India and England go head to head in the first of four Test matches this week and I for one already have the alarm set.
Archive for the ‘Cricket’ Category
Believe it or not, the cricket season is underway and I had the pleasure of covering Norfolk for the Eastern Daily Press last week.
Unfortunately, it was washed out at the half-way stage – as much of the season has been so far, but it was good to be back at the home of Norfolk Cricket again.
More to come this summer!
When Essex all-rounder Graham Napier blasted 152 not out during a Twenty20 fixture against Sussex in 2008, it was heralded as a one-off, an achievement that could never be repeated.
However, some three years later, Napier reminded everybody of his explosive hitting last week with an innings of 196 from 130 balls against Surrey, including a world-record equalling 16 sixes.
I will be writing features for www.ecb.co.uk all summer.
Fresh from their Ashes victory in Australia earlier this year, England return to the test arena this week as they take on Sri Lanka in the first of three test matches.
Forming the first part of a fascinating summer for Andrew Strauss’ men, the match takes place at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff and will get underway on Thursday morning.
The countdown to the Ashes is well and truly on. The English summer has now concluded and the squad for the winter tour to Australia has been announced. The word excitement doesn’t even do it justice.
Referring to the England squad for the greatest test of all, there weren’t too many surprises. The most notable inclusions being Steven Davies as the second wicket keeper, Monty Panesar as the second spinner and Chris Tremlett in as another bowling option.
These three selections are all justified too. Davies has been extremely impressive in the ODI series against Pakistan and this, combined with his heavy run scoring for his County, means he is a solid back up for Matt Prior.
Panesar deserves to be back in the fold too. It seems to have passed people by that he has taken quite a lot of Championship wickets this summer. He has played in Australia before too, with relative success, so this weighed heavily in his favour.
As for Tremlett, not many would have given him a chance at the start of the summer. He had just moved to Surrey and was simply aiming to get his career on track. With 48 County Championship wickets though, he has caught the eye again. Throw in the fact that he has height, pace and bounce – something the Aussies aren’t too keen on facing – and you have yourself a very valuable bowling option.
It is likely, of course, that none of these three will play in the first test at Brisbane on 25th November. England have a settled side after a fantastic couple of years and an extremely productive summer.
The likes of Andrew Strauss, James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann have proved themselves as regular match winners. Then there is Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Matt Prior and Steven Finn who have had excellent English summers.
On top of this you have Alistair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood all due to come good. They haven’t been at their best in the last few months, but what better time to improve than in an Ashes series?
This list doesn’t even include the regular heroics of Eoin Morgan or the ever improving consistency of Tim Bresnan. Basically, the squad is strong and has what it takes to defeat the Australians.
With Strauss and Andy Flower at the helm, you just know they are going to be prepared for battle too. So, bring on November, bring on Brisbane and bring on the Australians. This England team is one to be reckoned with.
Andrew Flintoff has been a fantastic cricketer for England. Of that there can be no doubt. Only a handful of players in world cricket have been as influential as he was over the England side at times.
With this in mind, it is sad to hear that Freddie has retired from all forms of cricket. He called time on his test career last summer of course, but the plan had been to continue playing for the ODI side and his county Lancashire.
After continuous problems with his knee though and several consultations with medical experts, he has made the very tough decision to retire from the game completely.
This is a disappointing way for a player like Flintoff to bow out of the game he loves, but we must all remember the good times. The innings against South Africa when he broke his bat, the shirt off celebration in India, the two Ashes wins…. he has been a superb servant to English cricket.
Critics will harshly point at his statistics not being the best around, but that was only a small part of what Flintoff was about. He struck fear into opposition players and at times carried the England side.
It is a shame that he looks unlikely to go into coaching or punditry, because it would be good to see his face around English cricket for many years to come.
Whatever he decides to do though, I wish him the best of luck. He has been a fine international cricketer, is a top bloke and should have a very successful second career.
Super, super Fred……
Muttiah Muralitharan today became the first man to reach 800 test match wickets and it seems likely that he will be the last man to do so too.
The magnificent feat – which Muralitharan achieved with his final ball in test cricket – is a record that will be almost impossible to match. He averaged just shy of 6 wickets per test match, of which he competed in 134.
Given the way the game is going, with a renewed emphasis on Twenty20 cricket, it would be a remarkable effort for someone to achieve anything like 800 test match wickets.
