Wednesday, May 29, 2013

England buoyed by a better Broad

Stuart Broad's timely return to top form in England's win over New Zealand in the first Test of the summer is great news for Andy Flower's side because they need the pace bowler at his best if they are to hold on to the Ashes.

Recently, Broad has been a pale shadow of the player that was one of the stars of the last Ashes success on home soil back in 2009 but he announced himself back to somewhere near his optimum level at Lord's and, if he can build on this most welcome of starts to a busy few months, then most
Ashes Tips writers will believe retaining the Ashes is very much within England’s grasp.

Broad finished the first Test with best-ever figures of 7-44 as the tourists were skittled for a measly 68 in their second innings and it was this devastating spell that turned an otherwise tight clash England's favour. It was the type of assured pace bowling performance that Broad used to turn in regularly and he really proved to be his country's matchwinner in a game that was much closer than many had predicted.

Broad, who is still only 26 and therefore has plenty of time yet to develop further, has been a big-game performer for England for some time now despite accusations of inconsistency. He has suffered alarming dips in form and appears very much a confidence player, who truly operates at a world-class level when his head is right and he is injury-free but, when it matters most, he can usually be relied upon.

Alongside Jimmy Anderson, Broad remains one of England's most potent weapons and, when at the top of his game, can scare the very best sides in the world.

His performance against an admittedly weak Kiwis side should not be one anyone gets too carried away with but it certainly bodes well for the summer, with the
 First Test against Australia only six weeks away. Because England stand little chance of Ashes glory unless a fully-firing Broad is around.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sri Lanka Champions Trophy effort hit by injury

Sri Lanka’s hopes of winning a maiden ICC Champions Trophy in England and Wales this summer have taken a hit after medium pacer Chanaka Welegedara suffered a foot injury during a warm-up match on Saturday.

Welegedara, 32, lasted just 2.4 overs for Rest of Sri Lanka against Sri Lanka A in Pallekele before hobbling off complaining of pain in his right foot and ankle.

"Welegedara came off immediately and is currently unable to put any weight on his right foot," said a Sri Lanka Cricket statement.

It is yet unknown if he will recover in time to play for his national side in the one-day tournament this June but if he is absent from the squad many cricket betting fans have voiced their concern over Sri Lanka’s title chances.

For Welegedara is one of Sri Lanka’s main attacking threats and his absence is likely to inspire the team’s three group opponents England, Australia and New Zealand to attack at the crease.

There was real hope in the international cricket world Welegedara would make an impact at the ICC Champions Trophy, for the paceman deserves more than the 10 previous ODI appearances for his country.

Figures of 5-66 against India three years ago proved just how lethal Welegedara is on his day and the Test team have suffered from his absence through injuries over the past 12 months.

With Welegedara a doubt, Sri Lanka must rely on specialist fast bowlers Lasith Malinga, Shaminda Eranga and Nuwan Kulasekara to do the job this summer – an unlikely trio that will find it hard against the world’s best ODI batsmen.

Most ICC Champions Trophy betting tips says you should back Sri Lanka to make the semis if he plays, but if he is absent they won’t win a bean against three impressive batting units.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bresnan reveals op risk

Yorkshire seamer Tim Bresnan has revealed his career could have been over when he went under the knife earlier this year but insists he is now 100% fit and ready for action.
Bresnan has been dogged by an elbow complaint for the past two and a half years, originally having surgery on the issue in December 2011.
He continued to experience discomfort and decided to undergo a second operation over the winter, ruling him out of the tour of New Zealand.
Though it was a relatively straightforward procedure, Bresnan admits it was one was that could have forced him to retire.
When asked whether he feared for his career ahead of the operation, Bresnan said: "I think you do. A couple of hours before the op, it's like 'Well, this could go one of two ways.
“I might never play for England again, or play cricket again, or I might be back better than ever. You've got to weigh up that risk and then just sort of decide 'Yep, eff it' and get on with it really.”
Thankfully for the 28-year-old everything went to plan and he was able to take part in pre-season training with Yorkshire before returning to competitive action in April.
He earned a recall to the England squad for the return Test series with New Zealand, with the first Test at Lord’s due to start next Thursday. The Cricket betting odds again place the hosts as heavy favourites, just as they were in the reverse series earlier this year, which resulted in a0-0 draw.
Speaking after meeting up with his international team mates ahead of the first England v New Zealand Test, Bresnan added: "I probably lost three or four yards. But I feel as though I've got that back. I can sit here and say whatever...but it's just as easy to show you.
"I'd love to play. I'm down here. I'm not here to carry the drinks. I'm here to play in the game, throw my hat in the ring for selection. The next two practice days will probably tell the management a lot about where I'm at and what I can do.”

Pietersen recovery hands England major Ashes boost

England have been handed an early Ashes boost after it emerged key batsman Kevin Pietersen should be back in action sooner than expected after recovering well from his knee injury.

Pietersen is being lined up to play for his county Surrey on June 12 and he now appears on course, barring any further setbacks,  to be available for England in The Ashes, that begin on July 10 at Trent Bridge.

The news is a great pre-Ashes boost for England and should give them renewed confidence of retaining the famous urn on home soil because, make no mistake, Pietersen remains the stand-out, world-class performer capable of putting the Aussies to the sword on  his day.
The South Africa-born star can be unpredictable at times but when he fancies it, he is the man that can lead his side to glory. If Pietersen was absent, it would have given the tourists hope of wrestling the Ashes away from England and his influence on the side should not be underestimated.
The 32-year-old will be eased back into action over the next month and he should feature in three first-class games before the big summer battle begins, giving him ample time to fine-tune his game and be 100 per cent fit for the Nottingham opener.
England are usually a much more daunting prospect with Pietersen in their side and his big-hitting style could prove decisive in the Ashes, adding to the threat already posed by Alastair Cook at the top of the order.
His inclusion in the side should severely enhance England's odds in the Ashes betting  and the fact Andy Flower can prepare for the matches safe in the knowledge Pietersen is on board is a major boost for the home side.
England are rightly cast as favourites for the Ashes and those odds should only shorten with Pietersen playing.