Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Strauss targets more Ashes glory

Andrew Strauss wants to become the first England captain to win four consecutive Ashes series in the post-war era.

Although he is now 34, the batsman believes he can carry on and wants to add series wins at home against Australia in 2013 and then repeat the feat down under in 2013-14.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live he revealed that he felt the goal of at least playing in the series was a realistic one, although admitted that there was a lot of cricket to come between now and then. People looking at the in-play cricket betting online will know this.

“But I'm not going to say that is definitely what is going to happen. There's a lot of cricket to be played between now and then,” he said.

"We will see where we are in 12 months, then another 12 months and go from there.”

Strauss became the first England captain to win back-to-back Ashes series for 24 years when he led the side to a 3-1 win in Australia last winter.

If the side can win the 2013 series, he would take his place next to Mike Brearley who led England to victory in 1977, 1979 and then took charge of the team midway through the 1981 series after Ian Botham was stripped of the captaincy.

However, the world’s number one Test side have a lot of work to before they can even start thinking about the 2013 series.

They will face Pakistan and Sri Lanka this winter before hosting tours by the West Indies and South Africa in the summer.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Taskforce to look at domestic cricket in Pakistan

A taskforce has been formed by the Pakistan Cricket Board as the body looks to improve domestic cricket in the country.

The new team will undertake a review of the current structure of the game in nation, its strength and weaknesses and then make its recommendations after two months. Those who bet on international cricket will be keeping an eye on things.

It will feature a number of faces already linked to the administration of cricket in the country, with former Pakistan captains Javed Miandad, Intikhab Alam, Zaheer Abbas and Moin Khan involved.

Ex-players Sarfraz Nawaz, Iqbal Qasim, Imtiaz Ahmed and Zakir Khan are also involved, with the latter being director of Pakistani domestic cricket.

Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Nawaz said: "There is definitely some problem with our existing domestic structure that is hampering the quality of our players. We have to sit down and discuss it right from the start."

He added the fact that the taskforce was made up of ex-pros means that everyone involved will understand the way in which the game works and as such should be able to identify the flaws which are stopping the development of world class players.

Nawaz also stated that the PCB had "invested a huge amount in domestic cricket" but it still was not a "quality" product.

Despite the fact he seems convinced that the domestic game needs to be changed in some way, the recommendations the taskforce makes to the PCB will not be binding so it could be that the body's work will be in vain.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Worcestershire makes big strides with new signing

Worcestershire will be out to improve on their LV County Championship Division One showing this year when the 2012 campaign gets underway, and they already have a huge boost with the news Australia opener Phil Hughes will join for the second half of the season.

The 23-year-old made his Australia debut aged only 20 and went on to become the youngest player to score successive centuries in both innings of a Test Match.

Hughes boasts previous experience of English domestic county cricket from periods with Middlesex and Hampshire, while his international class will be a big boost to a Worcestershire side looking to improve on a struggling LV County Championship Division One campaign just gone. Those looking at the cricket betting promotions should remember this.

Their seventh-place finish in the table saw them win only four games all season and they will want to be sitting in a good position when Hughes joins them during the first week of June 2012, and he will stay at New Road for the remainder of the season. Anyone following the cricket odds should bear this in mind.

Director of Cricket, Steve Rhodes, admitted the signing of Hughes will be huge for the club as they go looking for LV County Championship Division One honours in 2012.

“To gain the signature of the current Australian Test Match opener is a tremendous boost for the Club and the players for the 2012 season,” he added.

“Phil is a heavy run scorer with a career ratio of a century every four games in First Class cricket. In 2009 he amassed 574 First Class runs in three games for Middlesex including three centuries which demonstrates his hunger for run scoring.”

The LV County Championship 2012 season starts on Thursday 5 April with the last round commencing on Tuesday 11 September, with the first game seeing defending Division One champions Lancashire taking on Sussex at Old Trafford.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Arthur calls for maturity

Australian cricketers must grow up and understand they may not be picked for every game, head coach Mickey Arthur has warned.

Mike Hussey has expressed concerns about the wisdom of shuffling batsmen around, fearing it could impact on form and confidence, but Arthur believes that the rigours of modern cricket mean that no one can expect to play in every game. Anyone looking at the best cricket online betting should remember this.

"We need to keep rotating guys through the summer because there is just so much cricket, guys are going to break down and we need others ready to come in at any given time," he told ESPNcricinfo.

He added that players need to be "mature enough" to accept this issue, but also stated that he and the selectors understood that there is a need to ensure the reasons for any changes in personnel are properly communicated to everyone involved.

Arthur also spoke about the form of Philip Hughes, with the 23-year-old suffering from something of a slump in form lately.

The coach called on him to work on some technical issues with his game, because the batsman has been getting out in the same way recently.

Arthur seems to be causing something of a stir in Australian cricket already, not least because he is the first foreign-born head coach the side has ever had.
He also has his work cut out, with the once all-conquering side suffering something of a decline in fortunes, most notably their home defeat against England in the Ashes last summer.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bopara and Panesar Given England Call-up

English cricketers, Ravi Bopara and Monty Panesar, will travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with England in 2012, when the national team takes on Pakistan, from January 17. The fixture, which is being played on neutral ground, mirroring the arrangements for Pakistan's matches with neighbouring country, India, will be a three-Test series.

The development is part of a wider announcement detailing England's 16-player squad, which includes a number of staples, such as long-suffering captain, Andrew Strauss, Tim Bresnan, Graeme Swann, and Kevin Pietersen. Bopara and Panesar are provided as relief batsman and second spinner, respectively. Those following the latest betting will be keeping an eye on things.

