Friday, December 28, 2012

The 10,000 club welcomes a new member

Exactly a year after Mahela Jayawardene become the first Sri Lankan to reach over 10,000 Test runs, fellow national Kumar Sangakkara has also shot into the record books – becoming the 11th man in history to make that coveted Test target.

During an intense opening day of the Boxing Day Test with Australia, Sangakkara hit a neat cover drive off Mitchell Johnson for four to ensure his place in cricketing history. He went on to make 58 in the first innings, a respectable score considering Sri Lanka mustered just 156 from their first assault.

Despite Australia finishing day one of the second Test in complete control, the day was reserved for Sangakkara, who received a warm reception from the Melbourne crowd when that four finally flicked over the boundary rope.

What makes Sangakkara’s feat so special is the speed in which he reached this milestone. For although he joins an elite group that boasts Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid and Jacques Kallis in its ranks, Sangakkara becomes the joint-fastest ever player to record the feat. He sits alongside Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar as men who have reached 10,000 runs on their 195th innings.

Ponting was just one innings short of that record when he made the required runs against West Indies in May 2008, while Shivnarine Chanderpaul needed 239 innings to make the target.

At 35 years of age, Sangakkara is unlikely to mount an assault on Tendulkar’s all-time record of 15,645 Test runs, but his feat nevertheless confirms his status as a true legend of Sri Lankan cricket. Along with Jayawardene, Sri Lankan fans have a player they can not only be proud of, but who will hopefully inspire a new generation of batsmen to take up the Test helm.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pietersen deserves new England deal

Kevin Pietersen is to be rewarded for an outstanding tour of India with a new contract from the ECB that will banish any suggestions over a wavering commitment to the England Test side.

Pietersen was superb in the England whites during their tour of India this autumn, scoring two half-centuries and a staggering 186 in Mumbai to win the second Test. Such a positive influence has the right-hander been on the squad that the ECB have rightly decided to extend his contract.

The contract wont be a problem, said selector Andy Flower. Kevin has been excellent in every way.

For him to score as quickly as he did there and put such pressure on the opposition bowlers really helped us turn the series around.

Indeed, Flower is right to praise Pietersen after some sublime performances with the bat against India. Before that Mumbai Test England were on the ropes. They had just lost by nine wickets in Ahmedabad and looked completely lost on the turning wicket. Pietersen came in and, along with Alastair Cooks century, steadied the ship.

There were certainly doubters in the betting world who suggested KP would not be given the chance to fully redeem himself after exile from the squad over the summer. Hopefully that Mumbai Test silenced these critics for good, for he was rightly called back into the team for the tour of India and had he not been present England would not have won that series.

We can now expect KP to be given a deal that at least extends to the end of the 2013/14 Ashes series. Over that time he will have his work cut out, with a tor of New Zealand, a home Ashes and a series Down Under to look forward to, but if Pietersen can keep his head down and perform like he did in India then the ECBs decision to bring him back will be vindicated.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Anderson starts thinking about Ashes

James Anderson will be a crucial part of England’s hopes in this summer’s Ashes series, and the fast bowler has admitted he is already beginning to think about the prospect of taking on Australia again. 

The seamer again proved his importance to this England team during the recent series victory in India, bowling over after over on pitches that were in no way suited to fast bowling and playing a key role in the tourists 2-1 series victory.

Head coach Andy Flower decided to rest Anderson for the one-day series, which is a break the bowler has definitely earned over the course of a gruelling four Test series in India. Anderson was the only England pace bowler to play in all four matches, and England will know keeping their premier bowler fully fit for 2013 will be critical to the team’s hopes of reclaiming the number one spot in the Test rankings.

While allowing the Ashes to enter their thoughts, Anderson has made it clear the squad is more focused on the upcoming tour of New Zealand.

"The guys are going back to India for the one-day series and then we've got a tough tour to New Zealand first. We've got to worry about the present rather than the future too much, but there's always an eye on the Ashes when it's less than six months away,” insisted Anderson.

