Saturday, June 23, 2012

Afridi a doubt for T20 openers

Hampshire's Twenty20 hopes have been dealt a blow with the news that all-rounder Shahid Afridi is struggling to obtain a visa.

Afridi was due to return for Hampshire's Friends Life t20 campaign but has had to return to his native Pakistan to receive the necessary visa clearance.

The 32-year-old, who has already missed the county's first two matches, has just completed a tour of Sri Lanka with Pakistan's one-day squad and is free to join up with his Hampshire colleagues. However, he is now set to miss Friday's game against Kent and Sunday's return fixture at Canterbury.

"We'll miss Shahid. Every side in the world would miss someone of his ability," Hampshire manager Giles White told BBC Radio Solent.

"We will wait for him to resolve his visa issues. He needs to travel back to Pakistan, get the visa sorted and we hope he will arrive sooner rather than later.

"He's very keen to get over here and he will come as soon as he can. We'll be delighted when he does arrive."

It is familiar territory for the two parties, following Afridi's troubles in 2011. He missed the first six t20 fixtures last season after the Pakistan cricket board stalled on authorising a 'no-objection' certificate following a dispute.

The county were highly fancised to do well in this year’s competition, though Afridi’s initial absence has seen them move out in the odds betting

White was philosophical this time around, saying nobody is to blame for the delay.

"There is no finger pointing. It is just the way it has worked out with the border agency and certain issues that have cropped up," added White.

"It is no-one's fault. Hopefully he will be here within the next few days."

The enigmatic Afridi proved a big hit at the Ageas Bowl last year thanks to some impressive results and scores, taking 17 wickets in 10 matches at an average of 11.17.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bell is Back

There has been plenty of criticism directed at Ian Bell, over the past couple of seasons, but now the talented batsman is starting to reproduce the form that made him a vital cog in the England machine.

The betting with indicates that Bell could be a linchpin in England’s success, this summer. 

The Warwickshire star showed on Tuesday at The Oval, in the eight wicket ODI win over the West Indies, that he is back in good touch, as he was able to establish a superb opening partnership with Alastair Cook, earning a half-century in the process.

Bell has bided his time in the county game, and has even made the effort to turn out for the England Lions to regain his form, but it just took something to get him back into the England limelight.

Kevin Pietersen’s strange decision to call time on his England career in the shorter forms of the game to focus on Test matches was the opening that Bell needed and, at the moment, he is grasping it with both hands.

It is easy to take all the acclaim when things are going well, but to go through the poor spell he endured, to then come back and play as if he had never been away, must be applauded.

The England supporters seem to be happy Bell is back and scoring runs for his country for that very reason, as it is fully deserved, and does raise questions about KP’s commitment to the national side and the game in general.

With a busy summer of cricket, which includes a one-day series with Australia and a Test campaign against South Africa, Bell is coming into form at the right time, and can now push on, with the next Ashes series edging ever closer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Smith Boost for Proteas

South African captain Graeme Smith has been declared fit to face England in the forthcoming test series, which begins at the Oval on 19th July.

There had been some doubt as to whether Smith, 31, would be fit to take part in the three test series after he underwent surgery on his left ankle in April, following his side’s successful tour to New Zealand, where they won the test series 1-0.

The news of Smith’s recovery will come as a disappointment to Andrew Strauss and his side, who recently wrapped up a 2-0 series over the West Indies. Smith has an exceptional record against England and has an impressive of average of 72 in England. Smith still holds the record for the highest innings by a visiting player in tests at Lord’s after scoring 259 in 2003.

Smith, who has played in 98 test matches, averages just under 50 in all tests and was the last visiting captain to win a test series in England, when South Africa beat England 2-1 in 2008. This was the Proteas first series victory in England since 1965.

The England side of 2012 is a different proposition to the sides of the past, so often punished by Smith. England are currently ranked as the number 1 test side in the world with South Africa just behind. This three test series promises to be explosive and, if Smith can find the form that he has previously shown in England, then South Africa will certainly fancy their chances.

Following on from the Lords test, the two sides will travel to Headingley (2nd-6th August) then conclude the series at Lord’s (16th- 20th August).

If you are a punter who likes to use the internet to place online bets  don’t forget to head over to Bet365 where you can get all the latest odds, news, tips and advice as well as a variety of live in-play betting markets.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Smith to steady SA ship

England’s chances of a series win over South Africa this summer have taken a huge knock, and the Betfair England cricket betting odds have been shaken up, with the news that Graeme Smith is fit to captain the tourists in July and August.

