Monday, June 29, 2009

Squad for Bears vs Eng-er-land

Warwickshire have picked a strong team for their game against England starting on Wednesday.

Ian Westwood (*)
Tony Frost
Jonathan Trott
Jim Troughton
Ateeq Javid
Tim Ambrose (+)
Rikki Clarke
Ant Botha
Chris Woakes
Boyd Rankin
Jeetan Patel
Naqaash Tahir

Ashes mania

Well the World T20 has been put to bed, the T20 Cup has been put on hold for a bit (with the Bears in the QFs) now attention turns to the Ashes of course. Sky are mentioning 2005 a lot (though not the series that followed in Australia for some reason) of course. I love the trailer with Shane and his barby!

England play Warwickshire this week, as i have a doctor's appointment on Friday morning i thought i might as well take the whole day off then go along to the last day of the game, hopefully the Bears haven't beaten England already!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Reducing the county championship?

Next season will be even more congested than usual because of the Champion's League and thus the fixture planners at the ECB are looking at "radical" ways to relieve it. One suggestion is to reduce the county championship to 14 games down from 16 for one season only.

But how can they possibly do this and retain the fairness and relevance of the county championship? 16 games means each of the 9 counties in the 2 divisions plays the other 8 teams home and away. Reducing the games means that this is no longer possible. What then happens to the concept of every team in a division playing each other and the best team at the end of it winning? Also how will they decide what are the missing games? Could some counties end up "lucky" in that their missing games are against the best teams in the divisions (and of course vice versa?) It is lunacy, but what do you really expect from the ECB?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Ambrose has ideal chance to cement understudy role

The Ashes warm-up fixture between Warwickshire and England that starts on 1st July is bound to be a tense affair. Not only will players be wary of injury – the series opener begins at Cardiff seven days later – but many know they are taking part in the final chance to stake a place in England’s team.

Most spots have been definitely filled, including, unusually, the wicket keeper role. Matt Prior’s consistently excellent form with the bats in all formats, combined with more reliable glovework, has cemented his place in the team, to the point where he is expected to bat at number six.

However, the selectors are still casting their net wide to identify the rest of the keepers’ pecking order. James Foster was given a chance in the ICC World Twenty20, but the gloveman’s role in the Lions team for the match against Australia has gone to Steven Davies.

Tim Ambrose will also be under scrutiny, assuming he plays for the Bears against England next week. The discarded England keeper is doing a steady job in protecting his place as Prior’s understudy, although Davies’ runs for Worcestershire and Foster’s sparkling Twenty20 glovework are keeping the pressure on.

Ambrose did everything he could in the Caribbean earlier this year, scoring a fluent unbeaten 76 and keeping efficiently in his solitary Test appearance at Barbados. The selectors were reminded that if Prior was missing for more than one match his replacement could be fully trusted.

Ambrose’s ultimate aim is obviously to displace Prior, but he knows future chances are more reliant on the man in possession’s form than his own. A few runs and catches next week will be a good place to start in doing what he can to work his way back into the England set-up.

For now though, keep a close eye on the Lords Test odds for your early Ashes bets. If you need to get in the betting mood, check out Betfair's new fan v fan site.

By Philip Oliver

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bell still in but Vaughan out!

Ian Bell has been named in England's development squad for the Ashes but Michael Vaughan misses out, though considering his meagre form this season keeping in the Yorkshire side is probably his target for the rest of the season. As for IR Bell he will captain England Lions against the Aussies at Worcester.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Women's World T20

One benefit of being ill off work today is being able to see the first semi-final in the women's T20 game between New Zealand and India. Its the first full women's cricket match i have seen and was a good game though NZ won fairly easily. Good skills on show such as some of the fielding and some of the Indian spinners were intriguing. I look forward to seeing more games, unless i have a rapid recovery i shall be seeing England vs Australia tomorrow anyway.

