Archive for September, 2012
It is a familiar scenario. England bamboozled and humiliated by high quality spinners. This same failing has dogged the English batting line-up persistently for so long in all formats that it no longer matters if the perceived weakness is real or over-estimated.
Opposing bowlers and captains believe it to be the case. The English batsmen realise the severity of the issue – regardless of public protestations declaring the opposite. If only the ability to play spin matched the talent for spin in the media.
Umpires think the same. A spinner bowling to an England batsman makes the fielders hungry, bowler excited, batsman nervous and umpire’s finger twitchy. The effect is the same, regardless of the actual capability of the man at the crease against the slow men.
For the record, the weakness is real, very real. With apologies to Rangana Herath and the current version of Harbhajan Singh, the fact that it is not just spinners of the highest calibre who routinely embarrass England makes it an unavoidable truth. When under pressure in certain conditions, England consistently fail against spin bowling, which is why they remain outsiders for the tournament according to the T20 cricket Betting odds.
There might be an element of getting bowled out by what opposing selectors and captain think to be your weakness – Kevin Pietersen’s argument about his left arm spin issue – but the evidence is irrefutable.
Good, well-set batsmen suddenly freeze in the glare of a spinner’s spotlight when a more probing opening bowler has been seen off. Imaginary demons are seen in the pitch. Techniques collapse and shot selection goes haywire. Abdur Rehman becomes Warne, Murali and Kumble rolled into one.
Only a notable success or dozen will rid England of this stigma. With a tour to India on the horizon, success in the ICC World T20 is an ideal starting point. Looking at the reaction in Betfair England cricket forums, it seems the supporters are not confident for either campaign.
Having seen off old rivals Australia in their pre-World Cup encounter, England opener Alex Hales believes his side are well placed to begin the defence of their Twenty20 title.
England managed to secure a nine-run victory over the Aussies in Colombo in a result that undoubtedly affected T20 World Cup odds markets, which has now become commonplace for captain Stuart Broad and his men, having beaten Australia in their previous four meetings this year.
There were a number of decent performances, including the skipper who looked a major threat with the ball, which will be a positive sign for head coach Andy Flower.
However with the bat it was Hales who really shone, as his 52 runs from just 38 balls set the tone for England in their innings.
That platform will be crucial in the bigger games to come for England in Sri Lanka, with the side set to take on minnows Afghanistan before facing one of the competition’s favourites India in the group stages.
The Nottinghamshire batsman will really be able to make a name for himself in this upcoming tournament if he can get some serious runs on the scoreboard, which will mean the loss of Kevin Pietersen before the tournament will soon be forgotten.
However Hales will not be thinking that far ahead and he was pleased with the performance against Australia and believes it bodes well for the World Cup to come, as England look upset the latest cricket odds and clinch glory.
He said: “It’s a great way to start the warm-up to this tournament, and we also had that good win against South Africa too.
“So we’re feeling pretty confident heading into this tournament.
“It adds to the confidence in the changing room, which is already pretty good.”
Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie was delighted to achieve promotion back to the First Division at the first time of asking, in spite of horrendous weather encountered throughout the campaign.
The White Rose celebrated their return to the top tier last week with a 239-run victory over Essex at Chelmsford, their third in an impressive run of results and scores at the business end of the season.
Yorkshire had sealed promotion the previous day when nearest rivals Kent fell to defeat at the hands of Glamorgan at Cardiff.
It was a case of mission accomplished for Gillespie, who took the reins at Headingley last November.
“Our goal was to make Division One and we did that,” said Gillespie, who took 259 wickets in 71 Tests for Australia.
“The facts are that we didn’t lose a Championship game all season, we lost more time to weather than any other team in the country, and it’s a real testament to this group of players that we’ve gone up a division even when, at times, the odds have been stacked against us.”
Yorkshire lost 24 days out of a possible 63, more than any other side in the County Championship. That included 13 complete washouts.