Panesar, a crowd favourite, will make his first appearance in a Test match since the Ashes in 2009, in the UAE. His performance in the County Championship is ostensibly the reason for England's newfound confidence in the Sultan; his "plate-sized hands", to quote ESPN, took 69 wickets during the 2011 season.

National selector, Geoff Miller, intimated that Monty could play a "very big part" in the upcoming Test series, while Bopara, who replaces Paul Collingwood, has "another opportunity to show his growth as a Test player".

Joining Panesar in Dubai will be James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Alistair Cook, and Steven Davies. Middlesex's Steven Finn and Eoin Morgan, Matt Prior, of Sussex fame, Surrey's Chris Tremlett, and Jonathan Trott, from Warwickshire, have also been handed their orders by the England brass.

Speaking about the finalised squad list, former cricketer, Geoffrey Boycott, said: "I don't think anybody expected any big changes". The 71-year-old added that he has "always liked" new-entrant, Panesar. "I'm sure he will get a chance to prove he can still be effective for England."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Australia name unchanged side

Australia have named an unchanged liner-up to the team that won at Brisbane for the second test against New Zealand at Hobart.

The Aussies picked-up a convincing win in the first match of the series, defeating their opponents by nine wickets and captain Michael Clarke believes that its only fair that he and the selectors stay true to those players. Fans of cricket betting will be keeping an eye on things.

This means all-rounder Dan Christian will continue as 12th man in place of the injured Ben Cutting.

Hobart is traditionally a pitch that suits the team that bowls first and Clarke says there is a good chance that he will decide to bowl first, if he wins the toss on Thursday morning.

“I'll wait and see tomorrow. I think overhead conditions will play a part. For me it's more about looking up than looking down to see what the weather is like," he said.

"If the wicket doesn't change much from what I see and it's still a little bit tacky and there's overhead conditions, there's a big chance I'll bowl first.

"But I've said that a few times in the past and gone out there and batted.

"I guess the two things I find really hard are bowling first when I win the toss and not picking a spinner” he added.

The only injury concern for Clarke surrounds opening batsman Shane Watson. The 30-year-old has been truly superb in recent months and Clarke says he expects the all-rounder to be fit for Hobart. Those betting online should remember this.

"Watto has got a slight calf strain. It's put him a couple of days behind but we're confident he'll be right for the Boxing Day Test."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Boycott calls for tough action on cheats

Just a few days after England captain Andrew Strauss referred to the International Cricket Council (ICC) as a "toothless tiger" cricket legend Geoff Boycott told a radio show that the ICC should begin running its own 'sting operations' to catch cheats.

Boycott's comments arrived in the wake of a recent court case, in which a number of high-profile cricket players and officials were found guilty of cheating, chiefly by intentionally bowling no-balls in Test matches.

The convicted include Salman Butt, former captain of the Pakistan team, and his agent, Mazhar Majeed, who is believed to have been the ring-leader behind the scam. People who look at cricket betting online will want the game to be made as clean as possible.

When asked a fan-submitted question about a possible means of preventing match-fixing, Boycott suggested that governments in South Asia should consider legalising betting on cricket, to reduce the popularity of "back-street, illegal bookmakers".

The 71-year-old also said that the ICC should try to emulate the investigative journalism of the News of the World or the undercover skills of the Secret Intelligence Service, otherwise known as MI6, to weed out illicit behaviour.

However, the crux of Boycott's argument was that the ICC was "wringing hands", rather than being pro-active in the fight against corruption.

Boycott is just one of a number of pundits, fans, and cricket officials calling for the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU), the ICC's equivalent of the secret service, to "get tough on crooks", to quote former Aussie cricketer, Ian Chappell.

Chappell recounted a recent conversation with an ACSU official on the ESPN website, in which he claimed that the ICC's 'cricket police' didn't understand the mechanics behind a betting scam; notably, that criminals, rather than players, orchestrate match-fixing.

Many cricketers, such as England's Michael Vaughan, are hoping for a zero-tolerance approach to cheating, involving an immediate and permanent ban from cricket for those found guilty of a swindle.

Monday, October 31, 2011

County stars sign fresh deals

While the end of the County Championship has left cricket fans wandering aimlessly or perusing other sports, many players have begun the obligatory contract negotiations with their club, a development that has seen Nottinghamshire, Essex, Derbyshire, and many others, throw contract extensions at their players.

Paul Franks, who previously "challenged" himself to remain at Nottinghamshire for the remainder of his career, has secured a new contract at Trent Bridge, meaning that the cricketer will be able to extend his tenure at the club until at least 2013. The all-rounder says that he is "proud" to remain at Notts. Those betting online will be keeping an eye on him.

Heading south; bowler, Tim Philips, has signed an improved deal at Essex. The 30-year-old is a prolific spinner, taking 26 wickets in Twenty20 tournaments last season. His one-day successes are likely the reason for Essex's decision to keep him on the books for another year, but Paul Grayson, chief at the cricket side, says that he wants Philips to "push on" with his four-day cricket.

At Derbyshire, young starlet, Peter Burgoyne, has penned a contract keeping him in the Midlands for the next two years. However, the 17-year-old will not play as a professional until 2013. Burgoyne, described as "refreshingly fearless" by coach, Karl Krikken, is tied to a summer contract, while he completes his education. Pundits like Michael Vaughan will be keeping an eye on his progress.

Two more changes of note; Tim Linley, bowler at Surrey, walked away from the negotiating table with a new two year deal, while opening batsman, Karl Turner, who is Franks' team mate at Notts, has signed a one year contract, following a successful trial period. "We feel that he is a player who could develop, given an opportunity," Notts boss, Mick Newell, said, of Turner.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ponting needs to help Australia revival

Ricky Ponting insists he is enjoying being one of the Australia squad, without the pressure of captaincy, and he can play a pivotal role in helping the team go forward.

