RIP Bill Frindall

Just learnt via Twitter courtesy of Stephen Fry that TMS statistician Bill Frindall has sadly passed away at the age of 69.

Test Match Special will never be the same again.

Link to BBC article:

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Countdown to the Windies – Part 2

Photo by Z_dead

Last week I looked at the England batsman that will be hoping to score big runs on the current tour of the West Indies. It has to be said that with both Kevin Pietersen and Owais Shah hitting hundreds in the warm up match at St Kitts, the signs are good. Andrew Strauss seems to have found some form after his first innings duck as well and has just passed three figures on the final day of the warm up match.

Overall, you do get the feeling that England have plenty of runs in them. Especially against what is generally considered to be a rather average West Indies bowling attack.

What about the bowlers though? It is all well and good scoring 400+, but England will need to take 20 wickets to win Test matches! Let’s take a brief look at the bowlers at Strauss disposal. And Tim Ambrose…..

Tim Ambrose – To be honest, he is lucky to be on the tour at all in my opinion. The shortest wicket-keeper in the world and only averages 24.73 in Test cricket.

James Anderson – Never quite know what you are going to get from Jimmy do you? Has been a regular in the side of late, but could do with a tour remembered for his wickets rather than his customary ‘four-ball’ every over.

Stuart Broad – There is no doubting this man’s talent. He can bat, bowl and field to a more than adequate standard. It’s just getting the most out of this talent that appears to be the problem. He needs to get his Test average of 45.23 closer to his ODI average of 27.58.

Stephen Harmison – Another man who could do with a big tour to prove his critics wrong. Had his most successful spell as an England player in the West Indies, taking 7/12 against them in 2004. More of this and he will again be England’s main strike bowler in the Ashes series.

Monty Panesar – Monty probably hasn’t progressed as much as many people would have hoped. He just needs to believe in himself more. You are an excellent bowler Monty! Encouragingly took four wickets in the tour match.

Adil Rashid – The ‘young blood’ of the squad, this Yorkshireman should have a long international future ahead of him. Whether he plays much on this tour, I’m not sure, but the experience will be valuable for him.

Ryan Sidebottom – Arnie, as I like to call him, has been injured for what feels like an eternity. Despite this, he was England’s leading wicket taker in 2008 and his accurate swing bowling will really trouble the West Indies. Is he fit though?

Graeme Swann – Had an excellent Test debut against India and will always do a solid job for England. Can hold a bat and field admirably as well. He will probably act as Strauss’ second spinner alongside Panesar. I hope he can nail down a place in the side. Monty needs competition.

So, there you have it. I have gone through the whole squad in not much detail, but with plenty of realism. In terms of the bowlers, I have to say that I’m a little worried by how many of them need to ‘prove themselves’. None of them have been in exceptional form over a significant period of time. Perhaps expect Sidebottom, but he has been injured. Hopefully several of them can find their best form from this tour onwards.

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

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Done a Poo – Andrew Symonds

After the uproar over my last Done a Poo picture, I’d pretty much decided to retire the series but thanks to Australia’s Andrew Symonds, everyones favourite faecal feature is back!

Just in case you’ve missed it, Andrew Symonds has called New Zealand wicket keeper Brendon McCullum “a lump of shit“. No, really. You can read about it here and listen to the podcast here.

If you listen to the podcast all the way through (the McCullum quote comes towards the end), you might get the impression that Symonds had enjoyed a couple of tins of the amber nectar before going on air. According to the Fox Sports report:

Symonds denied being drunk but sources confirmed he was under the influence of alcohol when he spoke to Triple M’s Roy and HG

Methinks that Roy may have plenty of opportunity to indulge his passion for fishing over the coming months.

Anyway, in the meanwhile, here’s the latest entry to the Poo Hall of Fame. Enjoy.

Other members of the Poo Hall of Fame: Andrew Flintoff, Monty Panesar, Shoaib Akhtar

Thanks to Jrod for alerting me to the story

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Countdown to the Windies – Part 1

Photo by Dominic Sayers

After all the controversy surrounding the future of Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores, everything seems to have settled down somewhat. Moores has left his position as coach without a whisper, Pietersen is back to being ‘just’ England’s best batsman and Andrew Strauss is the new skipper.

With this in mind, it seems as though the time has finally come to preview the West Indies tour. What is the best way to do this I hear you ask? Well, how about a brief summary of what we can expect from each player over the next couple of months?

Andrew Strauss – The new captain needs to lead from the front and continue his excellent form. A century in the first Test would do wonders for him.

Alistair Cook – We need to see more of a man that too often gets out after making a decent start. How many Test matches has he actually won for England?