Perhaps, a more realistic wickets per game average might be 4, but that would involve someone playing 200 test matches! Quite simply, Murali is head and shoulders above the rest and probably always will be.
The list of leading test wicket takers tells its own story. Shane Warne sits in second place, but even his final figure is 92 short of the Sri Lankan spinner. Then, no players competing today make up the top ten, with Curtly Ambrose in 10th position, just the 395 behind Muralitharan.
The overwhelming point is that Murali will go down as one of the best bowlers that ever played the game. He has terrorised batsmen for 18 years and has always had a smile on his face.
Some point out that he achieved quite a few wickets against the likes of Zimbabwe and Bangladesh, but this is irrelevant. Had you replaced these weaker teams with Australia, England or India for the same amount of tests, we would still be talking about the great man reaching 800 wickets.
Sri Lanka and the entire sport of cricket will miss him, but we can always look back on the tremendous career he has had. So many matches, so many overs and so, so, so many wickets.
What’s that sound? Why I think it is every single international batsman letting out a big sigh of relief. For the legend that is Muttiah Muralitharan has graced a cricket field for the final time, his final action being the wicket of Pragyan Ojha – his 800th test victim. What a story.
It would be harsh to describe Andrew Flintoff as the forgotten man of English cricket. However, after his retirement from tests, his continued injury problems and the success of the national team in recent months – it is fair to say that England have moved on.
This doesn’t take anything away from what Flintoff achieved for England. He was their talisman for a number of years and one of the most influential all-rounders to ever grace a cricket field.
To read the rest of this article, go over to Third Umpire, a cricket blog that I contribute to regularly.
First, let me say the England cricket team are a national side to be proud of. They are playing superb stuff at the moment and are probably the best team in the world form wise, in all types of cricket.
Their latest success is an ODI series victory over Australia with two games to play. England defeated Ricky Ponting’s men by one wicket at Old Trafford on Sunday to give them a 3-0 lead in the five match series.
It is becoming the norm for England to beat Australia too. There was the Ashes win last summer, followed by victory in the World Twenty20 final and now this latest contest between the two fierce rivals.
To read the rest of this article, go over to 334 Not Out, a cricket blog that I contribute to regularly.
With English cricket, it tends to all boil down to one series – the Ashes. Every selection, every Test match, every individual performance, all done with the Test series against Australia in mind.
This is the same for the Australian team and it shows how big a series it is. The biggest in cricket without any doubt whatsoever.
With this in mind, Thursday November 25th 2010 is a very important date in the calendar – it is on this day that the first test between England and Australia gets underway in Brisbane.
To read the rest of this article, go over 334 Not Out, a cricket blog that I contribute to regularly.
I have had an influx of live cricket this week, which is no bad thing at all. I was covering a game for the Eastern Daily Press on Sunday, went to the final days play at Lords on Monday and attended Essex’s first Twenty20 match of the season on Wednesday.
Sunday @ Old Buckenham
As I am covering Carter Cup matches for the EDP this summer, I was at the 2nd round match between Old Buckenham and Bradenham. It was a long but entertaining day, with the visitors falling short 26 runs short of their 307 run target.
Monday @ Lords
While writing my match report for the game at Old Buckenham late on Sunday night, it occured to me that it might be worth popping to Lords for the final day’s play of the England v Bangladesh match. So, a couple of us got a train nice and early and secured our £10 tickets.
We were treated to two full sessions, with Steven Finn the pick of the England bowlers and Andrew Strauss the stand out batsman in the fairly comfortable run chase. I even got to step onto the hallowed turf at lunch, so it was a fantastic day all round!
Wednesday @ Chelmsford
A couple of days later, I was off to the County Ground in Chelmsford to witness Essex’s first Twenty20 match of the season against Kent. As ever with this form of the game, it was an entertaining evening.
In terms of the cricket (which Kent won by six wickets), the best performance of the night came from Dutch International Ryan Ten Doeschate who smashed 98 off of 47 balls. It was quite an innings, despite the fact it didn’t help the home side to victory.
An excellent week!
If England are to have a successful summer followed by a victorious Ashes tour, they need an all-rounder who can play a similar role to the one Andrew Flintoff used to in test matches.
Someone who can bat at number seven and make a significant contribution with the ball is crucial to the balance of the current England team. For the Bangladesh Test matches – which start tomorrow at Lords – Tim Bresnan is the man in possession of this position and he will be determined to hold on to it.
To read the rest of this article, go over to 334 Not Out, a cricket blog that I contribute to regularly.