Many felt when Ponting stepped down as skipper following the home Ashes defeat to England that was the end of his illustrious career, but the battler continues to fight on.

'Punter' has never been a player to accept things and roll over in defeat, with his Test figures highlighting the type of batsman he has been for his country. Over 12,400 Test runs and an average of 53.26, tells its own story!

At the age of 36, the Tasmanian still has plenty to offer and could yet play on for another three or four years at the top level – and Australia need him to. People looking at the mobile sports betting will know this.

The drubbing by England in 2010-11 may have finished off some players, but Ponting is determined to bounce back and drag the youngsters with him, as the Baggy Greens look to recover and compete with the world's best again.

An outstanding knock of 63 in the rain-affected 1st ODI with South Africa at Centurion highlighted how much his country still needs him and the veteran appears happy to continue. People betting online should remember this.

Ponting said: "I'm a lot more relaxed with the things I can do outside of the training paddock. When I get back to the hotel, it's pretty much just my time and catching up with the boys."

"What I'm trying to do now is spend as much time as I can with the young guys, away from the cricket ground as well, learn a bit about them and try and help them to learn as fast as possible."

Bowlers Pat Cummins and Mitchell Marsh, at the age of just 18 and 20 respectively, were surprise inclusions in the latest squad and Ponting says he has been impressed with both players.

They couldn't have a better mentor than a man who has been there and won everything there is to win in cricket and Ponting remains keen to help the team progress.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Aussie coach steps down

Tim Nielsen has announced he is stepping down from his role as head coach of the Australian cricket team after four years of 'living the dream'.

The 43-year-old confirmed his departure after his side's draw in the final test of the series against Sri Lanka in Colombo, a result which means the team have won nine series out of 15 since the London-born coach took over. Those looking at the mobile betting will know that's not a bad return.

Nielsen says he decided to quit after being told he would have to reapply for his job after the Australian Cricket board announced they were restricting the management team and admits that despite the disappointment of not being offered a new contract, it may just be the right time to walk away from the job.

"Unfortunately I wasn't good enough to play cricket for Australia, so I've been living the dream. This has been the greatest job that I could do," said Nielsen.

"I'm very proud of the fact that I've been able to do it for the past four years, which I feel is a long term in international sport."

Nielsen has had a relatively successful time as coach of his country but unfortunately he'll always be remembered for his side's disappointed 3-1 Ashes defeat against England earlier this year. That loss has prompted the board's decision to change the selection panel with head of selectors Andrew Hilditch and selector Greg Chappell also falling foul of the changes. People who bet on sports will be keeping a close eye on the shake up.

However, the experience hasn't deterred him and he says he will be looking for other opportunities within the game."I'm a cricket coach, I'm a cricket person. I certainly will be looking at other opportunities and seeing what's out there," he added.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Aussie skipper wary of spin

Australia captain Michael Clarke reckons spin is going to be a massive factor in his side's upcoming battles with Sri Lanka and his team must improve if they wish to prevail.

The two nations are meeting in Twenty20, one-day and Tests matches, with Australia already having gone down 2-0 in the two-match Twenty20 series. Those following the cricket odds will be wondering if they can bounce back.

In the second match, spin king Ajantha Mendis claimed a world record six-wicket haul and Clarke is hoping his side can stand up better to such bowling when the 50-over one-day series begins.

But Australia are a team suffering for form, as they are coming off their 3-1 Ashes reverse last winter, and have looked to revitalise their fortunes by calling up a host of younger players to bring through a new generation. The cricket betting promotions show they need improvement from somewhere.

At least Clarke, who takes over the captaincy from T20 skipper Cameron White, can bring senior batsmen Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey back into the side as Australia look to prove their mettle in the one-day series before the vital three Tests.

"We will get a lot of spin to face. If we are to win the series we have to play spin well," said the skipper.

"If we play our best cricket there is no reason why we can't win the series."

Clarke has described Mendis as a "good bowler in all forms of the game" and the Sri Lanka spinner looks likely to play a major part in the upcoming one-day and Test series between the sides.

Monday, August 1, 2011

India hit by Sehwag blow

India are not sure when Virender Sehwag will join up with their squad in England, but the batsman will miss the first two Tests.

The 32-year-old missed the recent tour of the West Indies after having an operation on his shoulder, although it was originally thought he would be fit for the first Test against England.

But Indian officials say his recovery if taking longer than expected and they await further news on his progress. People looking at the India cricket betting will know what a big miss he'll be.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni admits Sehwag will be a big loss for the tourists and coach Duncan Fletcher says they have heard that he "maybe over for the third and fourth Test".

The opener is expected to be replaced by Abhinav Mukund for the opening two Tests – at Lord’s and Trent Bridge – after impressing in the Caribbean.

Mukund scored a half-century (62) in the third Test against the Windies and is likely to be asked to open with the ever-impressive Gautam Gambhir.

Dhoni admits that India are a team that "relies on the openers quite a bit" and feels a good start will help them "capitalise with the middle order".

The India skipper added: "There aren't many cricketers in the world who can have the impact he (Sehwag) can. Of course we'll miss him, but the good thing for Indian cricket is it gives a chance to a youngster like Mukund."

The first of four Tests begins at Lord’s on Thursday July 21, with the two teams then doing battle at Trent Bridge, Edgbaston and The Oval, before one Twenty20 international and five ODIs.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Warks vs MCC Universities SEC

With my car needing to go to the garage for its MOT i have had the day off today and this morning i went along to Edgbaston to catch the morning session of day 3 of the Second Eleven Championship game between the Warwickshire 2nd XI and MCC Universities. Of course there is another cricket match going on somewhere but this was more fun. I took my camera along and took a few photos which you can see in the slideshow or you can view the full set here.

