Friday, September 17, 2010

Bell looks to prove worth

The England selectors were given a timely reminder by Ian Bell as to his quality before the upcoming Ashes series in Australia. Bell’s impressive century for Warwickshire against Hampshire showed he is back to fitness after his broken foot kept him out for the last eight weeks. The century also edged Warwickshire closer to safety in Division One of the County Championship.

Bell was clearly delighted with his knock of 104, which included 13 fours from 196 deliveries. The innings was full of the glorious text book shots that have made Bell one of the country’s best batsmen. With Kevin Pietersen currently out of form, Bell’s innings will throw his name into the cricket odds hat as a possible replacement.

The most likely rival will be Eoin Morgan at number six. Bell’s average down the order is far better than when he bats high. After a year in which Morgan has become one of the games most exciting players, Online Cricket Betting pundits note how Bell faces a battle if he wants to get back in the first 11.

Another batsman who will be hoping to be on the plane Down Under, later this year will be Ravi Bopara. The Essex batsman has had another storming season for his county and will be desperate to be part of the Test squad that will be looking to win the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time since 1986/87.

Bell has been labelled one of this country’s most naturally gifted batsmen in recent history. The 28 year old has been through the full mix of emotions from wining the Ashes to be dropped for a year to finally returning to help England regain the Ashes last year. He’ll be hoping for the chance to help his team’s cause this year.

Monday, September 6, 2010

England v Pakistan T20: A series to forget already?

Pakistan made an uneasy return to the cricket field on Thursday for the first time since the match fixing scandal last weekend.

That's not uneasy in terms of their play - Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi were among the wickets in an eight run win over Somerset at Taunton - but the atmosphere among the subdued crowd suggested their thoughts were elsewhere.

That will almost certainly be the case on Sunday in Cardiff when England, the current T20 Champions, take on the former title holders in the first of a five match T20 series.

Doubts have rightly been raised regarding the decision to continue with the matches in light of the spot fixing allegations and the damage it has inflicted on the integrity of the sport.

With the England players already admitting they feel uncomfortable about playing on it is little wonder stories have surfaced about fans looking to sell their tickets as quickly as possible. The cricket betting odds suggest we're in for an exciting series, but somehow that matters less now.

Until some firm action is taken, the suspension of the three players involved - Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir - was a start, then any cricketing achievement will be brought into question, with fans asking was that fixed?

In the short term it is a great shame as England wrapped up the test series in fine style last weekend and should be looking forward to a return to the T20 form of the game and a chance to bring back some of the memories of last winter, when they won their first ICC tournament against Australia in the Caribbean.

Instead all the talk will be about what is happening down at Scotland Yard and in the corridors of power in the ICC.

It's no wonder fans and players alike are thinking - what's the point in playing?
But if we have to ensure a few more uncomfortable weeks, months or even years, if it rids the game of such corruption then it is a necessary evil we have to endure in order for cricket to retain its integrity.

Meanwhile, the Ashes odds suggest England will be on the end of another tonking in Australia.

The side has a lot of work to do if they are to retain the urn.