Archive for September, 2010
England’s victory over Pakistan, in the second of the five ODI’s the two countries will play, took them from fourth up to second in the ODI rankings. Andrew Strauss will be hoping to take his side to the top of the rankings, not only in the shorter forms of the game but also the Test rankings.
Online Cricket Betting pundits note how England will head to Australia later in the year looking to take the top spot in the ODI rankings, which the Aussie’s currently hold. This England side have had an exceptional year in all forms of the game. Their one day team has lost only two games all summer, against Australia and surprisingly against a spirited Bangladesh side. If they keep their current form up then they will reach that top spot next year.
Before English minds can focus on the upcoming Ashes and one day series in Australia, they must first finish off the series against Pakistan of which the Cricket odds is backing them to win. England will need to keep their level of performance as high as it has been, despite the series being completely overshadowed by the betting scandal.
Captain Andrew Strauss has done an admirable job keeping his team fully focused on the job in hand despite the furore that has engulfed the sport recently. If he could lead this team to the top of the rankings in all forms of the game it would be a fitting tribute to the job Strauss has done as skipper.
Strauss, along with coach Andy Flower, have taken England from a squad known for its lack of discipline as well as its infighting, to one of the tightest squads in international cricket. The job these two have done shouldn’t be underestimated and England will take some beating when they head Down Under.
The ICC are no strangers to meddling with the cricket calendar, particularly in recent years with the growth of the popular, and lucrative, Twenty20.
But in a wide ranging review of cricket’s match infrastructure it looks like the ICC are looking at all forms of the game, rather than just T20.
The headline grabber is the prospect of a Test match league, with the top four teams after a four year period entering a play-off, with a final, pencilled in for Lords, to decide who becomes the first international Test champion. Of course the cricket betting odds will make Australia favourites, but it should be an exciting competition.
Elsewhere a reduced 50-over World Cup and an expanded World T20 would also be introduced. The 2007 50-over tournament dragged on for far too long and a ten team tournament from 2015 seems ideal. T20 has more scope for shocks than the longer format of the limited overs game, so extending that competition is understandable.
However, it is the attempt to revive Test cricket that is the most significant for me. It is the games bread and butter and the game at its most pure.
But it has been lost in the ever expanding quest for modernisation, with first one-day matches and then T20 given a greater importance when it comes to innovation and investment. Consequently Test matches have been stuck in the cricketing dark ages, with an image of being stuffy and boring. Attendances are dropping all over the world, with expectation of England, and so revenues and profits are falling, leading to more T20 and one-dayers being squeezed in. It would be a great shame if Tests died out because of this.
Hopefully though the ICC can arrest the slide and give Test cricket, which produces the most dramatic moments the sport can give, a much needed shot in the arm.
Meanwhile, the Ashes cricket betting still makes Australia strong favourites to win the series.
England will have to be at their very best if they are to get anything from their trip down under.
For a few painful hours in Cardiff on Sunday it looked like the first T20 international between England and Pakistan would be a washout.
That would have been the worst-case scenario for the players who, especially in the case of Pakistan, have been cooped up in their hotels for the past week, shielding themselves from the media storm encircling them.
A chance to escape those claustrophobic four walls and actually do what they are paid to do was gratefully accepted. They had a long wait though, with the gloomy skies taking their time to dissipate.
What followed perhaps encapsulated the whole summer. England were not perfect, but they didn’t have to pay a heavy price for their errors as Pakistan once again failed to press home their advantage. Having England 62-5 at the halfway stage was the perfect opportunity for the visitors to push for a morale boosting win, but England were allowed to escape.
Michael Yardy and Eoin Morgan helped the T20 Champions on their way to a first win since lifting the title in the Caribbean four months ago and Pakistan left to rue sloppy fielding and missed opportunities.
It was a sixth consecutive T20 win for England and a seventh on Tuesday will seal yet another series victory, the international cricket tips suggest this is more than likely to happen.
A further one-day series is to follow and with the fallout from the spot-fixing scandal continuing and the Twittering outbursts of Kevin Pietersen and Dimitri Mascarenhas not helping matters it must be hard for the players to lift themselves after what has already been a long and tiring summer.
Another win will be welcome and celebrated with vigour, but I get the impression this entire summer will be remembered for a tabloid sting rather than what happened on the cricket field.
Meanwhile, the 2010/11 Ashes odds suggest England are in for a tough time in Australia when they tour there.
Although it seems unlikely the home side will chalk up another whitewash, they are favourites to regain the urn.
Having had a few days to take in the scandal engulfing cricket I realised my initial reaction to the news was also my most accurate.
When the story broke last weekend of the News Of The World’s sting that accused Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif of taking cash to ‘fix’ no-balls I wasn’t entirely surprised.
It sounds cynical, I know, but the spectre of match fixing and corruption has hung over the game across the world for years now but has been brushed aside and avoided by the authorities, perhaps to preserve lucrative sponsorship deals and just hope that it goes away.
But in light of these allegations it at least forces people to confront the issue head on begin to clean the game up – starting with life bans for those found guilty.
But while all that is going on and the accused Pakistan players spend a day down at Scotland Yard should their team-mates really be playing a T20 down the road?
Whatever happens in the series it will be tainted by what is happening off the field. The fans will be talking about it, the players will be thinking about it and you can be sure the press will be writing about it. People will also be reluctant to get involved in legitimate cricket betting, just in case.
The integrity of the game has been put into question – how can we trust any player while these allegations fly around? You can imagine the reaction if a bowler bowls a blatant no-ball. Any personal achievement will be drowned out by a million voices asking the question – was that fixed?
The England players have already made it clear how uncomfortable it would be to play in these matches while there are rumours of fans who have already bought tickets looking to offload them as quickly as possible.
Yes it may cost a few bob to cancel the series but if this problem isn’t rooted out and is left to fester the long-term damage to the game will cost a whole lot more.
Meanwhile, the Ashes cricket betting suggests that England are still in for a thrashing after some less-than-convincing displays.
The fear is their bowlers will struggle on tough Australian wickets.