Afterwards in town i had another lovely coffee at 6/8 Kafé which has become my favourite coffee shop in the whole world already.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The new pavilion

I went and watched some of the last day of the match between Warwickshire & Sussex in the county championship today (which the Bears won not long after lunch). It was my first trip to Edgbaston since the opening of the new pavilion (though that was only Wednesday i believe). Very impressive it is too!

The old pavilion had been a crumbling disgrace to be honest so the amazing new facility just looks like it has come out of a new dimension. I really like the walkway under the pavilion which you travel through to get to your seat, its very futuristic and sci-fi like. Hey well i have an overactive imagination.

Whats happening on the pitch is very impressive too as Warwickshire racked up another win, they are in with a shout of the county championship which will be a great way to top off one of the most important years in the club's history.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Trott knows how to play his England role

England star Jonathan Trott is dreaming of putting on a great show in the forthcoming Test series with India, and given his recent form he has every reason to be positive.

The home side are testing themselves against the side ranked as the best Test side in the world according to the International Cricket Council rankings and England know a 2-0 or 3-1 win in the four-Test series will see them usurp the visitors and take that top spot.

Trott is likely to be one of the key batsman for Andrew Strauss's side in the Test series and he will be looking to continue his record of averaging over 60 in Test cricket. Those looking at the cricket betting promotions will wonder how long he can keep it up.

The Warwickshire man reckons the Test series will be a "great advert" for cricket as England look to continue on the impetus from their Ashes win and series victory over Sri Lanka. The cricket odds indicate it could be a close series.

The batsman adds he knows his role in the side and recognises the importance of "putting your foot down" if needed during five-day Test games.

"My job at number three in the England team is to bat as long as possible and get the most runs," added Trott.

"Sometimes it might go a bit slowly but also I know the right time to up the ante."

The first Test match of the series gets underway at Lords on July 21st, with matches at Trent Bridge, Edgbaston and the Oval continuing throughout July and August.

Following that is a series of One-day and Twenty20 matches, where England will look to develop under their respective captains of Alistair Cook and Stuart Broad.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


After the madness and noise of T20 last night today i saw some more cricket but this time a Second Eleven Trophy match, sightly more sedate and definitely a lot quieter. The match between Warwickshire and Derbyshire took place at Walmley Cricket Club which is the closest ground to where i live, so close in fact i actually walked there. Only took 40 minutes though was uphill, returning did push my legs a bit even though that was mostly downhill of course!

It was a different competition, format, even team but the end result was the same, another win for the Bears.


It seems ages since i was last at the cricket, in fact it appears it was May 24. I went to see the Bears take on Durham in a T20 game this evening (by a co-incidence the last game i went to was against Durham as well!)

Oddly enough its only the second ever T20 match i've been to. We won too, was a last ball thriller. Sky televised the game, its been a long time since i've been at a televised game too. In fact i'm not sure i've been at a televised domestic game before, i've been to a couple of tests that were televised obviously. It was interesting to see just how many cameras Sky bought to the ground, a number nearly doubled by the fact they also filmed the game in 3D.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cook shines as England level series

England romped to a 10-wicket victory against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge, levelling the series 2-2 in the process. Both teams will now head to Old Trafford this weekend for a winner-takes-all clash, although this convincing victory will certainly give England a massive confidence boost heading into the final match in the series.

England gained control of the match from the start with James Anderson tearing through the tourists' top-order, after skipper Alastair Cook decided to bowl first on what was a very green Trent Bridge pitch. Before Sri Lanka knew what was going on, they were 5-57, Anderson taking three wickets with assistance from Tim Bresnan and Stuart Broad taking a wicket apiece to put the visitors on the back foot. At that point the cricket odds made England big favourites.

Kumar Sangakkara was the only batsman to put up any real resistance with his brave 75, but in the end nobody else really stuck around to give the Sri Lanka captain enough support. Jade Dernbach showed his exciting potential by clearing up the tourists' tail with three wickets, Sri Lanka all out for a very modest 174.

A short rain delay saw England's target revised down to 171 but that never looked like being enough as openers Cook and Craig Kieswetter started off playing with T20-like aggression. The hosts had reached their target with only 23.5 overs gone, Cook just short of a century on 95 not out and Kieswetter 72 not out as England won the match and levelled the series.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Law handed Tigers post

Former Australia all-rounder Stuart Law has been appointed as the new coach of Bangladesh, replacing fellow countryman Jamie Siddons.

The 42-year-old is currently acting as Sri Lanka's interim coach and will continue in that role for the one-day series with England.

Law stepped up from assistant coach with Sri Lanka following their World Cup final defeat and recently admitted that he didn't know what the future had in store for him.

Sri Lanka officials could not offer any guarantees to Law offer his position beyond November and Law felt "job security" was the "most important thing". Those following the cricket betting odds will wonder what sort of impact the move will have on Sri Lanka.

Now the Bangladesh Cricket Board have now given him a permanent post, with the former Lancashire star penning a two-year contract to take charge of the Tigers.

Bangladesh media committee head Jalal Yunus stated that the selection panel were looking for a coach who has "leadership quality" and they felt Law fitted the bill.

Law has captained both Queensland and Lancashire during his playing career and only hung up his bat in 2009.

The Queenslander only played one Test for Australia but did make 54 one-day international appearances, with over 1000 ODI runs at an average of 26.89.

Law has major task on his hands to get Bangladesh moving in the right direction, with the Tigers currently ninth in both Test and ODI rankings.