The win in India was the perfect way to end a mixed year for England. The signs certainly look positive under Alastair Cook’s leadership, and there are a number of exciting young players knocking on the door looking to earn a chance to impress ahead of the Ashes.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Afridi challenged to earn Pakistan spot

Shahid Afridi has been challenged to win back his place in the Pakistan one-day side after the former captain was dropped from the squad ahead of the three-match series against India. The all-rounder has kept his place in the T20 squad that will play two games against the Indians, but a disappointing year in the 50-over format has resulted in Afridi being overlooked for the ODI party.

Despite making nearly 350 one-day appearances for Pakistan, Afridi has been told that he needs to rediscover his 50-over form if he is going to be able to break back into the squad. A dismal run of form this year has seen the 32-year old record just 182 runs from his 16 ODI appearances in 2012.

Chief selector Iqbal Qasim has admitted Afridi needed to show he was still committed to playing ODI for Pakistan if he was going to return to the team, revealing the team were looking to blood a number of younger options during the upcoming matches against India.

"If he performs in the Twenty20s then he can make a comeback into the one-day team. It was a difficult decision. He is a great player who can win matches, but in the interest of the team we have decided to left him out,” revealed Qasim.

"We have tried to infuse new blood into both teams as we feel the way forward in these formats is to try out new faces. We want to give exposure to more young players."

The upcoming series, the first between the two nations since 2007, gets underway with Twenty20 clashes in Bangalore and then in Ahmedabad. Following that, Chennai will host the first one-day international on 30 December, followed by matches in Kolkata (3 January) and New Delhi (6 January).

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Absent pair unlikely to trouble stuttering England

The news that both Steven Finn and Ian Bell are out of the second Test in Mumbai later this week is unlikely to upset England’s preparations for the match after a dismal performance in the first clash against India left a lot to be desired.

Finn picked up a thigh injury against India A, two weeks before the first Test in Ahmedabad, yet was only in slight contention for a place in the bowling attack anyway.

And, after England’s appalling seam-bowling display last week that saw just one wicket taken in 72 overs, captain Alastair Cook is unlikely to add another seamer to his arsenal and instead is expected reduce his pacemen to two in place of another spinner as he looks to defy the latestcricket odds in Mumbai next week.

Bell, meanwhile, returned home for the birth of his first child following a poor display at the crease in the first Test. The right-hander was caught first ball to spinner Pragyan Ojha before being nicked lbw for just 22 in the second innings. With both Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root on hand as competent replacements, Bell’s presence at fifth man shouldn’t be missed.

In fact, these two absentees should ease Cook’s selection decisions as the pressure builds to eradicate the mistakes of the first Test. England, who are now vast outsiders according to the latest Betfair India v England odds, need another spinner in their ranks and Finn’s absence means selecting Monty Panesar is now a straight-forward decision to make. Bell’s absence also means there is no pressure to drop Samit Patel, who’s ability to bat and bowl could be crucial to England’s fortunes this week.

Indeed, selecting either Bairstow or Root as Bell’s cover will do wonders for either youngster on the toughest tour on the planet. India’s turning wickets are like few others in the world and for one of this pair to get the chance to bat on the subcontinent will only enrich their international pedigree.   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Returning Duo Critical to England

England fans placing a bet on sports are still waiting to discover whether or not they will have Stuart Broad and Steven Finn available for the first Test against India in Ahmedabad.

The fast bowling duo returned to the nets following their respective injuries, but England will have to leave it late before deciding to include either or both for the first Test.

Broad has been struggling with a heel injury, with Finn suffering a thigh strain soon after arriving in India.

While the back-up bowlers all did their best to strengthen their cases during the drawn warm-up clash against Haryana, there is little doubt the selectors will be desperate that both Broad and Finn are able to play the first Test if possible.

