Thursday, February 18, 2010

England lose to themselves - but there are reasons to be cheerful

This isn't the first time an England side has been beaten in a warm-up game prior to a Twenty20 series but to lose to yourself is quite an achievement.

Ok, I'm exaggerating slightly as it was the England Lions, essentially the B team, who defeated the senior side by five wickets in Abu-Dhabi.

However, it is yet another stark reminder of England's continued failure to get to grips with the shortest form of the game, but in this case a positive is that the triumphant opposition are available for selection.

Of the Lions squad the headlines will no doubt go to wicketkeeper/batsmen Craig Kieswetter. The 22-year-old was playing for the South Africa Under-19s two years ago but decided to switch to England, only becoming eligible to play last week.

The Somerset right-hander certainly made up for lost time as he struck 81 off 66 balls - his third half-century on this Lions tour - to pile the pressure on his opposite number Matt Prior. Michel Lumb, another South African, hit a spirited 14 off the final over to secure a dramatic victory.

With the ball, Adil Rashid reaped revenge for being made to carry the drinks all winter by dismissing Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood and Eoin Morgan as Andy Flower's men slumped to 68-5 off 11.5 overs.

Although I agree Rashid could do with a little more county experience to really hone his game, he has been treated poorly by England, dragged along for tours and thrown in at odd moments. It appears the selectors don't have total confidence in his ability just yet.

I really hope it doesn't have a negative effect on the young Yorkshireman as he has the potential to become a world-class all rounder.

All in all it's not the best of starts especially after stand-in captain's Paul Collingwood's call for focus going into this short warm-up tour, with two matches against Pakistan to come and the World Twenty20 on the horizon. The cricket betting suggests England are in with a chance of winning the tournament, though they are by no means favourites.

However, the performance of Kieswetter is the shining light in the gloom of this defeat and he should earn a place in the senior squad sooner rather than later.

England will shortly head to Bangladesh for a Test series and the cricket odds suggest the visitors should have things their own way.

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