Law's first assignment will be a Test and one-day series in Zimbabwe, which gets underway in August.

Meanwhile, current coaches Marvan Atapattu, Ruwan Kalpage and Champaka Ramanayake are said to be in the running to replace Law as Sri Lanka boss.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Donald seeks Proteas competition

New South Africa bowling coach Allan Donald feels it is vital for the team's progress that there is plenty of competition for places.

The fast bowling legend was recently appointed into the role by new head coach Gary Kirsten – who is a former team-mate of Donald.

Donald is arguably South Africa's finest pace bowler of all time, with 330 Test wickets and 272 ODI scalps to his name. Those looking at the cricket betting will wonder if he can inspire the nation's bowlers to match his feats.

The 44-year-old, who had previously been working with New Zealand, seemed like the perfect choice for the role and he already has big plans for the Proteas bowlers.

The former Warwickshire paceman will be working with the first and fourth best players in the Test rankings, in Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

Despite the duo's fine recent record in the five-day game, Donald says there are things with their “mindset” that can be “worked on”. Despite their already intimidating style, Donald wants Styen and Morkel to be part of an attack that is “cocky and arrogant in all the right ways”.

The new bowling coach is keen for the strike bowlers not to get too comfortable and is seeking the young players to stake their claim for a regular place in the squad.

Donald told Cricinfo: "I want the younger guys to punch a hole into the line up and not just sit and wait for their turn."

The Proteas will begin their new era under Kirsten in October, when they welcome Australia to South Africa. The two teams will do battle in two T20 internationals, three ODIs and two Tests.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Let the cricket season begin!

I currently have a lobster face for the first time this year after watching some cricket at Edgbaston cricket ground, the home of Warwickshire.

Although the season started a few weeks ago today's game - a CB40 game against Leicestershire was the first home game and also the first chance i have to see the new pavilion.

It looks fabulous, though its not quite finished yet. They aim to finish it by June i think, it looks nearly there anyway. The new permanent floodlights look amazing and rather off-worldly too.

As to the game itself well i only stayed for the Warwickshire innings, actually i never stay longer than an innings or session due to my incredibly short attention span, but it was great entertainment. The Bears scored heavily with plenty of DLF Maximums or 6s if you prefer. I am now following the conclusion of the game on Cricinfo. Sometimes that is the best way to watch cricket. You are less likely to get sunburn anyway. Photos from the Warwickshire innings are here.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The week 50-over Cricket was revived

As much as it pains me to say it as an England fan but Ireland's victory over Andrew Strauss' men was just the result this World CUp needed as it has breathed new life into a flagging competition.

The 50-over game needed a match like this, as well as the dramatic tie between England and India, to show an increasingly sceptical public as well as the administrators that this format of the game still has the ability to entertain.

The rise of T20 is seen as a replacement for One-Day cricket, which in turn was seen as the quick-fix, sugar coated alternative to the drawn out test match.

But One-dayers are now seen as boring in comparison with T20 and the critics do have a point. The middle overs between power plays can result in tedious cricket as batsmen simply knock the ball around to a field pushed back to the boundaries for ones and twos.

But doesn't that make you appreciate the better games even more?

The best one day games are the slow-burners that gather pace towards a dramatic conclusion. The India v England game was a case in point as Strauss and co kept ahead of the run-rate throughout their innings, resulting it that last gasp finish which delighted anyone following the cricket world cup betting news.

The Ireland game though eclipsed that, mainly thanks to that explosive century by Kevin O'Brien. It also answered those critics who have questioned the participation of the associate nations in the early rounds.

The Netherlands and Canada have both given test playing countries a scare while Ireland humiliated England - making the ICC's decision to reduce the next World Cup to 10 teams a questionable one, as cricket world cup betting upsets happen on a regular basis.

The problem for me lies in the scheduling of the international calendar. More and more T20 competitions are being introduced with no comparative reduction in other games, meaning the calendar is as jam packed as ever.

One-day cricket seems to be the one that is undermined the most. The ridiculous seven-match series between England and Australia tagged onto the end of a three month gruelling Ashes test tour a case in point.

This week has proved that there is still a place for one-day cricket. But the administrators need to give it space to breathe before it drowns in a sea of T20 infused hysteria.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

O’Brien hails record breaking ton

Ireland batsman Kevin O’Brien has declared his match winning century against England is the “best” he has ever played.

O’Brien hit a magnificent 113 and bought up his century in just 50 balls to record the quickest century ever scored at the World Cup as Ireland famously beat England by three wickets on Wednesday.

Chasing a total of 327 set by England, O’Brien led the way with a series of big hits including six 6’s and excellent support from Alex Cusack (49) helped Will Porterfield’s side beat England with five balls to spare.

“I chanced my arm, attacked and batted as positively as I could and thankfully it came off," said O'Brien.

"I kept going and everything went my way, with the odd bit of luck too."

Ireland, who made it past the group stages at the previous World Cup with a remarkable win over Pakistan, will now face India on Sunday on the same pitch, and will have real hope of upsetting the odds against the side that drew with England last Sunday.

O’Brien admitted that the scale of their achievement had yet to sink, while captain Will Porterfield praised his team’s effort after some bookmakers were offering free bets at odds of 400-1 midway through their response.

“(It is) the greatest day in Irish cricket history and one of our best-ever performances.” He said.

"We believed in ourselves and even at 111-5 we managed to bounce back - so all credit to the lads."

"There'll be a big party after this but we still have four games to go and have to produce more big displays." He added.

England now face the prospect of leaving the tournament early if they slip up against Bangladesh and fail to beat either South Africa, who they play on Sunday, or the West Indies.

A free bet on an England departure from the competition currently returns odds of 5-2 with some bookmakers.

