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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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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England ODI=Oh Dear Ingerland

For as long as I can remember, England have been hopeless at One Day International cricket. There have been some highlights – the comfortable series win over South Africa last summer for example – but as a rule, England are clueless in this form of the game.

The latest defeat showed many of the reasons why in my opinion. Chasing 265 to win, Andrew Strauss’ men fell 22 runs short of victory as they were bowled out inside the 49th over.

More often than not, the batting has been the problem for England in ODI games. Generally, we are a good fielding side and occasionally (make that very occasionally when Harmison and Batty are in the team) we can keep it tight with the ball.

However, the decisions made by the batsmen are nothing short of appalling most of the time. Whether that be shot selection, running between the wickets or when to select the batting power-play. All
three of these were in evidence on Sunday in the defeat to the West Indies.

Poorest shot selection: Ravi Bopara was looking really solid at the beginning of the innings and chasing a more than reachable target meant that there was no need to flash at one outside off stump and
drag on.

Most shocking running: Gareth Batty should hang his head in shame after running himself out. Considering his captain was settled at the other end, considering 8 runs were required an over, considering he was the last of the capable batsmen and considering he had just smashed Chris Gayle for four, there was probably no need to attempt a dodgy single was there, Gareth ‘I thought they were joking when they called me up’ Batty?

Poor power-play usage: For whatever reason, England waited until the final five overs to use the batting power-play. This meant that the men charged with making the most out of the fielding restrictions were Steve Harmison and James Anderson. Brilliant call. Why on earth wasn’t it used when Strauss and Mascheranas were looking half decent?

So there you have it, another England ODI performance dominated by poor decisions. They weren’t actually that far away from the win in the end, meaning that they could have emerged victorious had just one of these mistakes been prevented.

This just makes it all the more frustrating. Roll on the Friday in Barbados, a match that gives an excuse for a half-day at work if nothing else…

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

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Replacing Freddie?

With Andrew Flintoff set to miss the fourth Test against the West Indies, the fight is on for many to replace him in the team. Ravi Bopara and Amjad Khan were called up to the Caribbean when Freddie’s injury first became apparent, but they are not the only options to take the place of the big man.

Considering that England must win this Test match to have a chance of securing a series victory, it is crucial they make the right decision here. Replacing Flintoff is by no means easy, so let us take a look at the options.

Ravi Bopara

For – Scored an unbeaten 124 in the recent tour match and looked in very destructive form.

Against – His bowling is very much part-time, so in theory England would be a bowler down if they selected him.

Amjad Khan

For – Took five wickets and looked dangerous against the BCA President’s XI. He would also give England a fresh looking bowling line-up.

Against – Should he come in for Flintoff, it would mean that Tim Ambrose – who will play because Matt Prior has flown home – will have to bat at No.6.

Adil Rashid

For – Provides England with the second spinning option they were missing in the third Test. As an all-rounder, he could also bat at No.6 if needed.

Against – Yet to make his Test match debut and would mean that England go into the match with only three front-line seamers. Is this enough?

Ian Bell

For – Showed signs of decent form in the tour match with scores of 44 and 72 and the pressure would be off him slightly at No.6.

Against – Is it too early to bring someone back in who has been dropped? Possibly. Also, he doesn’t replace the Flintoff bowling option in the slightest!

Ryan Sidebottom

For – The left-armer was England’s best bowler in 2008 and looked back to his economical best when taking two wickets in the tour match.

Against – Again, it leaves England short batting wise should he be a straight replacement for Flintoff.

So, who will England go for? Well, the absence of Matt Prior is extremely significant. Had he been available, Khan or Sidebottom would have come in for Flintoff and Prior – who has looked assured with the bat on this tour – would have batted at No.6.

However, with Ambrose taking the gloves it is likely that England will have to bring in a batsman to replace Freddie. They can’t afford to leave themselves short batting wise in such a crucial Test, after all. This means that Bopara and Bell will fight it out to bat at No.6 for England.

Personally, I think they will go for Bopara. He and Ambrose aren’t the only players I would bring in though. Khan looked very impressive in the tour match and even though this isn’t always a good assessment of how they will perform in Test cricket, the England bowling attack needs a fresh face in my opinion. Bring him in for Anderson maybe?


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

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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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