Despite losing so much time to the elements, Gillespie’s side only narrowly missed out on the title. Derbyshire finished level on points with Yorkshire but claimed the trophy by virtue of having won more games during the course of the season.
The days lost to weather proved the difference in Yorkshire’s case, but Gillespie was proud, nevertheless.
“We gained promotion on the back of three straight wins and that shows the spirit and determination in the side,” added Gillespie, who as a player was a real favourite of the betting community.
“The weather held us back for much of the year but, when we got good weather right at the last, we showed what we’re capable of.”
Dimitri Mascarenhas believes England will struggle to retain their T20 crown when the tournament begins in Sri Lanka later this month.
The 2010 competition, held in the Caribbean, was England’s first ever ICC tournament win, with Paul Collingwood leading the side to victory.
They are still currently ranked the number one T20 side in the world following a 1-1 draw with South Africa in a recent three match series.
However, they head to Sri Lanka without star batsmen Kevin Pietersen, who continues to be ostracised while talks over his international future continues and punters who bet on cricket have generally stayed away from the holders this time around.
The result is the introduction of a number of young players into the side, including James Taylor, Joss Buttler and Jonny Bairstow.
The hard, slow and dry pitches of the sub-continent have also always been notoriously difficult for the England players to get to grips with, with Australia cricket betting fans echoing similar concerns about their side.
T20 specialist Mascarenhas knows all about those sorts of pitches, having played for Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League. Despite that, he has never been a regular for the England team, the last of his 14 caps coming in 2009.
He admits he is disappointed not to be involved at international level and feels Stuart Broad’s side face a tough challenge if they are to put up a decent defence of their T20 title.
“England are banking a lot on their youngsters – people like Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler and Alex Hales,” the Hampshire captain said.
“It is going to be tough for them, but they have got the talent.
“I think I could play a part, so I was disappointed not to make the squad. But I was not even in the initial 30-man squad, so read into that what you will.
“Hopefully the young lads they have picked can show the world their talent.”
With the Twenty20 World Cup edging closer and closer, England have arrived in the subcontinent full of confidence they can retain their title in the competition.
Many punters in Betfair England Cricket markets appear to have written off the England side already, with their star batsman Kevin Pietersen missing the highly anticipated tournament in the subcontinent due to the text saga which has marred much of the summer for the national side.
Having touched down in Sri Lanka, England are adapting to the conditions and preparing for their title defence.
Skipper Stuart Broad, who will be a key figure in the bowling attack for head coach Andy Flower, is confident his side can compete with the favourites in the competition, despite their status as outsiders in the T20 Cricket Betting.
He said: “Of course we’re confident. We had a really good win against South Africa the other night to level the series. That series was affected by the weather but we can’t do much about that.
“We’ve got some talented players here, we’ve played some really good Twenty20 cricket over the past year, we’ve got match-winners in the side. We saw Jos Buttler completely change the game the other night in one over and that’s the sort of thing you need in Twenty20 cricket.
“It’s hugely encouraging coming here, we’ve got to adapt to the conditions very quickly and that’s what this first week is all about.”
England will get their title defence up and running on September 21 when they face minnows Afghanistan at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.
That is a match England will not only look to win but win well, as they build for their remaining group game against one of the tournament big hitters India.
Stuart Broad has insisted his England squad will head into the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka full of confidence despite not having Kevin Pietersen in the team. The controversial batsman will be missing from the defending champions’ team following his derogatory texts regarding England players were sent to South African players during the summer’s Test series.
While many believing Pietersen holds the key for England to have any chance of defending the title they won in the Caribbean two years ago, Twenty20 captain Broad has backed England to overcome the loss of the influential batsman.
Alex Hales stepped into Pietersen’s shoes during England’s series against the West Indies in June, smashing a stunning 99 from just 68 balls and proving there is definitely life after KP. Broad has backed the Nottinghamshire opener to prove his credentials once again when England head to Sri Lanka for the World Twenty20 this month.
