Friday, 30 January 2009

Starting XI against the West Indies

Right, pretty boring one to start off, but I'm worried Tom may cry if it's just him that keeps on posting…

What would be your starting XI against the West Indies?

The opening partnership picks itself: they have both just scored runs against the Nevis Invitational XI and we haven't really got anyone better.

I'm going for Shah at three. He has waited long enough for his chance, and every time Bell plays it seems as if he is batting for his life. Always one innings before he is dropped he scores a good looking 70 odd and he’s saved for the next two tests. I also think Shah has a bit of grit about him, I think he is a guy that will play better the bigger the occasion. If he gets runs against West Indies A then they have no choice. Also Bell looks like a vole!

Colly: I would love to have a solid number 5 in our team, but as England don’t seem to have one, what can they do? Collingwood can add a bit of determination to the innings, he can keep his head and help England rebuild, if his technique does not let him down first. I would love to see someone else in there but he’ll do for now.

KP and Flintoff, enough said.

Prior: Best of a bad bunch (I use the word best loosely).

Broad: I think he has potential as a bowler and we need to develop him for all formats of the game. He could come on and I see no reason to replace him, plus he also just turned down the chance of not getting picked for the IPL unlike some other prats, Sajid Mahmood anyone. IPL picks.

Sidebottom: as we seem to have shut the door on Hoggard and he was England’s player of last year, if he is fit, I think he works as solid metronomic operator to tie up one end and if it swings then great news.

Monty: we have to give him another chance seeing as he took 7 wickets in the warm up game. If he again proves ineffective then we need to give either Swann or Rashid a prolonged run in the team as a succession plan for the next Ashes series.

Harmison: I know hoping for a repeat of last time is clutching at straws, but I’m English, I thought that is what we did. I know he is a homesick, serial breeding, lazy shit... but he's not James Anderson.

My Starting XI:

Strauss (C)
Prior (W)

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Some thoughts on Graeme Smith...

I just read this piece on Cricinfo about Graeme Smith's recent heroics in Sydney, and I have to say I totally agree.

A few years ago, when Smith slaughtered England's bowlers to the tune of consecutive double centuries (ending Darren Gough's Test career in the process) I wasn't a big fan of the outspoken South African captain. He seemed to come from the chest out, gum-chewing, Matthew Hayden school of cricket, one not exactly known for its charm.

When his side came a cropper (yet again) to the barbed taunts of Shane Warne, I couldn't help but smile. And when Matthew Hoggard made Smith his rabbit on the tour to South Africa, I laughed for weeks. I have few better memories than that of Smith falling flat on his face to a Hoggard in-swinger, before picking himself up and trudging back to the pavilion having been given out LBW.

But over the years I've warmed to Smith, as I'm sure he'll be delighted to know... It started when he played for Somerset. Not for him the constant changing of counties, turning up for a match here and there, taking his cash and heading home. When Somerset won the Twenty20 Smith's delight was genuine. His affection for his team mates (and vice-versa) was warm and obvious.

Today, Smith is one of the best batsmen in the world, probably the best captain, and poised to lead his team to the top. He is admired by all who play or watch the game. Now that he is in charge of a good side, the side that he wants, he is able to relax and display a sense of humour. That can only be a good thing.

I have one fear however, and that is that over the next two years South Africa will fall prey to the same problems that beset England post-2005. The warning signs are there already: South Africa's squad is pretty thin, if there are any injuries to the current XI. Who comes in if Steyn is injured, or Kallis?

And then there's the injuries to Smith. When Vaughan bust his knee, English cricket went bust with it. Let us hope that Smith can recover quickly: in time to give the Aussies another pasting, and take the Number 1 spot in the ICC rankings that they deserve

What a time to start a cricket blog!

Wow! 2009 has barely started and already English cricket is in turmoil. Throughout the '90s this kind of mess was reserved for the aftermath of (yet another) humiliating Ashes defeat. Not any more.

Nobody seems entirely sure what exactly is going on, but we can only agree with Bob Willis when he says the whole thing is "a right mess". First it looked like KP had forced out Peter Moores, now it looks like both of them are on their way out. You have to think that Pietersen – for all his admirable qualities – has been a bit of an idiot about this one. The sensible thing to do would have been to have a quiet word with the powers that be and express his dissatisfaction. By whining to the press and issuing an ultimatum, he has rather shot himself in the foot.

There’s no way that the ECB could accept Pietersen's demands to have Moores sacked. It would be a pretty dangerous precedent to set. What if Flintoff then decided he didn’t like Ian Bell, and issued a similar "it's him or me, pal" ultimatum? Just because Bell's spot was under pressure anyway would not excuse such an action. And similarly, just because Moores may have been likely to get the chop anyway does not excuse Pietersen's belligerence. If anything, that Moores has been under increasing pressure should have suggested that KP wait a bit: Moores would probably have gone in a few months anyway.

Well, it's all a bit of a disaster, and a sad end to what could have been an exciting period in English cricket. It ain't half entertaining though!