Alastair Cook admitted he would have liked Finn and Broad to have been able to get more practice time under their belts before the first Test, but the skipper made it clear it would be a huge boost to the team to have both fast bowlers in the line-up.

"In an ideal world, I'd certainly have liked them to have had more match bowling. The one part of this preparation period that has not quite gone right is those two not getting some overs under their belt.”

"But what we do know is they are quality performers, world-class bowlers. It'd be great if they were fully-fit, and had some overs under their belt, but they haven't,” admitted Cook.

It will be interesting to see just how effective either bowler would be should they play the first Test.

Neither has manage to get many overs under their belts since arriving in India, and it certainly weakens an area of England’s team that will need to be firing on all cylinders if the tourists are going to have their best chance of success. 

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Batting form should relieve England bowlers of pressure

When your team is in a slump, there is nothing like a high-scoring innings to bring confidence back into the ranks. England, who have not fared overly well in previous warm-up games on the subcontinent this autumn, sure found their stride in the first day of their final warm-up before the Test series with India starts next week.

Following uninspiring matches against India A and Mumbai A, England went into bat against Haryana on Thursday and knocked up a confidence-boosting 408-3 before close of play. Not only will the score boost their latest cricket odds ahead of the first Test, but with all six batsmen showing good form at the crease there are great reasons to be optimistic.

Captain Alastair Cook and new opener Nick Compton staged a magnificent 166 partnership that is likely to unnerve India’s bowling attack ahead of the first Test on 15 November. Cook fell three short of his century while Compton looked every bit a seasoned international with 74 before being taken lbw by spinner Amit Mishra.

Their replacements didn’t fail to impress either. Jonathan Trott tallied 46 at third man before also falling to the Mishra spin; meanwhile, the marmite man that is Kevin Pietersen proved his worth to the side yet again with a resplendent 110 before retiring hurt with cramp in the hot conditions.

With Stuart Board suffering a bruised heel and Graeme Swann returning home for the next few days, Cook was relying on his top order to instil some confidence into the side and take the pressure of his bowlers. Former skipper Michael Vaughan has already spoken of the importance of the upper order leading from the front in the tough and unforgiving conditions of the sub-continent.

They certainly did this, and if Cook can inspire more high performances from his batsmen then England’s fragile bowling attack will be free from unwanted pressure to strike out India on their own turf. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Warne Not Ready To Retire Just Yet

Having retired from the international game back in 2007, Australia test legend Shane Warne is preparing for another season of domestic Twenty20 Cricket in his home country and he isn’t ready to put a date on his retirement just yet.
Warne remains Australia’s all-time leading test wicket taker with 708 victims in his 145 matches and, having come out of retirement to play for and coach the Rajasthan Royals in 2008, and then come close to retiring again in 2011, he won’t be drawn on any possible future retirement plans.
"I have to never say 'never' because in 2007 I said I'd never play cricket again," Warne said. "But 18 months later the IPL came up, so that was something that interested me, to captain/coach and do it the way I always thought it should be done."
After leaving the Rajasthan Royals in 2011, Warne joined the Melbourne Stars to play in the Inaugural Australian Big Bash League and, having played in eight games for them last year, Warne is raring to go again in 2012. In his role as a senior pro, Warne will not only be playing alongside  the former Australian T20 captain Cameron White, but also the current captain George Bailey.
His influence could not only improve Melbourne’s chances but also help out the national T20 side; something that he would be more than happy to do.
"I do love cricket, I'm passionate about the game and if I can help Australian cricket in any way, shape or form then I will," he said.
Melbourne Stars’ 2012-13 campaign kicks off with a local derby against Melbourne Renegades and, having reached the semi-finals of the competition last year, they will be looking for an improvement this time round.
Meanwhile England have touched down in India ahead of their winter Test series. Don’t forget to check out all the latest Cricket betting previews  as well as the latest Betfair England Tips over at the new and freshly updated Betfair cricket website.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Haddin Not Hopeful of Test Spot

Brad Haddin concedes that he is likely to lose his Test place to Matthew Wade, but hopes his recent break from the game is not a factor in the selectors’ decision.

