Archive for December, 2012
The growing schedule of global cricket is starting to affect England’s international side after the ECB again decided to withdraw a key player from an upcoming series.
After James Anderson, Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann were all withdrawn from England’s January ODI series with India, it’s now Kevin Pietersen’s turn to be given a break – the batsman out of England’s short-form tour of New Zealand next year.
The reason for this decision is simple yet will still disappoint cricket fans in the Cricket Betting Tips world who see Pietersen as integral to each England side and one of the few players to handle pressure on a regular basis. With a heavy 2013 schedule ahead it is best for Pietersen to rest now and so not risk burnout later in the year.
Having resolved relations with the ECB, the 32-year-old is now set to play an important part in England’s Ashes defence next summer and the tour of Australia six months later.
The New Zealand series is therefore the only real rest Pietersen will get between now and February 2014, when back-to-back Ashes series finally comes to a close and England take stock of how the past 18 months have gone.
As mentioned in his recent Michael Vaughan tips column, this recent India Test was meant to prove England’s mettle before Australia come to town in six months time and Alastair Cook’s side certainly didn’t disappoint. There is no need to set the world alight against New Zealand, nor is there any worry England will lose their form before the baggy greens arrive in June.
Therefore, these next few months are crucial for the ECB to manage their players’ workload and if that means big guns such as Pietersen have to miss the odd series then so be it.
Andy Flower was quick to hail his England side’s character after securing a historic series victory in India. The head coach watched on as his charges played out a draw in the fourth Test in Nagpur, sealing the series 2-1 and breaking 27-year wait to achieve the feat on Indian soil.
Flower and new captain Alastair Cook bounced back from an opening Test thumping in Ahmedabad, rallying the squad to bounce back with impressive victories in Mumbai and Kolkata. The draw in the fourth Test was enough to condemn India to their first home series defeat to England since 1985, just weeks after the cricket betting news had written them off.
Flower came in for his fair share of criticism following that nine-wicket defeat at the start of the series, and seeing his squad turn things around with some sensational cricket left the coach proud of what the team had achieved.
“It’s a great achievement for the boys. They’ve really done themselves and their country proud here, to come out here and show that they’ve learned things has been one of the special things about this victory,” said Flower.
“They’ve learned how to play spin a lot better. They’re obviously not the finished articles but they’ve also learned how to take 20 wickets in these conditions and how to be resilient. Those are all things they can be very proud of.”
The entire management can be very pleased with how the past few months have gone. Handling the return of Kevin Pietersen as well as preparing a team capable of beating the Indians on their own patch, Flower and Cook have proved they are capable of leading this England team back to the number one spot in the Test rankings.
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Ian Bell put to bed an erratic year in Test whites with a fantastic century to steer England to a 2-1 series victory against India this week. Coming into day five of the fourth Test needing to see out the draw, Bell showcased his patient side in a neat 116 from 306 balls.
While England rightly celebrated their first series win on Indian soil in 28 years, Bell will secretly be relieved he managed to contribute when it finally mattered. For Bell has not had the best of series after failing to score more than 28 in five previous innings before that ton.
He lost his place as sixth man after the first Test in Ahmedabad, falling for a duck and 22. Recalled for the third in Kolkata he made just 33 combined and his single in the first innings in Nagpur suggested this was a man out of form. In his column for Betfair Michael Vaughan suggested Bell could soon be out of the side.
Yet that composed 116 guided the England ship home, enough to earn the draw that was always in danger of slipping away from the tourists should India step up a gear.
Bell will be further pleased when considering his poor performances for the England Test side in 2012. He was part of the order that fell for just 72 all out against Pakistan in January and made just 51 in the three-match series. Yet an impressive three half-centuries against West Indies when England needed him most proved Bell’s durability in this side and meant he kept his place for the South Africa series.
Two half-centuries against the Proteas wasn’t really enough on home soil and Bell’s place was under severe threat with the emergence of Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and the eventual return of Kevin Pietersen.
Yet Bell kept plodding away and rightly deserves credit for his century in this final Test of the year. 2013 will be a real marker of Bell’s ability, however, with a number of players competing for places for the back-to-back Ashes series (follow the link for cricket tips ahead of the Aussies’ arrival next summer).
Stuart Broad’s nightmare tour of India got worse this week after he was sent for a scan on his heel after bowling in the practice nets in Nagpur.
England are gearing up for what could be their first Test series win on Indian soil in 27 years after taking the third match in Eden Gardens by seven wickets to go 2-1 up in the series. Selectors dropped Broad after the seamer recorded figures of 0/159 over matches in Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
He was hardly missed at Eden Gardens: Steven Finn providing adequate cover with four wickets in two innings. Indeed, there was real doubt in the sports betting news world that Broad would return to the side for the fourth Test and this injury has only confirmed his exclusion from captain Alastair Cook’s plans.
Yet England may suffer from a lack of cover should Broad’s injury prove serious, for after the Test series they are scheduled to play two T20s before Christmas. As T20 captain, it is imperative Broad plays a part in these limited-overs games if he is to develop his leadership and mould a team capable of bettering their poor ICC World Twenty20 performance in September.
For England will be up against a resurgent India still hurting from their pitfalls at the World T20 and know the conditions on the subcontinent resemble what they found in Sri Lanka. Broad was as mediocre as England that tournament, taking just seven wickets from five games as his side limped out in the Super Eight stage.
After a gruelling four-Test series England’s bowlers will require a rest, meaning Broad heads the bill and carries the expectations into these T20s. Hopefully the scan will reveal only light damage to his heel, for without their leader later this month England’s T20 side will get nowhere.
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The plaudits Alastair Cook has received after effectively winning England their second Test match in India at the weekend are completely justified. The captain not only captured a record 23rd England Test century at Eden Gardens but orchestrated a scintillating 122 in the second Test in Mumbai.
Cook as been resplendent in England whites this tour and suggestions from batting coach Graham Gooch that he could go on better Sachin Tendulkar come as no surprise.
“Potentially [Cook] could go onto that sort of level,” Gooch told BBC Sport. “I don’t think he’s reached his peak.
“He’s got a good game at the moment and the application of that game has been exceptional in the last two matches.”
Indeed, Gooch is right to place Cook in the same league as Tendulkar after the England captain’s impervious recent form. He notched up his fourth Test century of 2012, adding to the four earned last year. In the 2010/11 Ashes series alone he averaged 127 and became the youngest player to make 7,000 career runs at the age of just 27.
Although the humble Cook won’t admit it, he must be eyeing up Tendulkar’s record of 15,643 Test runs and 51 hundreds. Tendulkar has been the figurehead of Indian cricket for two decades and will always be remembered as a true great; although suffering a poor 2012 he hit 76 against England at Eden Gardens to confirm that, at 39, there’s still life in those arms.
The target for Cook is clear. He is just under halfway to Tendulkar’s runs total and needs to double his centuries to even come close to that record. En route he must pass Ricky Ponting, Australia’s greatest ever batsman with +13,000 runs himself.
To place Cook in such an elite band of players may be seen by some as a bold move, but there is no reason to believe Cook won’t become a cricketing legend when he retires in 10 years time.