Captain Andrew Strauss admitted he was “bitterly disappointed” with the loss and said England need to shore up their bowling if they are to progress beyond the group stage. He said: “They fully deserved their victory. We're bitterly disappointed, our World Cup is not over by any means but we've been haemorrhaging runs too quickly.”

Friday, February 25, 2011

South Africa lay down marker

South Africa started their World Cup campaign with a confident seven wicket victory over the West Indies in Delhi. AB de Villiers and debutant Imran Tahir were the Protes' stand out performers as South Africa laid down an intimidating marker with a thoroughly professional job.

Leg-spinner Tahir, making his first South Africa, was the main threat to the Pakistan batsmen, finishing with impressive figures of 4-41. West Indies recovered from losing Chris Gayle early to take the score to 113-1, with Devon Smith and Darren Bravo taking the game to South Africa. Johan Both picked up the first of his two wickets with the scalp of Bravo to break the partnership, Tahir quickly picked up the wickets of Smith and Ramnaresh Sarwan to put the West Indies on the back foot and the Cricket World Cup predictions suggested they would struggle to recover.

From their relatively strong position, the West Indies quickly collapsed to 222 all out withTahir and Dale Steyn tearing through the tail to end the innings, the fast bowler finishing with 3-24. South Africa won't have been to worried about reaching their target of 223 but things looked a little worrying when they slumped to 20-2 after Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis went in quick succession and the Cricket World Cup betting tips suggested there was hope.

Graeme Smith's 45 got the innings back on track but it was AB de Villiers who stole the show with a stunning 107 not out at over a run a ball. JP Duminy supported de Villiers to take the South African's over the line with a useful 42 not out.

On this kind of form, South Africa look a very tempting bet to finally lift the World Cup after coming close on numerous occasions. It is going to take a quality side to beat Graeme Smith's intimidating side.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

South Africa handed Kallis boost

Jacques Kallis has recovered from his rib injury sustained against India in the recent one-day series and the all-rounder will line-up in his country's opening game of this year's World Cup. The 35-year old had been facing a real fitness race since sustaining his injury and his return will be a major boost to his side's chances of picking up their first World Cup trophy.

The experienced all-rounder had been restricted to a role as a batsman during the warm-up matches against Australia and Zimbabwe but should be able to bowl against the West Indies. Kallis confirmed his return to fitness and also made it clear that while the West Indies mustn't be underestimated South Africa are in good form going into the match, even if the cricket betting odds do make his side strong favourites.

"Everything has gone according to plan, I am 100 percent fit for the match," he said.
"They are a dangerous side. They have a few players who can change the game on their day. We have been on top of them recently and played some good cricket."

Having the world's best one-day all-rounder in their side will boost the South African's chances of challenging for this year's title. Kallis has racked up 11,002 ODI runs in his career to date at an average of 45, while taking 259 wickets in the 307 one-day appearances of his illustrious career to date.

At 35, this could well be Kallis' last chance of winning a World Cup and the talented all-rounder will be a crucial cog in the South African's machine.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pakistan ease to warm-up victory

Pakistan were rarely in trouble as they eased to an 89-run victory against Bangladesh in a World Cup warm-up game in Dhaka. Pakistan were thankful to centuries from Ahmed Shehzad and Misbah-ul-Haq as they set the Tigers an intimidating 286 to win. World Cup co-hosts Bangladesh never looked like reaching the target and fell 89 runs short in their replay.

Pakistan chose to bat first, with teenage opener Shehzad showing why he is so highly thought of on the sub-continent. Despite being dropped twice on his way to his century, Shehzad batted beautifully in his innings of 103 from 120 deliveries. Vice-captain Misbah was the only other Pakistan batsman to shine with his 100 coming at a run-a-ball, with four sixes in his confident innings. The most up to date ICC Cricket World Cup betting suggests these two players will be key to their side's chances in the tournament.

Bangladesh's captain Shakib Al Hasan was once again his side's star bowler with his 3-49, Rubel Hossain weighed in with three wickets himself, although the fast bowler was more expensive as he went for 73 in his ten overs.

The Tigers run chase was in trouble from the start with Tamin Iqbal clean bowled by Abdul Razzaq from the first ball of the innings. Imrul Kayes and Junaid Siddique steadied the ship with 71 for the second wicket before a collapse saw them crash to 196 all out with eight overs left. Razzaq did most of the damage with his 3-31 and was ably assisted by Mohammad Hafeez and Abdur Rehman who picked up two wickets apiece.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Afridi bold about Pakistan hopes

In complete contrast to his Indian counterpart Pakistan captain Shaid Afridi was bold, brash and very quotable in a pre-conference ahead of the World Cup.
Afridi believes the recent off-pitch problems that have dogged Pakistan cricket means they are "the most dangerous team at the World Cup" and reckons they will at least make the semi-finals.

The message was in stark contrast to the one sent out by MS Dhoni, the Indian skipper. Dhoni's side, as hosts, will be under intense pressure to perform from the passionate if demanding home support and they will need to clock up some good live cricket scores. Therefore the 29-year-old played down his sides chances and gave the gathered journalists very little in terms of sensationalist headlines.

But headlines – and derogatory ones at that – have followed Pakistan around for years so Afridi perhaps saw this as a chance to redress the balance.
The main stories have, of course, centred round the spot-fixing scandal that saw Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Amir and Salman Butt banned for between five and ten years following an ICC investigation.

Disastrous first-round exits in the 2003 and 2007 World Cups also mean the pressure will be on to avoid a repeat and livescores goalwire fans will be watching.

But a fresh looking squad with the likes of Umar Akmal, Ahmed Shehzad and Wahab Riaz showing promise mixing nicely with some more experienced names, now could be the time for Pakistan cricket to write headlines for all the right reasons and give their tarnished cricketing image a much needed boost.

