Monday, 19 July 2010

A new era of English one day cricket?

I realised earlier that I hadn't blogged since the end of the Australia series. It seems like ages ago and since that time we've had the Bangladesh series. England won the series 2-1. Sure, another series win, that was always expected but the fact we lost a match to the minnows meant that we couldn't take all the praise from this series. I actually missed the game we lost as I was at the seaside, in the rain which wasn't great but that's a different story. After I missed it but stayed up to watch the highlights, I could see that we didn't play that well. So the final match came round and I was pretty excited. In the first over Kieswetter was bowled and I thought we were about to have a pretty awful day again. But Trotty came out to partner Straussy and I have got to say it was one of the most enjoyable innings I've ever watched. As soon as they both hit centuries I knew the win was never in question. It was a pleasure to watch them both bat. Once they were out batsmen Wright, Colly and Morgan went for below 10 scores but it didn't matter. We had the perfect foundations with Strauss and Trott's 250+ wicket stand and I knew that all we had to do was bowl them out. We did that of course, winning comfortably.

This new era of English cricket was set about by Andy Flower and I have really enjoyed watching him build up the team I know and love. I watched an interview with Andy during the interval of a cricket match and he was asked about fearless cricket - "I don't like the term 'fearless cricket', because it has the word 'fear' in it". This made me respect him even more. And that's just what he's done. He's instilled a mindset into these men that we have to go out there and hit big, just like teams like Australia do. He's bought in big hitters like Morgan and Kieswetter and made the whole team work as a unit. With the two one day series victories over Australia and Bangladesh and a World Cup win in the T20 side of the game, the future looks bright for the one day team. We still have areas to work on, but we are getting there and it looks like it's going to be great to watch for English cricket fans. We have a Test series against Pakistan coming up soon, which we need to win to take on momentum towards the Ashes this November. I hope we can take some of that one day mindset and carry it forward to the Test arena.

Monday, 5 July 2010

England vs Australia, fifth and final Natwest ODI of the series, 3rd July 2010

:') I bloody love you.

Australia won the toss and chose to bat.
Australia 277-7: M Hussey 79, S Marsh 59. S Broad 4-64, G Swann 3-32. (50.0 overs)
England 235 all out: P Collingwood 95, T Bresnan 34. S Tait 4-49, S Smith 2-49. (46.3 overs)
Australia win by 42 runs.
Series: England win 3-2.
Man of the Match: Shaun Tait (Aus).

The series ended on Saturday with a series win. However, the series also ended with a match loss. Again. I really could not stand the smugness on the Australian's faces. I still don't understand how we could outperform them SO MUCH in the first two games, narrowly beat them in the third and get totally outclassed in the batting for the last two.

The match started well with Paine going easily and then Watson giving his wicket away. Ponting went for a cheap wicket again with the ball bouncing off his glove and being caught behind by Kieswetter. Clarke was taken out of the squad due to a back injury so White came in at four. I was starting to think the series was wrapped up at 4-1 and I knew that if we could get more wickets then a win would be on the cards. However, I completely under estimated Shaun Marsh and 'Mr Cricket' Mike Hussey! I haven't seen Marsh bat for a long time so I'd completely forgotten what he could do! They both batted extremely well before they were both caught by Jimmy Anderson and the innings were over. Australia set 278 to win and I was quietly confident that today we would bat well enough to get there.

Straussy and Craig came out and I seriously thought - OK, they ARE going to have a good day today, Craig has been pretty bad with the bat this series. But then when Tait bowled that 100.1mph ball at Craig I knew this would be tough! Straussy was bowled and then for some completely unknown reason - YARDY was sent out. I know KP was injured and couldn't come on for 45 minutes but Colly should have come in to settle the innings down. Yardy was clean bowled by Tait once again - I can't stand the man, but wow can he bowl! I'm so glad he's not a cert for the Ashes yet. Kieswetter went for just 11. He's my favourite player but he really has been bad, I think he needs more practice. He has however, been fantastic with the gloves and I'm very proud of him for that. KP came out after Morgan's departure with a fantastic catch by Shaun Marsh! Colly made a great 95 and had a good partnership with Bresnan but once Bres was run out by Punter, one of the greatest fielders around, I knew it was over. Swanny's big hitting towards the end of the innings was good entertainment but I could tell it was only a matter of time.

This series has been highly enjoyable and for that I'm very thankful to both teams. It was an absolute pleasure to see Tait bowl 100mph, and I'm sure I won't forget seeing that live anytime soon. The boys getting the trophy was actually hilarious. I love them all so so much. The Aussies have a little bit of confidence going towards the Ashes now, and I know that they are at home this Winter, but I wouldn't discount England just yet.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

England vs Australia, fourth Natwest ODI of the series, 30th June 2010

England won the toss and chose to field.

