England Win Something. Bloody Hell.

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Quite frankly I don’t know what to say. This is uncharted territory. England winning a one day tournament. Not only that but a Twenty20 tournament. Did someone forget to tell them that we’re shit at T20?

I didn’t see much of the tournament but did manage to watch the final yesterday and couldn’t help but feel I was watching a different team. I guess this was probably because I was. Andy Flower has assembled a squad of Twenty20 specialists who are very different to previous England Twenty20 specialists. This lot are actually quite good.

It’s not just that. From what I’ve read and from what I witnessed yesterday, there’s an energy and, more importantly, a belief in this group of players. Right from the outset, they believed they could beat Australia and beat them they did.

No. That’s not true.

England thrashed Australia.

It’s couldn’t have been more of a thrashing if Paul Collingwood had pulled down Michael Clarkes trousers and thwapped his bare naked rump with one of the stumps (preferably not the one containing StumpCam as we’d have then been “treated” to super slow mo images of Clarkes rusty sheriffs badge in the post match review).

OK so a lot has been made about the number of Saffers in the team and that Eoin Morgan had played internationally for Ireland but to the haters Aussies reading this I say pffffffffffft. No rules were broken and in the eyes of the ICC Morgan is as English as I am, to be sure, to be sure.

Regardless of all that, the England players deserved to win the tournament and deserved their post match celebrations. After all, they are the World Twenty20 champions so who could refuse them a good old fashioned English knees up of a braai and a few pints of the Black Stuff?

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Colly Wobbler?

Paul CollingwoodI will level with you straight away – I have never been a huge fan of Paul Collingwood. I’m not quite sure what it is, but I have never taken to him as an England player as much as some of the others. Whether it is his obvious arrogance, his ginger hair or his boring interviews – I’m not sure.

To be honest though, the main issue is that I don’t rate him very highly as a batsman. Don’t get me wrong, his record is respectable and he has stood up for England on the odd occasion. Look at his performance in Cardiff to save England the test match for example.

This was his only significant knock of the Ashes series though and I can’t help thinking that he might be coming towards the end of his spell in the England test team. As a batsman, I don’t quite know what role he is supposed to play.

He looks to be positive, but his footwork has been nonexistent of late and you can tell that his confidence is suffering. Then, if he attempts to go into his shell, he hasn’t got the defensive game to play a more matured innings. The knock in Cardiff aside, of course.

With Kevin Pietersen hopefully returning this winter and with Jonathan Trott performing so well on debut, you have to start wondering whether
Collingwood’s days are numbered. Other than Ashes victory talk, this has been one of the main points of discussion for the cricket pundits in the last few days.

Nasser Hussain described Collingwood as ‘one of the good guys’ of this England team, who it would be easy to stick with this winter. He is an
excellent fielder after all, a model professional and someone who can chip in with the odd wicket or two. Has he got what it takes to improve as a batsman though?

I can’t help thinking that Collingwood isn’t going to get any better than he is or has been in the past. Can he step his game up an extra level as England look to step up theirs? I don’t think so. Ian Bell, Jonathan Trott, Joe Denly and even the out-of-form Ravi Bopara will see their best days ahead of them. Collingwood, I’m not so sure.

It’s for this reason that I would question how long he can remain in the side for. He could very easily prove me wrong and score a shedfull this winter – he often performs at his best when his backs against the wall – but I just can’t see it.

Alistair Cook, Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Jonathan Trott and Matt Prior might be the way to go for England’s batting line-up with Bopara and Denly waiting in the wings.

It’s certainly an interesting situation for the England selectors to be in and it will be interesting to see which way they play it.

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Flintoff Retires From Test Cricket

flintoff-retires

UPDATE 11.04AM

BBC News confirms that Flintoff is to retire – Flintoff in post-Ashes Test exit

UPDATE 11.01AM

Both Jonathan Agnew and Alison Mitchell are saying on Twitter that the news is confirmed and that Freddie Flintoff will be retiring from Test cricket after this series.

Confirmed. Flintoff retires from Tests after this series. Still avail for ODIs. “My body says its time to stop”
Jonathan Agnew

Hot off the press and confirmed – Flintoff will retire from Test cricket after the Ashes
Alison Mitchell – BBC TMS

POST PUBLISHED 10.54AM

Early indications are that Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff is to announce his retirement from Test cricket after this Ashes series. A press conference is due to be held at 12.30pm today to confirm this news but Twitter is ablaze this morning with speculation.

Expecting confirmation at 11 that Flintoff is retiring from Tests after this series. Not surprising to be honest.
Jonathan Agnew

Apparently players were in a huddle on nursery ground earlier, then handshakes all round with Fred…
Alison Mitchell – TMS

You have to say that, if true, and Flintoff really is retiring from Test cricket that it’s no great surprise. With his history of injuries and the pressure put on the body playing the five day game, it was looking unlikely that he’d carry on for much longer anyway although I’m surprised at the timing of the announcement.

If it is true and Flintoff is to retire from Test cricket then I hope the ECB take a long hard look at themselves and the ridiculously congested international fixture list they have conspired to produce. Test cricket is dying on it’s arse and by shoehorning in as many meaningless ODI’s and T20 fixtures into the calendar year, they’re putting undue pressure on their players and, as a result, one of their few box office attractions in the five day game is about to call it a day.

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Boycott in negative opinion shocker!

Geoffrey BoycottWhat’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions Geoffrey Boycott? Is it a solid opening batsman? Is it the hat he constantly wears? Or is it the moaning cricket pundit from Yorkshire?

Personally, considering I don’t remember much about Boycott as a player, I always think of the latter. Whenever I think of Boycott, I hear his voice whining on about the various ways in which England have gone wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, Boycott knows his cricket. He knows what it takes to win a Test match, he knows what makes a good Test captain and he knows the type of mentality that an opening batsman needs. However, he puts all of this across in an increasingly negative manner.

Where have these views on Boycott sprung from I hear you ask? Well, the former England man has been having his say on the current crop and hasn’t exactly sung their praises.

Speaking about their chances of winning the Ashes, he says that they haven’t got a hope because they are ‘not in great shape’. He also criticised the ‘fiasco’ surrounding Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores that occurred this winter.

As for Andrew Strauss, Boycott isn’t convinced that the England skipper is a ‘natural captain’ because he tends to ‘wait for things to happen’ on the field as opposed to ‘thinking ahead’.

Another thing criticised by Boycott was the fact that England have had far from a settled side in recent months. He particularly highlighted the No.3 spot which has been occupied by Michael Vaughan, Ian Bell, Owais Shah and now Ravi Bopara.

Overall, Boycott doesn’t believe that England are ‘getting the best out of what we’ve got’. The Yorkshireman finished by saying that everyone connected with the England cricket team has ‘shot themselves in the head this winter’.

So, how accurate are Boycott’s comments? Well, he is right about the team not being in the best shape, he is right about the Pietersen/Moores situation being a distraction and he is right that having an unsettled side makes it difficult to prepare for the future.

However, I don’t think that it’s as bad as he makes out. Things can turn around very quickly in cricket and this is what the two Test matches against the West Indies can be used for.

A decent performance from a fresh looking England team in these two games could act as a springboard for a successful summer. Then, hopefully, Strauss and co can go some way to proving Boycott wrong even though, at this stage, he is pretty much bang on the money!

By Thomas Rooney – A sports writer who blogs about England Cricket

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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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