Vaughan v Bell: Three Is The Magic Number

As we approach a crucial summer of international cricket for England, one of the roles in the team still up for grabs is the No.3 batting slot. Nobody has been able to nail down the position and this means that a number of players are keen to impress.

Owais Shah is technically the man in possession of the position having played there for the majority of the West Indies tour. However, he failed to make a big score and looked particularly scratchy when he came in at first wicket down.

At the start of the County season, the spotlight seems to have been on two men in terms of the No.3 batting position. Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell are both desperate to get themselves back in England’s plans and could be battling it out to for fill the role in the first Test of the summer.

Personally, this probably sums up England’s problems. Vaughan hasn’t been in form for what seems like an eternity and Bell wasn’t dropped from the side long ago at all. It seems like a bit of a worry that no one was able to make the position their own in the months that Vaughan has been out of the side.

You just know that had a similar situation occurred with Australia, they would have had someone who came in and perform admirably. If a 34-year-old former captain had been out of the side for a number of months, they probably wouldn’t get the chance to get back in.

Nevertheless, Vaughan still has a chance and so does Bell. So which of the two is in the driving seat? Well, Bell has been in better form for his County. In fact, he has managed two centuries already this summer. Vaughan, did make 43 in Yorkshire’s opening game, but he only has one County Championship game to stake his claim for a place.

If Vaughan doesn’t get runs when Yorkshire visit Durham this week, then he can kiss goodbye to any chance of facing the West Indies next month. I get the feeling that Andrew Strauss would really like Vaughan back in his team and in his dressing room, but he can’t be picked unless he scores runs.

As for Bell, everyone knows that he is an extremely classy player and is probably one of the most talented batsman in the England set-up. However, his mentality could still be a problem. If he comes back will he continue to get out after giving himself a start? Is this what England need when Australia come to town?

In the end, it will probably come down to what the selectors consider to be less risky. Do they risk putting Vaughan in even though he hasn’t scored many runs in the last year or do they risk putting Bell back into a position that he has struggled to cope with of late?

Personally, I’d go for Bell. At least against the West Indies. If he fails against them, then bring in Vaughan for Australia. He may even have found some form by then.

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

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New England ODI Kit

I got an email this morning from those lovely chaps at Kitbag telling me that the new England ODI kit is now available to pre-order. I’ve just spent some time mooching around the site and it looks rather good. I’m particularly taken with the new training shirts. Think I may have to break open the piggy bank to buy one of those bad boys.

However I have to say this. No matter how nice the new adidas kit is and no matter what spiffing deals Kitbag are offering, we have to be honest here.

Giving England a new ODI kit is like putting lipstick on a pig. It doesn’t matter how pretty the pig looks, it’s still a pig.

England are currently ranked 6th in the ODI tables. They say figures never lie. Well I have news for you. They do. I don’t know how they work out the ICC rankings but as anyone who has seen England play ODI cricket over the last few years will tell you, we’re shit.

The good news is that we’re now going to look really smart whilst being shit.

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Sunday Social Cricketers Wanted

I play Sunday social cricket and my team, Iver Heath CC, are looking for new players for the 2009 season. I’ve put an ad on Gumtree but I thought I’d see if any Flintoff’s Ashes readers fancied a few games this year.

Just in case you’re too lazy to click on the Gumtree link, here’s the ad:

Iver Heath Cricket Club was formed in 1947 by a bunch of alcoholics looking for something to do when the pubs used to shut on a Sunday afternoon. Sixty two years on and we’re still boozing!

We’re looking for new players to join our Sunday social side. Key requisites are:

* The ability to drink your own bodyweight in beer
* A photographic memory to recall outrageous umpiring decisions from years ago in order to bare long term grudges
* A sense of humour to enable you to take part in our sledging. Note: we never sledge the opposition, only our own players
* Cricketing ability would be nice too although not essential as we don’t want you showing any of us up!

We’re a friendly team who play our cricket hard but enjoy the social element of the game even more. We play our home games at the picturesque Farnham Royal ground which is between Beaconsfield and Slough. Most of our players live in the West London area so can provide lifts if you don’t have a car.

I couldn’t include a link to the Google map of our fixtures for some reason so if you wanted to see where we play, here’s a link – Google Map Iver Heath CC Fixtures.

If you haven’t got your own kit, don’t worry. We’ve just bought a load of new Woodworm kit (70% off – click on the Woodworm ad for more info) so can provide bats, gloves, pads and what have you. You’ll just need some whites.

Season starts this coming Sunday 19th so if you fancy a few games of cricket this year and one or two glasses of sweet sherry after the match, drop me a line.

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Adam Voges Amazing Catch

It’s not very often that we acknowledge Australian sporting prowess here on Flintoff’s Ashes.

  • Taken the piss out of them? Check.
  • Pointed the finger and laughed at them? Check.
  • Photoshopped them to within in an inch of their life? Check.

OK so I was nice about Shane Warne once but that was only because he’d retired and couldn’t hurt us any more so this is breaking something of a long standing habit. I’m actually going to say something complimentary about an Aussie cricketer.

Adam Voges took an amazing relatively average catch in a game of Twenty20.

Actually bollocks to that. He made a meal of it. Show boating bastard.

Judge for yourself by reviewing the recent featured video below.

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Who Will Captain England in World Twenty20?

It came as quite a surprise to me that Andrew Strauss was left out of England’s provisional 30-man squad for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament.

After his more than acceptable performances in the ODI games against the West Indies in recent weeks, I thought he had done enough. Especially when you consider how positively he batted when England were chasing 135 in 20 overs during the fourth match of the series.

However, it appears that the England selectors were unconvinced that he had a future in the limited overs game and decided to go without him for this tournament. It means that his future in the 50-over game also has to be in doubt.

Another result of this decision is that England will have split captaincy this summer. Not ideal in my opinion. It is how it is though, so who are the candidates to take charge of the England Twenty20 World Cup side this summer?

Kevin Pietersen – This would be an interesting move wouldn’t it? Less than a year after controversially resigning, KP could be back in charge as England hosts a World Twenty20 tournament. It could happen, but I think the selectors will think carefully about this one.

Paul Collingwood – Colly stepped down from the ODI captaincy when Michael Vaughan resigned from the Test role. Personally, I don’t think he would take this position even if offered it.

Andrew Flintoff – I hope the selectors steer well clear of even considering appointing Flintoff. He needs to be left to play his cricket and be England’s most dangerous and influential bowler.

Rob Key – Should the position just be a temporary measure, then the Kent skipper could fit the role perfectly. He is highly rated as a captain and knows this form of the game better than most. Is he good enough to be in the team though?

Shaun Udal – The 40-year-old will be delighted he is even in the squad. Having led Middlesex to Twenty20 success last year, the selectors may well consider him for a more senior role in the England team. Unlikely, but you never know.

So, these are the five candidates. The two front-runners, in my opinion, are Pietersen and Key. Should the selectors feel the timing is right to hand KP the role, then he is the obvious choice.

Should they feel they need to wait a while before handing him the captaincy again, Key could be handed the responsibility. A decision is expected to be made when a new team director is appointed.

Guest Post by Thomas Rooney

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