It was amusing to hear commentators like Nasser get in a pickle about what to call the players, i think he called them "women", "girls", "ladies" and "men" at various times. Some of the field placing and other cricket jargon words may need modification like "third man" and "batsman" by the way.

15-20 the key to 20-20 or 10-15?

In the wake of England's demise in the World T20 i have been thinking about what a successful strategy might be to get a decent score in the game (seeing as England need a strategy they are welcome to use mine!)

Now orthodox thinking is that you keep wickets in hand for as long as possible for a final assault at the end. However i believe this plan is flawed in T20 cricket. These wickets in hand will likely be coming in against the best bowlers in death bowler mode and will have to try and start whacking from the off. Launching an assault in the final 5 overs is too late.

Perhaps the 10th to 15th overs are where the assault needs to take place. Having had an early whack in the power play maybe England need to use overs 7-10 for consolidation and then whack out against the bowlers in 10-15 which usually are the second-string seamers and the spinners. With momentum gained then the final 5 overs can be a continuation of the assault, or if there are not many wickets left a run-a-ball cruise to the end.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Always next time

What is the difference between Sir Allan Sugar and English cricket? SurAllun's hunt for an apprentice ended, cricket's hunt for a 1 day trophy goes on. England, after beating the West Indies comprehensively all Summer, went out of the World T20 to... the West Indies. In a rain affected match the Windies Duckworth-Lewis adjusted target seemed gettable from the off and despite a wobble early on as the young guns lost their composure the Windies reached the target with a few balls to spare.

So the Windies go into the semi-finals, England now have to prepare for a test series. The Ashes of course. England showed they haven't quite worked out how to play international T20 which is ironic when you consider who invented the game. Always next time.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The big match

Of course it was the big match yesterday.

No not that one, though i'm sure this club game on Spring Lane playing fields i spotted yesterday was important too, i mean England versus India in the World T20 of course. It was a battle between two teams who so often underachieve but do better when cast as the underdogs. In this case England were cast as the underdogs but won through in an exciting match.

England are still not in the semi-finals yet though India now cannot defend their crown.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm loving angels instead

Despite the fact Robbie Williams is playing for Durham UCCE (so that is where he is these days) the students are in trouble. In reply to the Bears total of 265ao they are 97-9 at stumps. Stefan Piolet flying high with 6-15. Robbie is still there though, can he entertain us or will Stefan tomorrow tell him to take that?

I believe this is Stefan's first class debut, this should give his career some wings. Durham are on a wing and a prayer.

The boys are back in Durham Town

After yesterday's scare the Bears are fighting back in their match against Durham UCCE. The current score is 208-5 with Tony Frost on 105 and Shaaiq Choudhry on 53 in a stand of 123 so far.

Fingers crossed for Flintoff fitness

The first day of the ICC World Twenty20 Super Eight stage was a good one for England. The seven wicket hammering meted out by South Africa notwithstanding, the news that Andrew Flintoff made a successful return for Lancashire was significant.

As long as he is fit, Flintoff will play in the first Ashes Test at Cardiff on 8th July. England cannot afford to demand that he proves his form. Some might point out the Test team’s success in his absence compared to his presence, but the Twenty20 defeat by South Africa, albeit in a different format, should remind the selectors of Flintoff’s importance.

The big all-rounder is a talisman, a player who inspires his teams-mates and intimidates the opposition. Kevin Pietersen has the same effect and the implications of over-reliance on the former skipper are becoming clear in the current tournament.

However, if the selectors do pick the team for Cardiff on form only, Flintoff at least has the opportunity to prove himself. Although his bowling effectiveness is never questioned, he has already proved this part of his game to be in good order, taking two cheap wickets in the first game of Lancashire’s match at Durham.

Flintoff will have the opportunity to gain more match practice in another championship match against Hampshire, the latter stages of the Twenty20 cup and, if required, in England’s Ashes warm-up match against the Bears.