Smith had surgery on his ankle back in April, but has recovered in time to be selected as part of South Africa’s 15-man touring party.

The left-hander’s inclusion will be a significant boost for a squad unchanged from their dogged 1-0 Test series win over New Zealand earlier this year.

For South Africa were impervious in the second Test against the Black Caps, coming out nine-wicket victors in a proficient bowling display that reduced the top order for just seven runs in the second innings.

Smith’s inclusion is unlikely to rocket the South Africans to a series whitewash this summer, but having the captain first on the wicket will be a serious confidence boost for a side looking to overturn England as the top ranked Test team in the world.

Smith’s professional 55-not-out against New Zealand proved he can just about lead the South African line, and he should fare well on English grounds where he has a 72 average.

The Johannesburg-born batsman is due to make his 100th Test appearance and looks set to lead a side out determined to beat England on their home turf for the first time since 1965.

The past three Tests in England have seen one home victory and two draws, the most recent tie coming in a pulsating five-Test series in 2003.

Smith started at the top of the order in that series nine years ago and knocked up 277 and 259 in his first and second Tests respectively.

And, although maybe not expected by the Betfair cricket community to lead the line in such a dominant manner this summer, Smith’s inclusion should keep the South African ship steady for their English encounter.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Katich was “one of our best”- Waugh

Former Australia opening batsmen Simon Katich has announced that he has played his last game of first class cricket on home soil and, test legend, Mark Waugh, has spoken out in praise of one of his former teammates.

Katich, 36, made his test debut in England in 2001. Mark Waugh was also a member of that touring party and he said this of his former teammate; "He's got a very good record both at first-class and Test level at the top of the order, so he should be remembered as one of our best players."

Katich played 56 Tests for Australia, scoring 4188 runs at an average of 45.03 and he was an integral part of an extremely successful side before recently falling out of favour with the Aussie selectors; "He was definitely unlucky. I don't think he should have got dropped. His record was better than a few of the guys that were in that team ahead of him” Waugh said. "I think it was his age and maybe because he's unfashionable, maybe that's the reason he did get dropped” he added.

 "If you go purely on statistics he should not have got dropped when he did, he was our most consistent player at the top of the order and his previous couple of years were outstanding" he concluded.

Australia head to England this summer for five one day internationals with the threat of industrial action by players still a reality. Katich, who scored 1324 runs in 45 one day internationals, is now plying his trade in the English County game with Hampshire and, given the current chaos, his steady hand at the top of the order may well have been welcomed by his former teammates.

With the one-day series between England and Australia nearly upon us don’t forget to get your online bets in and once the action kicks off don’t forget you can check out all the live in-play betting markets while the action is taking place.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Anderson won’t be the last

The England selectors sprung a huge surprise in not naming James Anderson in their squad for the third and final test against the West Indies this week but it seems that Anderson is not the only high profile player who may be in line for a rest.

Coach Andy Flower, it seems, is a fan of the squad rotation system and will continue to rest his prized assets; "I think the days of playing our players constantly in every form of the game until they either wear down or snap physically or mentally are over," he said.

The news may be a disappointment for fans watching at the ground, on TV or tuning in to live cricket online, but the crowded nature of the modern-day international calendar means there is little choice but to rotate the squad.

Following on from this week’s test England face the Windies in a one-day series and twenty20 match and Australia in a one day series ahead of meeting South Africa in a three test series, four one day internationals and three twenty20 matches. All of this comes before a gruelling winter tour to India...maybe the selectors have a point.

Ahead of confirmation of his omission, Anderson said "It would be extremely disappointing for me to miss out. It would be different if I felt fatigued or was struggling with an injury. But I believe I am fit to play - and while I am fit to play I want to play in every England game I can.”

Flower has since confirmed that other players are in line to be brought in over the summer; "It is not only going to be Anderson, [Stuart] Broad and [Tim] Bresnan used, it'd be naive and crazy to think so" he said.
Only time will tell whether or not the squad rotation policy will prove to be beneficial for England. Maybe times have changed but the old adage certainly used to be ‘you don’t change a winning team’. However, the cricket bets placed in their favour suggests punters expect to complete a series whitewash.

The West Indies will hope to benefit from Anderson’s absence in the short term and the Australians and South Africans will certainly be hoping that this disrupts Flower’s team sufficiently to increase their chances in the coming months. Flower and the selectors will be praying that they are proved right.