Lee confident about Aussie World Cup chances

Brett Lee is excited about the forthcoming Cricket World Cup and reckons Australia stand a good chance of winning the tournament.

The veteran pace man missed out on the 2007 World Cup due to injury and he only recently returned to the Australian side following another spell on the sidelines with an elbow injury.

Lee has retired from Test cricket but continues to play for the one-day side and Australia could go into the World Cup on the sub-continent with confidence high after their comprehensively beat England 6-1 in their one-day series and the Cricket World Cup betting suggests they should do well.

Australia open their World Cup campaign against Zimbabwe and Lee will be looking to continue his impressive record in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, where he has taken 24 wickets in 21 games.

Lee claims Australia have a "terrifically well balanced squad" going into the cricket World Cup and they have a lot of "variation" among the bowling attack.

He told he is excited about spearheading that attack, stating: "We all have our roles to play and my role is an attacking one, I want to be the enforcer of the group and be the leader of the attack.

"I will look to offer as much knowledge to the bowling group as possible."

However, not all the Cricket World Cup betting news has been good for the side.

Australia have drafted Jason Krejza and Callum Ferguson into their World Cup squad due to injuries to Nathan Hauritz and Mike Hussey, with chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch stating the duo are excellent replacements and should excel in the tournament.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Minors Triumphs

After England’s success in the Ashes betting odds, perhaps the last man to return home victorious may reassess some of his comments. Mike Gatting, in his role as Managing Director of Cricket Partnerships at the ECB, has been disparaging about Minor Counties cricket. However, with captain Andrew Strauss ex-Oxfordshire, and vice captain Alistair Cook ex-Bedfordshire both giving the side an excellent start and strike bowler Steve Finn (ex-Hertfordshire) the leading wicket taker after three Tests, perhaps the Minors deserve some credit among betting fans.

Add to that the fact that the County Championship has been lifted by a player who started his career at Minor Counties level in each of the last two years and the case just grows further. In 2009, Will Smith (ex-Bedfordshire) had the honour, whilst last year it was Chris Read of ex-Devon fame who led his side to glory.
It does not stop there, as James Taylor (ex-Shropshire) was the first teenager for 18 years to reach 1,000 runs in a first class season, emulating Sachin Tendulkar’s feat with Yorkshire and, with Taylor in the development squad, the two players could meet in the International arena in the next 12 months as England host and then travel to India.

Meanwhile, Worcestershire gained promotion in the Championship with Jack Manuel ex-Staffordshire leading the batting and Jack Shantry ex-Shropshire their leading wicket taker in all competitions.

Friday, February 4, 2011

New Zealand look for positives

New Zealand will need to bounce back quickly from their one-day series loss against Pakistan and prepare for the World Cup later this month. The Black Caps found themselves way short of what was required to overcome a rejuvenated Pakistan side and they will need to strengthen in all aspects of their game if they are to have any chance of doing anything in the upcoming tournament and the Cricket World Cup betting reflects this. The hosts lost the fifth match of the series by 41 runs, Pakistan taking an unassailable 3-1 lead heading into the final match.

On a slow pitch in Hamilton Pakistan managed to defend their modest total of 269, the Kiwi's falling to 227 all out with three overs to spare. The obvious failing came in New Zealand's top order, only Ross Taylor and Martin Guptill scoring any decent runs as the Pakistan bowlers took wickets on a regular basis.

Stand-in skipper for the day Taylor was left frustrated by his side's performance and admitted the team was suffering from a lack of confidence.

“When we're getting ourselves into those positions, the confidence is probably not there and when that's the case, results don't seem to go your way," he said.

"We're just losing wickets at crucial times, whether it's brain explosions or what we just keep losing wickets at times we can't afford to.”

The Kiwis should be boosted by the return of skipper Daniel Vettori before the World Cup kicks off for them against Kenya on the 20th. The inspiring all-rounder was missing from the line-up for the fifth game defeat with injury but is expected to return ahead of the tournament.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

World Cup hopes in jeopardy as long tour takes strain

It isn't just the poor form of his batsmen that Andy Flower has to worry about it as he prepares for the World Cup.

He also has to deal with a mounting injury list as the long tour down under begins to take its toll and those keeping an eye on the livescores will know the situation is now far from ideal.

The cricket calendar is already too crowded, with administrators keen to cram in as many games as possible.

Cricket though, unlike football, is played with smaller pools of players, meaning an ever-increasing strain is put on those stars to keep performing. Injuries can crop up at any time, like Stuart Broad's stomach injury at Adelaide, but that risk increases as the play more games without a rest.

There is also the fact these games are often played aboard – in England's case this winter on the other side of the world – so there is a mental strain to consider with players becoming homesick and unsettled. This tour began in October and will only come to an end this month and anyone who has been following the cricket live scores will have noticed how the side's performances have tailed off.

Already Flower has lost Tim Bresnan (calf) and Graeme Swann (back) as well as Broad. Ajmal Shahzad was then ruled out of the remainder of the series with a hamstring tear while Chris Tremlett will miss the fifth one-day international in Brisbane with a side strain.

There are just 16 days between England's final one-day international against Australia and their opening World Cup game against Holland. The race is on not just to get players prepared, but simply off the treatment table.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hobart now takes on greater meaning for England and Australia

With the naming of World Cup squads this week the focus has been sharpened ahead of the tournament that begins next month in India, Sir Lanka and Bangladesh.
For England and Australia, who meet in Hobart for the second of seven One-day internationals on Friday, it means those included will begin the preparations for the competition in earnest.