England fans must hope that he finds some batting form in those matches, but the most important thing is that he does not have any injury setbacks. England could do with Flintoff in their Twenty20 team; they certainly need him in the Test line-up.

Written by Philip Oliver

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An upset on the cards?

Usually counties pound the universities into the ground when they take them on, however could Durham UCCE be now sensing an upset? Warwickshire are currently 91-5 on the first day of the match at Durham University. The Bears line-up is a bit weak though, looking more like the 2nd XI than the 1st. Captain Frost is still there though.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Players may strike

No not Warwickshire bowlers striking wickets, that's a rarity in county championship games at least, but players could strike over controversial ECB plans to incentivise counties for fielding younger players which could leave older players (and that means players in their late 20s onwards) in the cold. Under the plans only 4 places for English qualified players over 26 will be available if the county still wants the full funding from the ECB. I hope these plans can be modified, the honest journeyman pro is one of the things that makes county cricket for me. People you can identify with.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gentlemen start your bulldozers

The Edgbaston ground redevelopment has passed it's final hurdle with the new Communities secretary John Denham deciding not to hold an inquiry into the scheme. Maybe the reshuffle did the club good in that the new minister wanted to clear his backlog or it would have been passed anyway. Building work is now expected to begin before the end of the season.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Australia out of World T20

Australia have been dumped out of the World T20 following defeats to the West Indies and Sri Lanka. Its a shame.

Meanwhile play finally started in the CC game between the Bears and Notts. There was a big bright thing in the sky too at times today, i was told by a wise woman that this was the Sun. However i believe the existence of such a thing is merely in myth.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

West Indies defeat Australia

Loving this World Twenty20 so far, the West Indies made the Aussies look rather second-rate as they roared to a crushing win. Brett Lee got taken to the cleaners by the Windies batsmen especially Chris Gayle who is finally back to form. For the Aussies David Warner does look the business though.

Personally though i hoped to watch some county championship action but the day's play was washed out, and tomorrow doesn't look that promising either!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Netherlands defeat England

The World T20 has begun with the usual chaos and cock-ups as a bit of rain threw the opening ceremony into embarrassing chaos. But forget yet, the opening game between England and the Netherlands was massive. At first glance it looks a strange tournament opener, only 2 of the Dutch players are professionals (in English county cricket) so surely it should be a walkover right? Wrong.

After an exciting finale the Dutch won off an overthrow on the last ball. England are crushed and the Dutch celebrate a historic win. I am disappointed for England of course but thrilled for the underdog. Now England's chances in a home tournament look dodgy already, they must beat Pakistan on Sunday, thats the bottom line. The tournament needed an exciting game to ignite it, well that certainly has happened!

I think we may see more shocks like this though as the international T20 game grows, it is a leveller because of the shorter time in which players have to maintain performance and concentration. The difference between professionals and amateurs often comes down to just that the professionals can maintain their performance all day (or days).

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

England defeat Scotland

England beat Scotland in their world T20 warm-up game (and play the Windies in the next one, who thought that brainwave up?!) Scotland's attack was led by young Warwickshire bowler Calum MacLeod who bowled not too badly it must be said as England laboured a bit to overhaul Scotland's target.

Saw Calum play in a 2nd XI game earlier this season, his bowling is certainly better than his batting!

Monday, June 1, 2009

World 2020

The World 2020 has begun, or at least the practice games have begun. Oddly these are being televised by Sky in lieu of showing the domestic competition. So South Africa vs Pakistan in a practice game wins over, say, Warks vs Northants. Mind you the Bears lost so it was just for the best.

Its interesting to see the difference though between how T20 is played here and abroad, here its often the nudge and angle, overseas they like to whack the ball in the air and over the boundary. Different conditions apply though of course but i wonder if the domestic T20 is starting to get too serious. There is too much at stake now and some of the fun of the earlier seasons has been lost. Bring back the hot tub, the Neil Carter speed dating and the other razamatazz!