Haddin took six months away from cricket for personal reasons last April, allowing Wade to make his Test debut against the West Indies in the Caribbean.

Wade has since established himself in the Aussies one-day and T20 squads, playing in the mini one-day series in England and the T20 World Cup with Sri Lanka.

Haddin is back playing cricket again and is currently in South Africa with the Sydney Sixers, bidding to win the T20 Champions League.

The five-man selection panel insist they have not yet made a decision on who to pick behind the stumps for the upcoming Test series with South Africa, which will decide who sees in 2013 as the World’s number one ranked Test side.

However, Haddin feels they have already made their minds up, tipping Wade to take his place.

The 35-year-old is hopeful that is a purely cricketing decision though, rather than due to his break from the game, and also insists that he has plenty to offer still at international level.

"From my point of view, I hope that would never come into it [his break],'' Haddin said. ''I've had a six-month break away from the game, and haven't played that much cricket to be perfectly honest, so you wouldn't have to be Einstein to work out that they're not going to go my way, but my cricket, I think, is not done.

''I've been able to find the form that I needed to get back to playing cricket, which is pretty rewarding after the break, so all that stuff will take care of itself in the long term so I'm not too worried about it at the moment."

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Flintoff: Performances key for returning Pietersen

Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff feels the Kevin Pietersen fiasco will soon be forgotten should Alastair Cook's team gain momentum on their upcoming tour of India.

Pietersen has not featured for England since the second Test against South Africa in August. The middle-order batsman found himself at the centre of controversy after he allegedly sent "provocative texts" to opposition players during the Headingley Test.

The 32-year-old was dropped for the final Test at Lord's and then left out of the party which travelled to Sri Lanka to defend England's World Twenty20 title. He was also left out of the squad for the Test tour of India.

However, after a series of meetings with the England Cricket Board and Cook about his "reintegration", Pietersen has been handed a recall and is in line to face India in the first Test in Ahmedabad on November 15.

Flintoff, who will undoubtedly be tuning in for sport updates, says the early tension in the camp will soon disappear if England begin the tour with a bang.

"I'm sure there'll be a few words in the dressing room, in certain ears, to make sure it's a smooth transition going back in," the 34-year-old told a latest sport news network.

"But in a few months' time, if we start performing well in India, this will be forgotten."

However, the former Lancashire star was keen to urge caution.

"What tends to happen is that when a team's doing well, everyone talks about the team spirit, togetherness and how everyone gets on. It's tested when you don't perform," added Flintoff, who scored 3845 runs and took 226 wickets during his 79-Test career.

"When you start having a few bad results, little groups form in the dressing room and people start talking, and that's when it can happen."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Gibbs Predicts Proteas Whitewash

Former South Africa batsman Herschelle Gibbs has predicted that his old team-mates will continue their fine run of form and inflict a heavy defeat on the Australians in their forthcoming series.
Gibbs, who averaged over 40 with the bat in his 90 tests for the Proteas thinks that the experience and confidence that South Africa have built up over the last couple of years will be enough for them to defeat Michael Clarke’s men. ''I've said all along South Africa have been a most consistent team home and away in the last three years - they've got a very solid Test squad” Gibbs said. ''They should be the favourites to win … they probably should win 2-0.''
Most Cricket betting previews     agree with Gibbs and put South Africa as favourites, given they knocked England off the top spot in the test rankings with victory on English soil in the summer.
Gibbs puts the rise of Proteas down to consistency of selection and being able to build a strong team ethic. ''I think the Test side have been together for a good couple of years,'' Gibbs said. ''It's having the same players and gelling as a unit and knowing each others' games and drawing inspiration and confidence from each other - that's exactly what the Test squad's been”  he said.
South Africa have only been defeated in one series since April 2006 and their victory in England was fitting reward for years of hard work.  Punters at Betfair cricket find it hard to imagine Graeme Smith allowing his side to lose the momentum that they have built up ahead of their trip down under. However there are fewer more difficult places to play cricket and their only series defeat in the last six and a half years came against Australia.