Ian Bell – This is a huge tour for the Sherminator. He needs to repay the faith shown in him by scoring plenty of big scores batting at number three.

Kevin Pietersen – Been in the news for the wrong reasons recently and could do with winning back a few fans by showing why he is one of the best batsmen in the world.

Paul Collingwood – Like Ian Bell, could do with a few runs to establish his place in the side. Colly always seems to get a big innings when it matters though!

Owais Shah – Probably the unluckiest England cricketer. Seems to perform wonders in the one-dayers, but still likely to miss out to Ian ‘can’t buy a run’ Bell.

Andrew Flintoff – Anyone else get the feeling that Fred is going to peak just in time for the Ashes in the summer? It’s going to be a very productive tour for him in my opinion.

Matt Prior – The Sussex man is likely to start off with the gloves in West Indies and in all honesty, I wouldn’t be totally confident that he will still have them by the end of the tour. Needs runs.

We’ll leave it there for now and complete the preview next week where I shall be casting an eye over back-up keeper Tim Ambrose and the England bowlers charged with ripping through the West Indies batting line-up.

Until then – what would you top 6 be for the first Test? Does it pick itself or should Shah be given a go?

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about cricket betting

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Kevin Pietersen Sacked

It’s been confirmed in the last few hours that Kevin Pietersen has been sacked as England cricket captain. If not sacked then he has resigned from the position. The reports on BBC News and Cricinfo both point to the fact that the ECB have not yet made an official announcement regarding his departure but, to my mind, there’s no doubt that KP has been told that he’s no longer the man for the job.

Cricinfo suggest that he may have tendered his resignation

…Kevin Pietersen, and the coach Peter Moores, after a dramatic day in which both men are believed to have tendered their resignation…it appeared that Pietersen had taken his future into his own hands, and handed back the role he took on from Michael Vaughan barely five months ago…

but I’m more of the opinion suggested by the Mihir Bose on the BBC site

Pietersen gave an ultimatum to the ECB saying ‘sack the coach or I go’…The ECB has said ‘we value you as captain but we don’t take dictation from you’. So they accepted his ultimatum and he has suffered.

This is further compounded by Pietersen being “not in a fit state to talk” when interviewed by Sky News.

Whether he jumped or was pushed, this whole sorry state of affairs is likely to have longer term repercussions on Englands build up for this summers Ashes series. I voiced my concerns back in August when Michael Vaughan stepped down as England captain

Give KP the job and we lose our best batsman. He is simply not captain material and, even if he were, would you risk your one world class player when there are better contenders out there?

Having given him the job and then taken it away again, I can see this affecting his performances on the field. Add to that the suggestion that he wasn’t a popular captain with some of the team, I wonder just how much damage has been done.

As Thomas said in his post yesterday

Neither Moores, nor Pietersen for that matter are bigger than the team as a whole. KP may think that he is and that may have been what caused these problems in the first place.

Whether right or wrong, the actions of Pietersen and Moores have now created a major problem in the England dressing room and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.

The 2009 Ashes series is only a few months away. With KP likely to suffer a dip in form and with the inevitable dismissal of Peter Moores, we’re going to be going into the Ashes badly prepared. Talk of Ashley Giles taking over as temporary coach fills me with dread and Andrew Strauss as captain? Well let’s just rewind a few short months and remember that the guy was struggling to get a game at international level.

Australia, having been punished by both India and South Africa, were looking like arriving in England in a state of flux. Calls for the return of Shane Warne show just what a desperate situation they find themselves in. England being England have managed to do a Spinal Tap and turned the chaos up to 11.

As Graham Gooch said on 5 Live, “it’s an unholy mess at the moment” and if the track record of the ECB is anything to go by, it’s only going to get a lot worse.

UPDATE: So according to the official press conference, Pietersen resigned from his position and it was Moores that was sacked.

Oh really? Why don’t I believe that? Why do I think that the ECB have pandered to KP and allowed him to say that he jumped and wasn’t pushed? Let’s face it, his agent would find it tougher to negotiate future lucrative marketing deals for a sacked England captain, wouldn’t he? Much easier to push the face of a man who tendered his resignation for the good of the team, eh?

Pietersen lets the cat out of the bag himself in his official statement:

Contrary to media speculation, I wish to make it very clear that I did not resign as captain of the England cricket team this morning…

So, you were sacked then, Kev?

…but in light of recent communications with the ECB, and the unfortunate media stories and speculation that have subsequently appeared, I now consider that it would be extremely difficult for me to continue in my current position

Oh? So those unfortunate media stories weren’t around before this morning then?

In my opinion Pietersen was sacked and the ECB, after lengthy negotiations with his representatives, have agreed to cover it up and say he walked.

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