And if the first match at the MCG is anything to go by both sides have plenty of work to do if they are to be ready for their opening World Cup matches.

The fact Australia chased down an English record total on Australian soil hides the fact many of the players were below par – the outstanding Shane Watson aside, who put the distraction of the catastrophic floods in his home town to one side to hit a magnificent unbeaten 161 to guide Australia home. Anyone following the live cricket scores would have known the result was never in doubt going into the last few overs.

Should Watson fail this time then the rest of the Aussie line-up will need to display more aptitude and aggression than on display in Melbourne – Michael Clarke's timid 36 from 71 balls was indicative of a side low on confidence and form after that bruising test defeat by England.

England aren't immune from blame either though after their batsmen, Kevin Pietersen aside, squandered an excellent position at 174 for 3 where 300+ seemed inevitable, to finally limp home with 294 on the board. People following the Livescore Goalwire would have been disappointed with the final total.

Their bowlers too failed to threaten on a consistent basis, meaning Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad won't have to worry too much about regaining their places when they return to Australia in the next few weeks.

The dumping of Steven Davies for Matt Prior shows the selectors can display a ruthless streak should a player not perform.

And so the players must be aware that simply being named in the squad isn't a guarantee of starting against the Netherlands on February 21st and their performance against the Aussies in Tasmania will be closely watched with interest.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

England take backwards step in World Cup selection

Having done so well recently it is hard to criticise England under Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss. After navigating their way serenely through the Ashes to record a historic 3-1 victory over the old enemy, English cricket is in a position to push on after this victory, not fade away as they did so spectacularly after the 2005 Ashes win.

Cue the announcement of the 15 men charged with bringing the World Cup trophy home with them alongside the Ashes.

Surrey Wicket Keeper Steve Davies looked set to go to the World Cup in February having been in charge of the gloves from Pakistan’s summer tour of England to the Twenty20 series and the start of the ODI series against Australia. Now he has been unceremoniously dumped by the selection panel and the decision will only serve to turn the spotlight on the selectors themselves.

In his brief stint in the team, bigfreebet would likely have considered Davies to have done more than enough to warrant a place in the squad. Averaging just shy of 35, the former Warwickshire glovesman also had an impressive strike rate of over 100 runs per 100 balls. Crucially test keeper Matt Prior has a far inferior average in the early 20’s and his strike rate is somewhat less spectacular than Davies’s.

But more than statistics the decision to replace Davies with Prior seems to go against all that England have been building for the previous two years. The foundations of the emergence of English cricket have been built on selection consistency giving the players the confidence to go out and play.

Alistair Cook was given time to correct his game after a barren spell left him desperately short of runs ahead of the test series against Australia. Davies has made an excellent start to his one day career and no indication was given of the impending decision to drop him from the team, making it all the more baffling.

Davies will not doubt be angered by the decision after sitting patiently through the Ashes series with an eye on the ODI’s and the World Cup.

Why was Davies selected for the first one day international against Australia on Sunday if the selection panel had no intention of taking him to the World Cup?
The selection of Prior harks back to the days of relying on big names rather than big performances, and should sound the alarm bells for England supporters. Mark Ramprakash called the decision “strange” and at the very least represents a sudden change in policy.

England coach Andy Flower will defend the move suggesting Prior’s excellent Ashes series, where he averaged over 50 (then again Chris Tremlett had an excellent ashes series but was dropped in place of Ajmal Shahzad, so where is the logic there?) and has suggested his game is suited to the pitches England will face on the sub-continent. Prior is certainly a leader on the pitch and as wicket keeper is a ball of energy and hub for the team.

Big free bet will see him as one of the more dangerous wicket-keepers at the World Cup, but he has not shown himself as clinical as Davies in the shorter form of the game.

The only way for Prior’s inclusion to be vindicated is for the Sussex man to score bug runs at the tournament. The sudden inconsistency displayed is worrying ahead of a competition that England will expect to do well in. Davies looked to be establishing himself by scoring runs at a pace needed in international one day cricket that Prior has so far showed himself unable to do. What more can Steve Davies do?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sydney test warms up nicely

The closest test of the series so far looks to be developing at Sydney after England and Australia traded blows in a fascinating contest at the SCG.

Those following the Live match score centre will note that Australia started the day on 134-4 but as England played a choking game to starve the batsmen of runs before the new ball, key wickets also began to tumble.

Brad Haddin and Michael Hussey – Australia’s two (and only) in-form batsmen - were dismissed cheaply before Strauss could call on the shiny new Kookaburra and when Steve Smith and Peter Siddle also went cheaply, leaving the hosts 187-8, another below-par score seemed likely.

But the game was wrenched from the hands of England when the Aussies tail wagged in spectacular style.

Mitchell Johnson, who entered the middle with the taunting songs of the Barmy Army ringing in his ears, responded in the finest way possible, smashing 53 of 66 balls. He was ably assisted by Ben Hilfenhaus, who scored a handy 34.

Livescore cricket pundits note that the vital ninth wicket stand of 76 helped Australia on their way to a far more competitive 280 and left England with some thinking to do.

But just as Australia were getting on top England hit back, with Captain Andrew Strauss blasting a quick fire 60 of 58 balls and Alastair Cook continuing on his merry way this series with an unbeaten 61 – passing 5,000 test runs in the process, the second youngest player ever to do so.

Wit England 98-0 the stage was set for another large score but the match was thrown into the mix yet again thanks to two wickets from Mitchell Johnson and another from Hilfenhaus.

At 167-3 England are still in a decent position to build a first innings lead, but if the second day is anything to go by Australia are displaying more fight than we have seen for most of the series.

The Ashes may have gone but the series, as an evenly matched contest, looks to have finally come alive.