The first Test between Australia and South Africa begins in Brisbane on 9th November and, if Smith can lead his side to victory, then surely even England wouldn’t begrudge calling them the best Test team in the world.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gale keen to spring more surprises

Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale insists the White Rose will continue to play no-fear cricket when they take on the best Twenty20 sides in the world in the Champions League.

Gale's team qualified for the main event by beating Sri Lanka's Uva Next and West Indian champions Trinidad & Tobago to top their pool.

The Yorkshire skipper was pleased to continue the county's T20 adventure. The Headingley outfit earned the right to compete in South Africa after reaching the final of the domestic competition, their first ever trip to finals day and most sport updates think they can go further than many expected.

"We're really looking forward to the rollercoaster. We're going to be playing against some of the guys that we watch on TV," Gale said.

"We're going to go in with a no-fear attitude and see where it takes us. Even if we lose every single game, that's okay."

Yorkshire have joined IPL heavyweights Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, Sydney Sixers (Australia) and Highveld Lions (South Africa) in Group B.

The group represents a tough challenge for Yorkshire, the least fancied of the 10 finalists among punters who bet on sport. Gale, however, is keen to cause a few upsets along the way.

"We certainly don't fear anyone and we can now go into the main tournament with our heads held high," said Gale.

"We've got a really good team spirit, we did exceptionally well in the English domestic competition and we're ready to take on the big stage."

Yorkshire begin their campaign against Sydney Sixers in Cape Town on October 16 before taking on Mumbai Indians at the same venue two days later. They face Highveld Lions in Johannesburg on October 20 and complete the group stage against Chennai Super Kings in Durban on October 22.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Broad would welcome back KP

England pace bowler Stuart Broad insists he would share a beer with Kevin Pietersen and he would be welcomed back into the England dressing room.

Pietersen was dropped from the England squad in all forms of the game when it was revealed he had sent derogatory text messages about Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower to South Africa players.

That meant the 32-year-old missed the remainder of the South Africa series as well as the T20 World Cup in
Sri Lanka.

He was also left out of the squad for the winter tour of India, with his international future at real risk. Most England v India betting Tips thought England would struggle even with KP in the side, so if he was absent, things would be even worse.

However, following extensive talks with the ECB, Flower and former skipper Strauss, it appears a resolution had been found.

He has been offered a four-month central contract and after another round of talks with England players – including more public apologies – he should be allowed back into the England fold. Certainly most online cricket betting previews are confident Pietersen will be playing against India in the autumn.

It remains to be seen how the rest of the players will react to Pietersen return. The test message saga was, for some, the final straw given the player’s egotistical behaviour.

When asked by reporters about the issue Broad played down talk of a rift and insists Pietersen will be welcomed back.

"I'd have no problems playing with him or having a beer with him. It's not an issue," Broad told reporters .

"Once the England management has decided when he's available to return, he'll be welcomed back into the changing room.

"We know he's a great cricketer, he's won a lot of trophies and has been a really good team-mate for England, certainly ever since I've been playing for them. We know that when KP's focused on playing for England and he's happy, he's a really dangerous player."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Razzaq in Hot Water over Hafeez Criticism

According to Betfair, Veteran Pakistan all-rounder, Abdul Razzaq, has been given seven days to respond to an allegation that he has violated the players’ code of conduct after his sharp criticism of national captain, Mohammad Hafeez.

"I was disappointed sitting outside while the team was losing the match," Razzaq said, following Pakistan’s narrow defeat to Sri Lanka in the semi-finals of the world T20 in Colombo. 

Razzaq was clearly devastated to have missed the chance of meeting the West Indies in the final and he was clear as to who he blamed for leaving him out of the team. 