“The planning started, for these games and the World Cup, from Trent Bridge. KP had made himself unavailable for the World Cup and his replacement came in and got the highest score for an English batsman,” said the Nottinghamshire seamer.
“We’ve got a great squad here and we’re really excited about the next month. We’ve got guys who are hungry and keen to develop their skills, and going to Sri Lanka we’re very excited to do that,” insisted Broad.
Hales may be the next batting superstar to come through, but there can be no denying that England don’t hold anything like the same threat they do when an in-form Kevin Pietersen is in the team.
There will be no KP, though, and England are doing the right thing by not dwelling on the issue. The question will now be just how much chance Broad’s men will have of defending their title with this squad.
England might be ranked a single point behind table-toppers South Africa in Twenty20 cricket, but they do not travel to Sri Lanka for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20 with much optimism. The reigning champions of global events usually attempt to defend their titles as one of the favourites, but two years can be a long time in the shortest format and realistically England are outsiders amongst the big guns in the T20 world cup betting odds.
The main reason for this is the conditions expected to be present in Sri Lanka. Whilst the prevalence of spin-friendly conditions, still so alien and confusing to English batsmen, has reduced in recent years, the pitches are likely to be slow and low. Power hitting is the order of the day, with the approach of using pace on the ball to hit boundaries that is used in England of no use.
The need for big hitters highlights England’s other main problem: the absence of Kevin Pietersen. Man of the series when England won their first major international event in the Caribbean, the controversial star is impossible to replace.
An under-achiever in Twenty20 cricket for some time, he has become a master of the format he so vocally supports in recent months, passing 30 in nine of his last 12 T20 knocks for England. He showed his worth in stunning style on sub continental pitches in this year’s IPL.
Experts, fans and punters over at http://betting.betfair.com/cricket/ are all undecided on the future of Pietersen, who may but cut out of international cricket altogether. But they are all united in the belief that he will be sorely missed in Sri Lanka.
England are still in the early stages of Stuart Broad’s captaincy and whilst a lack of preparation is not a barrier to success – they won in 2010 with a brand new opening partnership – there are bound to be teams with better plans in place in Sri Lanka. In general terms England have not played well recently when expected to do well, so reduced expectations is perhaps no bad thing.
Former England all-rounder Paul Collingwood has backed coach Andy Flower to make the right decision when he decides whether to recall Kevin Pietersen.
Pietersen has been dropped from the England one-day squad and T20 World Cup squad after he was alleged to have sent provocative text messages regarding Flower and former captain Andrew Strauss to South Africa players during the second Test at Headingley last month.
Pietersen already had a strained relationship with both the game’s authorities and his team-mates, with the 32-year-old accused of being selfish and arrogant.
He had ironically threatened to quit international cricket altogether prior to the Headingley Test due to his frustration at being unable to retire from one-day cricket without also quitting T20 internationals, something he did not want to do with the World Cup coming later this month.
Pietersen apologised via a video released by his media team, but by then news of his rogue texts had emerged and he was quickly dropped from the squad while the ECB decided what to do with him.
His absence undoubtedly hurts England as he is a player of immense talent, But no matter how good you are, the team must come first and his re-appearance in the dressing room may do more harm than good. Certainly punters who bet on cricket are putting their money on his international career coming to an end.
It is now up to Flower to decide whether to recall KP to the squad for the winter tour of India, the latest in a string of tough decisions he has made over the years as England team coach.
Australia cricket betting fans will also be paying close attention, as back-to-back Ashes series await next year, with KP an undoubted match-winner.
Collingwood, who retired from Test cricket last year, has backed his former coach to make the right call for the good of the team.
“Since Flower has come in whatever decision he has made has been for the best interests of the England cricket team,” said the 36-year-old.
“I’ve had a couple of discussions [with England players] but you don’t know until you are in the dressing room what the atmosphere is like.
“There is certainly a possibility that if he [Pietersen] says and does the right things he can drag the situation back. It’s not necessarily the end of his career.”