Flintoff on TV

I must admit I missed the first episode of the new Sky TV show A League of Their Own. This was a bit remiss of me what with Freddie Flintoff being one of the team captains on the quiz show and me running a blog called Flintoff’s Ashes.

Still, the very nice publicists for the show forgave me for my sins and sent me through some information about the rest of the series and I’ll be glued in front of my TV tomorrow to watch the next episode.

Sky have also produced a nice set of microsites with interviews, biographies and video content so you can catch up on what you’ve missed. There’s one for the main series and there’s also one for Freddie’s Team including an interview with the great man himself.

James Corden - A League of Their Own

SKY 1′s A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN starring Freddie Flintoff

A League of Their Own is a brand new comedy panel show starring James Corden with team captains Jamie Redknapp and Freddie Flintoff plus regular guests Georgie Thompson and John Bishop.

The show takes its cue from sporting obsession and sets two teams of comedians, celebrities and sports stars against each other in a test of their sporting knowledge.  From record breaking feats to headline grabbing events, the show is stuffed with the kind of sensational take home facts that sports fans just love to quote.

The show tackles questions like – which footballers spent the most on their weddings and can you arrange David James’ haircuts in chronological order? Or what does Rio Ferdinand think are the three worst things about being a Premiership footballer.

Something’s occurring this week as Gavin and Stacey star Ruth Jones joins her mate James Corden for sports-related banter. Alastair Campbell also joins the show regulars on the panel.

Tune in Thursdays at 9pm on Sky1 & Sky1 HD.

Guests confirmed to appear in the rest of the series include Amir Khan, Jimmy Carr, Claudia Winkleman, Matt Le Tissier, Dara O’Briain and Steve Harmison.

In a game of two halves, A League Of Their Own is all about banter and gags as this exciting new format embraces Sky’s proud sporting pedigree to create a back-of-the-net winner.

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Freddie Flintoff Video Interview

Thanks to Adrian and the guys over at Sportsvibe TV for letting me know about their recent video interview with Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff. Here it is for your viewing pleasure. I never knew Flintoff won Beard of the Year in 2005…and Monty Panesar a Johnny Cash fan?!?

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England Get The Trotts – Will It Lead To Runs?

The England selectors have handed Jonathan Trott the opportunity to make his England Test debut on Thursday with the news that he has replaced the stuttering Ravi Bopara for the final Ashes Test at The Oval.

Bopara’s omission from the squad is hardly surprising given the no.3’s performances with the bat this summer. He’s been a shadow of his former self, when you remember the succulent stroke play he punished the West Indian bowlers with just 3 months ago, but that was then and this is now. Bopara will have to focus on making amends for his Ashes nightmare when the Twenty20 and one day games begin in September.

I, like many England fans, would have preferred the selectors to have shown a little more faith in Bopara, who made an unbeaten 52 for Essex last week, steering them to victory over Middlesex. However, Bopara’s failure to regain his England place was down to his 7 dismal innings where his biggest score was 35 and he was averaging just 15. The statistics don’t lie. It simply wasn’t good enough. The bowlers Monty Panesar and Graeme Onions, who both bat at no.11, are the only players with lower averages than Bopara.

So to Trott, the man of the moment. He’s an unknown quantity in international Test cricket, which begs the question – Why choose to introduce him in the decisive Ashes Test, against an Australian team that have the bit between their teeth, and the momentum of a freight-train?

For such an important match, having a debutant may well be playing into the hands of the touring opposition. Australia will claim to be indifferent as to which 11 men they face on Thursday, but I’d bet that the prospect of facing a man of Trott’s inexperience will suit Johnson, Hilfenhaus and the rest of the Aussie attack.

I’m aware that Trott’s performances for Warwickshire this season have been exceptional, while statistics place him in the top four county batsmen, but to blood him for this huge, no, gigantic Test, does leave me scratching my head.

It would appear that Ashley Giles, a Warwickshire teammate of Trott’s, and member of the selection panel, seems to have a large influence on team selection. When you consider that Ian Bell, another Warwickshire cricketer, has kept his squad berth, Warwickshire favouritism seems to be in effect.

Bell, whose 3 innings this summer have confirmed that he fails to produce the goods against Aussie bowlers, has struggled after replacing Kevin Pietersen. If Bopara lost his place, then surely the faltering Bell should be making his journey back to county cricket too.