"I know the team management didn't drop me, it was Hafeez who left me out. He should speak up and admit his decision," Razzaq said.

Razzaq has certainly been an effective performer for Pakistan since he broke into the one-day side at the age of 17, back in 1996. 

Since his debut against Zimbabwe, he has gone on to play over 200 ODIs as well as nearly fifty tests but this latest outburst could spell the end of his international career. 

Having previously retired from internationals after omission from the 2007 World Cup squad, there is surely only so much more that the Pakistan management will take from the 32 year old. 

Razzaq’s impact on this year’s tournament was limited to just two appearances - one against Bangladesh, where he did not bat and failed to take a wicket when bowling, and one against perennial Betfair cricket odds favourite, Australia, when he scored 22 but was not called upon to bowl.
Quite why Razzaq feels that he would have made such a difference to the Pakistani effort against Sri Lanka is known only to himself, but if Hafeez and the management want to build on reaching the semi-finals at the World T20, then they will surely deal with his petulance harshly. 

It would come as no surprise if Razzaq had played his last game for Pakistan and, quite frankly, it would be nobody’s fault but his own.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Can Tendulkar rekindle old flame against England?

Discussing the eventual retirement of India’s greatest ever cricketer has for years been a hushed taboo on the sub continent, but the realisation that Sachin Tendulkar’s career is drawing to a close has suddenly come to light ahead of India’s Test series with England this winter.

Tendulkar, 39, has been in the Test side for over two decades and recently admitted his time at the India wicket is shortening amid growing concerns he does not have the ability to play cricket at the highest level any more. A subject never spoken about even three years ago is finally coming to the fore and Tendulkar is keen to outline his thoughts on retirement.

“I don’t think I have plenty of cricket left in me,” Tendulkar told BBC Sport.

“I am still the best judge of what happens to my mind and body. When I feel it is time, I will take a call. It is going to be a tough call nevertheless, because this is what I have been doing all my life.”

Indeed, very few of us have the experience to know when their game is up like Tendulkar. Over 15,000 Test runs and 100 international centuries puts the right-hander down as Indian cricket’s undisputed legend and punters betting on cricket would certainly like him to stride out into the middle a few more times. Yet over the past two years the toll of traveling and training has got to the veteran superstar. Just last month the senior batsman was clean bowled three times by a mediocre New Zealand attack and although India went on to win the series Tendulkar did very little to aid their efforts.

This winter the 1989 debutant has a serious decision to make. He will be up against a drained England attack hurting from their series loss to South Africa this summer and hefty outsiders according to the latest England v India betting odds. But Tendulkar must be switched on if he is to rekindle his own flame and give Indian spectators one last magic moment before retirement.

However, should he fail to live up to expectations against England, Tendulkar’s career will be over and much maligned for his insistence of stretching it too far.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cricket Australia to feel force of industrial changes

Australian cricket could be about to witness some huge changes after Cricket Australia appointed three business behemoths to the new board – none with previous management experience in the sport.

Rio Tinto managing director David Peever and former chief exec of a retail company Kevin Roberts are two men relatively unknown outside the world of business, yet they will oversee the development of cricket in Australia for the foreseeable future.

Among the three new appointments is Jacquie Hey, the first female board member at Cricket Australia for 107 years, a decision that is likely to open the gateways for further attention and investment into the women’s game. Yet while this potential will no-doubt be warmly accepted by cricket fans across the world, there are concerns that in appointing three non-cricketing board members the CA could switch its focus away from the sport.

Business people at board level are good for protecting revenue streams, income flows and every other kind of corporate mumbo jumbo, and the concern is the actual sport may be swept under the carpet. The IPL is a perfect example of a top-heavy tournament that increasingly looks likely to implode on itself.

The CA’s current big project, the Big Bash League, is struggling to garner the IPL-like attention it craves. Maybe it is coincidence that after a poor debut BBL the sport’s governing body brings in three business bigwigs to oversee things. Money is increasingly becoming a deciding factor in cricket but the CA must be careful not to side too heavily with ‘good business’ ideas and risk straying away from communal, grass roots investment.

