Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Mach reveals injury battle

Hampshire captain Dimitri Mascarenhas has revealed he has twice tore tendons in his shoulder in recent weeks but battled through the pain to help his side to T20 glory.

Mascarenhas had to undergo a fitness test ahead of the semi-final against Somerset and the final against Yorkshire on Saturday and was declared fit - just. He was unable to bat but, amazingly, continued to bowl.

He responded with impressive figures – taking 2 for 11 in the semi-final and 2 for 20 in the final. A fully fit player would be proud of those numbers, but given his injury it is even more remarkable.

"I've torn my left tendon. I tore it two weeks ago and then I tore it again last week when I tried to play CB40," Mascarenhas said after the game.

"I had a scan and it's torn so I had to grin and bear it. It was a huge stress to be honest. It's not one of those where you can have an injection.

"We were trying to sort out team selection if I didn't play and for the team balance. It's not easy when your captain is looking like he's not going to be fit. I was lucky enough to get through. I actually felt a bit better in the final - maybe it was the adrenaline. It took me through it. It felt a lot sorer in the semi-final, I felt like I was bowling a bit faster in the final."

Hampshire eventually prevailed by 10 runs, Chris Wood taking three wickets in the final over to ensure a second T20 title in three years.

Punters who bet on cricket will note that further glory could soon follow given they are top of the County Championship and CB40 groups, while their victory in Cardiff on Sunday means they are through to the preliminary stages of the Champions League, which will feature the cream of the world’s T20 sides. The Australia cricket betting currently has their own Sydney Sixers as one of the favourites for the contest, even at this early stage.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Flowers offers skipper support

England coach Andy Flower has backed Andrew Strauss to continue to lead the side in the future.

Strauss has been under pressure following a 2-0 Test series defeat to South Africa that saw them concede their number one Test status.

The build-up to the game was also dogged by the Kevin Pietersen saga, with the 32-year-old eventually dropped amid accusations he sent derogatory text messages about Strauss to South African players.

Strauss admitted he would speak with Pietersen this week over the issue that threatened to split the dressing room, with a number of players’ relationships with Pietersen reportedly at breaking point.

The issue clearly affected Strauss and his preparations for the game, running his 100th Test match in the bargain.

Some have suggested he should step down in order to speed up the transition of a side containing a number of aging players, especially with back-to-back Ashes campaigns awaiting next year.

However, he has received the backing of his coach, who does not believe he should step down despite the South Africa defeat and with a tough looking series in India lying in wait.

"The last couple of weeks have been particularly draining on him," Flower told BBC Sport.

"This [Pietersen] issue has certainly not helped and it's been a very unwelcome distraction during a very high-profile and brilliant Test series.

"But he will re-energise. He can certainly take the Test team forward.

"We know he's an excellent leader and he can certainly take the Test team forward."

Don’t forget to check out the latest Michael Vaughan Tips blog, where he gives his expert opinion on the latest cricketing news as well as some Betfair T20 Cricket Betting tips.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rankings expose Clarke’s task

News this week that Australia have fallen off the top of the ICC one-day international rankings for the first time in three years proves just how difficult a challenge Michael Clarke has to reverse his squad’s fortunes.

Clarke, who has played over 200 ODIs for Australia, has seen his team slide to fourth in the rankings after two poor series touring the West Indies and England. It proves just how competitive the rankings are, and how quickly a dominant force can lose their top spot.

In March, Australia could only force a 2-2 series draw with West Indies and had to pull out all the stops in their last match to avoid a series loss. They had Ben Hilfenhaus to thank for finally taking Darren Sammy late on after the West Indian threatened a late surge with a decent 84 as ninth man.

But touring to the UK has proven a disastrous spell for Clarke, with a humbling 4-0 series defeat at the hands of old rivals England exposing clear weaknesses in the side. They were always outsiders in the Australia cricket betting, given England’s recent resurgence, but the manner of the defeat was the main worry.

Openers Shane Watson and David Warner did their best at times, but were also guilty of letting early wickets upset the lower orders.

Disarray in the squad was exposed with a weak innings collapse in the final match: Peter Forrest run out, Matthew Wade stumped and even Clarke taken away in the space of just 10 balls.

Clarke should also examine his own form when solving the problems of Australia’s recent demise. A respectable 61 at Lord’s in the first ODI failed to rear its head again, with a forgettable 10 at the Oval and that single run on the last day.

Punters down under who bet on cricket are worried, with ODIs against West Indies and Sri Lanka to come. Australia must improve their fortunes soon if they are to challenge England and South Africa for top spot again.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Moral victories aplenty as Headingley ends in a draw

After four days of rain-interrupted cricket at Headingley, it is a credit to both captains that Monday’s final session could have yielded all three results.

Greame Smith could have called it a day early on the fifth and final day in West Yorkshire, safe in the knowledge that his side’s 1-0 advantage would be preserved going into the final Test at Lord’s.

However, with the sun finally deciding to beat down on Headingley, the Proteas skipper declared, leaving England a target of 253 from 39 overs, a target so tantalisingly close it saw Smith’s opposite number Andrew Strauss shuffle his order and send in go-to man Kevin Pietersen as opener.

Three fours in one Morne Morkel over suggested the most dramatic of finishes could be upon us, but South Africa struck back to dismiss Pietersen and with it England’s slim hopes of victory.

The only other player perhaps capable of scoring so quickly was wicket-keeper Matt Prior, shown by his promotion up to five. However, by the time he was at the crease 154 was still needed off 20 overs.