Australia 290-5: M Clarke 99*, R Ponting 92. G Swann 1-31, S Broad 1-46. (50.0 overs)
England 212 all out: M Yardy 57, E Morgan 47. R Harris 5-32, D Bollinger 2-38. (42.4 overs)
Australia win by 78 runs.
Series: England 3-1 Australia.
Man of the Match: Ryan Harris (Aus).

Tbh, I wasn't really expecting an Aussie comeback. I know you can never underestimate the Aussies and they are certainly never out of it, but the way we bowled and they batted in the previous three matches I wasn't expecting them to comeback! Obviously adding Shaun Tait into their attack for Hauritz paid off tremendously - they were narrowly defeat in the 3rd match and won comfortably in the 4th. His firepower really does make their attack a lot stronger.

England bowled well at the start, Anderson and Bresnan not letting Australia get the good start they had in the previous games. Tim Paine's wicket fell easily and Shane Watson most certainly gave his away - the look on Ponting's face was like murder! But you can never celebrate the first Aussie wickets because then Punt and Michael Clarke come in - and they are superb batsman. They both batted away nicely, Ponting earning an excellent 92 before being caught by Strauss. In the process he passed 13000 runs in ODIs. I don't like the man the majority of the time, but there is no denying that that is an excellent feat and one he should be proud of. He really is one of the greatest batsmen of all time. Clarke was unfortunate not to get a century, but Steven Smith's big hitting at the end of the innings was important so I guess he wasn't too fussed!

England started well, again, before Craig Kieswetter was bowled by Ryan Harris. This was the third match in a row he'd been bowled out - first by Josh Hazlewood, then Shaun Tait, and now Harris! Next Pietersen scored 2 excellent drives for 4, before being out lbw. On first sight I was actually really angry with the decision, a bit like KP! But after seeing it again in slow mo, I agree it was actually out :') Next Strauss was caught and Collingwood was out lbw off Smith - this time it was nowhere near out, bad decision Aleem Dar! We were 90-4 before Eoin Morgan came in and hit two sixes in a row, and it looked like he was to rescue the innings. But he was caught behind by Paine, then Luke Wright was bowled from an offside spinner by Steven Smith, and after a good partnership between Michael Yardy and Tim Bresnan, the end looked in sight. Bres and Yardy took the powerplay - the only way we would score enough. Bresnan hit a high ball, aiming for a six before he was caught, and after making a good half century, Yardy was caught for 57. Swann and then Broad fell and the match was over.

I was hoping for a whitewash but I guess it just never happened - Strauss himself said the team lost wickets too early and they were reverting back to old habits. I'm hoping the series ends 4-1 now, which just happens to be the same scoreline that we were beaten by in the World Cup...

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Craig Kieswetter is beautiful. And my favourite cricketer. I love him nmw.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

England vs Australia, third Natwest ODI of the series, 27th June 2010

England won the toss and chose to field.

Australia 212 all out: S Watson 61, T Paine 44. G Swann 4-37, J Anderson 3-22. (46.0 overs)
England 214-9: A Strauss 87, P Collingwood 40. S Tait 3-20, D Bollinger 3-28. (49.1 overs)
England win by 1 wicket with 5 balls remaining.
England win the 5 match series 3-0 with 2 matches remaining.
Man of the Match: Graeme Swann (Eng)

Today was the day that was potentially going to be a great day for English sport. Beating the Germans in the World Cup? Thrashing the Aussies 3-0 to win the series with 2 games to spare? Hamilton or Button winning the Valencia Grand Prix? Okay, so the football wasn't great, but that's a different story. Hamilton came second and Button third, so that didn't happen either.

By the time quarter past six came round and we were 9 wickets down I was really starting to get worried. But then Bresnan hit that 4 and England redeemed themselves. I was worried as to how it got to 9 down, it was as if the wickets didn't mean anything. But when Bresnan hit that winning 4 runs I was ecstatic. The crowd were on their feet, Bres and Jimmy were hugging in the middle and Straussy, Kiesy, Colly and Morgs on the balcony were jumping for joy. I had started to think that this series meant nothing. The ECB had scheduled it to boost ticket sales and make money, let's be honest. But I realised how much it meant to them all, and most importantly, the loyal England fans who had stayed at the cricket and had not gone to watch the football. They were so happy. We beat the old enemy.

This blog today hasn't really been about the cricket. Australia batted poorly, their bowling a little better with Tait and Bollinger playing excellently, but England just needed to chase it down. They did it the hard way, but they did it.

I'm very very proud of them.

"England til I die. I'm England til I die. I know I am, I'm sure I am, I'm England til I die."