Australia is still struggling to replicate the talents of their ‘golden generation’ and it will take a few years of hard work to develop a new set of talented cricketers. These three appointments must keep to advisory roles and not delve into CA policy, a move that would potentially risk the financial future of cricket in the country.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sammy tips Narine to trouble England

West Indies captain Darren Sammy has praised Sunil Marine for his increasing maturity and believes he will play a major part in the Super Eights.

Once dubbed ‘a mystery spinner’, Narine was in fine form during his side’s rain interrupted clash with Ireland earlier this week and will certainly have England firmly in his sights, with punters who bet on cricket already tipping him to be top wicket-taker.

Stuart Broad’s men seem to have a chronic inability to play spin, something grimly displayed in their defeat to India last weekend.

Six wickets fell for 21 runs at the hands of slow bowling as England were bowled out for just 80 runs.

They had already qualified for the Super Eights so the game was effectively meaningless, but it remains to be seen whether the scars from that defeat will affect their display against Sammy’s men on Thursday, with line betting markets struggling to separate them.

The Windies skipper is delighted with the way Narine is progressing and believes he has a huge role to play in the remainder o the competition.

"He's a guy who has got a lot of tricks up his sleeve and always thinks he can learn new stuff," captain Darren Sammy said of Narine after the Ireland match.

"When you see him practice he's always trying new things. New run-ups, new actions, he just looks to improve his game all the time."

"Narine loves when the batsmen are looking to attack him," Sammy said. "With the scoreboard pressure, and the requirement to score quickly in Twenty20, it gives him the edge with all his tricks up his sleeves. The more we progress and the more we play on these wickets, the more assistance it will give him. These are good signs for us going into the Super Eights."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bowlers in fine fettle

Danny Briggs, Jade Dernbach and Stuart Broad inspired England to a cracking victory for their second Twenty20 warm-up game in Sri Lanka as the batsmen failed against Pakistan’s spin.

Despite much hope for the batsmen in England betting markets, they suffered an ominous collapse to the spin of Sajeed Ajmal (4-14) in Colombo.

Alex Hales, Jos Buttler, Craig Kieswetter, Eoin Morgan and Jonny Bairstow all failed to make more than 20 runs, with only Luke Wright (38) managing to make any impact on Pakistan’s attack.

It is a worry for Stuart Broad and Andy Flower that the sides’ batsmen failed so miserably, especially against the spinners on the subcontinent.

Buttler looked promising in England this summer, while Hales has bags of talent. But if they fail then it is back to square one and hoping that the old guard can haul the team out of a hole.

Meanwhile, Briggs – a slow left -armer – who has one T20 international cap to his name, picked up three big wickets including the opening batsmen. Pakistan were set just 112 to win and failed to reach that target by 15 runs – a large margin in T20 cricket for such a low total.

Dernbach (3-14) – who is becoming a real one-day specialist - and skipper Broad (2-12) made mince meat of the middle order with their change of pace to seal a second warm-up victory, following the 9-run victory over Australia. That time around the batsmen shone and the bowlers toiled.

England are unfancied in T20 cricket betting markets to retain their T20 crown and they will be hoping before Friday’s opening game with Afghanistan is that the batsmen and bowlers can both find their rhythm at the same time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hales the man for England

Since he has come into the England fold, Alex Hales has been brilliant at the top of the order and will be the key to success at the Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka this month.

Stuart Broad’s men start their campaign on Friday with what should be a formality of a fixture against Afghanistan. However, you always need to get off to a good start and the 23-year-old Nottinghamshire
batsman looks like an effective opener at the top of England’s order.

With Somerset’s Craig Kieswetter struggling for the kind of form that helped win the Three Lions the cup two years ago in the Caribbean, the onus will fall on other players such as Hales and Jos Buttler to take command of an England team very much in transition and considered outsiders for the tournament in T20 cricket betting markets.

