’s least impressive achievements.

Despite his label as a trouble-maker, Pietersen has received the backing of a number of England players past and present, with Swann the latest to insist the enigmatic batsman is still crucial to any hopes England have of reclaiming their place among the world’s best Test sides.

"England's short-term future should include Pietersen. People seem keen to create a rift between Kevin and the rest of the team,” admitted Swann.

"Since being reintegrated in 2012, his attitude has been great. He was England's top run scorer in the Ashes and is one of the world's best players, so why get rid of him?"

With a decent break before the next Test series, the look of this England squad could dramatically change before the summer. While it remains to be seen whether Pietersen will still be part of England’s Test line-up against Sri Lanka in June, we know it would be hard to name someone who could bring what KP does to the team.

The screwed up English cricket

Posted: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , ,

I don't think the current display of England should be surprising anyone. And the ones who cited England as favourites for the Ashes definitely forgot which team they were talking about. I feel the biggest reasons for England's losses, always, are selection and the lack of desire for winning.

Moving on, I really like Finn's recent interview, in which he appeared confident.
It's tough for me to leave the tour, I'm upset I'm leaving the tour because I want to be helping England win games of cricket... but I do feel that it's best if I go home now.
I am nowhere near as far away as some people have been suggesting in the press. In terms of the technical things, they are not massive things.

I definitely believe the media is inaccurate on this occasion. I have hardly seen any English bowler bowl as consistently as Steven Finn. In his last one-day, Finn ended up with figures 2/43 with only Tredwell taking more wickets than him-3. Finn did not feature in any game on this tour and it has been heard that there is something wrong with his bowling action.

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I feel England need to support their players more, what with Jonathan Trott returning and Graeme Swann retiring. This is not the first time such incidents have happened in English cricket. We have often heard the England dressing room is not a happy place to be.

I'm also against the opinion that Kevin Pietersen's best is behind him, because the man is 33, has scored more than 8000 runs, his Test average in 2013 is close to 52. We have seen KP mature as the years have gone by and he definitely lends psychological advantage to the England team and power to the English batting line-up.

I hope KP will not take premature retirement like Graeme Swann and many other cricketers and I hope to see Steven Finn back in the team soon. On that note, this is me, Sanya signing off. Take care.

Too Early to Write Anderson off

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 by Laura in Labels: , , , , , , , ,

After a summer of major disappointment for Jimmy Anderson down under, some cricket punters are questioning if the England pace bowler's best days are now behind him?

Anderson headed into the return Ashes series as still one of the most feared bowlers around but, like many of his international colleagues, he simply failed to deliver in the humiliating 5-0 whitewash and looked a pale shadow of his former self. Like England, his reputation has taken a battering that may take some time to recover from.

And, after he was not included in England's one-day side, some are suggesting Anderson is on the verge of retirement but it would be foolish to dismiss the Lancashire star after just one poor series and he can bounce back even if his bowling must improve significantly from what was on show in Australia.

Like several of his England team-mates, there are claims Anderson's time as an automatic first-choice in the side must now be challenged such was the shocking level of performance across the board in the Ashes. Plenty of pundits believe now is the time to rip up this ageing team and plan for the future, building a side around talented youngsters like Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Johnny Bairstow.

England's official line in 'resting' Anderson and Kevin Pietersen for the current ODI series and the T20 games that follow is that they wanted their key players suitably refreshed and fully fit for the upcoming West Indies tour but, as Graeme Swann's shock retirement in November proved, you cannot take anything for granted - especially with players who are the wrong side of 30.

Certainly Aussie legend Glenn McGrath is one influential former player that thinks Anderson is now on borrowed time.

"I don't know if he had a big workload going into this series or whether it's just because the ball hasn't swung and he doesn't know how to take wickets," he said.

"When it's swinging he's one of the best bowlers in the world, without a doubt. Time will tell where he's at when he goes back to England.

"If he can lift himself when he gets a Duke ball, which he loves bowling with, and bowl well then he's fine otherwise, who knows, he may be towards the end of his career."

Amid all the doom and gloom it is wise to remember that Anderson's record - aside from his most recent outings - speaks for itself and he is one of only four players to have taken over 300 Test wickets for England. Not so long ago he was rightly regarded as the best bowler in the world but he must bounce back and prove that the well-worn mantra of 'form being temporary, and class permenent' is applicable in his case.

But surely, at only 31, he still has time to rediscover his devastating best form and help rejuvenate a battered and bruised England side, despite what the likes of McGrath are suggesting.

Image by Nic Redhead.

Time for Sweeping Changes to Re-energise Abysmal England

Posted: Friday, January 3, 2014 by Laura in Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

England's latest Ashes calamity in Melbourne means the time has come for wholesale changes to be made to an ageing side that has simply had its day.

England headed into the current five-game series full of confidence that they could again successfully defend the Ashes they won on home soil against what was thought to be just an average Australia side supposedly with plenty of problems. But how wrong has that prediction been made to look?

It has been a completely one-sided series so far with England's camp being affected by injury (Stuart Broad), withdrawals (Jonathan Trott), an unexpected retirement (Graeme Swann), wretched form with both the bat and ball and some questionable selection and captaining issues.

All of these things have combined to leave the tourists staring at a totally-unexpected 5-0 whitewash in the Aussies favour and many Ashes pundits now are suggesting it is time to break up a team that has enjoyed significant success over the past decade.

All good things come to an end and it appears for a good chunk of what has been rightly a celebrated England side, it's now the end of the line - or it will be after the final Sydney Test.

Some will say that is a harsh judgement but so bad have all aspects of Andy Flower's side's performances been down under that only a rigorous examination of what has gone wrong preceding big changes is what's now required for England to rise again - and that may mean Flower himself is also given the axe.

The coach has said he will review his position at the end of the failed series and the murmurs are that he will either decide to quit or, more likely, be shown the door with England needing a new direction under a new leader. 

Flower has been brilliant for the country but sometimes freshening things up is what is required and there is a case to be made that, under Flower, he and the squad have now become stale.

Then there's the question of Cook. Undoubtedly, on his day, he is an excellent batsman but he appears too weighed down with captaining the side to perform at his best. There should still be a place for him in the side moving forward provided he regains his form, but it might be time to relieve him of the skipper's role to concentrate on his own game instead. 

Stuart Broad would be seen as the ideal candidate by cricket fans while Trott, if he recovers from illness, could also step up. Cook's tactical ability has been rightly questioned and found wanting in Australia while several well-placed pundits suggest he is not a man able to inspire and lead others when the going gets tough in the heat of an Ashes battle.

Both Flower and Cook have indicated, at the minute at least, that they do want to stay on in their key roles but their defiant stance may change if Australia do indeed go on to inflict an embarrassing 5-0 whitewash.

Sadly for the likes of Michael Carberry, a woefully out-of-form Matt Prior and even the wildly unpredictable Kevin Pietersen they may too be told their international careers are over with the ECB instead deciding to build a new side around the promising Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes.

Whatever the ramifications end up being following the dismal tour, changes aplenty are needed to revive an England side that has so badly and so quickly lost its way.

Image by Peter Meade.