Friday, 25 June 2010

England vs Australia, second Natwest ODI of the series, 24th June 2010

Australia won the toss and chose to bat

Australia 239-7: C White 86*, S Watson 57. S Broad 4-44, L Wright 1-38. (50.0 overs)
England 240-7: E Morgan 52, A Strauss 51. D Bollinger 3-46, J Hopes 1-30. (45.2 overs)
England win by 4 wickets with 28 balls remaining.
Man of the Match: Stuart Broad (Eng)

And so England win again! The Aussies got off to a great start with Shane Watson looking good, but then the birthday boy Stuart Broad got the crucial first wicket of Tim Paine and the stage was set! Ponting fell for 13, and then Clarke for just 1 of an excellent piece of fielding by Graeme Swann at short leg. The danger man Watson was caught off a superb diving catch from the keeper Craig Kieswetter.

Cameron White came into bat with Steven Smith who plays for my team Worcestershire as an overseas player, and he did much better than he has been doing with Worcs! White steadied the innings, hitting some fantastic boundaries and sixes to bring up a very good 86. During that 86 he was caught by a STUNNING catch by Kieswetter, but unfortunately it was a no ball by Luke Wright! If White had have gotten out here the scorecard would have been much much worse for the Australians. Broad ended with 4-44, taking his 100th ODI wicket in Tim Paine, becoming the youngest Englishman to reach 100 ODI wickets and celebrating his 24th birthday in style!

England needed just 240 runs to win, and as Strauss and Kieswetter stepped out they scored runs quickly. Kieswetter was lucky not to go for an LBW shout, and after 2 sneaky boundaries, he was caught for a very cheap wicket by Tim Paine for just 8. Big hitter KP came to the crease and steadied the innings, scoring highly with Strauss. Pietersen was caught by a fantastic catch by Ricky Ponting at short mid on, and Strauss succumbed to be caught and bowled by Hauritz. Strauss previously struggled against Hauritz's spin in the Ashes and the Natwest series defeat last September.

Collingwood scored a great 48 runs before being bowled by Bollinger and with that 48 became England's highest ever ODI run scorer. Luke Wright went for 10, and Eoin Morgan steadied the innings once again with a fantastic 52 from 64 before being bowled by Bollinger and caught by Paine behind. It was left to Bresnan and Swann to bring the win home and Swanny did so with a fantastic six. England won by 4 wickets with 28 balls remaining.

The Aussies started to fire well, before losing many early wickets and being steadied by White towards the end. They didn't bowl particularly well, with 23 extras coming from no balls etc. Tait will be coming in for Hauritz in the next match on Sunday due to injury so the Australians will have a little more firepower in their attack. They need to sort out their bowling if they want to win at Old Trafford and try to claw back the series.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

England vs Australia, first Natwest ODI of the series, 22nd June 2010

Australia won the toss and chose to bat.

Australia 267-7: M Clarke 87*, J Hopes 34. L Wright 2-34, J Anderson 1-43. (50.0 overs)
England 268-6: E Morgan 103*, C Kieswetter 38. R Harris 3-42, S Watson 2-55. (46.0 overs)
England win by 4 wickets with 24 balls remaining.
Man of the Match: Eoin Morgan (Eng)

The Natwest ODI series kicked off yesterday. "The old enemy". We've had a rivalry with Australia for years, and beating them means more than a victory over any other team.

This series will be good for looking through the strengths of each team before the Ashes series starts in Australia in November. Though the Ashes series is a different form of the game, a win here could put a little bit of confidence into the team that wins, and a need to come back stronger for the losing side.

England have already instilled this in the Australian mindset due to the 7 wicket win in the final of the 2010 ICC World T20 in Barbados on the 16th of May. The Australian's lost too many wickets, and with the exception of the Hussey brothers, failed to show with the bat. They did have some good wicket takers though, in Nannes and Smith. Smith wasn't played last night and Nannes isn't in the squad. They don't seem to have the attack that they possessed last September with Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson, two extremely good bowlers, taking vital wickets.

England on the other hand have strengthened their team. They realised they needed to be more aggressive after that embarassing 6-1 defeat to the Aussies. As soon as he qualified for England, they drafted in Craig Kieswetter, an aggressive wicket-keeper batsman who has fast become my favourite player! England have Eoin Morgan who struggled slightly in the Bangladesh Tests but scored 103 not out in a fabulous victory last night. Michael Yardy and Luke Wright were also excellent last night, and with only a few misfields, the squad as a whole looks great too.

I really cannot wait for the rest of this series. I want to see Ricky Ponting squirm like he did last night a few more times if possible, and a really solid performance leading up to our next encounter with Australia for the coveted Ashes.