Hales scored an impressive 52 in England’s most recent warm-up victory over Australia, which takes his international T20 average to 39.20 after just seven games with an impressive strike rate of 122.50. It is that kind of impetus at the top of the order which England will need if they are to defend their trophy in the shortest format of the game.

With Buttler showing his brilliance lower down the order in England’s victory over South Africa at Birmingham – scoring a crafty 32 of just 10 balls – it could be the youth and freshness of Hales and Buttler which allows the old guard to defend their trophy. Indeed the pair are among the favourites in the England betting to finish as the team’s top run scorer.

Buttler’s shot selection and willingness to play the extraordinary will stand him in good stead on the subcontinent’s turning wickets. Backed up by Hales at the top of the order, with Eoin Morgan, Jonny Bairstow and Luke Wright top T20 batsmen, England have the batting to win the World T20.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Hurry hails Rehman contribution

Somerset coach Andy Hurry has paid tribute to Abdur Rehman after the Pakistan spinner took a remarkable nine-wicket haul against Worcestershire at Taunton.

On the first day of the final match of the County Championship Division One season, Rehman finished with career-best figures of 9-65 as the relegated visitors could only muster 212 in their first innings.

The 32-year-old has been a revelation during his time in England, turning out some impressive live scores. He has appeared in three first-class matches for Somerset and three CB40 games, taking a total of 31 wickets.

"It doesn't come as much of a surprise to us. Abdur has been here a number of weeks now and has been performing extraordinarily well," Hurry told BBC Somerset.

"To mark the last day of the season with nine is an incredible individual achievement."

Rehman made his Test debut in 2007 but only really came to prominence earlier this year, when England visited the United Arab Emirates. The slow left-armer took 19 wickets as Pakistann defied the odds betting to win the three-match series 3-0.

Somerset signed Rehman as their overseas player on July 1 but had to wait to see him in action, with visa issues delaying his debut until August 7. He has certainly made up for lost time with some fine performances.
Hurry has hailed Rehman's impact on the Cider Boys, with the coach particularly impressed with the player's attitude.

"One of the most amazing contributions he's made is his character in the changing room," Hurry added.

"He's really gelled the team together and has been a great ambassador for Pakistan cricket."

Rehman will have another opportunity to enhance his reputation as one of the best spinners in world cricket when Pakistan visit South Africa in the New Year.

Aussies continue to baffle

With the Twenty20 World Cup inching ever closer, Australia continue their erratic form that suggests the Baggy Greens could either walk away champions in Sri Lanka or be left in the corner with their dunces hat on.

A superb 94-run victory over Pakistan in Dubai did its best to banish the memories of one of their worst Twenty20 defeats in the same series, in which George Bailey’s men lost by 7-wickets with 31 balls to spare (a huge margin in cricket’s shortest format).

But David Warner and Shane Watson were at their explosive best on Monday as they smeared Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul and company all round the park to put on 111 for the first wicket in 10.4 overs.

Then Mitchell Starc (3-11) and Pat Cummins (3-15) ripped the hosts batting line up to leave them miles short of the 169 required for victory. Pakistan limped to 74 all out.

However, as strong as Bailey’s men were in their final Twenty20 fixture, Pakistan skipper Mohammed Hafeez came away with a 2-1 series victory days before both sides head to Sri Lanka, with Australia not particularly fancied in the T20 World cup betting.

Australia are at their weakest they have been in almost two decades and rely heavily on Warner and Watson at the top of the order in the Twenty20s. If they fail then their middle-order is inexperienced, bar Michael Hussey, although the Western Australia batsman has been short of form of late, and that gives them very little to bowl at. The nature of Twenty20 allows for a quick slog from an opposition player to take the game away from a side if they post a low total.

Punters looking for Betfair cricket betting tips essentially the Aussies need Warner and Watson to be at their best or they will be leaving Sri Lanka with their tails between their legs.