Without sounding negative, I do fear for the backlash if Trott fails at The Oval. Criticism will be flung at the selectors for choosing inexperience for a game of such magnitude, while if he was to make back to back centuries, then it would indicate he should have been in the XI since Cardiff, and that his introduction was long overdue. Who’d be a selector, hey?

But now, we wait, the squad is decided, it just a matter of the players doing their job for the biggest 5 days of their life. One man who has played in a game of similar significance before, Andrew “the first name on the team sheet” Flintoff, has huge wicket taking responsibilities, while Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann are surely to feature alongside Big Fred.

I’d be expecting Onions and Sidebottom to miss out, and then for Harmison or Panesar to take the final place in the bowling attack. The fact is that England requires all 20 Australian wickets, and so variety in their bowling attack is essential, so that we reign supreme at The Oval, finishing these Ashes as the victors.

Guest Post by David Owen

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What Team Should England Go With For Headingley?

headingley-ashes

The fourth Ashes Test starts at Headingley tomorrow. This excites many people around the country, including me. Not only are we set for another five days of competitive cricket between England and Australia but the series could be decided.

If Andrew Strauss’ men emerge victorious in Leeds, they would have regained the Ashes. A 2-0 series lead would be taken into the final Test at The Oval with Ricky Ponting’s men only able to aim for a consolation victory. (MB: I hope so cuz I’ve got a tenner on 2-1 @17/2!)

This is a long way off at the moment though. Australia are far from done on this tour as yet and will be determined to take the series into a final Test decider.

So, it is all eyes on Headingley and the first point of interest will be the team that England put out. Will they go with an extra batsman? Will they bring in Ryan Sidebottom or Steve Harmison to shake up the bowling line-up?

Well, a lot depends on the fitness of Andrew Flintoff. His all-round ability provides a great balance to the team and if he is unavailable, there are one or two changes that will have to be made. So, I think it is best to go with a ‘Freddie Fit’ team and a ‘Freddie Un-Fit’ team.

Freddie Fit:

Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior, Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Graham Onions.

I appreciate that this is a bit boring as I have gone for the same team as the last Test at Edgbaston. However, if Flintoff is fit to bowl, I don’t see the need to change it. There is enough form in this bowling line-up to bowl-out Australia twice and there is enough batting to post at least one score of above 400.

Freddie Un-Fit:

Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Jonathan Trott, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steve Harmison, Graham Onions.

This might not be the most popular team choice, but if Flintoff isn’t fit you have to bolster the batting line-up a little bit. This isn’t a negative tactic because England are 1-0 up, it is a sensible tactic to try and ensure that the team scores enough runs to force a result.

So, Trott comes in at No.6 to replace Flintoff. Then, Harmison comes in to replace Broad. This is so England can get someone in their bowling line-up who does a similar job to that of Flintoff. Harmison has had his troubles, but Australia don’t like facing him. Simple as that.

The only worry with this second team is whether the bowling is too light. There will be only four front-line bowlers, after all. If this proved a significant concern after looking at the pitch, Broad would keep his place and bat at No.7 with Harmison coming in as a straight swap for Flintoff.

We won’t know about Freddie’s fitness until the morning, so plenty of decisions to be made for Strauss and Andy Flower before the coin is tossed! Before then, keep a close eye on the Fourth Test odds before making your Headingley Test bet. (MB: Thomas is spot on. Betfair are currently trading at 4.3 for an England win which is miles better than anyone else but get on it before Freddie is declared unfit as the price will drop)

By Thomas Rooney, a sports blogger who writes about Ashes Test cricket

Headingley photo credit: Tony Kennick

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Australians Have Small Testicles – FACT!

It’s raining in Birmingham. Now there’s a surprise. With no cricket is being played I thought it was a good time to catch up on some reading at my favourite cricket blogs.

You can imagine the whoop of joy I gave when I came across this wee video over at The Village Cricketer. Not only does it featured Frederick Ponsonby Flintoff but it also mocks Australians. Huzzah!

It’s all about an..ahem..abdominal guard that has been designed especially for Australian cricketers. However, it’s no normal gonad guard. Oh no. The Koala Box comes in the following sizes:

  • Small
  • Extra Small
  • Extra, Extra Small

So proof, if you ever needed it, that our Antipodean cousins have got smaller genitals than us. And that’s why we’re going to win the Ashes. Because we have bigger balls.

That will be all.

Headline picture courtesy of Windell H. Oskay, www.evilmadscientist.com

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