That is a tough challenge in one-day cricket, where they have limited overs for bowlers, power-plays and fielding restrictions. With none of those privileges, England were slowly forced back into their shell.

They fell well and truly into game-saving mode when Prior was dismissed, with only new-boy James Taylor left in the pavilion before the tail. Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell sensibly drew the sting from the game, before Smith called it a day with six overs remaining.

Both sides should be applauded for trying to force a result and although it did still end in a draw, both teams will try and claim some moral victories heading into next week’s final Test.

For England their performance was a definite improvement on their miserable effort at the Oval, where they slumped to an innings defeat and only took two South African wickets.

But with the tourists only needing a draw to secure the series and number one spot in the world rankings, Strauss and co will have to attack from the off and hope for dry weather if they are to have a chance of maintaining their grip at the top of the cricketing tree.

For all the latest England Cricket Betting  as well as news, tips and advice, don’t forget to head over to the Betfair Cricket  website.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Australia handed Haddin boost

Wicket-keeper Brad Haddin could be back in the Australia squad for their Test series with South Africa after he returned to training in pre-season.

The 34-year-old has not played for his country since January after taking time out of the game due to family issues.

Haddin understandably flew home from the Caribbean and missed the series with West Indies so that he could be with his seriously ill daughter, Mia.

The New South Wales ace is back with his state team-mates looking forward to the summer Down Under and had an international recall in his sights.

In Haddin's absence, Matthew Wade was handed the gloves both in the five-day game and in the limited-overs action.

Wade was solid enough against the Windies, as Australia secured a 2-0 victory in the three-match Test series.

But the Victorian had problems and some disappointing results and scores in the one-day series against England, as the under-strength tourists were hammered 4-0.

Wade may be the future for the Aussies, but Michael Clarke has always indicated that Haddin remains first choice behind the stumps, when he made himself available once again.

The Australian selectors also appear to think the same way as their skipper, after offering the wicket-keeper/batsman a central contract when the list of players was released in June. The betting line suggests Haddin almost certain to return.

Not only does he bring an extra bit of quality, with three centuries and 10 half centuries to his name, but his experience and desire in the dressing room is often mentioned by other members of the squad.

If the veteran can return and show some form for Blues in the domestic game, then Haddin seems certain to return to face the Proteas later this year.

Australia will face South Africa in a three-Test series, with the first Test due to take place at the Gabba from November 9.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Strauss eyeing faultless display

England captain Andrew Strauss admits his side cannot afford any mistakes as they aim to claw their way back into the series with South Africa this week.

Strauss' side have swept all before them on home soil in recent years on their way to the top of the world Test rankings However, they met their match in South Africa in the first Test.

The tourists recovered from an indifferent first day to blow England away in ruthless fashion at The Oval, shocking Betfair Cricket fans who have grown used to non-stop success for their side. The Proteas eased to an innings victory and will be confident of wrapping up the series at Headingley.

England misfired with both bat and ball in the opener. The hosts were bowled out for 385 and 240, while South Africa racked up a mammoth 637-2 in their only innings.

Strauss is confident England can bounce back from the humiliating defeat with a strong showing in the second Test in Leeds, which begins on Thursday. England Cricket Betting markets now have the tourists as the favourites, meaning ti will take a dramatic and rapid turnaround in order to persuade punters otherwise.

"Being around the guys in the practice days, it's pretty clear that everyone's got their heads on and they're determined to come out firing in this game and try and put South Africa under pressure," the England skipper told Sky Sports News.

"We're quietly confident, we can't afford to make any mistakes now – it's do-or-die time. But that sort of pressure can be a good thing as well.

"We're excited about this week and I'm certainly very confident our guys will come out and play well."
England have been forced into at least one change, with young Nottinghamshire batsman James Taylor replacing the unavailable Ravi Bopara at number six.

The home side could choose to tinker with their bowling unit, which looked uncharacteristically flat in the opening Test, with Steven Finn and Graham Onions waiting in the wings.

Flower hoping for response

England coach Andy Flower admits the heavy first Test defeat by South Africa was a tough one to take but insists his side are capable of bouncing back in Leeds.

The tourists romped to an innings victory at The Oval and will be confident of wrapping up the series at Headingley. A South Africa triumph would see them usurp the hosts at the top of the world rankings and they begin the game the new favourites in the cricket betting to take the series.

Flower conceded England were "completely outplayed" in the opener and have a big job on their hands to rescue the series.

"It was the first game we've lost this summer, quite a tough loss, and we've got to regroup and come back strong," said Flower.

"There's always expectation and a wish for England to do well so to be beaten like that was a bit of a shock to some people."

England were bowled out for 385 and 240 at The Oval, while South Africa racked up a mammoth 637-2 in their only innings. The England v South Africa betting has dramatically swung the way of the visitors as a result.

The home side have been forced into at least one change for Thursday's second Test, with young Nottinghamshire batsman James Taylor replacing Ravi Bopara, who is unavailable for personal reasons, at number six.

"It's disappointing for him (Bopara) obviously, but it opens the door for another player who has come through the academy system and worked really hard over the years to get his chance," added Flower.

Taylor has impressed with the England Lions over the last couple of years and was given the nod ahead of the likes of Jonny Bairstow and Eoin Morgan.

The 22-year-old hit 163 not out in a County Championship match against Sussex at Trent Bridge last week so goes into his Test bow with form under his belt.

"I certainly hope James can make six his spot for a while," said Flower.